A little over two years ago I could barely ride 12 miles without taking lots of breaks and feeling like crap after the ride. I pretty much sucked.
There, I said it.
My inability had a lot to do with the fact that I was completely out of shape, ate like crap, and drank more beer and whisky than I probably should. It also had a little bit to do with my bike, which was a 28 pound Specialized Rockhopper with suspension forks and slick tires. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great bike if you put some knobby tires on it and use it to ride off road.
I was riding on pavement. And, I persevered for 2 seasons on that bike building up my strength and confidence until I was actually able to use a road bike, which I bought last spring.
I also was recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.
Two years of riding has really made a difference. I left the house this morning around 9 AM, fully layered up in thermals, spandex, wool, full finger gloves and a balaclava under the helmet. The thermometer said 47 F but with the wind and the wind I was creating on the bike, it was cold. I was glad for my new shoe covers. I rode up the B&A trail and connected up with the BWI trail. About mid way around the airport there is a high spot with a place to sit down and look out over the airport. This was my planned stop.
As I approached the bottom of the hill leading to the stop, I passed an older gentleman who was on foot. I called out a friendly “passing on your left” which he acknowledged with a wave of the hand, and I said “good morning” as I passed. I really hate when someone simply and gruffly says, “on your left” as he is passing me, so I always try to include a “passing” and a greeting of some sort. I hammered it up the hill, which I did not consider to be that formidable and pulled over to eat a bar, rehydrated and ultimately, take a leak on behind a tree.
As the older gentleman came up, he called out, “wow you really nailed that hill, went up it like it was nothing.” And that was the moment of clarity. No, it wasn’t a huge hill, but it wasn’t a small one either. And yes I have improved immensely, I really didn’t even notice the hill, but two years ago, I’d have struggled.
Later in the ride, I realized another thing, I haven’t felt pain in my Achilles in a long time. In fact, I am not even sure which one got injured.