Deciding to Make Better Decisions

We have all done it: made a choice that, in hind sight, was obviously a mistake. Maybe it was purchasing the latest Justin Beeber song off iTunes, or eating the three-day-old sushi from the fridge, or sending $5,000 to that prince in Nairobi...

I make my own share of bad decisions. But in this specific case, i have made the bad decision over and over again. You see, i (along with many others) am addicted to risk, or adrenaline, or whatever you want to label it . There is a lot of satisfaction (psychological, chemical, physical...) in pushing something just outside of your comfort zone, then reeling it back in before disaster hits. I tend to do this quite often while out on my mountain bike. Don’t get me wrong, i am a fairly adept rider, but that’s partly what gets me in to trouble.

I see a fun looking trail or stunt that, with the right bike/gear/weather, is within my skill set, so i (attempt to) ride it. The problem is that i am usually on the wrong bike, in the rain, and without any pads. My need for fun and adrenaline overrides my analytical brain function, and i make a bad decision. A perfect example was yesterday morning. I was out riding Mt. Fromme on my XC mtb; feeling strong an smooth. Quick and clean through some of my usual trails (Oil can, Expresso), i then head up and do Executioner, and then eventually weave my way over near the top of Boundary.

I was just about to pass by Boundary trail entrance when i thought: ‘man, i haven’t been on that trail in years. I wonder if it still has a bunch of fun bridge/ladder work on it?’

Bad decision time. Next thing i know, i’m winding through some fairly wet, slippery ladder sections. Having to finesse the brakes to avoid skidding and losing traction. Which pretty much means that i am going faster than i should be. I’m feeling pretty good about myself, having fluked out and somehow stayed upright for almost all of the trail. Right at the end though, there is one last log ride. It’s maybe 3-4 feet off the ground, a bit rotted out, soaked, and downhill.

I came in to it too fast; not slowing enough on the on-ramp before committing to ride the log. I knew it was going to be very slippery...but man, why not...i’m on my game today...what could go wrong?

FUCK....no traction at all. I try to feather my brakes, but i still slip out. Front wheel dives off the log, and my mud packed pedals don’t release my feet. Head first into a tree/stump combo, still attached to my bike. As i lay there in the mud, all twisted and gimpy, i struggle to get my right foot released so that i can get up. I do notice that my right quad hurts a fair bit. I must have caught it on the stump part of my landing pad.

After a couple minutes of taking stock, i climb back on my bike and soft pedal back to my car. Why did i ride that trail? My ride was going great. At least, why didn’t i just take the obvious ride-around route instead of the last log ride? Fuck my leg hurts...swelling up too...so much for running today...lucky it’s not broken.

As i drove home i was analyzing my decision making process, or lack there of. I need to make better decisions. Maybe i need to make the decision before getting to the fork-in-the-road. Maybe, by taking fun and impulse out of the equation, my brain work better.  From now on, I am deciding to make better decisions.

What i really need now though, is to just get out and clear my head. I think i will run the back half of the knacker course today. My leg should be fine. I’m hardly wincing when i walk.

Wait....what was I just talking about?