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?

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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!

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A Wanna-Be Hill Slayer

Hills.  I have a love-hate relationship with hills.

Hills are pretty to look at.  They are fun to hike on.  I enjoy riding my bike down them.  I do have, on the other hand, issues with riding my bike up them.

See, I live in a part of our country that is essentially as flat as your bathtub.  The only hills in Northeast Florida are the man-made varieties that traverse interstate highways, rivers and such.  To be painfully obvious, the only hills that I see with any amount of regularity are bridges.

Throughout the tenure of my hobby in triathlon, hills have been a constant thorn in my side.  I’ve had some of my worst race performances on hilly tracts.  I’ve suffered the most on hilly courses.  The really sad reality?  The races that I call hilly don’t even register a blip on the register of hilly courses like Rev3’s Quassy.

Well, I’ve saddled up to take on a hilly race again.  And frankly, I’m SUPER excited about it!

My “A-race” for the year is the Half Rev at Rev3 South Carolina, which will be held on October 12th in beautiful Anderson, SC.

Anderson sits in what South Carolinians call the “Upstate” – a portion of the state that is probably technically considered the Piedmont – or maybe the fringe of the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.  From my flat-landed perspective, however, I’d call Anderson the edge of the Himalayas.  The terrain is rolling, the landscape is beautiful, and in October, the temperatures will be divine.

I’m tremendously excited about returning to Anderson this year.  This race venue is where in 2012 I earned my personal best finish in a 70.3 distance event, and I’m eager to go out and improve upon that time.  I love the idea of pushing myself to my limit and beyond both training for and then racing upon the hills.  I’m super excited to visit an area of the country that I love.

>Rev3 Knoxville Race Report

Me recovering after climbing a hill on the Rev3 Knoxville course in 2012

But first, I must prepare.  I’ll ride countless numbers of bridge repeats this summer to try to approximate what it will be like to climb.  I’ll push harder gears on flats than I might otherwise so I can get a sense of the lingering burn I know I’ll encounter.  I’ll do the almost unthinkable and put my bike on a trainer and jack my front wheel up on a bunch of books some this summer so that I can feel what it’s like to have gravity pull on my backside some.

I will be ready for the hills.  I’ll turn my love-hate relationship into a love-love relationship this summer.  I vow to enjoy climbing as much as I enjoy descending.  The Half Rev at Rev3 South Carolina is calling me.  The hills are whispering my name, urging me to come and ride.

I’ll be there.  Will you?  Come join me and let’s go slay some hills.

Scientific Review of Triathlete (homo triathletus)

BOULDER, CO

Scientists from the University of Colorado in Boulder recently published their seminal research on a new species of human.  Their research was conducted throughout the world and was funded, in part, through sales of certain medicinal and recreational plants.

These scientists have called their new species a triathlete (homo triathletus).  The redacted review of research identifying this strange species was recently published in the Journal of Medical Fabrication Dynamics and is included below.

The triathlete (homo triathletus) is an endurance junkie whose native range lies largely within developed areas of the globe, concentrated in the Americas, Europe, Australia, but with smaller populations located in other parts of Asia, the Middle East, and extreme southern Africa.  The average male triathlete weighs around 68 – 90 kg, while the female is generally a third of that size.  Sexual dimorphism does not generally exist in this species, with the occasional exception of clothing styles.  This strange species of athlete has evolved to occupy a narrower niche than its sister species, the swimmer (homo waterwingus), the runner (homo mercurial hermes) and the cyclist (homo rapidus pedalus).  While triathlete has not developed body characteristics that differentiate itself from its sister species, research indicates that this species has developed an affinity for objects made from carbon fibres and neoprene.  Although most triathletes are born on land, they spend at least a third of their time in a variety of aquatic environments.  They are equally at home in saltwater environments, freshwater and free-flowing waterways.  They will often be found inhabiting chlorinated, rectangular ponds.  Triathletes hunt for their preferred food of gels, kale, electrolyte drinks, and soy-based energy bars, often living off of convenience food reserves of pretzels, de-fizzed sodas, bananas and chicken broth.

Naming & etymology

Don Shannahan and Jack Johnston, prominent researchers from the San Diego, CA area, were among the first to identify and classify the triathlete as a distinct species in 1974.  Additional research was conducted and published by John Collins in 1978.  The naming convention was based upon the three primary habitats of these creatures:  in water, upon bikes, and afoot.

