Sunday, September 11, 2005

Bad Travel Advice

just before the crash

I travel quite a bit as a part of my work. When I play I'm often in new places.

So I like to talk to experienced folks who've "been there." That's usually the best way to get ready for a new experience.

Reading written guides can be pretty helpful too.

City guides, country guides, hiking/climbing and biking guides. Pretty much any guide that helps you get around a new place or route or trail. I've even created my own guides over the years.

Normally I like to feel my way through any situation as much as I can. But some clues and direction can really help.

Traveling gets a lot more interesting, though, when your guide messes up.

A couple of weeks ago I got up to the Arkansas River Valley here in Colorado on vacation (see Sabbatical below).

I was looking for a relaxed mountain bike route after climbing a 14er in the morning. The ARV is one of the more beautiful places in the world and I was hoping to get a good view of the Collegiate Peak Range to the west from across the valley on a nice and easy bike trail on the east side of the river.

I chose a "lazy" route based on the advice of Nathan Ward, a local ARV mountain biker who wrote a short guide to the trails in the area.

Lazy my butt.

The trail turned out to be too nasty. I was very tired from the peak bag earlier in the day, but even at full strength this route would have created some challenges.

I ended up crashing on a steep downhill and sort of limped back to my car.

The owner of a local bike shop told me the next day that mountain bikers in the ARV are some of the most gonzo riders in the state. He said "There are no easy rides in the area."

Just more proof of an axiom I've learned over the years. Travel advice often tells you more about your advisor than it does about your question. I've learned that lesson over and over again in every part of the world. And I've got a ton of funny (in retrospect) stories as a result.

I guess that axiom is true for pretty much any kind of advice in pretty much any area of life.

Yet I'm not sure I'd trade most of the experiences I've had due to bad guidance. Too much fun and too much growth.


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