While I was in the Netherlands we did a bit of a tour of Zuid Holland, cycling from Leiden -> Keukenhof -> Noordwijk -> Leiden, for a total of about 30 miles. I'd post a map of the route we took, but unfortunately my iPad ate it. But to visualize it, here's the Google Maps recommendation for how to get between these places - this isn't how we went, but close enough for the purposes of this post.
The distance between these places ranges between an 30 minutes to an hour worth of cycling at a time. However, as a stranger in the country at no time did I have half a clue where I was - neither in relation to where I'd come from, where I was going, and how far was in between. Just flashing by houses and fields following my friend. Halfway through the day I had completely lost my sense of place.
This lack-of-place makes distances seem SO much further. This was driven home the other day as I was cycling a route that's about 8 miles long to the destination, but familiar as the back of my hands. I don't notice the time spent, even if it's the SAME amount because there is a sense of familiarity all around me - I know how long it will take to get anywhere, in any direction around me. Remove that and even short distances seem interminable. This also seems to apply when in the car or walking, it's not exclusive to cycling.
As someone who tries to do the "think globally, act locally" thing, I guess hadn't realized how "local" you really do become after a while.