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  1. #1
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    Mental downtime: More good reasons for long rides

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...ental-downtime

    I definitely feel that long rides refresh my brain and act like mini vacations, which I'm able to take much more often than "real" vacations. For that matter, I've always felt that even just my daily commute benefits my concentration and creativity, even if I spend it fully engaged in dodging traffic.

    The sleep deprivation part of a brevet might not help so much, but on the other hand, I do find myself sleeping much better for awhile after it's over.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    I agree. I've never ridden longer than 200K, but I find that cycling for a few hours or most of a day is wonderfully restorative. I sometimes use the time to think about things I'm doing off the bike, but much of the time I'm fully in the moment, paying attention to my surroundings, getting into a rhythm, riding my bike to ride my bike. One of my friends asked whether I got bored on a long ride; I said that I found the question odd!
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  3. #3
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    Yeah, I agree too. When I look back, I did a lot of riding in the period 2002 to 2009 and I was more than okay physically and mentally. Things have been fuzzy since, so I am looking forward to doing a lot more riding now that we are more settled in our new-for-us/old-for-me location.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member daf1009's Avatar
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    So...on these long rides...are they more refreshing as you discuss when you are alone? Or when cycling with friends? Is there a strong difference? I recently completed my first century...with 3 friends that tended to ride a bit faster than me...I found that this added pressure to "keep up"...even though they made the statement that "ride at your own pace"...and they meant it.

    While it definitely made the miles go by faster to have someone to talk to during the ride...I did not find it as mentally refreshing as other longer rides...
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  5. #5
    Senior Member antimonysarah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daf1009 View Post
    So...on these long rides...are they more refreshing as you discuss when you are alone? Or when cycling with friends? Is there a strong difference? I recently completed my first century...with 3 friends that tended to ride a bit faster than me...I found that this added pressure to "keep up"...even though they made the statement that "ride at your own pace"...and they meant it.

    While it definitely made the miles go by faster to have someone to talk to during the ride...I did not find it as mentally refreshing as other longer rides...
    I agree -- I find riding by myself to be much more relaxing. Riding together in silence may speed me up because I won't dawdle (if I'm feeling too much pressure to keep up, I'll just drop off the back), but riding and talking slows me down a lot because I need to turn to look at the person I'm talking to at times to hear well enough. I find it kind of stressful if I'm trying to get along at a good clip. Especially if it's someone I don't know well. I've had fun conversations on brevets, but I'm just as happy to ride alone.

    As for the original question -- yes, as long as I'm not getting further behind with work/gardening/other tasks because I'm out riding. My commute is too busy to be really relaxing; taking the train is more relaxing than riding. Especially since I got clipped by a car a week ago (no injuries to rider or bike) and am still fighting off the nervousness in heavy traffic. I find video games relaxing for the same reason -- a session of separation from the world, with lots of little achievements along the way (hills, boss fights, whatever).

    Though the most recharging/peaceful experience I've ever had was solo canoe tripping. I went up to Maine last summer and did the Moose River Bow Trip, and there was about a 48-hour period where I didn't see another human being. Just me, the boat, and the water. Even the time I just went overnight up in Ipswich, where there were other people on the river and at the campground, but I ignored them, was a remarkable way to relax. I'm bummed I didn't get out on a trip this summer, but all my spare time has gone to riding.

  6. #6
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    For me, I think it still counts, whether I'm alone or with other people. If I'm by myself obviously I have plenty of time alone inside my own head, but if I'm with other people it's not like we're actually chatting the entire time. Even if I'm pushing to keep up, that's fun in an of itself sometimes and I still find it refreshing. Going out and focusing on a purely immediate, simple, physical challenge (whether it's riding hard, or a long ride where I'm just focusing on eating, pacing, etc) that is such a departure from modern everyday working life feels so satisfying and somehow purifying, that even if I'm sore or sleep deprived or whatever afterward, I get back to real life with more perspective and more energy.

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