Each year the list of things to keep you off your bike grows longer. When you're 21, you don't need much more than clean cycling clothing and food. The chores increase, the job takes more and more, the girlfriend becomes the wife, you start the pint-sized team, and pretty soon you're no longer fitting in the responsibilities around your riding, but the riding around the responsibilities.
The structure we'd give our training gets usurped by the larger architecture of everything that's not cycling. No matter how much we'd like, we can't periodize the job or the bills. The miles take a backseat. And even when we think we'll get the miles in there's the dreaded OBE—overtaken by events—that can turn two hours of intervals into two hours of interminables.
Worse yet are those days when the time is there but the legs or heart aren't willing.
Inevitably, there comes the point in the day where we step outside and there it is: the blue sky. The key turns in the cylinder; I should be out there … riding.
Whether we get the miles or not, we're going to suffer. The sky's silent siren call holds the promise of mile after amazing mile. The longing we have for a simple turn of the crank is worse than being dropped. At least when we're dropped we're still riding. Not being out there—the lost miles—hurts worse than throwing money away. It hangs above us, the pull easing only with the darkening sky.
When I was in grade school the nuns always told us to take our sufferings and offer them up to the Lord. What God would do with my seemingly incessant childish sufferings, let alone why God might have any desire for them, I could not figure. Needless to say, I never got comfortable with the idea of offering my mental backwash to my maker, but the concept left an impression on me.
I save the suffering. There are lessons in the suffering. Those toughest moments in the rides give us our strength and the ache we feel for each missed ride is a chip we cash each time we need to dig just a little deeper.