Name Dropping

It’s been a mild winter. I rode yesterday because it was 50F, taking a variation of the bad-knee route I’ve been using since The Incident. It’s a good basic ride with lots of possible variations. The first climb is an easy 350 feet up to the spine of a typical Connecticut NESW trending ridge. Once you’re up there, it’s fairly flat for a long way through a mix of glacially blessed fields and hardwood forests. There’s even an airport.

Or, you can take one of many roads down the side. The east side is steeper than the west, and that’s what I did yesterday. The hill below the old Widmark place had some residual snowy patches on its steeper dirt parts that made me tense up thinking about my knee. But I consciously relaxed my shoulders, shifted my ass back a little, and took my weight on the pedals. It got fun again. Dropping down past the old Miller place I stopped at the intersection by McCourt’s place. There, the gloves came off, as did the head band, and I opened up every zipper on my jacket and jerseys before turning back up the ridge. A little beyond Calder’s the climb hits 23%. A week ago, I took a break partway up. Yesterday, I didn’t. 

Taking a different ridge home, I rode some dirt. Soft from the warm day, mud splattered my black tights and made me work harder. At Bacon Road, I decided not to turn for home yet, but to see what it felt like to grind out Grassy Hill.


It was hard, but it’s always hard, especially on warm winter days when your tires leave serpentine tracks that reflect your struggle up a dirt hill. Other times, I’ve felt much worse at the top.

It felt normal. I like normal. 

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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