One of the best ways we learn is when we make a mistake and today I did just that by attempting a German fast single carriageway. Not quite an autobahn but it didn’t feel far off.
Cycling along oblivious to where I am and realising that Im no longer following the green and white cycle route I find myself with a simple choice.
1. Do I turn round and try and get back on the cycle route (I really don’t know how far back the sign might be)
2. Do I shoot the the 12km white line to the next town where I’m sure Ill be able to pick my route back up
Of course my risk assessment is likely to be flawed and the diminished probabilities of survival underestimated; however, as individually we have the innate ability to be able to rationalise pretty much anything I go for it. Although petrified and screaming at myself ‘what are you doing you fool’ it is analogous to risk reward concepts and the higher reward is the overwhelming euphoria when I reach the end of the 12 km sprint.
The light is low, clouds ominously grey and head down off I go turning out of a lane onto the carriageway. Cars honk their horns, silhouettes of drivers raise their hands as they fly past. I dual head on with a BMW as he makes a a ridiculous passing manoever on the other side of the road. The swerve and vertical movement of a fast overtaking vehicle frightens me the same as a plane attempting to land in high winds.
I am 3 minutes in and I know it is all wrong but Im getting closer and besides there might be a turn off before the 12km are up that I can change my route.
I decide to keep going and of course it starts to start raining lightly. My focus is a gap of about 3 inches between the thin white line and gravel siding that stretches out straight as a die as far as the eye can see. Uber focussed I am doing remarkably well until a lorry screams past me creating a momentary vacuum followed by a sudden gust of acceleration from behind and hail of dust and debris. Of course the sudden gust hurls me straight into the gravel trap which is slightly deeper than it looks and brings me to a rapid and very un-elegant stop in a cloud of dust. My only saving grace that I have finally learnt how to remember that my feet are clipped into my pedals and if I don’t release them I end up on the floor.
On the technicality of not hitting the deck this is not classed as an accident.
Self preservation makes sense as a something to be learnt from this small but seemingly insignificant experience. There is however a slightly more disturbing instinctual learning that there is potential to generate some genuine euphoric sensations by making such a simple choice.