I hate to say ‘I told you so’, but…

Regular readers of this column will know that over the last few years I have become an enthusiastic advocate of cycling.

I have even been known to claim that cycling is the future.

But that was before this pandemic, and now it’s clear that cycling is not the future.

It’s the present.

If, like me, you’ve been lucky enough to get out on the roads in Swindon and beyond, you will have noticed a huge upsurge in the number of people on bikes.

Even now, with traffic building again, if you venture out on to many of the country roads in our part of the world, you will probably still encounter more cyclists than drivers.

It’s no exaggeration to say cycling is experiencing a revolution, as demonstrated by a chronic shortage of bikes, with manufacturers and retailers unable to make or ship them quickly enough to meet demand.

But if you want a bike in Swindon, there is a solution, thanks to Recycles in Princes Street.

I love this shop.

As the name suggests, it aims to recycle cycles, and they turn round hundreds, every year, but, in a way, they also recycle people.

That’s because they are linked to the Salvation Army’s Swindon hostel, Booth House, and help people recover from personal challenges by training them as bike mechanics.

Recycles also did their bit by prioritising bikes for health workers, and are now serving the rest of us with rebuilds and repairs, giving good advice and good deals.

So the perfect way to get cycling is to get a secondhand bike from Recycles or - best of all - dig out that one in the shed that you never got round to fixing, and ask Recycles to do it for you.

As soon as lockdown began, and although I already did a lot of cycling, I decided to do even more, and have cycled well over 3,000km in that period.

It’s given me a greater appreciation of an often forgotten Swindon fact: how blessed we are to live on the borders of three of the loveliest counties in the country.

In fact, if you hop on your bike in Swindon, in the first hour you can find yourself in half a dozen of the most charming and gorgeous villages on the whole planet.

For all the benefits of cycling, however, number one is it is the easiest and most enjoyable road to fitness.

This month I celebrated my 59th birthday, but thanks to my bike I now feel fitter than at any other time in this millennium. And when you are a poor old guy like me, and you are convinced you can actually hear your bones creaking, that matters.

There aren’t many things left that make you feel young again, but getting on a bike is one.

So, correction: if you’re an oldie, cycling is neither the future nor the present.

It’s the past, present and future, all rolled into one.