The burn of atrophied quads resisting being put back to use, the breakfast cereal snap crackle and pop wheeze of inefficient under-used lungs struggling (and failing) to cope. I'm only ten minutes in to my first ride since forever, and I'm suffering, maybe I should have picked an easier climb but I'm short on time, daylight and the weather's calling last orders too. I check my pace again and continue, tarmac section is out of the way I'm onto dirt, still dusty despite the recent rain excellent. Up passed the farm and on to steeper stuff, a pause to check out the line for the return downhill is fooling no-one, I'm resting, I can't handle the incline. Back on the bike, back to the world of hurt. The terrain passes in slow motion, my heads knows what I am (normally) capable of and wants to push me on, faster, more speed=more trails but I'm redlining already. Another 20minutes and I'm at the top and headed down the other side, a bit reticent at first but the speed soon picks up as I let go the brakes and relax. Ah, something still works, my body remembers how to do this, nice one. While time has quickly drained the fitness from my legs it has only blunted the edge of my skill. Flowing with the trail, a drop of the shoulders, a flick of the hips, subtle (and not so subtle) shifting of weight, a nod at some upward riders as I launch off a drop and all too soon I'm at the bottom a big grin plastered all over my face. It doesn't get much better that this.
A quick 180, saddle back up to suffering height and I'm heading skyward again, a longer more sustained climb this but my body is already adapting, less complaints from my chest and jelly legs are firming up. I want to chase down the climbers I passed but no chance, slow and steady is the name of the game today and eventually I clean it. More downs, drifty loose trails with rock steps, rocky forest trails, wide open dirt roads and twisty not-quite-singletrack to finish. The burdgeoning dark clouds that have been piling up agains the hill finally start to shed their load as I start up the car to drive home. A perfect 90minutes of riding squeezed in between life work and weather.
Or if you dont like all that flowery nonsense:-
I finally got out riding again, up wildeswood, down san marino back up SM, kennel run, upto pike and down the rocky steps and finished down Jons* 200. Freaking awesome it was too.
*it might be Jons but I've got it on long term loan :-)