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How do you combat mental "fatigue" from riding the same or similar routes?

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How do you combat mental "fatigue" from riding the same or similar routes?

Old 02-04-10, 06:03 PM
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luderart
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How do you combat mental "fatigue" from riding the same or similar routes?

I am realizing that after some time of riding the same routes over and over again, I mentally doze off and it can become potentially dangerous. This was the case today when I covered my 3 KM route and back during night. It reached a stage where I felt like my mind was not sufficiently aware that I was on the road. It was like it was inactive or on autopilot (to use airplane language) and needed greater stimulation in order to be kick-started. It almost felt as though I was playing a computer game with no awareness of the three-dimensionality around me and my actual presence in the real physical world.

The first possible reason for such mental dormancy that occurs to me is the fact that the familiar or non-varying route does not offer much of anything new in terms of mental stimulation so that my brain feels unstimulated and therefore can afford to "doze off". A second possible reason is that the low light or darkness tones down the visual aspects of three-dimensionality so that I do not experience the three-dimensionality of the route in the same clear way as in daylight. Alternatively, and since I also ride a unicycle, it could perhaps be that this mental autopilot effect while riding my bicycle is a side effect of riding the unicycle. Since riding the unicycle is a constant effort whereas you can free-ride the bicycle (without turning the pedals) and can therefore go long stretches with nearly no effort, it could perhaps be that compared to riding the unicycle riding the bicycle becomes too easy so that my mind can afford to doze off much of the time. What do you think?

Do you too encounter such mental fatigue? What can I do to keep my mind alert and engaged in the route I am moving through? Should I perhaps vary my routes? Or should I avoid riding at night?

Last edited by luderart; 02-04-10 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 02-04-10, 06:09 PM
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I do change routes. But I ride 9 miles each way (~14km) so I have more choices. Besides, it's almost impossible to get into the state you have described in NYC: every city block is an adventure

A.
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Old 02-04-10, 06:18 PM
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Your connection to the physical world is quite real, I assure you. Maybe somewhat sublimated, but nothing to worry about. Sounds to me like you're going a little crazy.
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Old 02-04-10, 06:56 PM
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I don't think "mental fatigue" as you aren't really fatigued. If anything, it is probably being too relaxed. I ride the same way to and from work almost every day. Only varies if I'm running an errand on the way.

Except that one day last month when I missed a turn and ended up in the next town. I was zoned out and suddenly found myself wondering why there were cars parked in my bike lane. Realized I wasn't in a bike lane anymore. Took a few seconds for it all to compute. Had a nice ride though.
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Old 02-04-10, 07:01 PM
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I find that even when I am zoned out I'm still aware of traffic around me.
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Old 02-04-10, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by CACycling View Post
I don't think "mental fatigue" as you aren't really fatigued. If anything, it is probably being too relaxed. I ride the same way to and from work almost every day. Only varies if I'm running an errand on the way.

Except that one day last month when I missed a turn and ended up in the next town. I was zoned out and suddenly found myself wondering why there were cars parked in my bike lane. Realized I wasn't in a bike lane anymore. Took a few seconds for it all to compute. Had a nice ride though.
I knew the word fatigue was not the proper one and that's why I put it in quotations. Perhaps "zoned out" as you say is the more appropriate word for that condition of mind.
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Old 02-04-10, 07:24 PM
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Longer and shorter routes help mix things up. It depends on how much you like riding, I suppose. I was half asleep going from work to class one night, so I made myself do intervals on the way. I felt great the rest of the night.
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Old 02-04-10, 07:48 PM
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I often end up on autopilot on my commute. Sometimes I'll be going down the backside of a hill and realize that I don't remember climbing up the front of it at all because I was thinking of something else. When I started doing that, I knew I was getting in shape, because that hill used to be a hard climb.

But even when I'm on autopilot, my brain is watching what's going on around me. I'll still spot a car about to pull out of a driveway. Once you're familiar with the route, your conscious mind can tune out to a certain degree and your subconscious can keep an eye on things and alert you if something out of the ordinary is happening. It's not like my eyes aren't seeing anything, I'm just not bothering to remember what I've seen because it's not important enough to remember.

Now, if you find you're not noticing hazardous things, then you do need to work on paying more attention. Meditation is very helpful in developing "mindfulness", or as Yoda would say, keeping your mind on whereyou are and what you are doing. Hmmm?

Keith
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Old 02-04-10, 08:18 PM
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I actually find that my route changes DRAMATICALLY over the course of the year - and I dont even change the route.

Daytime vs nightime with lights.
Rush hour craziness vs nonrush hour
Cool winters (no changing, go harder on hills to stay warm) vs hot summers (super slow riding no sweat)
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Old 02-04-10, 08:20 PM
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I actually find that my route changes DRAMATICALLY over the course of the year - and I dont even change the route.

