A couple of years back, my friend "Budman" Kobza told me about a study that indicated that riding motorcycles is good for your brain. Who knew? All about dealing with novelty, and solving problems, and predicting the future, and honing skills. How cool is that?
Okay, so novelty, and solving new problems is good for your brain, right? So, will you get that novelty and problem solving experience if you always ride the same roads? What about if you ride new roads? In new places? What about if you ride new roads, in new paces, and on the wrong side of the road? You'd be a genius, right?
Welcome to riding in the UK (or Japan, or New Zealand, or Australia, or...). Last month, we were in the UK for a bit of riding with friends, and a bit of race watching. Learning to always keep yourself on the appropriate side of the road, even when you are dealing with junctions, driveways, roundabouts (not that hard, really), or meeting an oncoming vehicle coming around a blind turn on a very narrow road (can be quite hard, really) is a great way to exercise your brain. Always having to hold part of your attention to one side to assure that "reflexes" don't take over and put you in exactly the wrong place. It's a good mental workout. Screw Luminosity! This is REAL fun!
Okay, so you can't hop across the pond to ride on the other side of the road, what should you do to stay sharp? (Cue the broken record) Yep, ride new roads. Dig out your Benchmark Atlas, or your Thomas Brothers map, and look at little roads a couple of counties away. Stuff running over ridge tops, or down in creek drainages will work. Places you haven't seen before. Roads where you don't know what's around the next corner. Towns with cafes whose pie you haven't sampled. You know, for science.
And if by chance you do find yourself in the UK with a motorcycle, find the smallest roads you can see, and go play. Not A roads. Not even B roads. Look for the ones that aren't even classified. The local roads out to villages with 8 houses and 2 pubs. That's where you want to be going. After all, it's for your brain.