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I was driving my truck to an appointment in a city that I don't visit often enough to remember my way around with any certainty. Not wanting to get delayed or lost, I had printed a map with directions from my computer and left home with enough time to allow for unforeseen traffic problems and navigational ineptitude. As further insurance, Gypsy occasionally guided me with her computerized voice emanating from my dash, "Turn left in point five miles."

As I neared the city of my destination, I recognized a familiar road that I remembered as a shortcut I had learned during my last excursion to this place and chose to follow this route. As this shift in direction was a different way than Gypsy had planned, she became momentarily confused but soon responded with, "Recalculating," followed by "Make a U-turn right now!"

It's amazing how closely Gypsy's process emulates what happens in our human mind. I suppose the fact that she was programmed by human minds figures into this, but her thought process is very similar to ours. If our mind is traveling in a particular path and we get interrupted by something pulling our mind in a different direction, there is a delay as our mind recalculates the connections in our brain to support the change.

Our minds are only capable of one thought at a time. When we multitask, we are actually time sharing our mind among the various activities we are doing. Every time we shift our thinking from one task to another, our brain has to recalculate the route through our brain to support this change in thought processes. While it may not take long to complete this recalculation, there is a momentary lapse as our mind shifts gears.

If we are thinking about what we are going to do when we get to our destination while we are riding, our mind will obviously have to change direction in order to recognize a challenging situation developing on the road ahead. And we have to recognize the new circumstances before we can even think about developing a plan to react to the potential problem. At 45 mph even a quarter of a second delay in our thought process puts us over fifteen feet closer to the hazard and that can make a significant difference in the outcome of our predicament.

The important thing is to remain focused on what is going on around us as we motivate down the road on two wheels. But it's difficult, and exhausting, to keep that level of concentration for an extended period of time. The human mind tends to race around from thought to thought so, like Gypsy, we need time to recalculate a different path through our brain when an unexpected situation presents itself.

We can compensate for this mental delay by giving ourselves a little more time and space around us. This is not to say that if we have a larger space cushion we can let our mind wander, but we do need to allow for the time our mind needs to recalculate its new direction back to our ride in the face of an impending hazard.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!