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Thread: Taking risks...

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    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Taking risks...

    I'm putting together a workshop on risk-taking for the executive team in an organization and finding lots of parallels between leadership behavior and cycling behavior. Each requires an element of risk, and each of us is responsible for determining what is a good, calculated risk, and what is pure foolishness.

    In organizations, leaders sometimes struggle with trying to encourage risk-taking by their employees while being mindful of fiscal constraints, public / customer scrutiny, predictable and efficient systems, tolerance for poor judgment, mistakes and failures, and attempts to disguise or rationalize poor performance as "risk-taking." Like everyone else, leaders want people to take risks, but hope that they always take GOOD risks that actually pay off.

    As cyclists, we all have to determine what risks we're willing to take and what we're not willing to risk. Decisions about where to ride, whether to wear a helmet or not, use a mirror or not, take repair equipment along or not, ride with others or not, and so on are a part of the sport.

    If you're willing, I'd love to hear comments about how you assess cycling risks, what you're willing to risk and what you're not (and why) and whether your disposition toward risk-taking has changed over the years. If this stuff bores you, feel free to ignore this thread!

    For instance, I stopped riding twenty five years ago when I was nearly struck by three different cars (all turning right) on the same day. I decided it just wasn't worth the risk, and it wasn't worth the effort to take the bike to a bike path somewhere.

    Two years ago, that all changed, when the risk of maintaining my sedentary life was too great. I tried a bike again, and haven't looked back.

    I now engage in some fairly risky behavior on city streets (taking the lane, asserting my rights, etc.) with far greater propensity than ever before, partly because of increased confidence in my skill set, and partly because I have a stronger belief it will turn out okay.

    On the other hand, I started biking two years ago WITH a mirror, and then stopped using a mirror for 2,500 miles, which I think was taking a risk, and now find myself experimenting with mirrors again. So I must be redefining what's a calculated and what's a foolish risk once again.

    Anyway...any thoughts out there?
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    Not So Senior Member jisaak's Avatar
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    Would you consider going clipless a risk???????????

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    Since cycling is the ony form of excersize I seem to maintain a long-term interest in, the risk out on the road is offset by the fitness benefits. Also, if I get hit and killed tomorrow, I wouldn't trade the last 11 years of cycling for my life back. So I'm already on the upside.

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    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I USED to think Road Riding was a risk with the cars trying to Kill me- That is one of the reasons that I took up Offroading right from the start.

    Having been back on the road for over a year I realise you can mimimise those risks. Don't use a mirror but before any manoevure on the road- I look behind me- Signal my intentions well in advance and when I do move- I make my intentions completely clear to other road users. Funnily enough on the road bike on the road- I have yet to have any major problems with cars- However on the Tandem- We have lots of problems. Not from behind but The speed of that thing fools a lot of people into misjudging how close we are to them.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Risk of cycling: getting hit by a car.

    Risk of not cycling: having the Big One. Dying of boredom. CF withdrawl.

    I realize the two are not mutually exclusive. But it works for me.

    Besides, who wants to live forever in this mortal shell?

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    Third World Layabout crtreedude's Avatar
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    The risk of dying of boredom is a serious one for me. I live a life that is not terribly risky and the risks I do have are linked to some kind of reward. Just risk for risk sake (i.e. adrenalin) doesn't appear to me.

    All of life is a risk and eventually we lose the game - best to enjoy it while you can and not hide in a corner of your room - after all, the wall could fall on you...

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    I pretty much don't ride where cars are. The S.F Bay area has lots of great trails that we only share with walkers. I did take a 15 mile ride on local streets the other day and it wasn't too bad. Bike lanes seemed to work ok. But breathing exhaust really sucks. So, I'm sticking to bike trails. Hats off to the brave souls who commute regularly. bk

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    OK, but my fee is $150 an hour for non-profits and $225 an hour for for-profit organizations. I'll try to remember to PM you an address so you can send a retainer.

