It was a hot, cloudless day and I was pretty tired. But I've never felt, or (I think) looked, better.
I was a skinny kid and teenager, but sadly things began to slide when I discovered beer at college and I've found keeping trim a problem ever since, no matter how much I cycle.
And, before you realise, this is how you end up:
I still look great in Lycra, though... (Pic: MTBR.com)
Anyway, back to the picture at the top (no, not the one just above!): I may not look skinny to you, but with my build that's pretty much my ideal weight, about 14 stone (I carry a lot of weight in my legs, that's my line and I'm sticking to it!).
I lost a stone and a half before the ride in spring 2006, by giving up booze and eating carefully. Sadly since then it's crept back, bit-by-bit - it starts with taking your foot off the diet brake for the odd treat and before you know it you're back to where you started.
But it's time to stop the rot and this time it has to be for good! I'll never cycle at my best carrying around extra weight, so it has to go.
So I've decided to go back to the 2006 regime. Let's be honest, we all know how to lose weight - less calories in, more exercise out. It's doing it that's the trick.
So here's the new (old) regime, for the next three months, or until I get down to 14 stone:
1. No booze in the week (that includes Sunday). Moderate amounts on Friday and Saturday, and the very occasional night out in the week, but nothing at home;
2. Cut right back on carbs. It's not the Atkins diet, but you'd be amazed at how many calories there are in bread, potatoes and pasta. That also makes the next rule simpler -
3. No butter or cheese;
4. No crisp, biscuits, cakes or sweets.
So pretty hardcore, but it certainly works. There's plenty you can eat, and in decent quantities too - including steak with sweet potato chips and, as a treat, scrambled egg on toast on Saturday morning.
The second question is how to keep the weight it off. Obviously you can't keep your diet this strict for ever, you need to relax the rules a little when you reach the ideal weight - plus you'll need more carbs in the summer when you're piling on the miles. But most 'diets' (ie short-term weight loss fixes fail - anything from 80-95%, depending on who you believe.
Apparently, based on many case studies of people who have successfully kept weight off, the secrets are as follows:
1. Remember that this is a long-term solution and so you can't slip back into your old eating habits;
2. Regularly monitor your weight and food intake and adjust diet accordingly;
3. Ensure that regular exercise is part of your routine (at least I have that bit covered!).
Come back to me in 3 months and I'll let you know how I've done. Or, if it doesn't work out, I will - in true, Orwellian-style - remove this post, so no-one will ever know!