I have resisted road riding with my i-pod for several reasons:
1. I am easily distracted, not only by shiny objects but the things I hear and in the past when I have ran with my i-pod, I have missed turns, trail heads, and the end of my run to finish out a song.
2. On the bike, I need to hear most things around me such as the screeching sound of rubber sliding on pavement or the horn blowing of sudden jerking of car going around me so that I can react appropriately (this includes loud cursing, occasional fist pumping, and several middle finger gestures).
3. I like to sing along with my i-pod and in doing this on the bike distorts my breathing and could cause extreme embarrassment to anyone around me (it’s okay to pretend you do not know me).
4. I need to hear the noises my bike makes….any creaking, clackty (nope, this is not a word), squeaking noises so that I can obsess about it, attempt to diagnose it while I ride, and then obsess about finding someone to tell me what the noise is and fix it.
5. I am usually lost in my head when I ride…
This fifth reason is the main explanation. The greatest thing I love about the bike is the ability to disconnect from all that is around me. I do not talk on my cell phone, text, or check email on my bike (for those who know me personally—this is a big deal). My head is like a small dusty apartment crammed with unpacked boxes full of STUFF. When I am off the bike, my mind is going, going, going. When, I ride, I am usually focused on my ride experience, my cadence, my speed, and making circles. While giving attention to these variables, I find my mind wanders to an undisturbed place where I think about family, friends, love, life, work, sex (yes, I have thought about sex on the bike, who hasn’t?), music, bike stuff, politics, gossip, cars, bike parts, car parts, my house, my cat, or any other life object. I have had complete conversations on the bike without a rider next to me. So, you can appreciate that the addition of music to my churned mind could slide everything into a chaotic unresolved state.
However, on alone rides this year, especially in the winter when the park is desolate, I found the need for some sound (other than the puffing of my out of shape ass) and the past few rides have been with the i-pod. I dangle one ear bud out so that I can still have some awareness of the world around me although there is little I can do if a car is going to crash into me (tuck and roll). With some 7,000 songs in my I-tunes library, I had the enormous task of creating the perfect road ride mix. It could not be too “whiny”, “emo” or “enya-esque” and yet my collection of music could be mistaken as a rebirth of Woodstock (I like the hippie stuff). What I have ended up with is a mix of Metallica (okay, not so hippie), Cary Brothers, Grateful Dead, Mindy Smith, Band of Horses, Iron and Wine, and Neil Young. The goal was to find a balance that matched my rides…warming up, sprinting, hill work, and cooling down all wound into a 2-3 hour set. My eyes nearly bled as I scoured list after list of songs, artists, and titles but I am content with my menagerie. However, I do apologize to fellow riders and critters now for the partial riding concert that may pass you at some point come this spring.