Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Torture numbers, and they'll confess to anything. (Gregg Easterbrook)

A bit of fun started when I decided to tidy up some old bicycle records. Old files. Pre-GPS era files. Pre-ubiquitous-cell-phone era files. Luckily, they were all post-home computer era files. So they were tidy little spreadsheets instead of scrolls of parchment or clay tablets.

The truth is, your cycling data can make delightful memories. Especially if you know what to keep and what to throw away. You don't want to keep just the stuff that makes you look good. We've been on gruesome rides where I was totally happy with a single-digit average speed.  And my favorite tale for years was the 5-mile "shortcut" that was supposed to save us over an hour but ended up costing us a whole lot more than that. Then there are the rides of (ahem) unusual length thanks to wrong turns and mis-read or absent signs or cues. Or the rides to outrun approaching weather. You can get some pretty amazing data doing that, particularly if there's a favorable tailwind.

Old, well-curated statistics can be better than old photographs for cyclists. Remember: you never know when you may need a good laugh or two.


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