The cyclist’s audit trail is nothing like the work place equivalent.
It has nothing to do with processes, procedures or financial transactions, and everything to do with informing your cycling companions, through a steady drip of evidence and information, the precise reasons for some mildly embarrassing or reprehensible behavioural trait you will exhibit today.
For example, if you know you simply haven’t got enough miles under your belt and are bound to be off the pace on today’s ride, you create a subtle audit trail of evidence revolving around the kids giving you the run-around, late finishes at work, a persistent chesty cough, and the logistical difficulties of getting out for a training ride in the dark winter months.
When, mid-ride, your companion notices you sweating and wheezing off the back of the group, rather than confront you about your dismal display on the bike his mind will naturally wander back and piece together the evidence you cleverly laid out before him.
If you have done this subtly your friend will have some sympathy with you for gamely battling on against the odds, and will go easy on you. Your little mind game will now ensure you avoid the singular terror that strikes fear into the heart of the British male…the open and honest conversation.
Lets just suppose for a minute that you have neglected to lay your little audit trail, and are compelled to engage in a spot of honesty. How might that sound?
Imagine telling your riding partner that you feel weak and lacking in determination, that you’re not sure that you’ve got the heart for the next climb, and that you are starting to wonder if you are really tough enough to cycle on a semi-serious basis.
Perhaps you’ll go on to tell him you’ve started considering other hobbies like baking or model railways, or that you’ve even (whisper it) enquired about green fees at your local golf club.
Your friend will probably react in one of two ways:
Either he will automatically and involuntarily assume that you are having a joke, burst into spontaneous laughter at the sheer ridiculousness of what just came from your mouth, and then immediately forget everything you just said…
…or, he will understand that you are being serious, reply with a few well-chosen words of sympathy and consolation, and then ride off mercilessly into the distance, cutting all ties and leaving you to wallow in a pool of your own sweat and embarrassment.
I think we can all agree that it’s far better to avoid the open and honest conversation at all costs; if we all just stick to the mind games, no-one has to get hurt.