Baby Steps

I have ten rides in on Zwift now. The first was just two weeks ago; 2.1 flat miles and 10 minutes long. The knee was stiff, and until it loosened up after a minute or so, painful as well.

Today though, I rode an hour on a respectably hilly course. Pushing hard, I chased down Zwifters who passed. On the long hill, riding right at my lactate threshold cut my time from 15 minutes and change to 14 minutes and change over my previous attempt. Overall, an hour netted me 16.8 miles, a pretty good average speed.

But then I made the mistake of comparing my Zwift PRs on Strava to those of my friends. Despite the fact that I used all the sizzle in my pizzle, I was mostly dead last in PRs. Now, I’m rarely at the top of that chart, but neither am I at the bottom.  It was sobering. And it’s not the knee that’s slowing me down, but the fact I’ve been off the bike for five months. A lot of fitness has evaporated. 

So, that was depressing, although not unexpected by my rational brain. I rode hard this morning. My relative effort exceeded my normal when riding roads and trails. My quads were burning and I was sucking in air and the sweat and the snot were flowing at flood stage.

And I sucked.

But then I thought about my first ride two weeks ago, and compared to that, I was on rocket fuel, Baby! Rocket fuel! Five months since my 58 year old body had ridden regularly and one month since surgery. Of course I sucked. This is just the baseline. There’s the whole winter in front of me now, months when I can explore the pain cave. Come spring, I think I won’t suck.

As much.


About swampyankeecyclist

I'm Andy Engel, just a middle-aged, middle-class guy from Roxbury, Connecticut. I've been married to my best friend since 1988, and we have two grown sons. I like riding bikes, and my biggest accomplishment is the 180K D2R2. I own 5 bikes but my go-to rides are a 2016 GT Grade gravel and commuter bike and a 2016 Specialized 650b hardtail mountain bike. Additionally, I have a 2000-something carbon-fiber Orbea road bike, a 1990-something Specialized Sirrus that's my old dirt and commuter bike and which now serves as a spare and a trainer bike, and a 1985 Ross Mount Hood MTB. All but the 650b have Brooks saddles. I work from home now, but used to commute 32 miles round trip to work by bike year round. I was a carpenter and still love building things, but regular paychecks, insurance, and vacation time lured me into journalism. I've written a couple of books on carpentry, and I've been an editor at Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, and Professional Deck Builder magazines. Currently, I manage construction events at the JLC Live and Remodeling Show trade shows. Additionally, my wife and I run Transylvania Guest House, an Airbnb. Find us on Instagram. Come stay with us and I'll show you some great cycling.
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