Time and Distance

A Land Trust committee I’m a part of met last night. I try to ride on Wednesday nights, but this meeting was held outside, in a parking lot at the foot of a hill I used to ride regularly but which I haven’t ridden in six years.

Kismet. I rode to the meeting.

This committee first met to discuss the project (replacing a bridge on a hiking trail) back in November or December. Not long past my ACL replacement, I attended wearing a knee brace and walking with a cane. Riding to last night’s meeting was a bit of a personal triumph.

After our business finished, I started riding up the hill. In the past, I’d often had to stop partway up to catch my breath. At the least, I would usually stop at the top, lean over my bars, and wait for my heart to stop pounding.

The first bit is mellow, climbing past a disused barn. At the next house, several dogs barked me past. Just beyond, the road entered the forest it would climb through for the next half mile. It gets steep here, but not as steep as in my memory.

Okay, I thought, this isn’t bad, but the really steep part is near the top.

Pedaling on, barely breathing heavily, I passed the driveway where I used to stop. Coming to the final steep pitch, it barely looked like a challenge. At the top, where I used to stop wondering if that was the spot they’d find my body, I was upshifting, riding upright, and feeling the cool air on my chest.

What a difference a few months or a few years can make.

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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