I don’t ride with an iPod……or any other noise maker stuck in my ears.  This non-participation in the modern world has saved my ass more than once.  It also really bugs me when I roll up on someone who is MUCH slower than I, and I have to yell or even bump tires with them to get their attention so I can safely pass.  I don’t ever want to be that person.

The main reason I don’t do it is because the bicycle speaks to you.  The creak in the bottom bracket could be your crank coming loose or even worse.  My last night on my AZT ride, I was working hard to make it to the Freeman water cache at a reasonable hour.  I started noticing a slight sound that was out of the ordinary.  This was after being hooted out of the area around a solar powered well by a very loud owl.  I stopped to check things out, and sure enough, my front rotor was coming loose.  6 titanium bolts….every one of them slightly loose.  I got them all really tight and was back on the trail.  If I had been jamming away with candy in my skull, I’d never have noticed and eventually the bolts would have fallen out and I would have had to do some serious bolt switching…..pull 3 out the rear…..3 on each rotor works but isn’t ideal.

On my CTR adventure, I didn’t have any mechanicals.  A morning check on the start of my second day (squeeze of the tires and lube the chain) and I noticed my Paragon sliders were loose.  A quick fix and I didn’t have to touch them again. My shoes blew out on me, but no creaking or tell tale sounds of future failures.

The downside to not blocking out the sounds that surround you is that frequently you get songs stuck in your head.  I don’t remember anything getting stuck in my head during the AZT, but the CTR almost….not quite though….brought me close to the brink of actually wanting some music in my ears….not in my head.

Me and Bobby McGee.  Written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster.  Most famously sung by Janis Joplin.  For most hippies out there, you remember it and probably still hear it sung by Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead.  Only a line or two of the entire song kept repeating in my head.  Sometimes it was Janis, other times it was Bob.  For some reason it, amongst many many other songs that I like much better and that frequently get in my head during long tough rides, was repeated maybe a thousand times.   My play list sucked.  For some reason though, it didn’t get me down.  I found it kind of funny.  Especially since only a line or two kept getting repeated.

Back when Bobby thought he was a rock star. He’s probably wearing really short cut-off jeans in this pic.

Janis was kind of cute before she started to bloat out with alcohol abuse.

You ear bud junkies out there are probably thinking, “Why doesn’t he just use an iPod, or his phone?”  Well, that’s just something else you have to deal with.  Keeping things simple on the trail saves you time.   It saves you weight.  It saves you thinking energy.  Anything that is not attached to you, you think about.  For example…..you stop to change your light batteries.  You are tired and after you get going again, you start wondering if you put the old batteries in your bag.  The same thing could happen with an iPod.

Keep things simple.  And learn to deal with Janis….windshield wipers slappin’ time, holdin’ Bobby’s hand in mine….