The problem grows as we look at it.

posted by Paolo Volpara

I like two wheels. With engine and with pedals. I like bicycling and it is one of the few sports that I enjoy from my seat.

April is the right month to celebrate the opening of the professional cycling season with the Tour of Basque Country being one of the most demanding one-week race, one of the most exciting to watch.

It was raining end the peloton was approaching the last miles of the day pushing for position at high speed. The thin-slim tires (20/22 mm) were tracing narrow lines cutting through the water, right corner approaching almost 70 degrees.

The leader approaches it visibly too fast, then, entering, realises that the line will lead off the road, no way to brake without losing traction, the foot comes out from the right pedal trying to tighten the trajectory, the head turns toward the left to the pavement that is now coming, last attempt to steer right, looking left, the back wheel goes, foot cannot hold and the rider crashes taking with him several competitors.

An accident waiting to happen” are the commentator words.It is there waiting to happen, the accident, created by others, by circumstances, by tool failure. It happens always because of fate (the development of events outside a person’s control).  

Napoleon Bonaparte said it right “There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed”. This time I do not agree with the great general.

Fate is often a good excuse to avoid responsibility, to go away from self-evaluation, to refuse learning. It happens because of a set of decisions (right or wrong) that we took, it is the final point of a set of conscious action that take us to the point where something happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.

In this case the wrong evaluation of speed, the red mist to be first in line, the early entry into the corner and the vision fixed to the obstacle-pavement on the left.

A set of decision that made the “accident waiting to happen”.

I was particularly touched by the direction of the helmet (and, I presume, sight) of the rider; I believe he kept looking at the pavement thinking, reasonably, how to better avoid it. Target fixation is a mistake that all good riders (moto or bicycle) make, soon or later. A mistake that we repeat in biking  and in life.

The parallel ride says that we get hypnotized by the obstacle, by the “bad thing”, by the hazard, by the problem.

Hypnotized by the problem we cannot take a look at the solution. Looking left for the dramatic end of the road we cannot turn our sight to the right where the road is open.

Admittedly  target  fixation was not so crucial in this race accident, speed was; nevertheless good opportunity, while the riders pick up the bikes and continue the race with pains and bruises, to consider how, in parallel, we are often hypnotized by the difficulties, by the obstacles, by the problems and we cannot look at the solution, at a different way to solve it.

The problem grows as we look at it and it keep growing while we keep looking  till we crash on it or it crashes on us. No fate.

When we see fate as a build up of your interventions everything that happens to us becomes an opportunity to learn and “the highest activity a human can attain is learning from understanding because understanding is to be free”

Free to look at the good, open side of the road, free to focus on solution, free from fate

Surely I will meet my fate, soon or later, but it will be because a set of decisions and actions took me to the meeting.

One thought on “The problem grows as we look at it.

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  1. You’re being too hard on the Little General: There are accidents that simply cannot be prevented, no matter how much care is exercised in the moments leading up to what … er, fate has in store. In the case above, the rider’s entry speed was too fast (as was Joseba Beloki’s in the 2003 TdF, the worst bike accident I ever saw). But there are also crashes that are the result of pure chance, set in motion by causes that no one in the exercise of the most reasonable prudence could ever have foreseen.

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