Adventure: The Psyche of Quantification

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I wear a Garmin watch. This watch keeps track of my metrics while I’m out and about on things like longish bike rides. Now, I am wearing this watch for ONE reason in particular, a reason that I’m not going to detail at this particular time. I’ll get to this point later in the summer when I have more of the plan fleshed out. But let me just say this, there is an upside and a downside of utilizing a wearable device that tracks your data. (And probably sells it as well.)

The quantification of life is a peculiar thing. Quantification can provide a sense of motivation for certain folks, and might even provide calm and happiness in others. But quantification can also be the undoing of quite a lot of people. How do I know? Because I see it and hear it every single day.

What is your average wattage? What is your average pace? What is your average vertical? How many miles per week? In the Tour de France, the quantification and tracking of data is now based on EXACT measurement down to the single watt. In some ways, it has taken the racing out of racing. Human machines on the front running real-time data on the output to make sure they don’t waver beyond the limit. Me, I miss the days of a doped Floyd Landis attacking a hundred miles out on a four climb day, still the single most incredible ride I’ve ever seen, doped or not. Landis putting the human stamp of aggression on the race of his life before it all came apart.

Quantification brings cheating as well. It forces people to perform for outside forces, like social media, and often dilutes the entire experience. Following the insanity of quantification and you realized immediately there are a lot of unhappy people looking for salvation in the numbers. And the subsequent potential of praise.

Later this year I’m going to ride a century for the first time in many years. I might, however, just do the 75-mile option. Once I choose my distance what’s the point of quantifying anything else? A personal best? Social media? No. I don’t need or have either. It’s just pointing a bike and riding it a long way. That’s all. People do it every day. So, if the quantification of life is getting to you then experience the promised land by bypassing that record button. Experience the experience for the experience, only. (I’ll be timing you.)

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      No, I would need to buy the latest version to get that kind of cutting edge data. I use the sun.

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