‘With Shimano EZFire controls shifting gear is quick and accurate’ says my brochure. And it is until I shift my new bike’s chain quickly and accurately off the cog. Rear Derailleur Shimano TX55 Chainset  Shimano FC-M171 48/38/28 Bottom Bracket Cartridge Chain UG51 – I don’t know what this signifies either. The reality, though, is changing down on St Pancras Road, determined to get up that steep bend. And – ka-chang – off.

I’m out at 6.30 on Wednesday morning for my first ride and, for a non-cyclist, this is the feeling I wanted: rush of cool breeze, spinning along wooded lanes, quiet fields, pink sky behind Firle Beacon. I’m singing at the rabbits scattering before my tyres – ‘RubyRubyRubybaby’ and imagining I’m in a Frank Patterson drawing – an Oxford-bagged fellow with pipe-stem jutting from manly jaw. One of his chaps, foot on a five-barred gate, surveying the peaceful 1920’s landscape under towering cumulo-nimbus, exquisitely-inked, his cycle propped against a densely-cross-hatched elm trunk.

A Gresham Flyer when I was five, a second-hand Hercules at 11, a used Raleigh Wayfarer at thirty, a mountain bike (the latest thing!) when I moved to Lewes twenty years ago (promptly nicked): bikes – I’ve had a few (but then again etc); now I’m going places. Just get this – ugh, greasy – chain back on, and then…

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