I rode the Pond yesterday, the third or fourth time in as many weeks. Yesterday was with two younger and fitter guys. Strangers I was showing the trails, they kicked my ass in a gentlemanly way. Even though I pushed hard, I’m not in my 30s anymore.

It was good though. I only felt like puking once or twice, and I made it up one pitch for the first time since my surgery. I hit two technical sections that I’d just begun to clean last week as if they were easy. The ride left me hungry for the rest of the day but my legs didn’t feel burnt.

This morning I woke up feeling that feeling that only cycling has ever given me. It comes every so often when I’ve picked up my riding pace. Nothing hurt. The normal aches of middle age weren’t there. I felt lean and strong, aware of the steady beat of my heart.

It’s as if I’m at a threshold. I’m not in my best shape yet, but my body is ready to be pushed. My mind pictures the joyful pain of rising from the saddle to punch out a climb like I couldn’t have done a month ago. It’s a moment I chase, and one to be relished.

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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