A New Pair of Glasses

My normal sandy trail conditions (quite easy to see contrasts and hazards)

This morning, when I went out for my trail ride, I had a new set of glasses.  While they certainly won’t set any fashion trends, as I learned in an earlier ride this month, I need them under the right conditions.

Most of my riding is in a state park a few minutes from my house.  It’s easy and convenient, which is important for me to achieve a regular exercise regimen, as it usually needs to be squeezed in among other activities.  The state park has mostly sandy trails, and while forested, tends to still be quite light under most conditions.  Or as I thought, easy on my old eyes.

Every now and then though, particularly in combination with a Costco shopping trip, I ride at the state forest, known as the local mountain bike Mecca.  It has more challenging trails, a deeper forest, and quite a bit of rock outcroppings on the trails.  All of this in general makes me more nervous when I am riding there, and much more so in our most recent ride there, a week and a half ago.  

My regular riding partner is twenty years younger than me.  I started riding first, so I had an advantage for a while, but particularly at the state forest, I am challenged to keep up with her.  It was very noticeable last time we rode, as particularly on the faster downhills, she ran quite a bit ahead.  I slipped once, slightly off the trail as I misjudged the curve of a turn, and became more and more nervous as I continually felt I was overrunning my vision.  

At one point, she waited up for me and asked what was up?  I replied that it was my old eyes, and I just couldn’t see well enough to run faster.  I told her to go ahead, run at her own pace, and we could meet up at the parking lot.

However, a short distance up the trail, she stopped and asked if I wanted to try her glasses.  I had recently changed my glasses, from polarised lenses optimised for boating, to lenses optimised for trail riding after an earlier discussion about seeing on the trail.  My new trail glasses were much better than the old ones, and I wasn’t sure I would gain more improvement.  

She encouraged me to try though, saying that while they weren’t the most attractive, the photo-chromatic lenses for lower light conditions helped her a lot there.  

So, I took her up on the offer, and…. Wow, what a difference a different pair of glasses made.

I could see much further up the trail, and especially handle the flickering conditions in the deep forest.  I sped up and easily kept up with her, on uphills and downhills.

She asked if I noticed a difference.  Yes, it was a world of difference.  I could see.  It wasn’t my old eyes, it was the wrong lenses for the conditions.  

She noticed a difference as well and was riding slower, as she couldn’t see as far ahead and distinguish the contours and nuances of the trail.

I thought about that relative to working across different cultures, genders, races, roles, and companies.  How often do we stubbornly continue on, blindly making our way forward, when we would benefit from a new pair of glasses in which to see the world?  

No matter our age and how bad our vision is, sometimes changing our glasses gives us a whole new view of our trail ahead and the path to choose.

Or maybe we need a lot of different pairs, to handle all conditions….

My assortment of glasses, from ski goggles required in the worst of the loblolly pollen season, to different lenses for different conditions.

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