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death ride Carson Pass photoI’m having to hold on to the railing as I go up and down steps, as my legs are still recovering from riding my bicycle in the Death Ride over the weekend. It is clearly the hardest athletic event I have ever participated in, and two simple stats make the point:

–          129 miles at a altitude of (6,000 – 9,000 ft)

–          15,000 feet of climbing (like riding from sea level to the top of Mount Whitney)

During the over 11 hours I spent on my bike, I had the opportunity to think about the similarities between participating in such an event, and founding a company.

When I tell friends about the Death Ride, they usually give me the “why the hell would you put yourself through that?” look. I must say I don’t have a very rational answer.

Other friends who are bike riders give me the “good for you, I know it’s going to hurt but I understand why you do it” look. They don’t need a rational explanation; they understand that there is an irrational drive behind pushing oneself beyond “normal” limits (and the Death Ride for a 45-year-old man is beyond those limits).

I get very similar reactions when I talk to people about founding and building companies. If you look rationally at the risk/effort/reward ratios, there are much better and more efficient ways to make a living.  If one wants to optimize for compensation, becoming an investment banker or venture capitalist is a much saner choice. If one is looking for good risk/reward ratios, joining an established and proven organization is a much safer way to go. What drives me to start companies is the same “let’s see where the limit is, and push beyond it” desire that puts me on a bike for 11 and a half hours.

Whether it’s start-ups or cycling, one of the elements that make both experiences great is the camaraderie. At InsideView, I am surrounded by people with my same desire to create technologies that increase productivity and efficiency in businesses across the globe. On the Death Ride, I rode with another 3,000 riders from all over the country. For me it’s the opportunity to collaborate and be around like-minded people that keeps me coming back to the office…and to the bike.