Triangulation Strangulation

Here’s an SAT question for you: C can ride, but not until 9. B wants in, but he’s got a client call at 10. J is down for whatever time, but doesn’t have a mountain bike. The whole thing was M’s idea. She usually leaves at 7, but is willing to push back, though it’s not clear how far. Does a ride happen?

The answer is: Yes. At some point, you stop replying to texts, fill a water bottle, pull on some bibs and leave your house. You are not the neighborhood cruise director or a FedEx logistics specialist, unless you are, but there is a limit to anyone’s patience.

If you live in family of three or more people, when one or more of them is a child, you are familiar with triangulation. In math, triangulation is the process of determining the location of a point by forming triangles to the point from known points. If Child 1 has to be at soccer practice at 10am, and Adult 2 has yoga until 10:30am, then Adult 1 must take Child 1 to soccer. Sorry. No ride for you.

Our good friends at Shimano did not anticipate getting attached to nonsense such as this, which just goes to show how patient and tolerant they are.

Interestingly, when the number of participants in the family or ride group or breakaway religious sect goes up from 3 to x (where x is some whole number less than infinity), the process by which the final point in the plan is reached is still triangulation. Sometimes the path along the intersecting points of significance is easily traversed. Other times it’s like that show Wipeout, but the water is infested with amphibious predators.

Triangulation strangulation occurs when your best intentions and highest hopes intersect with other peoples’ requirements, demands, and/or superseding desires, so that it becomes clear that, no matter how much you bend and shape your own plans to make room for other folks to get what they want/need, you still don’t get to do your thing.

I try to keep this in mind when, occasionally, I query the readership on whether they ride more with friends or on their own. There is, invariably, a cadre of soloists out there, some of them moderately defensive about their introverted predilections. What I know, from my own experience (and introversion), is it ain’t real easy to make it work with more than one person. The tendrils of complication seem to multiply exponentially, and friends become proportionally less appealing as the vagaries of their personal lives threaten to intrude upon your own. We are, each of us, selfish in our way.

I’m tempted to propose an equation for this, a way to calculate when you are officially triangulation strangled. It would be similar to my equation for the number of people I’m willing to ride with in a group, which is x=n-1, where n is the number of people I would ride with last year. There are sub-formulae that factor in whether I trust the person or not, whether it’s in the woods or on the road, and whether I’ve slept at least 6 hours the night before. For the triangulation equation, I think it would look something like this: x=2nL/C + S, where n is the total number of people who want to ride, L is number of them I like, C is number of cups of coffee consumed in the 2 hours prior, and S is hours slept.

I’d have to run a dataset and see what values it returns, but I think that’s pretty close.

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Join the conversation
  1. Pat Navin says

    Ha! Exactly why most of my rides these days are solo. Well, that and the fact that I’m not in good enough shape to burn it with the group. And the only thing worse than trying to line up schedules is making people feel like they have to wait for you.

  2. bart says

    Yep. This is why I mostly ride alone. The only group I ever ride with these days doesn’t negotiate. The leader sets the time and route, and you show up if you like it. No negotiations. Simple!

  3. albanybenn says

    I ride 80% of my rides solo. In my age cohort most folks are retired, I am still pushing the rock up the hill. My 20% with a group is through my local club’s Thursday night rides. I even lead bunch of those. Getting several slow riders who like to ride hard routes is difficult

  4. schlem says

    I can’t even line up a ride with my one best riding buddy. Not to mention my fantasy of organizing a regular singlespeed ride group. Oy.

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