    I try to think of risks in terms of instructive vs. restrictive dialog. That is to say, I seldom make formal judgments based on what not to do (restrictive thinking), and rather try to make judgments on what I/we will gain, learn, improve upon, etc. Hence, the risk taking is always framed in the form of here's what we need to do to be successful. Cycling example: In order to fly down this hill at 55 mph, I need to keep my hands and forearms relaxed, I need to keep my eyes 20 to 30 yards or more ahead, I need to be aware of other vehicle traffic, etc. This would be, IMHO, better than thinking: I don't want to tense up, I don't want to focus too close on the road in front of the bike, etc. Leadership of others or even internal leadership for the self must be instructive by nature is one wants to keep the most productive images of success as one takes the risk. I got my first experiential learning of this principle (at least one of which I was fully aware) riding a roller coaster. I used to think: Oh, this is scary, I don't want to fall out, etc. Then after studying the principles of instructive vs. restrictive leadership, I got on a roller coaster and thought: Throw your arms in the air on the first big drop and scream with glee. And don't you know I really enjoyed that roller coaster ride.
    Oh I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused. But since their wings have got rusted, you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes. But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain, that's when I knew that I could not refuse. And I won't get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

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    In my mind, the most serious risk is getting nailed by an inattentive driver - teenage girl on the cell phone, mother in the Chevy Subdivison with screaming kids, young male with too much testosterone, etc...

    That's the kind of incident that is unavoidable, and riding a bicycle on the road certainly increases my risk factor. But, that same risk is present to some degree even if I'm walking or driving my car, though in a car I'm much less likely to get killed.

    Certain kinds of other risks that are present while on the road bike can be somewhat minimized - riding appropriate roads with decent shoulders, not riding certain roads that I know get a lot of commuter traffic, being very assertive in traffic so as to inform motorists, using a style of body/cycling language, that I have a presence in the road and in their line of sight, not challenging cars at intersections, not racing thru yellow lights, riding in a group to help "claim the road", but not too big a group - 5 is plenty, etc... all work in my favor to help avoid an accident. It seemingly takes a good bit of thought about what I'm doing and how to avoid getting nailed.

    This is all stuff I had to give a great deal of thought to when I started bike commuting to my job in the heart of Brooklyn from the south shore of Long Island and these considerations come into play every time I'm riding the roads.

    The up side is that I love being on the bike. I love spinning along at a good speed on a beautiful day on a nice smooth road, with a good shoulder on a fast road bike. Better sometimes then fast single track on the mountain bike.

    Steve B.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bkaapcke View Post
    I pretty much don't ride where cars are. The S.F Bay area has lots of great trails that we only share with walkers.
    In 11 years of riding, and 95% of my riding out on the road with cars, I've have 4 crashes with walkers, and none with cars. Of course, a crash with a car would surely be more injurious...

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    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    My whole family knows the things I do and they also know if I killed doing those things, so be it. I don't know if I'll be smiling when it comes, but I know I'll be doing the things I want to do, with no regrets. I think!
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    Ride Daddy Ride Jet Travis's Avatar
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    I'm off to the Mt. Mama Road Bike Challenge in about 15 minutes. I really wanted to take my touring bike (lower gears), but I just wasn't happy with the way the brakes were handling, so it will be harder pedaling with my roadie, but the risk of going slowly uphill--even if you have to walk sometimes--is far less than the risk of screaming your way to the bottom. Maybe there's an allegory, or whatever it's called in there.
    "Light it up, Popo." --Levi Leipheimer

