A strange thought popped into my head a few days ago - I wish I had started cycling 10 years earlier.
It's not that I think that extra ten years would have helped me to become a better/faster/stronger cyclist, although it probably would. It's just that when you find something you enjoy at my age, there's a mental date at which you can already see when you won't be able to do it any more. I'm mourning something that hopefully is a long way off yet - that's a bit mad isn't it?
This pessimism has been exacerbated no doubt by a recurrence of a knee problem that seems to flair up every now and then. It's a swelling that prevents my leg from having its full range of flexibility, strength or stability.
Particularly galling this time is the fact that it has just popped up with no apparent reason. In the past, it has been traced to overdoing exercise, or doing exercise badly, or a twist of some sort. This time, I could feel a slight swelling and knew it was coming on, but couldn't think what the cause was.
For the past week this has resulted in me hobbling about in various states of discomfort and pain just wishing it would go away. It has trashed my bike riding plans, including one off road event last Sunday that I was really looking forward to.
At roughly the same time, I've developed an ache in my right arm which makes it feel weaker when called on to lift something. At this age, we tend to joke all the time about 'falling to bits', but it's starting to feel like that to me.
But should it?
At the weekend, I bumped into an old neighbour who I haven't seen for a couple of years since he moved from our street. During the usual exchange of pleasantries, I mentioned my leg and he spoke about problems he had before going on to reveal that he was in remission from cancer. He actually looked very well, and was incredibly positive about things, telling me he was planning a walk across Scotland as a fundraiser and celebration of his health.
Another friend has been beset with health problems recently, yet seems to take things in his stride. He is remarkably upbeat about his various ailments and impending procedures. Why can't I be more like that, rather that being so catastrophic about things?
When I was younger and dafter, I used to make declarative statements about how I would give a year of my life to be able to play guitar like folk-rock guitar hero Richard Thompson. (Obviously, if I was that bothered, I could have practised harder, got some lessons, or applied myself a bit more. However, that wouldn't have had the same grandstanding effect for my attention-seeking younger self.)
That seems fairly asinine now (In my 20s, I also used to claim that by the time I was 30 I'd have stopped drinking. I'll let you guess how well that's going.) If I was prepared to give up any portion of my life now - and I'd rather not thanks - then it would be for a slightly nobler, although in some ways, equally selfish end, such as for my family, especially my children.
Of course, even in these troubled times we live in a reasonably safe and stable society where we're not required to make heroic sacrifices. We're better placed to help those we love by doing the dull and predictable - bringing home the bacon, helping children with their homework, teaching them to be decent human beings.
That's the more important stuff, and something that my growing array of minor inconveniences hopefully won't stop me from achieving. I hope to be around for a while yet, even if it's in a less functional capacity. I'm off to the physio this afternoon.
A better bike would definitely help though.