I was able to get in a solo ride this morning before work. Normally, I’m riding with friends, but 6:20am weekday rides are not the preferred time for most people. I can’t understand why. Anyway, since this ride was a last minute decision, I went out by my lonesome. No problem, but a question for you: when riding solo do you like to listen to music?
I find that when riding with friends, especially if the group is small, it is better and maybe even polite to not listen to music. Recreational mountain biking is a social experience. Talking, making jokes, encouraging one another to do slightly stupid, or maybe even really stupid stuff is part of the experience. Listening to music and drowning out all other noise/conversation is not part of the social experience of recreational mountain biking. Unless you’re sharing music via speaker, earphones I find are better left at home.
This morning, on my solo ride, I chose to go with music. I pulled out my Oakley Thumps, an original pair with a whopping 128mb of space! But something feels different when you’re riding with music. You don’t have the opportunity to listen to those voices in your head as much. It’s an unusual feeling. Without music I am mentally talking to myself during my ride, deciding on how hard to push myself to climb the hill, mentally challenging myself to push through the burn, maybe even kicking myself if I don’t make it. But with music on, the drummer in me wants to time my cadence with the music. Thankfully the music wasn’t too up-tempo or I’d have been cooked halfway through the ride.
I also notice that with music, I tend to lose touch with the world around me. With music, I don’t hear the dance being performed by the tire and the trail. I don’t hear the subtle rustles of the birds or rabbits in the bushes (I hope it’s just birds and rabbits). With music, I don’t hear the response from other trail users when I greet them. Like most everything in life, listening to music while riding is a tradeoff… a tradeoff I’m willing to make every once in a while. What about you? To music or not to music?