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    Have had too many friends whacked by cars not to be VERY careful on roads to the point of a bit of paranoia. I don't ride roads (very far) without a partner as we see different things which helps. In metro area I ride alone on paths as I know the traffic patterns and someone will come along shortly if I biff it and need help. Mostly about acceptable risk management...consequences vs cost in time, effort, cost. I don't want to be out of commission because of an accident at all so I'm pretty cautious about the obvious stuff. I've always worn a helmet and always will. Try not to go fast in traffic on the local paths that are shared with walkers, runners...they are always going to do the unexpected..at the usual intersections I expect someone to pop out of the woodwork. There are times to ride 35 mph downhill on the path....like 6:00 AM this morning when there were VERY few people on there, no pedestrians at all and all cyclists with their heads up. Like skiing, most accidents are caused by excessive speed for the traffic or weather or road conditions (sand, gravel, wet). At 59 I don't want to be recovering from anything traumatic whether I was in the right or in the wrong when the accident happens so I don't try to assert rights...I try to survive. I go overboard to be polite to anyone on the path. Oh...and I dismount when I see someone on a horse. They get freaked at bikes sometimes and I have seen them dump their riders. Common sense and anticipation.

    Sound paranoid, huh? Nope...realistic, think ahead and am pretty conservative about it. Just don't need any consequences to deal with. That given I am not stopping doing anything out of fear....just try to minimize the risk.

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    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    This is a GREAT subject. We as humans are really bad at picking what to worry about. We worry about air flight, which is very safe, but not about being in cars (don't we all know someone who has been in a serious car accident?) We worry about stranger abduction when in reality it is very rare.
    So, riding... I always wear a helmet, but I roll through stop signs if I can see no one is coming. I've recently taken up a glasses mounted mirror, but really wonder if it will really ever prevent an accident.
    I've gone from 193 to 149 pounds and my blood pressure is now normal. I enjoy my bike commute. I enjoy spending time with my wife who has taken up riding.
    Risk/reward? Who really knows? Are there even good stats that would be relevant for me? Stats that factor out kids, crazy 20-somethings and the clueless? I haven't seen 'em.
    So like everyone else, I go by gut, rationalization, guessing, hope and end up doing what I want.

    This doesn't really help you much, does it?
    WANTED: Not a darn thing. I've got it all. Life is good.
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    Senior Member Cassave's Avatar
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    If you consider the only true priceless commodity to be time then at this very moment
    you've never had LESS to lose. Go use the hell out of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee View Post
    I'm putting together a workshop on risk-taking for the executive team in an organization and finding lots of parallels between leadership behavior and cycling behavior. Each requires an element of risk, and each of us is responsible for determining what is a good, calculated risk, and what is pure foolishness.



    As cyclists, we all have to determine what risks we're willing to take and what we're not willing to risk. Decisions about where to ride, whether to wear a helmet or not, use a mirror or not, take repair equipment along or not, ride with others or not, and so on are a part of the sport.

    If you're willing, I'd love to hear comments about how you assess cycling risks, what you're willing to risk and what you're not (and why) and whether your disposition toward risk-taking has changed over the years. If this stuff bores you, feel free to ignore this thread!
    I suck at this stuff, but I'll try:

    First off, I believe we all do "risk assessments" every time we do anything. Most of the time
    these are subconscious assesments.....testing the water before stepping into the bath or
    shower, checking both ways before going into the street, testing the temperature before
    wrapping your hand around that cup of latte, picking you way through a messy room.
    I feel that every decision involves a risk assessment. Humans are good at this by nature.
    I believe companies need to define the limits, not teach the skill.
    End of Soapbox for today.

    In cycling I try to measure the severity of any decision (risk) against the consequence if its failure, not the gain of its success. You see, I must remember my first and foremost responsibility is to provide for my wife, who is unable to provide for herself, and our three college students (daughters).
    So step one....I know the main objective...it is clearly stated to me.

    1 Should I ride?
    Risks....don't ride and lead a sedantary lifestyle...potential health issues
    do ride regularly leading an active lifestyle....many fewer potential health issues
    1. Answer.......Yes

    2. Should I carry lots tools to enable every forseeable repair?
    We can make this one complicated.
    Do you carry a cell phone
    Is you wife, child, whoever, gonna be able to come and get you today
    How far are you traaveling from home
    Do you need to be back for later appointments
    All these items factor into the risk assesment of carrying tools and which tools to carry.
    For me it's a no-brainer, my wife's unemployed and if she comes to get me we'll probably
    rack the bike and go to lunch someplace together. I seldom stray far from home. I win either way.
    2. Answer....No, leave the tools at home. A mechanical failure will cause minimal problems.
    NOTE: before cell phones and when the girls were little, I could have rebuilt the
    Space Shuttle with all the tools I carried...funny thing, I never needed them.

