Bicycles are delicate things. Even the ones made for rough terrain, need constant attention and upkeep. They are fine tuned and expensive and like old cars, they rarely run right. If you love them you learn to deal with the knocks and creeks.
There are many different types of cyclists but my favorite type is the ignoring kind. They ride in the rain. They ride if their clothes are dirty. Their bikes rarely work well but they never seem to mind. They are more likely to wear non cycling material because they don't care what you think.
Then there is my group. This group hears everything. The group that worries about failing parts. We see every little thing the bike is doing and we can't ignore it. We look at the weather. We make sure all the laundry is done. We arrive early.
I am not the same cyclist I once was. I have been reminded what I felt like when I first started. The sounds of the woods. The wind. That feeling of being anxious to get out there. My fitness is at an all time low and I hate to hold up rides, but even when I am riding terribly, I am glad to be there.
I am starting to think the rough days are the best. I am starting to see that the days you ride really well are rare, and unless you enjoy the tough time, the good time has no meaning.
I will be able to stay on group rides soon, but if I go off the back, don't worry. I am just earning my reward.