Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bicycle touring and making predictions

Charley: Life is unpredictable. Most of us know that at our core, but then there is something in most of us that strives to make sense out of all this chaos buzzing around us and thus make the world a little more under our control and therefore more predictable.
You would think that we'd learn the futility of placing too much importance on predictions, but no. It's not just that our predictions flop and fizzle, It's that sometimes we get it right and, at least subconsciously, pat ourselves on the back for being so damn smart. And, like Pavlov's dogs salivating at the bell but getting no food, we just smile and go on making decisions based on our own or expert predictions.
Now as a bicycle tourist I make no claim to being better at this prediction fantasy, nor immune from making them, only in recognizing the folly in them. As we pedal through unknown territory we lay out the maps, we listen to the weather, we ask questions of locals and consult the Google Gods. All, to our sometimes sorrow, we've learned are fallible. Still there is the day, week, distance ahead, so we pull what information we can scrape up and consult what experts are available and predict the day's ride. Now I know that sounds quite reasonable when one is considering things such as; Will it rain? Headwinds or tailwinds? What's the you terrain like? A place to camp? Is there a bike shop? However, Tarot cards, flipping a coin, or reading sheep entrails would probably work equally well. I've already decided that on our next tour I'm going to carry a copy of the I Ching and refer to it's hexagrams on all important decisions. Hey, I might even become an economist.
"An expert is a person who has made all of the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field." N Bohr

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