    3. Should I play in heavy traffic?
    Risks: In my perception of things, I'm more likely to get injured in heavy traffic than on
    light use residential side streets, rendering me unable to provide for my family.
    3. Answer...No, stay out of traffic
    NOTE: when I was single, I rode anywhere, traffic or no traffic.

    4. Just discovered a new MUP, should I explore?
    Risk....do I have sufficient time?
    Risk....Am I hungry and if so am I headed toward a known feed bag
    Risk....Am I alone and if not do the other rider(s) want to explore?
    (trick question...I'm always alone)
    4. Answer...it doesn't matter, as none of the above has any effect on my family what-so-ever


    Anyway Gary, that's how my feeble little brain characterizes cycling risks.
    Hope it helps.
    Last edited by cranky old dude; 08-03-07 at 06:51 PM.

  17. #17
    just over the next hill cruzMOKS's Avatar
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    Risk Taking

    Risk taking is done on different levels.

    1st it is done on a emotional level. When I started riding if there were a lot of cars on the road I felt at risk and I immediately moved to a side road. The more I rode, my experience showed me which busy roads were more risky than others.

    Gut level - Something doesnít feel right. Such as a lot of teen-agers driving around.

    2nd It is done on an experience level. When I see that people are stacking up behind me, or having to pull into the oncoming traffic lane to go around me. I realize that I am going to make someone mad or someone may not see me and that is more risk than I want to take. The longer I let this go on the riskier it gets. Iíve learned to pull off and let people go by. This decreases risk and I enjoy life more.

    Time of day and day of week increase or decrease risk. For example I can ride a more risky road during a Chiefs football game. If they are competitive.

    3rd It is done on an educational level. I learned by reading the bicycle forums that hills may be risky to ride on if I donít take the lane. People may pass me (when riding near the gutter) and an oncoming car may cause them to pull into me forcing me into the ditch or worse.

    Gloves, reflector vest, type of lights were items that I learned to use by education to reduce risk or allowing me to ride in more risky environments.

    Life is a choice of risks. Some risks are more perceived than others. We can slowly endanger ourselves by not exercising. That is a risk which many donít perceive till they think its too late to do anything about it.

    We can alleviate the risk of inaction by taking another risk of action.

    Risk vs. Reward
    Some things might be risky but if the reward is large the risk is perceived to be worth it. Is the perception correct? Do we really understand the cost?

    I think one of the biggest risks is not living your dreams. Do we undervalue the real risk. Or undervaluing the reward. Nothing ventured nothing gained. The key for me is to follow my dreams in a manner that can be done over a long period of time.
    Enjoy the ride.
    Bianchi Volpe 2006; Fuji Tahoe 1990

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    Of course, we realize we're writing DG's workshop for him, don't we?
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Paulie View Post
    OF course, we all realize we're writing DG's workshop for him, don't we?
    Shhhhhh!
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    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Paulie View Post
    Of course, we realize we're writing DG's workshop for him, don't we?
    Talk about a spitting image.
    George

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    Been off the bike for over two months due to a crash. Facial stitches have healed but the broken wrist is still not ready for riding. So the other night my wife and I were an a restaurant and about a dozen or so cyclists showed up in the parking lot to rendezvous prior to a ride. I looked at those folks slowly cruising around the lot warming up and getting ready and I was aching to get back in the saddle. I mean ACHING!
    Risk? Didn't even occur to me.
    It's all about the rewards: the joy of riding, the camraderie, being fit and alive.
    Leasons learned: it's not about encouraging people to take risks, it's about encouraging them to seek meaningful rewards.

