Man’s greatest flaw – stubbornness?

I ask myself, would I have done that if I was a woman? Why do they seem better a making sensible decisions, or rather not making bad ones like deciding to go mountain biking in the teeth of a very wet snow storm. I had decided since the previous day that my post work exercise would be an easy spin on the bike to the gym and back. It was settled. Fixed. And I’d been looking forward all day. The weather had been pretty clement until just at the point that I started getting ready to go out. But quitting, as they say, was not an option.

My view looked a bit like this. ©flickr/ woodleywonderworks

My view looked a bit like this. ©flickr/woodleywonderworks

I got 500m before abandoning the idea. Visibility in the dark was terrible; I could barely see anything in the glare of my head torch. (Memo to head torch manufacturers: design one you can strap to your waist belt. Like low beam fog lights, it would give much better visibility.) I turned around, figured I’d just do my easy 5k loop around the lake here and then well, you know how it goes. I thought I’d just carry on a bit. I’ll just go a bit further. And so I continued the 10k up the valley. So far so good. The single track had only a light dusting of snow. It was fun.

Then the altitude increased, the snow became thicker and impossible to ride. I switched to the road. By now my feet were getting cold, made worse by a de-icing truck that reduced the fresh snow to slush. It was like bathing my feet in ice-water. (My over-booties of course were in England). So on the way back, I suffered. Big time. Like, feet pain so bad I wondered whether I could really continue like this. I gave myself landmarks every 100m. I mentally checked the house of a family I knew I could knock on their door and beg for blankets and sustenance. Man my feet hurt! How could I have been so stupid. But there was only one option and that was to keep the legs spinning.

My glasses steamed up on the inside, I could really only see about 10m. And then it occurred to me, would I have decided to go out in this if I was female? Where was the voice of rationality in my psyche. I kept this thought in my head until I made it all the way home and throughout the following 20 minutes while I nursed my feet back to life. (The hot aches were off the pain scale – imagine being stabbed by hot pins.) So I gave myself the debrief I love to give after adventures. (Also learning from failure is a big theme of mine since reading the excellent Black Box Thinking.)

Anyhow, I learnt my lesson. Next time, I should have made some homemade booties by wrapping my feet in plastic bags. That would have fixed it. And then gone out.


2 thoughts on “Man’s greatest flaw – stubbornness?

    1. tarquincooper Post author

      Cheers Al! One small step at a time. Just dipping my big toe in the water but the hardest part of any journey as they say – is just beginning it!


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