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December 18, 2007

How Mountain Bike Riding At Night Taught Me About Business Planning – Part 2

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , — Greg Larkin @ 8:00 am

Fast forward to 2007. I’ve upgraded to a much more reliable, commercially available lighting system. Using a light that I’m not worried about breaking during the ride frees up my mind quite a bit (even while riding in the dark), and I found myself drawing comparisons between riding at night and building my business on a recent sojourn.

One of the trails in the local town forest has an extremely steep hill with some loose rock and lots of slippery oak leaves in the fall. I generally have to use my granny gear (24×32 for you gear ratio freaks) to get up this monster.

I’ve now ridden up this hill a few times during the day and a couple of times at night. Strangely, I’ve been more successful at getting to the top without dabbing during the night rides, and I rode it clean once at night. I let out some whoops after that one!

I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon and have decided that it has something to do with the restricted amount of visual input that’s available at night. My light is mounted on my helmet, and it tracks where my head goes. 85% of the time, I’m focused on a spot 3 to 6 feet in front of my wheel. Ten percent of the time is devoted to last-minute steering corrections necessitated by a submerged rock or root unearthing itself in front of my tire. The final 5% of the time, I’m looking further up the trail out of habit, then suddenly realizing that I can’t see much more than 30 feet ahead anyway.

While riding during the day, there are many other distractions: a log across the trail 200 feet ahead, a rut to avoid, the odd Sasquatch crashing through the underbrush (yep, they’re on the rebound in New Hampshire). Invariably, while I’m riding up the steep trail during the day, I see something else other than the immediate maneuvering problem to solve and that changes my pedal stroke, braking or steering just enough to cause a stall, a spin-out, or one of those Benny-Hill-falling-over-on-a-tricycle accidents.

I believe that this “riding at night” phenomenon applies very well to my business operations and perhaps to those of other businesses. One of my constant challenges while building and operating is resolving the nearly daily decision of “What should I work on next?” In a 24x7x365 SaaS operation like this, there’s always a tricky balancing act between important and urgent tasks.

To be continued…

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Greg, LLC

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