Cycling with Earbuds

If you’ve raced a triathlon before, you know that USAT rules state that you cannot wear headsets, headphones, walkmans, iPods, mp3 players, or personal audio devices, etc. are not to be carried or worn at any time during the race.  The penalty for doing so is a variable time penalty.

And yet, if you’ve trained for a triathlon before, chances are that you have worn a headset, headphones, walkmans, iPod or MP3 player.

Many folks run with music.  Generally, it’s not a big deal.  I often run with music.  In fact, I find that my tempo sometimes increases or decreases depending on the song that I’m listening to.  For example, it’s easier to run fast to “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” than “Tequila Sunrise”.  I do enjoy running without music, though.  It’s nice to listen to the ambient sounds, my impersonation of Darth Vader’s breathing, and such.  Plus, it’s easier to have a quick chat with someone if you aren’t wearing earbuds.

So…is it kosher to cycle wearing earbuds?

cyclist-earbud

It’s an interesting question – with potential legal guidance as well as common sense instruction.

First, the common sense approach:  Wisdom suggests that the wearing of earbuds limits our ability to hear sounds like a car approaching from behind, other cyclists, sirens, etc.  Using common sense as the judge suggests that we probably shouldn’t wear earbuds – at least not in both ears – because it just isn’t safe.  Moreover, it’s not a purists approach to cycling.  Back in the day, cyclists didn’t wear headphones.  They just had the wind and songbirds to listen to.  And that guy behind you who always yells, “car back!”.  Of course…back in the day, headphones didn’t exist.  And, in any case…all those professionals that race in the Tour de France wear them, so it must be OK, right?

So, discounting the common sense argument fully, it might not even be legal for you to wear headphones while cycling.  That being said, even where there’s a statute about wearing headphones while operating a motor vehicle, there might be some wiggle room for interpretation.

Take Florida, for instance.  Here – as in most states in the US – bicycles are considered motor vehicles according to state statutes.  As such, cyclists are held to the same legal requirements as operators of automobiles, trucks or motorcycles.  Specifically, Florida statute 316.304 very clearly states, “No person shall operate a vehicle while wearing a headset, headphone, or other listening device, other than a hearing aid or instrument for the improvement of defective human hearing.”  As with most laws, there are a few exceptions…one of which might come into play for cyclists:  “This section does not apply to:  Any person using a headset in conjunction with a cellular telephone that only provides sound through one ear and allows surrounding sounds to be heard with the other ear.”

A strict reading of this statute might make you think that wearing a music player runs afoul of the law.

But wait….almost everyone cycles with their phone these days.  And isn’t it true that most people use their cell phone/device as both a phone and a music player?  How would a police officer know if I was wearing an ear bud for phone call purposes or for music listening purposes?

I guess that technically a police officer wouldn’t know the difference.

So, net/net – is it OK to wear earbuds while cycling?

That’s a really interesting question – and I’m not about to give legal advice!  I suggest that you learn and know the laws applicable to where you live and exercise at least a modicum of common sense.

Truth be told, I wear one ear bud often when cycling.  But only if I’m going alone and on a route that does not typically have much traffic.  I always have the earbud in my right ear (facing away from traffic) so that I can better hear passing cars or other cyclists.  When I do wear an ear bud, I don’t have my music so loud that I can’t hear other things.

As an FYI, I found the infographic below this morning laying out the various state laws.  I have absolutely no idea how accurate the information on here is, but it at least gives a starting perspective as to state statutes relating to wearing headphones or earbuds while operating a vehicle.

Good luck and be safe!

infograpgic_final_2

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Flexibility of a Brick

Over the past two years, I have had a never ending series of little injuries.

The injuries stated with a torn plantar fascia.  That was followed by a wicked bout of peroneal tendinitis.  Then the top of my foot started hurting.  Finally it was a sore hamstring & glute.

I was beginning to think that I couldn’t win for losing.  Seemingly, as soon as I started to recover from one injury, another would pop up.

I’ve been a pretty good patient.  Physical therapy, rolling, trigger point treatment, icing, reducing the length and effort associated with workouts.  You name it, and I’ve tried it.

