I only mention this because I've been thinking about choice. More specifically, I've been asking myself why, when I have so many options in my life (TV options, movie theater options, weekend vacation options), why I still feel like I need more. When I scroll by the Showtime (a channel I don't get), sometimes I see a movie that I'd like to watch, and I briefly contemplate purchasing Showtime. Today, while watching the Tour of California, I contemplated trying to hook up an antenna so I could get the Universal Sports feed of the Giro d'Italia. Every week, Ace and I try to use a pair of free movie tickets that we have, and every week we decide that there's nothing in the theaters that's worth watching. Every time I try to decide what to do on the weekend, I look at some options and decide that I want to do other things. I wish that I lived in Colorado so that I could mountain bike Fruita, or ski A-basin.
All of this leads to the "Paradox of Choice", which is really nicely described in this Youtube video (but it is long, so I summarize the main points below):
The Professor at Swarthmore College explains that there are four ways that more choices actually make us less happy:
1. It produces paralysis, rather than liberation. With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all.
2. Even if we manage to overcome the paralysis and make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from.
3. Escalation of Expectations
4. When people make decisions, and even though the results of the decisions are good, they feel disappointed about them - They blame themselves.
The reason that I've been looking at this sort of stuff is this: I'm thinking of buying another bike. And I'm getting paralyzed by the decision. I don't even know what type of bike I want. Some friends want to do a lot of downhill biking this summer (at Whiteface, Plattekill, etc.), so I was thinking of getting a cheap craigslist dh bike that I can throw on the back of a lift, in the bottom of a shuttle bus, or off a rock drop, and not care about it.
Other times, like today on my short little bike ride around the neighborhood (just trying to get something in before I got rained on again), I want something more along the lines of a "Gravel Grinder". I came upon this path:
Whenever I'm on my road bike, and I see a path like that, I always want to take it to see where it goes. But my skinny little road bike tires can't handle it. I'd also like to get into "bikepacking", and a gravel grinder that could fit 29x2.0 tires would be perfect for something like the GDMBR. I keep on looking at the Origin 8 CX700, a cross frame built for touring, durability, and 29x2.1 tires.
Still other times, I want a sweet 29er singlespeed that I can convert to a geared bike for races and bikepacking. I was thinking about this when I was in Ellicottville for work last week (from what I hear, PRIME mountain bike territory). I couldn't jam my enormous full suspension 29er into my little office car, so I didn't get to ride while I was out there. But if I had a nice, simple singlespeed like a Niner SIR 9, especially one like this with S&S couplers, I could fit it into my work vehicle, or into a plane to go visit my bother and ride Sedona, or into a train for a European bike adventure, etc.
And the worst part of all of this is: I don't need a bike. I have a perfectly good road bike, and a perfectly good mountain bike. And here, the paradox of choice will work twice:
First, I will become paralyzed with all of these bike choices. When I finally choose my bike, I will inevitably be disappointed when I can't do all the things that I could've had I made a different choice (if I get the singlespeed, I won't be able to use it at Whiteface, so I'll have to rent). Then I'll blame myself for having to pay the $80 for renting.
Then, if I do end up getting a bike, I'll have to go through a stupid choice every time I ride. Should I go road biking or mountain biking? What about a mix? Maybe I'll take the gravel grinder out for some doubletrack. But when I get on to some trails, and I start having all sorts of fun, I'll wish I brought the mountain bike so I could hit more technical trails, and I'll blame myself for making the wrong decision.
So, after thinking about it for a little while, I bought . . . One new tire for my mountain bike. Now should I put it on the front wheel or the back? Hmmmmm . . . .