Daytime vs nightime with lights.
Rush hour craziness vs nonrush hour
Cool winters (no changing, go harder on hills to stay warm) vs hot summers (super slow riding no sweat)
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Old 02-04-10, 09:51 PM
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I call my "mental fatigue" boredom from riding my 14 mile commute and my various training routes. This summer I made some new conscious efforts to alleviate boredom. I have always listened to a device, previously, as well as currently broadcast talk shows, but now added an I-pod with my favorite music and podcasts.

Secondly I have tried to note the new and novel on my routes. I have noted when driving a car on routes I have cycled for years, I often notice things I was unaware of, probably because I have focused so much on the immediate road surface ahead. So now I try to raise my head and look further afield.

Finally, because I have such nice routes to ride, I have adopted an "imaginary friend" to bring with me on my rides and I point out the sights to him. He is actually an active subscriber to Bike Forums and from his many posts I think he is someone I'd like to ride with. He's from the midwest, like myself, and I really enjoy showing such "paisanos" around the Boston area.
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Old 02-04-10, 11:36 PM
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On my 7 mile ride I had several options and would change it up. One option (homeward direction) involved climbing a huge hill at the start, then a fairly easy ride the rest of the way. Another went right through one of the busier retail districts with lots of traffic. I usually find car herding pretty invigorating. Yet another, slightly longer route, I could take a MUP along the river for a few miles, then swing toward home. There was a fourth route that followed a good bike lane (neighborhood feeder street where the cars didn't speed and were used to bikes being there), and after several miles then I went up the big hill (same hill as in the ridge as in the first ride, crossing it at a point a few miles further south).

My new commute is in the same direction but goes 17 miles out, so I should have plenty of variety when I feel like it.
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Old 02-05-10, 12:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Finally, because I have such nice routes to ride, I have adopted an "imaginary friend" to bring with me on my rides and I point out the sights to him. He is actually an active subscriber to Bike Forums and from his many posts I think he is someone I'd like to ride with. He's from the midwest, like myself, and I really enjoy showing such "paisanos" around the Boston area.
Chipcom is really creeped out right now.
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Old 02-05-10, 01:04 AM
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I vary my commute between a long version and a shorter version. The longer one being the more pleasant of the two because it involves about 8 miles of bike path and only two miles of road as opposed to 8 miles of busy city streets. In both cases I am well entertained by either all the cars and drivers or the wildlife along the river.
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Old 02-05-10, 04:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
On my 7 mile ride I had several options and would change it up. ...

My new commute is in the same direction but goes 17 miles out, so I should have plenty of variety when I feel like it.
On my usual 14 mile commute, the only one I ride during the winter, I too have four options, each one defined by a diffferent hill. I describe the envioronments as gitty urban, pleasant urban, pleasant suburban, and ritzy suburban. At about mile 10 they all intersect at the same point, so the last four miles are always the same. During the nice weather months, there are more options depending on my intended mileage, at least two or three choices for any given distance.
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Old 02-05-10, 04:36 AM
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I have two different routes. Which one I take depends on the weather. The 25km route is alright, but I ride alongside the highway for about 15km of it. It's a bad view, it's smelly and it's noisy. The 26km route is nearly the opposite. I don't ride alongside the highway at all, I have some nice views over the water and it's slightly more varying when it comes to height differences. I like the 26km route more...
Though, I want to get to work as fast as possible most of the times, so I take the 25km route. It's fast, it's acceptable. The 26km route I ride more when the sun is shining. It allows me to have some extra fun during the ride to work.

Still thinking about creating some extra miles by rerouting though.
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Old 02-05-10, 04:39 AM
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I've been trying to memorize every side street on my my new longer commute(29 miles round trip.)
That should keep my brain occupied till late summer.
I've also been memorizing the locations of the crests of every hill, they are way easier to remember.
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Old 02-05-10, 07:37 AM
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Jim from Boston... lol
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Old 02-05-10, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by agarose2000 View Post
I actually find that my route changes DRAMATICALLY over the course of the year - and I dont even change the route.
+1

If you are paying attention in the first place, even though the actual route doesn't change, the things you observe along the route are constantly changing. If you are getting bored and "zoned-out", perhaps you were not paying enough attention in the first place.
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Old 02-05-10, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Lot's Knife View Post
Chipcom is really creeped out right now.
Hey, everyone needs a sugar daddy.
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"Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey
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Old 02-05-10, 09:01 AM
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Ride FASTER!
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Old 02-05-10, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Pig_Chaser View Post
Ride FASTER!
But Captain, the warped legs can't take much more!

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"Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey
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Old 02-05-10, 09:30 AM
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Traffic keeps me alert. I'm terrified of being hit.
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Old 02-05-10, 11:05 AM
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I ride different routes all the time. But even when I do ride the same route there's always something new to see you didn't notice the last time, or the seasons have changed adding another dimension to what you saw before.
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Old 02-05-10, 11:25 AM
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this is a good question. monotony leads to complacency which can lead to a careless mistake. sometimes I forget to turn my head left and right to look for cars at intersections.
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