It’s not a good sign…
…when you notice that when you ride in the drops, your knees have started hitting your belly. And you can’t raise the bar because you—in what is now quite clearly a fit of foolish vanity and lack of foresight—“slammed” the stem and cut the fork to its absolute lowest position, back when you weighed twenty pounds fewer.
…when you notice you can no longer get into the drops at all. At least, not if you want to breathe.
…when you go out to ride and notice that your bike’s tires are all squishy and soft—and you know it’s not because you got a flat while riding recently. No, it’s because it’s been so long since you’ve been on your bike that all the air has had time to seep out of your tires.
…when none of your “Summer” jerseys fit anymore.
…when none of your “Winter” jerseys fit anymore (and not because they’re too large for you).
…when you start turning down invitations to ride with friends, because you don’t want them to see exactly how far you’ve fallen.
…when you bib tights stop having a “Spanx” effect, and now simply relocate your muffin top up a few inches. And also make it nigh impossible to breathe. (Especially deadly when combined with trying to ride in the drops.)
…when you realize — as you open it — that your seat pack contains the CO2 canister and tube from the last time you flatted.
…when there is sufficient time between the precipitating event and the impact itself for you to consider exactly how bad this crash is going to hurt.
…when you start tipping over at a standstill and you twist your foot to clip out and nothing happens and time slows down and now you’re at 30 degrees and you’re wrenching violently and your shoe won’t unclip because of either fusion or evil magic and now you’re at 60 degrees and you’ve put out an arm to break your fall even though part of you knows that what you’re actually about to do is break your collarbone and tear your rotator cuff. And now you’re at 80 degrees and you’ve still got plenty of time to notice that everyone in a 100-meter radius is watching you.
…when you go out for a ride in the winter and start to lose feeling in your face and fingers, but can’t say anything because everyone else on the ride seems to be perfectly comfortable.
…when you go on a ride with someone during a hot day in the Summer and they start by saying, “Hot enough for ya?” Because who knows what else they’ll say.
…when you spit and realize even as it’s leaving your mouth that the whole thing isn’t going to clear your mouth—and it’s very high-viscosity, due to the gel you sucked down a few minutes ago.
…when someone else spits and you’re in the slipstream.
…when you’re in a fast, low tuck and suddenly discover what “decreasing-radius turn” means.
…when you start thinking about how much you’re looking forward to the ride ending…and you haven’t yet reached the turnaround point.