In my early twenties I was a sailplane pilot. Sailplanes are simple aircraft, but there's enough data flowing from the instrument panel that it's possible to become fixated on a set of numbers, rather than observing what happens outside the canopy. Judgment suffers. The instructors' antidote was a flight with the instruments covered, to get pilots' heads out of the cockpit. Forced to rely on observation and audio-visual cues, pilots sharpen their ability to judge altitude, airspeed, distance and other factors. Plus, you want to be looking outside the plane for other traffic.
Cyclists can be every bit as bad as pilots when it comes to keeping their heads inside the cockpit. Case in point: I recently sat behind a cyclist who obviously glanced at his cyclocomputer every five to ten seconds. I'm sure you've witnessed this, too.
Aside from the safety implications (God save us from the cyclist who is watching the computer while on a fast descent), there's a whole world that's passing by while we ride, and wouldn't it be a shame to miss it? A computer isn't going to quantify the landscape or weather, and it tells you exactly nada about the person riding near you. So doesn't it deserve a little less attention?
Last Saturday I led the first (at least that I know of) no computer ride. We met late in the morning, and everyone remove or switched off their computers. Then we rode. No one knew how fast, or how far we were going. And instead of obsessing over average speeds and other data, we talked and watched the Fall leaves.
A couple of comments from the ride:
"This is like cycling used to be, when we just rode our bikes until we got tired."
"We need to do this again."
There's nothing wrong with data, but I think it can't hurt to shift the balance away from it a bit. There's a lot to look at, and a lot we can miss, when we're fixated on a set of digital numbers.
Yeah, we'll do this kind of ride again.