Don’t get swine flu, it stops you cycling. This is the longest I’ve been off the bike for ages, but I suppose the timing isn’t that dreadful, coming at the end of what I still call a season.

Faced with a second weekend of convalescing, I opted for a country walk as alternative exercise and duly dragged the family up the side of Box Hill.

I really should have thought things through. The only thing worse than not being able to ride a bike is to watch other people doing it.

And that’s exactly what everybody, except me, seemed to be doing Sunday lunchtime. While I sat eating my pasty outside the cafe at the summit of Box Hill, I counted more than 40 riders in the space of some 45 minutes.

You couldn’t move for Lycra, which can’t be a bad business for the cafe owner considering the huge quantities of cake and tea being consumed.

For as long as anyone can remember Box Hill has been a magnet for bike riders and these hairpin bends are the closest many get to riding up Alpe d’Huez.

These days it’s getting mightily busy on these slopes – further proof of Britain’s newfound love of cycling. I’m just hoping I’ll be allowed to join in by next weekend.

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly magazine

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