While there may well be some other underlying issues around my running style and gait, shoe selection, weight (yes, that’s a biggie), and more, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the root cause of many of these injuries lies in the fact that my tendons and muscles basically have the flexibility of a piece of stone.

Some history:  I just turned 46, and have been running or cycling since I was 15.  I ran track and cross country in high school and picked up cycling in college.  In high school, we had a regimented stretching cadence that we followed both prior to and following every workout.  We’d do a warm up run, some core work, and then a bunch of basic (mostly) static stretches.  Fast forward a few years, and I essentially stopped stretching pre or post workout.  To make matters potentially worse, I sit all day long at a computer or conference room table.

Don’t get me wrong – I so some stretching, but whatever I do tends to be centralized on something that is nagging me at the moment.  For example, if my calves are sore, I’ll stretch them.  If my shoulders are sore during a swim, I’ll do some stretching.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I was remembered a comment my teammate Ryan Heisler made earlier this year.  His statement was along the lines that everything is connected in your body, and that if you are having foot issues, the root issue may be someplace other than in your foot.

And if you think about it (and remember that Schoolhouse Rock video about the human body), it’s true.  The leg bone is connected to the hip bone, and so forth.  It only makes sense that foot pain could be the result of something jacked up in your hamstrings or hip flexors.

So, I decided to test this theory.  My going-in hypothesis was that I had at least a modicum of flexibility still.  I was going to test my flexibility through a few simple tests:  (1) crossed-foot toe touch (2) calf-stretch and (3) forward lunge.  The highly scientific benchmark was the range of motion that I remembered having back in my high school running days.  (Let’s just ignore the fact that ~30 years difference might have some impact on my level of flexibility for now).

I decided to do each of these stretches twice each leg, for :30 each leg.  The true test would be the amount of pain I had to endure and at what point I started to feel the “stretch”.

And as you might suspect, I failed miserably.  Essentially, I can’t touch my toes without feeling like my hamstrings are going to rip in half.  The forward lunge (apart from killing my quads) made my groin and hip flexors scream as if someone had forced me into a split.  I literally thought that some giant gorilla was shaking me around like an old Barbie doll or something.

So, how am I going to fix this?

For starters, I’m going to start stretching again.  I’ve read that the static stretching that is near and dear to me is no longer in vogue.  Dynamic stretching is the way to go.  And so, I”ll incorporate some of that into my routine.  I’ll stand more.  I’ll give yoga a try (begrudgingly).

I will become more flexible.

Product Review: Waves Gear Micro Towel

Waves2

I have a slight problem.  I am a towel snob.

I am very super picky about towels.  They can’t be too thick (because they start to smell bad fairly quickly).  They can’t be too thin (because they feel like cheap hotel towels then).  They need to be good-sized (because, let’s face it, I’m not the smallest guy on the planet).  I change my home shower towels way too frequently – resulting in a whole lot of laundry.

These quirks of mine also follow me to the pool.

I’m typically reluctant to try a new towel – especially a micro fiber towel.  My immediate reaction to non-cotton towels is that I connect the towel to the teeny towels that Olympic divers use.  Or to a Sham-Wow.  Typically, those micro-fiber towels are way too small, never really dry you off that well, become stiff as a board once you use them, and tend to hold on to odors no matter how frequently you wash them.

Imagine my trepidation about trying the Waves Micro Towel.

I suspected more of the same.  Stinky, hard, un-fulfilling towel experience.  I certainly did not go into testing this towel expecting that I’d like it.

But, you know what?  I was unexpectedly very (VERY) surprised!

The Waves Micro Towel is built 85% Polyester and 15% Polyamide.  No doubt you are familiar with Polyester.  I’d never heard of Polyamide before – but according to Google, Polyamide is a type of nylon fiber that is often used for mono-filaments and yarns.  This material is apparently extremely resistant to wear and tear.

