ipod = musical riding

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Anonymous's picture

I read an article in VeloNews advocating the use of listening to music, specifically using a digital mix on the ipod, for riding and training. It has always made sense to me, though I've never actually done it, but reserved the music for those ultra-boring indoor sessions.

Just curious about opinions. This year, I have started to see a few riders around NYC in the parks or prepping for races with those white earbuds.


Anonymous's picture
Robin (not verified)
music to my ears

"I often listen to my mp3 player while out on my own. When friends show up I turn it off. I used to find music very motivating in the gym so why not my own special mix out on the road?

I especially like to use it on the trainer for pre-race warmups, as the music helps block out distractions and keeps me from getting too nervous.

I used to use a cd player but it was too big and I was always hitting the wrong button in my jersey pocket. I now have a Nike ""play"" mp3 player which is tiny, light and has buttons you can can control just by feel. It doesn't have the capacity of an Ipod, but it doesn't cost as much either. I do make playlists on Itunes, however, and just switch them periodically."

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Music While Riding

Although great for indoor training, listing to music while riding outdoors (assuming you are wearing earphones) is dangerous, distracting and illegal in New York State.

Anonymous's picture
Don Montalvo (not verified)
headphones + bike riding = irresponsible + illegal

":: Section 375 (24-a). It shall be unlawful to operate upon
:: any public highway in this state a motor vehicle, limited
:: use automobile, limited use motorcycle or bicycle while
:: the operator is wearing more than one earphone attached
:: to a radio, tape player or other audio device.

Don Montalvo
(diehard iPod owner)

[replaced ""stupid"" with ""irresponsible"" as requested]"

Anonymous's picture
Robin (not verified)
thanks for the law, but...

"until I'd actually tried riding with earbuds (not headphones that cover the ears) I didn't know just how much outside noise is still clearly audible, with the music at a low to moderate volume. And as mentioned previously, a person can wear just one earbud.

It may not be for everyone, but conscientious riders with common sense might find it useful and enjoyable in certain situations. Sweeping statements like ""it's stupid"" are not helpful."

Anonymous's picture
Diane Goodwin (not verified)
Me too ...

"I also listen to music while I ride. Why not?

On my commute, I usually take the West Side Bike Path. The music is audible. On 9th Ave, I can barely hear it. The best place to listen is on the roads of our brevets .... nearly traffic-free.

As a Floridian cyclist, headphones were a must - but then, we were mostly on ""beach cruisers"" on the Hollywood and Ft. Lauderdale boardwalks.

I don't own an IPod but I think it's great and am thinking of purchasing one now that it's been mentioned here."

Anonymous's picture
Joe Poot (not verified)
Darwin Awards

"Great...I can see the headline now: ""NYCC Editor wins Darwin Award - Found stuck to Taxi grill... iPod still kicking the beats."""

Anonymous's picture
Diane Goodwin (not verified)
Cab Accidents

I only getted doored or my foot run over by cabs.

Only trees and poles are what I get stuck against. BTW, the tree accident was downhill skiing ... something I refrain from now.

Anonymous's picture
Isaac Brumer (not verified)

"Yes, it's possible to ""zone out"" listening to music on headphones. But while respecting the law, I'm skeptical of whether in and of themselves, headphones impair driving. Have there been studies done of this? What have they shown?

Why is it legal (and presumably safe) to drive in luxury cars (which advertise their isolation of outside sound as a virtue) with the stereo on loud but not with headphones? Does the fact that the source of sound is closer to the ear make a difference, considering that a. typical phones do not block out ambient sounds and b. the user has adjusted the volume appropriately.

I recall when the NYC headphone ban was passed. A city council member got up and said that ""everyone knows"" that you can't concentrate while wearing headphones. I'll never forget that ""everyone knows.""

It is legal in NYC to wear a single earbud. Taking one ear out of a stereo phone will distort the sound (you're missing half.) You can get a mono earbud at RadioShack, plug it into a '1/8"" mono jack to 1/8"" stereo plug adapter' and plug that into the portable unit. I have this setup with a cheap portable radio. You need to be careful, as the adapter + earphone plug are a ""lever"" and can bend the jack out of shape if hit.

Also, doesn't a iPod have a hard drive, and if so, wouldn't it be sensitive to vibration & impact?


Anonymous's picture
Chris Taeger (not verified)
If you are listening to music while riding.....

"your bike, or blading in traffic, or in the park:

1. Enjoy your ride but,

2. In my humble opinion, you cannot be as alert or as aware of the traffic around you. You are an accident waiting to happen.

3. When I see a wire dangling down from the head of another rider or blader, I will get away from that wheel. It's a short life, and I intend to make it last as long as possible. YMMV

4. The amount of road audio-enhanced flotsam impedes the way of concientious riders, and annoys me. Most of the ""Dude, I gotta have my tunes, man"" people lack a helmet as well. So you don't have to call them stupid. I'd call them a ""statistic""


Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Don't conduct the orchestra while riding

If you listen to music while you ride, whatever you do, don’t listen to a performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring while descending Perkins Mermorial Drive, take both hands off the bars and start conducting the orchestra, especially in the 11/1 measure, you're bound to loose count and bring the first timpani in too early on the next measure.

