Reach

Man is a creature who, having given up on an efficient way of dealing with daily traffic, aspires to go to the Moon — and then Mars. On a shoestring.

People are generally goal driven. The nobility and value of those goals are generally subjective; if your goal is to spend the rest of your life as a couch potato far be it from me to dissuade you. Just leave some of the Cheet0s for me.

Of late I find myself searching for, and adding to, my goals. In doing so I find I do *better* if I pick ones that, while not completely unattainable, are quite difficult. E.g., signing up for a 160 mile, 2-day bike ride after having successfully ridden 12 miles.  I find that if I set myself up for a challenge– a not-impossible one, but one that I can’t really flake on, either — I will rise to meet it. This strokes my ego in some sort of way I’m not going to be able to articulate clearly, but that’s ok: I still get the oxytocin release.

I find that this tendency to set challenge and then meet (or get close) breaks down into smaller pieces of the overall goal: to wit, mileage. Each week now we are to be riding about 55-65 miles in addition to our long ride, and our long ride has to fall within a given Min and Max. Being paranoid that I will not make my goal I have been advocating the Max (so, last weeks was 47 on top of 60 miles which would put us at 7miles over goal for weekly mileage– and we made 41. Go ahead and do the math, I’ll wait).

What I’m getting to is, much like the person who “games” their watch by setting it 5 minutes fast, if we set the weekly goal to X+Y where X is the minimum required effort and Y is WWLD (What Would Lance Do), we are typically achieving X and sometimes achieving Xb (you know, halfway between X and Y). This is not bad on the whole, but I wonder at the psychology of it. If I was just “honest” with myself and said “ok, we’re doing 47 because that’s the minimum required this week (and it is)”, would I do the 47? Or would I suddenly cramp, or hit a wall, or fling myself over bicycle tracks?

There is a certain amount of fear in setting goals that may be just beyond your reach. But we got to the Moon on analog technology that is less sophisticated than items you use everyday. Stretching is good.

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