Slow Motion

13 12 2007

Have you noticed how long it takes to have a bike wreck? You can see your handlebar hook on the tree and the front wheel go wonky. You can even see yourself flying through the air, arms outstretched, knowing that this is how people shatter wrists and collarbones, plenty of time to wonder how the hell you’re really supposed to tuck and roll.

There must be some scientists out there who are cyclists too, because they’ve studied that experience of slow motion crisis. Here is a link to an article about their studies: Does Time Slow in Crisis? I thought it was fascinating and I had to wonder how they convinced people to participate in the study. It must have gone something like this: “Thank you for volunteering to help us understand more about the human response to intense fear. We recommend that you bring a change of clothes. Four ounces of alcoholic spirits will be provided for your recovery.”

As I understood it, the feeling of time slowing is essentially a matter of our brains creating more memories related to new experiences. The article used the wonderful example of children feeling that summer lasts forever, while adults describe it as flashing by in the blink of an eye. We older folks have already experienced summer so we let it flash by without notice. But what does that say about all those mountain bikers who have experienced lots of painful bike crashes? Does this mean that they’re slower to learn from their experiences? A little slow on the uptake, are they?

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