Posted by: Ian | December 27, 2012

My Festive 500 #4 – Bike mind

500 km of restorative cycling centred in Somerset naturally takes in Exmoor at some point: today was my Exmoor day.


As yesterday, the constraints I’d placed on my route led me to roads that were new to me. I can recommend my loop up onto and down off Exmoor. From South Molton through North Molton to The Sportsman’s Inn is a stiff ascent but a pleasant one. From here, the descent into Withypool, shown in the photo, is beautiful and exhilarating. Then, it’s another climb and another fast descent leading to Dulverton.

The entire stretch is much more inspiring than the drag from Simonsbath to Wheddon Cross favoured by most of the sportives that pass across Exmoor.

I’d planned to get lunch in my favoutite farm shop/tea room but unfortunately it was closed so I pressed on. The return to South Molton was largely identical to a segment of a ride I did from Dulvi to Barnstaple six months ago. Then it had been a pleasant saunter. Today, I faced 14 miles into a fierce and constant headwind. From South Molton it was easy again and felt great.

I don’t read books in the medical self-help genre but I’ve read about a book called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey, who is a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. His thesis is that exercise has as beneficial a physiological impact on the brain as it does on the rest of the body, and that amongst the forms of exercise cycling is in some important ways better than others. Students who cycle do better in tests than those who don’t (and better than those who do other exercise). Cycling is an effective cure for ADHD, comparable to having a mild dose of Prozac and a mild dose of Ritalin. Old cyclists have more grey matter than their non-cycling cohorts and are thus less prone to Alzheimer’s. Cycling thus has positive effects on neurotransmitters and brain structure, and even, through the production of specific proteins during cycling, on the genes within brain cells.

Maybe that’s why I felt so good belting along the deserted roads high up on Exmoor with the wind at my back enjoying spectacular far-reaching views in every direction.

Here’s today’s Strava map:

F500, Day4




  1. Reblogged this on Exmoor.

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