As you can tell from the photo above, The Waves Micro Towel is not small.  In fact, the towel is down right large.  My “Regular” sized towel measures 27.5″ x 55″ (70 cm x 140 cm).  The “X-Large” is even bigger.  I found that this towel is large enough to really envelop me when I’m drying.  And, the towel is surprisingly light.  My towel tipped the scales at just 7 ounces (about 200 grams).

I was additionally surprised at how effective the towel was at actually drying me off.  Sometimes I’ve felt almost soaking wet after using other similar products.  Not so with the Waves Micro Towel.  My Waves towel soaks up water like a dry sponge.

As you might suspect, the Waves towel dries really quickly – much faster than a cotton towel.  Unlike some other micro fiber towels, the Waves towel does not get stiff.  You also don’t need to pack it into a plastic bag to retain moisture.  I hang my towel up just like any other pool towel and let it dry.  When I go to retrieve it the next time, it’s completely dry, soft, and perhaps best – DOES NOT SMELL!

There are two aspects about the Waves towel that I really like:  how small it packs and that it seriously works just like any old cotton towel.

I’ve used my towel extensively over the last six weeks or so, and I’ve honestly not been tempted to revert back to my old style cotton towels at all.

The Waves Micro Towel is not inexpensive – especially if you compare it to beach towel prices from a local surf shop or Wal Mart – but it won’t break the bank either.  The regular towel sells for $25 and the X-Large sells for $30.  You can purchase the towel through the Waves Gear online store (HERE).  Waves also sells some other products (sunglasses and some small duffle bags), so be sure to check those out too.  If you use the discount code Rev3-15off, you’ll save $15 on any order you place.

In short, I have been really pleased with my Waves Micro Towel – much more pleased than I expected.  This towel has become my go-to, and is honestly the only towel I take to the pool with me now.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Texting Driver Hits Cyclist and Just Doesn’t Care

Imagine this scenario.  A cyclist gets run over by a vehicle and is left with a broken back.  Allegations are made that the driver of the car was texting and/or distracted just prior to the accident.  The cyclist needs surgery and months of rehab.

That scenario plays itself out literally weekly, somewhere in the world.

What perhaps makes this situation slightly different is that not only was the driver clearly texting while driving, but that she was more put out by the fact that the cyclist had the audacity to cause some damage to her car as a result of the collision.

Here’s the backstory – Kimberly Davis, of Port Fairy, Australia, pleaded guilty earlier this week to dangerous driving as a result of her collision with cyclist.  Phone records showed that Davis had texted 44 times just prior to the accident (with a text message being received less than a minute prior to calling emergency officials indicating she had hit a cyclist).  The cyclist was critically injured and suffered a severed spine.  He spent three months in the hospital recovering from his injuries.  Davis was fined $4500 and lost her license for 9 months.

What makes this whole situation worse is that Davis had the incredulity to not show any remorse, and moreover to be upset with the cyclist.

Davis told police investigators, “”I just don’t care because I’ve already been through a lot of bullshit and my car is like pretty expensive and now I have to fix it. I’m kind of pissed off that the cyclist has hit the side of my car.”  She further went on to say, “I don’t agree that people texting and driving could hit a cyclist. I wasn’t on my phone when I hit the cyclist.”

There are a couple of issues associated with this that concern me.  The first is obvious:  distracted driving causes accidents.  The second is the clear lack of remorse that Davis had.

There’s likely nothing that can be done about the later concern, but there certainly can be things done relative the former.

First and foremost, distracted driving should be a primary traffic offense.  Police should be able to pull over and cite drivers for nothing other than distracted driving (texting, SnapChatting, Facebooking, even just calling).  In far too many jurisdictions, texting while driving is a secondary offense.  In Florida, for example, I can get a $30 fine for texting while driving (totaling about $100 when court costs and fees added) – but I can only get that ticket if I am pulled over for some primary offense – like speeding, careless driving, DUI, etc.  If state legislatures and governments pass laws or ordinances changing this offense to a primary offense and make the fine prohibitive, then there may be a corresponding decline in the incidence rate of drivers committing this act.

In my opinion, cycling can be tough enough of a workout.  We don’t need to continuously be on our guard for distracted drivers as well.

