How refreshing it is to get to 59 years old and still find that life has new experiences to throw at you.

For instance, quarantine is a word I never thought would apply to me when I first heard it, in 1969, after the crew of Apollo 11 splashed down and were isolated in case they were bringing back a deadly virus to the earth.

I haven’t been to the moon, but rather France, and a week after arriving there we discovered that when we got home we would have to go into a quarantine that ends today.

It was an ironic isolation because our holiday mostly consisted of sleeping under canvas in a field or breathing the pure air at the top of six different Alps.

We climbed every mountain by car - apart from when I decided to see what it was like to get to one peak under my own steam.

Our original plan had been to go over in July to watch some of the Tour de France, but after the race was postponed, I hatched Plan B for August. Why watch it if you can do it?

Those mountains provide a must-do challenge for any club cyclist like me who is in the area, especially if you are my age and may not get the opportunity or find the necessary fitness again.

So I tackled the most famous climb on Le Tour: Alpe d’Huez, a 14km road that winds up to a ski resort at the top, via 22 hairpin bends and an average gradient of eight per cent.

If you have followed the cycling on telly for as many decades as I have, climbing Alpe d’Huez is akin to a cricket fan playing at Lord’s or a tennis fan at Wimbledon.

Only better, because the challenge is the same as it is for the professionals, so riding up a genuine Tour mountain is like facing Jimmy Anderson’s bowling or Andy Murray’s serve.

If you want to see the analogy through, however, you also have to say it is like being clean-bowled by Anderson or aced by Murray.

That’s because the climb was even harder than it looks, and whereas I had hoped to ride some of it in second gear, I only managed to get out of first for a few precious seconds at a time.

My true finishing time is uncertain because I got lost in the last kilometre and struggled to find the official finish line.

But I reckon I missed the world record of 38 minutes by a mere 57.

And if anybody asks me what it feels like to pedal incessantly up a mountain for an hour and 35 minutes, I will tell them it was the longest four hours of my life!

Now I’m looking for another cycling challenge to mark my 60th birthday, next July, so be warned.

I know I keep saying this, but cycling is the sport/pastime that keeps on giving, and who knows how high or how far it will take you?