I usually listen to my iPod while I am riding. Mostly I listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy listening to music too, and it can be helpful if the beat is in time with the cadence you want to achieve. I just find listening to music to be a safety concern because it is hard to hear what is going on around you. When I listen to spoken audio, there is just a monotone voice with enough “gaps” to hear what you need to hear.
The reason I listen to these podcasts and audiobooks is because I have a bit of an obsession. I have a hard time just living in the moment. I always feel like I need to be doing something productive or learning something, and if I can do something and learn something at the same time then all the better. Perhaps that is why I like to commute to work on my bicycle. It allows me to get exercise and it gets me to work.
The other day I finished listening to everything on my iPod while riding to work and then felt like a drug addict looking for an audio fix for my ride home. I ended up plugging my headphones into my phone and I listened to the comedy channel on Pandora when I left work.
I didn’t get very far when I realized how stupid I was. I know how pleasurable it can be to just ride with no distractions but somehow I seemed to have forgotten that. I immediately put my headphones away and just enjoyed the scenery for the rest of the trip.
Of course, the scenery isn’t always worth looking at. Part of my ride is through an industrial park. I also ride through residential areas and down very congested streets. But there are a number of natural areas that are quite beautiful with plenty of wildlife. I find I notice way more on a bike than in a car and I notice even more yet when I have no added distractions.
On the way home today I watched an osprey fly by carrying a fish and as he flew over a tree that I was about to pass, a beautiful hawk flew out of the tree. I also passed a photographer who had his camera on a tripod and was photographing a stream from the top of a foot bridge. As I passed I noticed what a great picture that was.
I don’t suppose I will learn to completely suppress my desire to learn while I ride but I think I will split the difference and shut my iPod off when the traffic is heavy, for safety reasons, and when I am able to just enjoy the ride.
I’d like to know what you think. What do you listen to, if anything, and when do you listen to it?