boondoggle: noun; a project or scheme that wastes time or money beandoggle: noun; a project that wastes Bean's time

Monday, January 17, 2011

All I need to know I learned on January 17, 2011...

I suppose there are some life lessons we must learn by experience. They’re often the most obvious concepts, but we’re too focused on being stubborn and being right that we fail to see the warning signs that hint of what’s to come.

I like to ride my bike to work. It’s just under 5 miles, and there are great bike paths for most of the way. I haven’t been riding recently because it is already very dark when I leave the office in the evening. Not wanting the Northern Hemisphere’s pesky tilt away from the sun (thanks, Earth…) to prevent me from doing what I want to do, I decided to try biking to work today.

The ride to the office this morning was, as usual, uneventful. The dulcet tones of my recently-purchased Sing-Off songs blasting in my ears made me happy and awake, and it was nice to get my blood flowing a little before promptly sitting still for the next 9 hours.

The ride home, however, was less enjoyable and provided ample opportunity for learning life lessons. I should have expected a less-than-stellar ride from the start. There was an attempted raining in the Fresno/Clovis region this evening. Precipitation like that is difficult to understand until you’ve actually lived here. It’s a kind of dense moisture that hangs in the air and allows the smog particles to be absorbed by your skin instead of JUST infiltrating your lungs. As an added bonus, it kind of “spits” water like rain, but it doesn’t get the ground wet.

Lesson #1 – Don’t wear glasses while riding your bike in the rain. It’s not pretty…I think….I actually couldn’t see anything.

Biking along the path is great…usually. Respite from riding on the streets with cars is certainly a treat, but it’s easy to forget how poorly lit the paths are at night until you’re enveloped in darkness. Luckily, I had my trusty headlamp to light the way.

Lesson #2 – At camp and elsewhere, headlamps and flashlights merely prevent you from falling or crashing. They, in fact, do not lessen the creep factor. It’s not what you SEE, it’s what you DON’T SEE.

Even the Sing-Off songs were no longer working their magic. The Whiffenpoofs were merely a distraction as I furiously pedaled to relative safety from my own imagination. Closer to home, I had to decide whether continuing to ride on a path that turned to dirt and was adjacent to a very open, very full canal was a wise move. Thinking that I would prefer a brief stint of riding along Shepherd as an alternative, I turned toward the potholed road that has no lights, no sidewalk, no bike lane, and no shoulder. What could go wrong? There were plenty of cars lighting my way, and I began making a Venn Diagram in my head comparing biking along a dark path with riding on a busy street at night. There was a clear loser in that comparison – ME. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?

I found that both options, while terrifying for different reasons, had the same bodily-fluid summoning effect.

Lesson #3 – The nature pee is not always an option once you’ve reached the age of 5. People in Clovis wouldn’t have appreciated me popping a squat along the side of the road.

Well, I made it home safely. I think I’ll be waiting a while before riding my bike to work again. I guess it’s just one of those things I had to learn on my own.

The Real Lesson – Wanting desperately to do something does not make it any less foolish.


  1. Whoa....Shepherd with NO RAIN and in the daylight is a bit scary on a bike, what were you thinking?? Shoulda called me to pick you up in the truck! Next time, do that! :) Glad you made it safely.

    Now I have to figure out how to subscribe to this....

  2. I think you should have nature peed. That would've made the news, and then people would maybe pave that bit by the canal.