There are moments of such pure unexpected joy in this life that you are sometimes left speechless. I'm not talking about the personal - the birth of children, marriage or significant family moments which of course trump all. But the sometimes other things, bumping into the famous, holding the FA Cup or that holiday of a lifetime, which really was. 

 I'm a cyclist. Since my brother tempted me a couple of years ago into joining him in Lycra, I have enjoyed the odd ride around our lovely countryside, extending the distance from pottering a handful of miles to a classic 'sportive' distance of fifty. There is much more beyond, but I'm not there yet. 

 I have watched the Tour de France on TV for many years. Yes, I know all about the unfortunate history of stimulants and worse, but somehow the romance survives. Firstly the sheer scale of the endeavour:- over 2,000 miles in three weeks, including climbs for which most of us would need oxygen just to walk up. Secondly - it’s France, land of the bike, the roadside cafe, glass of wine and fierce local pride. Thirdly - the heroes, from Eddy Merckx to Tommy Simpson, there's a story round every corner and fourthly, well, we have recently become good at this, and the UK are winners from Mark Cavendish's sprinting success, to Team Sky and to the overall winners in Wiggo and Chris Froome. 

 In 2014 I attended the last day in Paris as a guest of our Ambassador, and watched close up the final laps. This year my brother and I made a weekend of it. We travelled out on the Friday, did some cycling in northern France, and headed to Paris. You may not know, but on the Sunday of the race the Paris authorities close the Champs Elysee to traffic, allowing everyday cyclists to get on the course first thing in the morning, so we can ride along the very route to be taken by the race in the afternoon. So we took the chance, as many do, and there were plenty from the UK. 

 In the afternoon we watched the Tour finish from the stand, and as the podium was set up I was out of the blue approached by the Mayor of Paris, as the senior U.K. Government representative there, and asked if I would present the prizes to Sky, the team winners from the UK, and to the leading young rider - the 'White Jersey' winner, who was Simon Yates from the UK. 

 To a cyclist, to a fan of the Tour, this is like being asked to hand over that FA Cup. I was hugely conscious of the honour, and, fellow cyclists, I was doing it for all of us who can never come this close to glory. What the organisers did not know is that I was Simon Yates's MP when he was born, in Bury, in 1992. I know of his club, Bury Clarion, and know well the hills and roads round our home town that he and his brother Adam will have learnt their craft upon. I will be forever grateful to the Tour authorities, to the great Gary Verity who was involved and the Mayor of Paris. 

 I have a few photographs of my years in politics. The one of two Bury lads on the podium of the Tour de France will be on my wall for a very long time.