To Music or Not To Music?

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?

9 Replies to “To Music or Not To Music?”

  1. Music is a very powerful tool for anyone. I use an ipod when I’m at the gym. But I stopped riding with it just because I want to make sure that I hear people and my surroundings.

    But like what you said, riding in a group is more fun when you’re talking and stuff. As you know Jer, between Moe and I there’s so much smack and encouragement that comes out of our mouths.

    Besides my buddy broke his shoulder because he was messing with his ear bud, one fell off, he adjusted it, tried to slow down, grabbed too much front brake, ENDO!

  2. interesting observation. Never mtn biked with music since I usually ride with other people. But, when I ride alone on the road, I usually have music in my right ear and keep my left ear listening for oncoming traffic, among other things… yeah, I wonder if it’s weird mtn biking with music….

  3. I have a Treo that I use for music when I am riding alone. I usually have the volume at a level where I can hear my surroundings. Definitely a good tool when riding solo…especially on long climbs. You need as much distraction from the pain as possible 🙂

    When I’m w/a group I dont play music.

  4. I usually ride with music when solo. Its almost as if riding and tunes were meant to go together. Sometimes in a group, I still rock out with one ear bud. I like life with a soundtrack. Iphone has a new pandora radio app which has been my best DJ.

  5. No music for me–the WHIRR-WHIRR of knobby tires on pavement is enough music for me. I like to know what is going on around me at all times. Its bad enough that roadies come up from behind without saying a word (no ‘To your left’ bike path etiquette)…

  6. No music. I want to hear the trail, other riders, my bike, etc. I think you should bea bale to hear if another rider comes up behind you, especially if the ask to pass. You need to be able to hear them.

  7. No music for me either, I like hearing what’s going on around me. Bsides, one of the best aspects of mountain biking is getting away from the “noise” of regular life. Anyhow, the sound of a freewheel clicking away on is all the music I need 🙂

  8. i only ride with music when im by myself, usually doing fire roads in the forsst. It helps with the monotony of the road climbs and i find i can go alot longer before becoming mentally exhausted.

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