velodrome track race - kissena queens new york

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Learned inspiration

I read an interesting article today. It explains that humans love to learn. The article says that neuroscientists at USC and NYU found out that trying something new: such as exploring a ride we've never done before -- causes our brain to release endorphins that make us feel good. And new information that triggers the most memories also produces the most pleasure.

In college I did a summer psychology internship with a professor who wrote a book about his theory of 'learned helplessness'. That's the reason for my topic, 'learned inspiration'.

Biking home from my job on 59th and lexington today I decided to take the long route in spite of the fact that I've been trying to take it easy lately. I hopped on the bike and rode through central park up to 72nd street, then down to 55th street, over to the west side bike path, and all the way around to battery park then north again to get to home sweet home on the good old lower east side. It was foggy and humid but not quite wet out, about 58 degrees.

This relatively short 45 minute bike ride brought on a wealth of learning and new experiences. On the west side bike path, I saw two guys on segway scooters with puffy balloon tires. Since I'd never seen the X2 I must have been staring... when oops! I bike off a curb and I'm riding with traffic on the west side highway instead of on the bike path. No choice but to keep going until I get back on the path (about 300 yards). Keep riding, keep looking over the water to the New Jersey skyline it's really quite beautiful in this weather. Off in the distance, I can make out the Asbury Park Ferris Wheel. Then later, as I'm detouring through Battery Park I head towards a ramp to avoid some steps... but I don't quite make it and the bike HOPS off the ramp. One foot comes off a pedal and I'm wobbling along holding my balance with just one foot on one pedal. Thank heavens for the brooks sprung saddle I'm riding!

That makes three totally new experiences, 1) the guys on the segways, 2) riding off a curb into traffic, and 3) meandering through battery park detours in an unfamiliar maze of paths. Not to mention the amazing views I have of the manhattan bridge as I head up the east side bike path.

Then a fourth new thing happens. I'm biking on Delancey street under the Williamsburg bridge. I already know about the shared use street markings... and I am mildly amused by the fact that I'm riding over these things... until I make a left on the arcane and little Lewis Street where am completely surprised to find markings on Lewis Street too.

This is great I think to myself, if I keep riding all over the city eventually street markings and bicycling-good-karma will appear everywhere I ride, Woo hoo!

Finally a quote from circleAcycles, "There's lots of gear and lots of money to be spent, but the only thing you need is to ride. Ride places other people drive; ride places you used to drive. Ride."

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