By Macky Franklin Macky is a professional mountain bike racer with 250 races and has stood on the podium at Junior Expert, U23, Semi-Pro, Collegiate and Pro Mountain Bike National Championships. He is a force to be reckoned with.
No earbuds while riding!
The first time I tried to listen to an MP3 player while riding it was a disaster. The ear-buds that came with my off-brand MP3 player were terrible and the cord was too short. I could either have the MP3 player in my pocket OR the earbuds in my ears. Not both.
And I hated wearing ear-buds! I couldn’t hear cars and every time one passed me I’d flinch and swerve so badly it’s a miracle I’m still alive. That was all it took. One ride and I decided I wasn’t going to ride with music. I told myself that I didn’t really care about listening to music anyway and became my own jukebox.
And what a jukebox I was! I could choose from thousands of songs (and I didn’t have to download them — take that iTunes Store!) and performed them as they’d never been performed before. You see, when you’re singing in your own head you have perfect pitch, perfect rhythm and “dah-dah-dah” is a perfectly acceptable replacement for verses you don’t know. I could instantly perform such classics as “The Tigger Song” and “Baby Shark” (both of which I highly recommend for climbs), or if I was in the mood for pop music I might bust out ‘N Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye” or something from Britney Spears’ “Oops!…I Did It Again” album. The Beatles, The Eagles and The Beach Boys were also frequently ‘played’.
This went on for years. My repertoire expanded and I perfected the art of self-jukeboxing. I learned how to get songs stuck in my head (listen to half of the song right before you ride) and what kind of songs were the best for riding. Even after my off-brand MP3 player and ear-buds were replaced by an iPod with good ear-buds I kept singing to myself.
Then three weeks ago at the Bonelli Park Pro XCT I met Joe Axtell, the founder of O-tus Safe Sounds. When he first told me about the O-tus surround sound helmet speakers, I had my doubts. I figured they would be similar to ear-buds. Hear music? Sure. Anything else? Not so much. Then he explained that they were designed to project music into your ears from above so that you could still hear other people, your tires and yes, passing cars. So I gave them a try.
It really was like having surround sound while riding and you really could hear EVERYTHING. On a recent training ride I was trying to figure out how I’d missed the random bird sounds in Michael Franti’s song “Say Hey” when I realized I was hearing a bird that was flying over me…So I’m a convert. Whenever I head out on a solo training ride, I pop on the speakers and my iPod Shuffle and I’m set to go. Because as great a self jukebox as I am, there’s something to be said for not listening to (yourself sing) the same song over and over for a four hour training ride.