Product Review: Athletes Treating Athletes – Solid Injury Treatment Advice Online

Since the advent of the internet, way too many of us like to self diagnose our illnesses so that we can make somewhat informed decisions about what sort of treatment we’d like to think.  The reality is, though, that there is no shortage of websites or material online.  Far too often, we find information that leads to a misdiagnosis or a perspective that we’re more (or less) injured than we might be in reality.

The problem with endurance sport injuries is that some of the “mainstream” sites only scratch the surface of the injuries that we tend to get.  Some sites, unfortunately, even give incomplete or bad advice – or at least lead us to making improper decisions.

How do I know this?  Well – over the past 16 months, I have been dealing with a variety of lower leg ailments – notably plantar fasciitis and peroneal tendonitis.  While I have absolutely sought the opinion and treatment of physicians (both a podiatrist and an orthopedic surgeon), I have done more than my fair share of research online.  Far too often, I’ve been disappointed in what I have found.  Essentially, it has been difficult for me to find a singular source for diagnosis and treatment plans.  Until now.

Over the weekend, I stumbled across a really awesome site – which I have since fallen in love with.  It’s called Athletes Treating Athletes, and can be found at http://athletestreatingathletes.com/.

The site was founded in 2010 by Leigh Boyle – a doctor of Physical Therapy and certified strength and conditioning specialist.

The site is geared towards endurance athletes, and is really slick.  The goal of the site is to help athletes like you and me not only treat injuries but also strengthen our bodies so that we don’t end up with injuries in the first place.  The website is easy to use and navigate.  There’s a blog (that contains posts called “injury of the week”) and a really intuitive body map that will help you pinpoint the specific area of your body where you are injured.  You can also search the site for a particular injury if you already have an idea of what you have going on.

The site carries a five-part approach towards self treatment:  (1) self massage (2) mobilization techniques (used to break up soft tissue and adhesions), (3) stretching, (4) KT taping, and (5) strengthening.  Basically, it seems that the treatment approach is exactly what you’d experience by going to a local physical therapist…just without the office visit and insurance co-payment.

Finding your injury is pretty darn easy.  As I noted above, if you know what your injury is, you can search for it.  You can also leverage the “Body Map” page to find and link to the specific area of your body that is hurting.

BodyMap

 

When you click on a body part, you go to a webpage that is detailed for that section of your body.  There’s usually a nifty graphic that shows the interior anatomy of that body part.  Since I’ve been dealing with peroneal tendonitis, I looked for it by clicking both the “foot” link and the “shin + outer leg” link.  Alas, peroneal tendonitis is found under “Shin + Outer Leg”.  Once you land on the page for the specific body part, you’ll find a ton of information, including a diagram of the body part and a listing of injury treatment plans available.  The example (of the Shin + Outer Leg page) below shows both the bones and muscles of the anterior portion of your lower leg.  You can see that there are two specific injuries listed on the Shin + Outer Leg page:  Peroneal tendonitis and Shin Splints.

ATXA leg

 

Since I’ve been dealing with Peroneal Tendonitis, I clicked that link:

ATXA peroneal

All you have to do to gain the information you need to treat your injury is to click the hyperlink for it.  I clicked the link for “Peroneal Tendonitis”.  Once you land on the page for the specific injury, the site gives a good description of the anatomy of that area, the potential causes of the injury, and then a detailed treatment plan.

ATXZ peroneal tx plan

As you can tell, each treatment plan contains some pretty easy to follow (and non-scientific) language about how to treat the injury.  There are typically a plethora of hyperlinks to videos.  For example, in the post above, you will find links to videos about how to correctly apply KT tape to help provide stability.

Even cooler – You can download an injury-specific treatment plan that includes hyperlinks, exercise descriptions, sets and examples, and a full suite of treatment steps that you should take to heal an injury.

In short – this is a self-treater’s Mecca!

Even better, the information is generally free!

Hope you enjoy the site.  As I noted above, you can subscribe to a weekly newsletter that the site sends out.  They also have a Twitter (@A_Tx_A) and like most other companies these days have their own Facebook, YouTube channel and Pinterest page.