Right around 2000 I started playing a lot of chess. I was learning quite a bit and getting better week to week. My enthusiasm was high and my results exceeded my expectations.
Then I played two of the best games I've ever played..... and lost both of them.
The first was a 5 hour game that came down, literally, to one pawn being one single square ahead after all the other pieces were gone. The second game was in the final round of a tournament where I had the game won and made a stupid simple mistake that turned my win into a draw.
After that I was done. It became impossible for me to go deep. Believe it or not, chess is exhausting. Playing at a certain level (for chess the 1600 level is equivalent to being a good cat 3 in cycling ) means a fair amount of studying and practice, and then relentless concentration for 2-5 hours for a game. To win is euphoric, to commit for that long and then lose is shattering.
If you don't believe my, go back through the archives and read about Omar the chessmaster.
The reason I bring this up is because I'm sitting here watching today's stage of Paris-Nice and very much missing cycling. I really enjoy the sport, especially in the spring. When I rode I liked the comradare, I enjoyed the competition, and I enjoyed the benefits of being super fit.
But I've come to accept that I can't go deep.
I realized that I'm on the other side of things. I'm like your favorite sitcom that introduces a new baby to the cast....at that point you know the best days have past. When I was 29 I was the fittest I ever was. About 5 years ago or so, despite new challenges, I got pretty close to that fitness. In both cases, all that work, all that sacrifice, got me to the point where I had the best seat in the house to watch the real bike racers actually race....but never did I feel like I could much of anything other than follow wheels to a result of "also-ran".
The rain, the cold, the wind...the goddamn wind - its just too much to bear, for too little. To guys who can do it, more power to them. I'm jealous. I wish I was out there with you. But the tank is empty. I'm done.