Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Good judgement comes from experience ...

… and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."

Will Rodgers (1879-1935) said that back in the last century. I’m not entirely sure I agree. I know a few people with pretty darn good judgment, and I wonder when they had the time to amass the experiences to produce such a wealth of wisdom. Perhaps they are just a lot older than they look.

Eric, the organizer of our spring populaire sent a note out Friday I think postponing the ride which was scheduled for Sunday. The weatherman was calling for rain, snow, and all manner of spring mischief for the weekend, including today.

This little ride Eric and his crew put together offers up a 100Km populaire with about 4,000 feet of climbing all within the city limits of Seattle. Run it all together, snow, rain, cold temps. lots of short steep hills in a very urban setting and, well there are few who would look forward to such a ride. The real concern is of course that someone might get hurt.

There have been endless debates within the rando community about the inherent risks involved with riding long distances and who is responsible. Opinions range from requiring a physician to conduct some degree of examination at the start or at some point that a riders ability is in question, to the ultimate lassiez faire approach: riders are responsible for their own well being; if you have to die, please take care to do so in a manner that does not impede the progress of others. I fall somewhere in between: Feel free to die on the spot, it's the other riders' responsibility not to trip over you.

But in the situation of the ride organizer, I personally would take extreme weather conditions into consideration. It’s a big deal to cancel or postpone a ride: The further you get into the season, the harder it is to reschedule, and of course early in the season all the horses are tuned and ready to bolt from the gate. But just one serious injury due to harsh conditions and the ride organizer can suffer some serious guilt, woulda, coulda, shoulda, and all that, not to mention that someone’s riding season may just have been put on hold.
For me it was a reprieve. I had been looking forward (with some degree of dread) to the populaire. I have not been riding much this winter, (although I got 400 miles in last month) so I am particularly challenged when the road turns up. But the thought of swimming upstream, just another fish in the school of blue shirts was pretty attractive so I figured I’d get up early, make the drive and at least start with the pack even if I was likely to finish solo.

But last week I had a full plate at work, including a road trip out to the Olympic Peninsula. Thursday night I started feeling ill: trouble in the boiler room, a sore throat, and lots of upper respiratory issues, hacking, snorting, blowing, that sort of thing.

If you travel for business much you probably know about biz travel syndrome; after a day or two you start feeling a little off. It’s in and out of the car, meetings in small, cramped offices usually overheated, occasionally drafty, road food and generally bad eating choices, and a different motel every night. Remember, my beat is smallville, where accommodations are something far different from what you get in larger metropolitan areas these days. Each with a different ventilation system, those beds that are lumpy, or hard, or too soft, and pillows that are nothing mre than a parody of a pillow. Here is a recommendation for the lodging industry: Don’t bother with the art: you know “artist’s impression of an ocean landscape”. Instead replace the artist’s impression of a pillow with actual pillows. Make that your marketing tag line and I’ll go out of my way to stay in your motel. Oh yes, the goofy little kids desk where I bump my knees and hunch over trying to orient the lap top so I can see the screen in the poor lighting you provide.

Anyway by Friday morning I knew it was not biz travel syndrome, but indeed an invasion of alien life forms attacking my body from the inside out. I had one more 4 hour meeting to make and I was fearful that I might get violently sick. This meeting was with the CEO and economic development director of an Indian Tribe along with a collection of representatives of various other organizations that might provide technical or financial participation in a major development project. I’m all about relationship building, so hurling all over your host’s nice conference room might work for George Herbert Walker Bush but in this situation it would probably have been a step in the wrong direction. I alerted one of my associates to take over if I were to slip from the room and cleverly took a seat near the door.

I made it through and some hours later found myself on the verge of passing out in the old man chair at home. Mrs. C tried to coax me to bed but I explained that the recliner was a better choice than lying flat on my back in the bed. Later the dear woman (apparently) gently removed the remote from my lifeless hand, turned off the boob toob, covered me with a quilt, and turned the lights down low. Sometime during the night I awoke to a violent coughing spell. My stomach had settled some so I dragged myself to the bedroom, where the thoughtful woman had left my night light on and made the bed ready for me, she had also left the cough medicine on the bathroom vanity. Smart too, she had holed up in the guest bedroom.

I slept till 10:30, and have spent the weekend lolling about. I have the stomach issues in check but nothing seems to be working for the sinus headache. I feel like my head has been inflated about 10psi higher than the maximum recommended pressure.

The weather is true to form for early March, meaning it is alternately sunny, rainy, snowy, windy, and calm.

Good decision Eric. I would certainly not have shown for the ride but that aside there is some lucky rando, or rando wannabe who did not incur a broken hip, concussion, road rash, or bike damage thanks to your ‘good judgment’.

PS: Will Rogers was known for many memorable quotes, here's one I thought seemed appropo:

"Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for."


  1. Hey Dr. C.

    Nice entry. Kudos to Eric for making the call. We will see you all next week. Hope you feel better soon.

  2. Dr.C,
    Nice post. Kudos to Eric for making the call. We will see you all next week. Hope you feel better soon.