I just took my first quick (7? 8? 10 mile?) spin around my local "Colt's Neck" loop in a few weeks, and I have to say...it was probably the best ride I've had in three years. Maybe "best" isn't the right word, since to me "best" = great ride + great riding buddies + great beer waiting at the end. But it was absolutely my strongest ride in three years. I made climbs with ease that I usually either hike, or struggle to the top of. I pedaled every inch of the 2+ mile paved return path to parking lot, which I usually huff and puff (especially on my SS).
Most interestingly (to me at least) is that for this ride, I had only my "old faithful" beater singlespeed (god, I do love that bike). And I forgot my clip pedals. So I had to do the whole ride on flats. The only two times I had to struggle on climbs were when my foot slipped off the pedal and my momentum evaporated.
At the end of the dirt section of the ride, I got back to the paved path to the parking lot and felt like I'd just done a ride. But I didn't feel exhausted. I was breathing, but not huffing and puffing (like I usually do).
I have no real reason for the lively ride. I definitely haven't been putting in many (*cough* any *cough*) miles on any of my bikes lately. I mean, I didn't set any land speed records on this ride (finishing the loop in about 1:15). But I think I stopped to catch my breath only once or twice. And at that, each was for 2 minutes or less.
Perhaps my last couple of weekends spent watching people who are far better riders than I am running races and having a damn good time doing it gave me a bit of inspiration. Who knows. All I have to say is that if all my rides felt this good, I'd be doing a hell of a lot more of them!