The Prince of Wales got on his bike to launch a charity cycle ride but joked: “I haven’t worked out the gears.”

Charles took to the saddle at Highgrove, his Gloucestershire home, as more than 30 riders set off on their 250-mile (400km) Palaces On Wheels event in aid of the British Asian Trust (BAT).

The cyclists will stop at a number of royal residences during their adventure, including Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Sandringham.

As he gripped the handlebars, the prince quipped: “I haven’t worked out the gears. I hope I don’t bump into you or get stuck behind you later on.”

Charles, who was joined by actor Sanjeev Bhaskar, who is a BAT ambassador, admitted having a quick practice a week ago but said he had not cycled “for years”, and was a little wobbly as he started.

Their path was lined by Indian Dhol drummers and the prince quickly warmed up and sped off down the lane leading to his home.

Earlier, he had jokingly told the riders after seeing them in tight fitting riding gear that they were “a very good demonstration of why I don’t wear Lycra!”

“It’s a nightmare getting into it,” he added.

Palaces on Wheels cycling event
The Prince of Wales cycles with representatives of the British Asian Trust at Highgrove in Gloucestershire (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

And he got a fit of the giggles when he was handed a tiny Lycra top by Rohit Chadda, one of organisers of the charity ride.

“Oh, have we got the wrong one?” Mr Chadda joked at Charles’s bemused expression.

“I mean, I have heard about Lycra,” he said, stretching the top comically, “but really!”

The prince, dressed in beige trousers and jacket, with a shirt and tie, was riding a borrowed British-made Pashley bike.

Asked why he was not tempted to go for a sportier model, he joked: “I don’t think my back could take it!”

Chatting to the cyclists, Charles told them: “It’s very good of you to do this. I do hope you don’t get too saddle-sore. I was told some time ago that surgical spirit can help with the sores.”

Mr Chadda told the prince: “On behalf of all the sponsors and riders, thank you so much that you have been able to support us so well. If you weren’t involved you could take a zero off the amount we raise. It makes that much difference, it’s true, it really is.”

Charles mentioned that he had practised before the event: “(I) got on a bike the other day. It’s years since I’ve ridden.”

He also chatted about football, confirming that his son, the Duke of Cambridge, is an Aston Villa fan but that he supports Burnley.

BAT chief executive Richard Hawkes said: “The prince is constantly thinking of what can be done and how he can be involved in getting help to those who need it. And to agree to get on a bike and do his bit today is fantastic.”

– The British Asian Trust was founded in 2001 by Charles with a group of prominent Asian business leaders, and works to reduce poverty and disadvantage for communities in South East Asia.