Via Mind Hacks comes this conclusion from an 1890 journal for mental health on the appeal of cycling:
For most of us the exquisite loveliness and delight of a fine summer’s day have a special charm. The very life is luxury. The air is full of sound and sunshine, of the song of birds, and the murmur of insects; the meadows gleam with golden buttercups, we almost fancy we can see the grass grow and the buds open; the bees hum for very joy; there are a thou sand scents, above all, perhaps, that of new-mown hay.
There are doubtless many patients before whom “all the glories of heaven and earth may pass in daily succession without touching their hearts or elevating their minds,” but, in time, it is possible even these would, by means of cycling, have their love of Nature, which had been frozen or crushed out, restored. Thus all Nature, which is full of beauties, would not only be a never-failing source of pleasure and interest, but lift them above the petty troubles and sorrows of their daily life.
Riding a bike home the other day, it struck me just how alert one has to be on a bike. While you can effectively shut your brain off and drive on auto-pilot as car traffic patterns have been engineered for the lowest common denominator, day dream whilst walking down the block, or complete work on mass transit as some other faculty provides the effort, on a bike one must maintain a constant state of awareness. This also reminds of the dangerous irony of very poor drivers operating very deadly machinery populating our roadways while one must be near expert to navigate the roads by bike, the simpler, safer, and cheaper method.
While it is nice to let the mind turn off every once in a while, like any muscle it provides a nice reward to exercise our strongest one. A good pain.
Reconnect with the place where you live.