Hills

Between the shitty weather and being busy after work, I didn’t ride this week until Saturday. Even then there wasn’t a lot of time. Instead of distance I opted for some climbs, going back to familiar hills both to test myself and to build my fitness.

The first climb was Flag Swamp, two miles from home. It gains 421 feet over 2.2 miles – Not the steepest climb overall, but a good, long warmup with on 17 percent section. As I pedaled up that steep, my mind went back to other times I’d been redlined and had to put a foot down.

I’ve been in worse shape, I thought.

The rest of it was just a spin, even where I cut the corner on the last pitch, steepening the grade there.

That led to the fast downhill on Mallory, with a quick left onto Garnet. At only .6 miles, it’s not a long climb, but Garnet gains 241 feet, all on dirt, in that distance. Right at the start it wallops you with a 16% grade. You get a break very quickly, but then it runs between 16% and 19% for too long. There were many times I had to put a foot down there, although not for a couple of years, and not yesterday. It was hard, but not gut-busting, and I could have ridden it harder.

There were a few others, and the fast, rattling descent down the west side of Flag Swamp. There, what mountain biking has taught me about positioning smoothed out the descent, giving me confidence and speed.

I think Stein and me are gonna be okay.

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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