As most of you know by now, my passion is anything on two wheels. When not in quarantine, I both motorbiked and mountain-biked to work, not just because I love any excuse to ride, but also to get mental and physical stimulation, reduce my carbon footprint, and speed up my commute…riding my mountain bike 15 miles is as quick as driving a car in rush-hour traffic. It is an awesome way to start and end the day, my time to let go of any stresses and get the blood pumping. In addition to all those positives, I often see synergies and lessons to apply to life and business.

 During the winter in San Diego it is typically dark between 5-8 pm, so my ride home on the mountain bike is often in the dark. With my mountain bike commute being completely off-road (for those that know San Diego, I can follow PQ canyon almost from home to the office) this adds a unique dynamic. I ride with a powerful headlight that casts a beautiful and mesmerizing tunnel of light on the trail ahead! I recently realized one evening while pedaling home that there are some real synergies between night riding, building a business, and the opportunities facing the energy sector today.

Energy Transition Gareth Evans VECTKA

Night Riding And The Energy Transition

In my experience, night riding can have the following effects on people:

  1. It is too scary and one ever tries night riding in the first place. A simple case of creating a self-imposed limit and not being able or willing to overcome it, we stick with the status quo.
  2. It is like riding for the first time all over again. Without all those peripheral visual cues, you can get caught out by terrain changes or the elements and find going far tougher than planned.
  3. At night you get transfixed into your tunnel of light, which even with the best of light only gives you a view 20-30 ft ahead. You lose all peripheral vision.
  4. Due to the limited vision and strange shadows, objects can appear very different to what they are like in reality and something that would normally be a non-issue can catch you out.
  5. There are far fewer people who do it, less knowledge, fewer people to lead the way and smaller networks to connect with.
  6. You can get tense, stressed and make poor judgement leading to far greater overreactions to small objects in the trail.
Energy Transition VECTKA

Photo By: https://www.cyclewise.co.uk/course/26-dark-skies-event-mountain-bike-night-ride

When done right, night riding is an incredible experience. So what are the synergies between night riding and applications to life, business and the energy industry:

  1. Challenge the status quo. Night riding is an incredible way to challenge your limits, put yourself outside of your comfort zone, and inspire a huge step up in your riding abilities. The energy sector has traditionally been quite conservative, riding during the day on the well-known local trails. And for a time rightfully so: the traditional model worked, technology that exists today was not viable, and energy was being provided in a safe and–for the most part–reliable way.  While safety still remains an absolute priority for the energy sector, the traditional models are now not always capable of meeting today’s needs: reliable, secure, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions. Collectively we need to challenge ourselves to step outside our comfort zones, embrace this ever-evolving opportunity and drive a step change in our approach to energy.
  2. Adapt with purpose. Pre-plan and pre-ride as much as possible. Don’t just rush out and buy a random headlight and head off into the darkness and hope for the best. With experience comes knowledge, skills, data, confidence, lessons learned, and ability to fill your blind spots when applied in the right way. Today, businesses and communities are trying to figure out how to best adapt to the energy transition in a sustainable and cost-effective way. There are lots of amazing ideas, initiatives, and organizations thinking up incredible solutions  but together we need to adapt with purpose. We have a huge amount of experience and data to draw on, let’s pre-plan and test ride our future technically and economically, and then adapt together. Without purpose, we will waste time, energy, and opportunity–and likely get injured along the way. Let’s focus the light and create that peripheral vision for superior outcomes and smooth(er) riding.
  3. Look ahead. No matter how experienced you are, if you focus on the most brightly-lit area directly in front of you, blissfully unaware of what’s ahead, you will hit a lot of unexpected situations. Scan the trail, directly in front of you to the end of the light. As much as possible look as far ahead as you can to read the trail and predict what’s coming. Together we need to look as far ahead as we can using our collective intelligence to navigate the trail as effectively as possible. We do not want to outrun our light, ride blind, and have to react: let’s proactively position ourselves.
  4. Do it with friends. Going it alone can be more dangerous, has a slower learning curve, and is less fun. Today the energy transition is a bit like the wild west, with everyone jockeying for position, forcing solutions and venturing into the darkness, often alone. Let’s work together, share ideas, and bring the best solutions for each situation. The opportunity ahead of us all is huge. Going for a few quick individual wins can jeopardize a sustainable, enjoyable, and successful future together.
  5. Take a breath and stay calm. It does not matter how much you apply the ideas above: if you are clenching the handlebars, riding rigid, and not letting the bike do the work you will be in trouble. In business, trust yourself and those around you, confident that you have developed the right plan and race towards it with the ability to adapt, stay loose, and enjoy the flow. You also need to be able to trust your equipment: your bike and light, or, in business, your plan, systems and tools. If these things don’t inspire confidence and enable you…change them. We can not afford to get bogged down, distracted, and find people or things to blame. Let’s take responsibility, breathe, relax, trust our instincts, equipment and work the plan.
  6. Pace Yourself. We need to pace ourselves and get fit for purpose. Nothing amazing happens overnight. We need to create an environment for ourselves and those around us to achieve all the above in a sustainable and positive way. Embrace relaxation and thinking time, be active and healthy, balance or, if you are lucky enough, combine work and pleasure and lead by example for those around you. Don’t treat every ride like a hard effort sprint. Enjoy the experience and set yourself up for a sustained effort with the ability to ramp up and down the level of effort based on the conditions ahead.

 Get out there, shake up the status quo, and challenge your limits, empowered by the right people, equipment and game plan to create a positive and long-term outcome. Smile, have fun and enjoy the ride! Right–time to hit the trails. :)