I rode my bike up Tramway Sunday, the first real hill I’ve climbed since since April, since I started feeling the cartilage in my knee falling apart.

Last time I climbed Tramway – a big sweeping five miles up a long alluvial fan into the foothills of the Sandias – was with a group of teammates, and my knee ached but we were having fun. And then the next Thursday, Jaime and I did a bunch of steep climbs in the foothills, and on the last one I cracked, my knee hurt so bad I had to stop. I looked up the hill, got back on and finished it that morning, up to the base of the tramway that gave the climb its name. Then there was MRI-surgery-crutches-figuring out how to walk again. My summer of self-pity.

There are few greater joys than ridin’ your bike with a bunch of friends. After we hit the top of the long Tramway hill Sunday, on the rolling boulevard back through town, Steve said, “C’mon, let’s catch Jaime.” Jaime was way ahead, but Steve patiently led me out, slowly accelerating while I sat on his wheel, always glancing back to make sure he wasn’t leading me out too fast.

Wth the help of the stoplight at Montgomery, we caught Jaime. And my knee did not hurt.