Posted by: emilybybike | November 17, 2010

To iPod or Not to iPod?

Quite the question indeed.  Everyone knows that riding, running, walking, or even roller-blading with your music blaring into your ears can be potentially dangerous. You can’t hear cars or other runners / cyclists / walkers etc… as well. It lessens your ability to pay attention to your surroundings. Many races have even banned the use of iPods and the like. And I do agree, that especially in race situations when you’re in close proximity to your competitors, having headphones in is not the brightest idea.

I’ve actually run a few races where I’ve gotten bumped or had to jump out-of-the-way of another racer who wasn’t paying attention and had headphone in. Not. Cool. But I’ll also admit that on longer races, a little music can go a long way. This past year as I was knocking out the last few miles of the Shenandoah 100 and there weren’t any other cyclists around for me to ride up to and start chatting to, I hit play on my iPod and got motivated to push it a little harder (Thank you Peter Gabriel and John Williams!)

So what about commuting? For sure I’m not going to have music going when I’m playing the M-Street version of Frogger through Georgetown or along Beach Drive in Rock Creek. But what about when I’m poking along the bike path and 6-months of commuting have shown that I’m pretty  much one of (if not the only) person that heads North by bike on the Rock Creek trail during the morning commute. It’s rare that I pass or am passed by another cyclist going the same direction once I leave Georgetown. And I’ll admit, the music makes the commute seem faster and at times can even make me ride faster.

Typically I don’t wear an iPod when I commute, but I will wear one when I’m out training. So what’s the real difference? Why do I feel bad about wearing an iPod commuting, but don’t give it a second thought when I head out for a training ride. Especially with the daylight leaving earlier, my commutes are starting to turn into training rides (oh yes, turn the “e” off and my bike becomes a training machine!) and again, after 6 months of pedaling the same path, it could be nice to have a few tunes.

An interesting debate for sure – iPod or no iPod, headphones or no headphones. Boredom or entertainment. What’s a girl to do?



  1. I am not necessarily against people wearing earphones when people are out for a ride, but I never do it. I save that for the gym. I feel like it distracts me too much. As for racing, I definitely think they should not be worn then, when the competition is fast and close.

  2. I wear a single earbud at a moderate volume level and find in most situations trail riding that is fine. Like at Laurel Hill last weekend. Tons of riders out but I heard em all coming each time. Crossing the road I do pull it out a bit before to give my hearing a chance to really optimize. I don’t think i’d wear one in somehting like Wed at Wake or CM but for something like the SM 100 I’d have to have it.

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