Who do you trust?

Patrick with the Bilenky

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Conventional Wisdom and how much trust it takes to go against it. It’s something I struggle with.

Take cycling, for example.

I’m married to a cycling nut. Every waking minute that he isn’t working, he’s thinking, breathing, living bicycles.

He follows the big European cycling races, he knows who is on which team, which bikes they ride, who won which stage or which jersey. He reads books and blogs about cycling legends, training methods, coaching, heart rate monitors, pedals, diet. And he reads about bicycles – the history of bicycles, the many uses of bicycles, and the machine itself.

You’d think I’d trust him, right?

“You should get some cycling shorts. You’d be much more comfortable.” – Yeah, right. Me in lycra on a bicycle? I don’t think so!

“We should get a tandem so we can ride together.” – Spend money on another bicycle?

“You’ve got sore feet? Why don’t we get you some cycling shoes?” – More money on bikes?

“You’re cold and wet? How about we get you a gortex jacket?” – Ridiculous! I can’t justify spending that much money on a jacket.

“You want to get stronger on the bike? Buy a heart rate monitor and write yourself a training plan.” – Are you crazy? I don’t need to download my heart rate to the computer so I can see pretty graphs of my training rides!

You get the picture. Every time he suggests something new, I question it, and question and question. After all, what makes him such an expert? Any why should I trust him?

Then four years ago, he wanted to ride Paris Brest Paris, a 1200km bike ride over 4 days. Yes – a new level of insanity! But not only that, he wanted to buy a new tandem, one with 650B wheels. Because some guy in Seattle said that bikes with 650B wheels offered a more comfortable ride. NO!

But after weeks (or was it months?) of discussing it, he convinced me. And of course he was right. The new tandem with the 650B wheels, with fat tires and a fork with extra rake, IS more comfortable. The cushy tires absorb the bumps in the road and the bike rides in a straight line, especially at low speeds. When we ride at night, our headlight shines a steady, straight path – no weaving for us!

Even though conventional wisdom, bike shops, cycling magazines, coaches, and blogs, tell us that a road bike with 700C wheels is what we need for riding on the road, I’ve learned from experience that it simply isn’t the case for me, for long distance cycling and touring. 650B with fat tires is better.

Finally, I think that’s what it comes down to. To go against conventional wisdom, I need anecdotal evidence from people I trust. But ultimately, I have to try it and experience it myself.

How about you? Who do you trust? And when are you prepared to go against conventional wisdom?

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