A little background:
I rode for a couple of years when I was in my mid-twenties, and hung it up when I over-trained and developed chondromalacia in my left knee. I tried several times over the ensuing years to get back into it, but the annoying, vague pain and persistent popping made it not worth it.
Flash-forward twenty years, and the desire for better fitness before I hit the five-o, plus more time with the kid being at college, and I found myself easing back into it last year. I went fairly easy at the start, and - coupling the riding with straight-leg lifts - I was able to build back up to 35+ mile rides with a minimum of discomfort to the knee.
When the weather started to turn colder and the days grew shorter this winter, I went from riding 5-6 days/week to 2-3 days, but at roughly the same intensity, if not more - with my strength built back up, I tended to be pushing the average speed up a little every week (that, and the shorter daylight hours forcing me to get home before dark).
I put on about a thousand miles between July and December last year, but it was 50 miles in 4 days in January that seem to have gotten the better of me; after three 10-mile and one 20-mile outing while I was off work - during mild temperatures and high wind gusts - I was back to that same discomfort I had felt in my younger days, but with more specific pain under the patella, and tightness in the calf muscles... enough to wake me wince a few times.
I have since taken it easier, but after a short 5-miler yesterday with low gears and very little climbing, I have the same pain profile as I did after the aforementioned 50 miles in January; I am now thinking that I should just take the rest of February off, and ease back into it sometime in March - still planning on doing the straight leg lifts and some upper body, but will hopefully see improvement so I can get back on track... my goal being able to ride in a 70-mile event in September.
I'm really hoping I did not blow this re-intro into cycling; I re-discovered last year how much I love being on the bike for the long rides, along with the endorphine rush and the pleasure of seing an increase in fitness and cardio health. Plus, I've bought all this new gear - new Giant bike, shoes, and helmet, and cool kits and jerseys... I'd hate to lose the only cardio activity I've ever really enjoyed...