(1) Watch TV with the lights on. Turn the volume to an appropriate level.
(2) Now turn the lights off.
What happens to the volume level?
Here's another thing to think about:
Tomorrow go for a walk in a park or green place. A recent study which performed such an experiment on test subjects finds that people who stroll through green spaces (rather than inhabited spaces) will be able to repeat, in backwards order, longer sequences of numbers more accurately. Also, they're happier.
This certainly applies to rides.
We don't need to be told that, though, do we?
Nor do we need to be told exercise makes us smarter and happier.
Here's a picture of five of us, exhibiting proof of the benefit of the claims listed above:
This picture was taken after we'd finished the Tour of Millersburg's final stage, a road race of 52 miles, all of it wet, all of it dangerous, most of it hard. None of us won or placed well. In fact, we rode poorly in all three stages.
Like idiots, we're happy for no apparent reason.
Some credit goes to the town and race organizers.
"You win today?" an elderly woman with a cane called out to us after the race. "We tried," I said. "That's good!" she shouted.
After the crit I chatted with Chris Gould, who sat on a family's yard. His host family beseeched me: "You want some food? We have loads?"
Mennonite children in homespun cheered us from under awnings and tents amid the downpour.
Bodies had hit the pavement several times. A Coppi rider trying to pass me on the right caught the lip of the road and nearly bit it and took out my brother. I heard the skid of bikes rounding a bend smash into a rail at full speed. You can read a participant's account here.
AABC's Paul Wilson, on whom I'd landed in the crit when the aforementioned Coppi rider went down in a corner, said the crash was "Like one of those Tour crashes, where the bodies just piled on top of each other and blocked the road."
As Dennis said, "Lines in front of the ambulance, that pretty much summarizes it. And a helicopter ride for a guy with a concussion because the nearest hospital is 45 mins away."
Clouds swirled around the mountains as we rode. I could barely see through the wet and the fog of my glasses. I felt hyper-alive, and at the same time asleep and dreaming.
Grayson put it this way: "The road race was unreal. The shear amount of concentration it took due to the inclimate conditions itself was exhausting. That said, there were moments I was able to steal some mental snapshots of the majesty of it all. Clouds settled on the distant hilltops, the wiz of rooster tails jumping from everyone's rear tire in an otherwise silent group of bike riders. Spiritual stuff to be sure."
Danger--when it's a city causing it, it makes you angry and stupid; when it's a crazy bike race through a beautiful natural setting, it makes you happy and smart.
If you bothered with the lights / TV volume experiment, by the way, turning down the lights tends to turn the volume up. I bring the effect up because I think it--the weird neurological effect it describes--may explain the effect of the road race on my brain. The light dimmed, I heard each drop of the rain and spray, every spinning gear, the breathing of the pack, and the soft wind we drove on with our own bodies, driving through manure and potholes, striving with and against each other.