Last week, The New York Times published a story about people depriving their brains of downtime by filling every spare moment with e-mails, phone calls and electronic games.
The story cited a University of Michigan study that found people learn better after a walk in nature than they do after walking through an urban environment. The Times story suggested a radical idea for a woman who was interviewed while multitasking with her iPod, iPhone and a a high-def TV as she exercised at the gym: Perhaps, the story suggested, her head would be clearer if she went for a run outside, without all the gadgets.
Downtime allows the brain to process experiences and turn them into long-term memories, according an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco. When your brain is constantly stimulated, the learning process is disrupted. He might has well have said, “mountain biking makes you smarter.”
What baffles me is why we still need to be told things that so obviously fit under the category of “No shit, Sherlock.” Why do we seem to forget that simply playing outside is more relaxing than staring at a screen?
It doesn’t matter if a person likes to ski, hike, run or—like you and me—take solace in the meditative benefits of singletrack. You’re better off if you unplug for a few hours and get out in the woods.
I think that’s one of the reasons I like to take it slow and enjoy the ride. Pedaling fast is fine, but half the fun of a mountain bike ride is swapping tales at the trailhead or during water breaks along way. What’s the rush? All the bullshit of daily life will still be waiting when the ride ends.
You can even hurry home and blog about it.