Friday Group Ride #423

Friday Group Ride #423

Here’s what I know, future me and present me are mostly the same person, even if past me often seems like a stranger. So it’s odd that I’m so willing to sacrifice the interests of future me when something mildly interesting happens to present me, for example, future me has a big ride planned, but present me doesn’t feel like training. After all, pizza.

The problem here is that present me and future me are on a collision course. One day I wake up and one has become the other. I’m under-trained. Actually, it’s not even this simple. Being under-trained is a problem you deal with on the day, and mainly I approach it this way: Well, it’s gonna suck. I’m gonna have to turn myself inside out. But I can do almost anything for a few hours without dying.

This is a bit flippant, a bit mordant, and more than a little dumb, especially as I complete laps around the sun, and each of these Herculean efforts brings me, in fact, closer to death.

But the problem is actually larger, because, while I regularly dismiss things that are going to happen in the future (when is the future, after all?), once I’m within about a week of any particular event, I suddenly become racked with anxiety about just how Herculean an effort I’m going to have to summon, and just how much it’s going to hurt. The actual accounting on that pizza runs to about a week of poor sleep, butter-flown stomach, and self-doubt, compounded at the end by a day of physical pain and most times a salt halo around my stupid face.

This turns out to be a normal phenomenon, the sacrificing of long-term results for short-term gain. There are myriad classic behavioral experiments that bear it out. Think of the one where you offer a kid a dollar today or a dollar and ten cents tomorrow. A disturbingly high number of kids takes the dollar. And we’re not better than kids. We eat the pizza and skip the ride, except when we don’t, and maybe RKP readers are better than the average (I’m going to panderingly say that you are (even daring to split that infinitive to do it)).

This week’s Group Ride asks, how often do you make the right riding choices, rather than the wrong ones, expressed as a percentage? I’ll put my own choices at 25% good. You get extra credit if you can explain, credibly, why you sacrifice the long term better in favor of the short term merely good.

Image: Victor Sonna

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  1. Tominalbany

    I do everything right or wrong, depending on your point of view.

    I don’t plan. I don’t officially train. There’s not a training plan at all.

    But i love my bike. And I ride as often as I can without ignoring the needs of my family.

    So, I’m doing it right! And, wrong!

    And, no one’s offered to pay me a salary to ride more than I do.

  2. Scott M.

    The classic “wrong choice” is getting swept up in chasing someone on Thursday, when the event is Saturday. Someone wise once said, “don’t leave your race on the trail.”

    The percentage of time I get caught in this trap is inversely proportional to the importance of the event. If the “event” is your basic Saturday group ride — albeit a ride you wish to do well — I’d chase more or less any old poser. So 0% right. 100% wrong.

    But let’s say a rider passes me is on a crappy bike and they’re wearing flips and cutoffs. Even if I was riding Levi’s GF on my birthday, then it’s my moral obligation to chase — to protect the dignity of the entire tribe. But that, I think, is 100% the right choice. You’re welcome.

  3. Parker English

    A classmate recently sent a list of epigrams that included “Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the hell happened.” Another +76 friend and I bailed two days ago after the first of three trail/camping rides long planned for the past and the next week or so. Already plagued with one evening of rainy set-up and another of rainy pack-up, we let discretion trump valor in the face of Florence’s impending impact on inland Maryland and West Virginia, our next legs’ locations. A right choice for us, we agreed.

    Despite lots of previous bike-packing, one shared, our memories noticeably failed too much regarding just where what was in the various pockets of our panniers. Awkward in the midst of rain. And only Ray noticed a likely walk-around past an otherwise rather impassable tree blown across our first trail. Tho it was I who shooed away what seemed an adult bear staring at our tents from twenty yards that nite, it made me realize my situational awareness’s become a little less efficient. Another reason to follow my wife’s advice about caution, to accept failure regarding unforeseen obstacles, especially to a plan that’s not cast in stone.

    I still like challenging myself sufficiently that I feel challenged. Without trying to fathom percentages regarding short- and long-term values, think I’m getting better at making what turn out to be safe as well as satisfying choices. The younger person still inside me, as well as my younger brother, thinks “Wuss!” Both’re still friends, and I can grin with my brother and smile with my younger person. Which is not to say such a lack of perseverance is for everyone. Lewis and Clark were the most obvious examples Ray and I smiled about.

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