I've been in cycling a long time. 20 yrs of serious riding this year. I started on a lugged steel mtb with no suspension fork and suntour topmount index shifters.... My first time around, I got to be a pretty good mtb racer, and a reasonably good time trialist on the road.
I loved the sport and then walked away. Married life, new job, etc all got in the way. Many of us have gone through that.
When I got back on the bike seriously again 4 years ago, I went back to the group ride at my old shop. When I left the ride, I was leading the A group. When I came back, I could barely ride half the distance the A group rode, and at half the speed.......
This year, I've finally begun finishing with the A group again. Not every time, but many times. And last night, I hit a milestone of sorts in finishing the ride at 20.8mph average. I know that won't even get me through a cat5 race, but it was a great feeling. I hung with the fast guys on our group ride and felt great afterward. In spite of being dropped on a climb or two, I managed to ride myself back on to the group each time.
Last night was a great ride!