Anonymous's picture
Don Montalvo (not verified)
Better Stravinsky than System Of A Down...

...at least your trip to the pavement will be graceful.


Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

Ipod users I know think it's great. Upwards of 4,000 hours of tunes on a little device!!

I never ride and listen to music. When I ride, I want to hear the wind, the swoosh of the tires, the speeding cab behind me, etc. When I listen to music, I want the music undiluted by the bicycle. My preference. My only exception is winter indoor training, which is not really riding.

Remember, only one earbud is legal, so kiss stereo goodbye.

If you select music while riding, Ipod!!

Anonymous's picture
Matthew Howard (not verified)

The latest version of iTunes allows you to sort your music collection by beats per minute. I'm guessing this is most useful to DJs, but the hardcore among you might like to sync your iPod playlists with your heart rate monitor, for interval sessions ...

I never ride with headphones myself. I have a hard enough time remembering to bring helmet, gloves, spare tube, keys, etc.

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Mini TV Next?

I am among those who feel safe cycling and listening to music (even with one headphone) are mutually exclusive. When approaching somebody wearing headphones, I given them a shout and take wide avoidance, yet still too often find those wearing headphone making a dangerous move because a) they did not hear my approach, and/or b) were distracted by whatever they were grooving to. My observation is that listening with headphones is a situation where more is lost than just the sense of hearing, magnifying the effects of its loss. Furthermore, I don't accept the contention that music is necessary to alleviate boredom, even on long distance rides. While I can only bemoan those wearing earphone I randomly come upon when riding, I won't start a ride with anyone wearing earphones.

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Headphones and cycling

"It's worth reading John Allen's article on the subject."

Anonymous's picture
Isaac Brumer (not verified)

IMHO, Allen is brilliant. But such carefully written arguments are nothing against a politician seeking to make a name for him/herself by passing a cheap and easy law.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Never mind one's hearing, it's concentration that is in danger

I think John Allen’s technical approach to cyclists using headphones misses the point, and that is the danger of having your concentration distracted, even subconsciously. I can see that the argument that headphones shutting out the sound to the outside world and making riding dangerous could be bogus. I see no reason why a profoundly deaf cyclist should not be able to ride their bike safely, provided they have good eyesight, are attentive and have razor sharp reactions.

I can also understand the argument that the sounds you hear on a bike can be confusing. Anyone who has ridden up or down Perkins Memorial Drive and has good hearing may have been aware that a small stretch of the road, which has a flat wall-like rock to one side, can fool you into thinking there is somebody riding right next to you, or just behind you. What you are hearing is the sound of your own bike reflecting off that solid flat surface. Anyone who understands acoustics will know that the best concert halls in the world have lots of large, solid flat walls. If you ride Perkins regularly, you may find that when there is somebody right next to you, or just behind you, there is a danger that you can dismiss it as the sound of your own bike and pull into another rider's path who is about to overtake you without having shouted “on your left”. Hearing is no substitute for taking a look before making your manoeuvre. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you wouldn’t be the first. But try doing some Bear Mt hill repeats and listen. This rock is on the right hand side as you climb and the left as you descend, and is approximately 40 to 60 feet long.

I think the real issue is why people feel the need to listen to music while they ride or blade, or even drive a car. Is it merely a pleasant background noise, or are they really listening to the music? And if they are really listening to music, should they be riding a bike at the same time when there is a very real chance that their attention could be distracted, which could put themselves and others in danger?

Anyone who has had a reasonable amount of musical training, be it singing or playing a musical instrument, may well find it hard to really listen to any music without getting ‘involved’ in it, especially if it is a piece of music you have performed or know very well. Anyone who has had little or no musical training may well be able to listen to music as some form of background noise, perhaps, in the same way that countless numbers of gymnasium users or indoor trainer users do. Whether that is appropriate for riding on the road is debateable.

I would venture to suggest that the person who wears headphones is probably not in the best position to judge on how well they can or cannot ride while listening to music. All I do know is that I have seen some people wearing headphones, just walking down the street, totally absorbed in what they are listening to and do some surprising and spectacularly stupid things, when they are normally alert and coherent people.

I really think that people who wear headphones, even in or on just one ear, are potentially putting themselves at risk, through being distracted from the job in hand, ie riding the bike. And, of course, my argument takes no account of the fact that the music you are listening to could either make you too relaxed, or too tense, both of which could be detrimental to your riding safety and the safety of other road users. Music can be like a mind-altering substance in that respect.

And think about what happens when you’re on a long ride - when you’ve been riding all day and have more than a hundred miles on the clock and you may be very close to home on familiar roads; that’s when your concentration is likely to be at its lowest. You can be at risk just from that, without any other kind of distraction.

Personally, I cannot really listen to music and do something else at the same time, and I think there are many oth

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