As often as I can, I take the long way home from work. Instead of 6-7 miles in 20-30 minutes, this gets me about 20 miles of riding in roughly 1.5 hours (I’m generally not in a hurry in either case). The short way takes me through central Madison along a route made up partly of bikes paths and partly of neighborhood streets. Most variants of the long way take me along the southern edges of town using bike paths, neighborhood streets, and a country road or two.
Part of the reason that I take the long way home–besides the fact that I love riding my bike–is that sooner or later my mind will slip into a fluid state in which my thoughts flow and float along. This is not only a highly useful way to think through the problems of the world, but it’s also the single best way to let the work day evaporate.
But I don’t seem able to slip into this flow state right away. It takes some amount of riding. One of the things that bubbled up into the foreground when I was riding home last night is this: is it miles or time that’s required to attain this mental flow state? Or perhaps something else, like a minimum level of exertion or just getting out of the traffic grid and on to a path in the woods?
Clearly more data is required.