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    Risk assessment and managing risk. An Example:
    A few weeks ago I posted my intend to go cross country on a Tandem with my wife and SAG supported.
    These trips are not cheap (> $10,000). That is one of the risks.
    So, we did a biking week in MN to establish endurance and watch for the unforeseen.
    The weather was an unusual upper 90's and over 100 in the sun.
    It was established that my stoker (wife) cannot tolerate that heat and bike 80 miles/day.
    It was also established that the 8-10% grades slowed us to a terrible 6-7 MPH.
    I did the same grades on a Madone at 12-14 MPH (short grades) and I did 120 mile/day without heat problems at pace speed.
    Long story short: The Tandem tour is cancelled and America by Bicycle Fast South on a Madone is on again for next April.
    I think that this example shows how we deal with risk.

  23. #23
    Road Nazi Hunter Donegal's Avatar
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    Risk Taking

    First off, I ride with a mirror, a small convex mirror in the end of my handlebar on the left side. I get them from Italy. I feel it is necessary to know what is going on around you at all times. Let's talk about risk-taking.

    I crashed on my bike riding on a "Rails to Trails" cycling path. I was enjoying an 82 mile all-out sprint with my riding partner and a professional boxer who is in great cardiio condition. With 15 miles to go, I made an error and bumped the wheel in front of me and found out how fast "it" can happen.

    If you allow your front wheel more than a few degree bobble, it will spin to lockout on one side or the other, the wheel will flex and you will accelerate as you rotate around the front axle and are driven into the ground.

    I woke up 2.5 hours later, bandaged and strapped to a table. I had xrays, cat scans, etc. The doctor thought I broke my neck. I landed on my temple and cracked the helmet. If I had not been wearing one, I would have died.

    It took 3 years to shake off the effects of the crash totally. Everything from dizziness, balance problems, lack of multi-tasking ability, clear thinking, etc. I am finally OK.

    Risk????

    Two weeks after the wreck, I had the bike fixed and ready to ride, new levers, tape, etc. I couldn't keep the bike in a straight line for 3 more weeks. My first ride was the 82 mile ride where I wrecked, I could barely finish the ride, but I did, after not riding for 5 full weeks.

    Today I have 2 road bikes (just sold one, 2 left), two mountain bikes and a tandem. In my opinion, the biggest risk would be not riding, not being fit, healthy and happy to participate. I am 51 and ride with 30-40 year old hammers, especially my personal trainer. This is life. I am a contractor and own my own business so I need stress relief. I prefer cycling to pills, doctors and psychologists.
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    I'm cautious by nature but I know the difference between reasonable vs. unreasonable risks. Riding my bike in traffic is a reasonable risk, as long as I am cautious and aware of my surroundings and don't act like a fool. Riding in traffic at night without lights and reflective clothing is an unreasonable risk since I don't need to be riding at night -- I work during the day and I own a car. I could take a walk around the neighborhood instead, and the car that might hit me on the bike could just as well jump the curb and hit me on the sidewalk. I am willing to take reasonable risks after evaluating the benefits. In the case of cycling, the odds are high that I am improving my health and well-being while the odds are much lower that I will be hit by a car while doing so.
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    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Like some of the others have said, I weigh the risk of of being hurt or worse while riding versus the risk of poor health and listlessness from a sedentary lifestyle.
    But perhaps more than that it is the thrill of riding versus boredom. I have always been a bit of a thrill seeker, an adrenaline junkie. I need the experience of speed. I need the adventure of going places and doing things that many people would consider too hard or too dangerous. And for whatever reason, this thrill seeking has often involved being on two wheels. Bicycles and motorcycles have been a major part of my life as long as I can remember.
    But I am not a careless person. I put much effort into learning how to control my bikes in the situations I put myself in, riding in traffic, Riding fast down hills, riding over rough terrain, riding quickly on twisty singletrack with inches of clearance to trees along the trail. Things like that. Before I do these things, I make sure I know how to do it and I make sure my bike and other equipment are up to the task. I have made adjustments to my bikes and my riding style to prevent hurting my bad back (a condition caused in great part by sitting at a desk).
    I consider the risk of living a boring life as at least equal to the the risk of being hurt while riding.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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