Biology and Behavior

Physical Characteristics

Exteriorly, triathlete resembles its distant cousin homo sapiens in appearance.  Specimens are found with a myriad of skin and hair colorations.  A commonality found amongst triathlete is that they tend to clothe themselves in form-fitting brightly colored costumes.  One might question the skull structure of some members of this species, given the proclivity to cover their cranium with helmets.  Research has indicated that some, in fact, have evolved teardrop shaped craniums, which is believed to aid in the reduction of a concept known as drag.

Wide-scale observation has revealed that the male of the species may have an innate fear of body fur.  Observations of triathlete in groupings or conclaves within their natural habitat indicate that the males typically are hairless on their lower skeleton.  Additionally, this species often has strange numeric tattoos upon their arms and, oddly, on one leg.

Some specimens of triathlete have been observed with strange color schemes upon their skin – often alternating darker pigmented skin with areas of lighter pigmentation.  Notably, these color variations are found upon the ankle, thigh, and often upon the upper back (which usually presents in semi-circular pattern around the shoulder area).

Hunting and Diet

Triathlete appears to be an omnivore in general, although there are pockets within the species that abstain from certain foodgroups.  Some are apparently berrytarians, consuming a large amount of berries and fruit – often in mixed up beverages called “smoothies”.  Other specimen of triathlete eat nothing but meat (paleo), nothing but gluten products, and nothing with gluten (gluten free).  Research indicates that a high percentage of triathlete have no idea what gluten is, but they either consume it or they don’t.

Interestingly, triathlete tends to gravitate to thick liquids that come packaged in foil-like shells.  These “fruit” (sometimes called “gels” by triathlete) often come in a variety of flavorings, somewhat dependent upon the variety of plant producing the fruit.  Some of the favorite plants include Powerbar, Gu, Hammer, etc.  Curiously, these plants not only produce the foil-like fruit mentioned herein, but they also produce odd square-shaped vegetation that reportedly provides sustainable nutrition for hours.

Behavior

The most remarkable thing about this new species is the behavior that it displays.  H. triathletus is often found in strange gatherings ranging from around 100 to well over 2000.  It is during these gatherings that the true characteristics of this species are displayed.  These gatherings, however, do not represent the totality of the uniqueness this species brings to the ecosystem.  H. triathletus are often found in small packs in one of their preferred habitat, swimming merily, furiously pedaling, or running as if fleeing from their sole predator, Homo fatamusbottomus.

In culture

Indigenous folklore reflects that triathlete appears to enjoy suffering.  They have been seen stumbling, crawling, and otherwise struggling.  Some of the more developed of the species even has been witnessed completing their unique mating activity – called by some “the Blazeman Roll”.  Other species tend to view triathlete with suspicion, fear and concern.

Five Things NOT To Use TRISLIDE For

What TRISLIDE does for endurance sports-related chafing is what a hungry teenage boy does to a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos.  TRISLIDE makes chafing disappear!

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TRISLIDE is a continuous spray  anti-chafe skin lubricant that is all the rage in the multi-sport community.  This stuff seriously is bottled awesomeness.  This non-sticky all-day lubricant is used anywhere you might have chafing…wetsuit neck openings, saddle area, feet.  Basically – you spray and forget!  TRISLIDE isn’t like that gooey stick stuff that other competitors offer; it’s a spray-on silicone that works wonders!  Ever have a hard time getting out of a wetsuit?  Spray TRISLIDE on the outside of the cuffs and ankle openings, and you will literally fly right out of your suit!  You can share this (without fear of contracting some pesky critters or having someone else’s extra “hairs” latch on to your body).  TRISLIDE won’t stain your Tri-Kit, and it won’t melt in your transition bag either.

I’m not going to lie – TRISLIDE is SERIOUSLY slippery!  The product comes with a warning to not spray Tri-Slide on the floor as it will make the floor extremely slick and could lead to falls.

So, with this knowledge, here are the top five things that you COULD use TRISLIDE for – but you really SHOULDN’T use TRISLIDE for…

# 5:  Rusty bolt un-stopper

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Yes, you could use TRISLIDE to loosen up those rusty bolts – and this stuff would probably work as good, if not better, than your trusty can of WD-40 or a massive amount of elbow grease.

# 4:  Personal….ahem….lubricant

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Now, we all love some lovin’, but please…..don’t go there with TRISLIDE.  It’s for external use only.

# 3:  Saucer Sled Accelerant

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We’ve all watched the movie “Christmas Vacation” and seen what Clark Griswold can do to a saucer sled with his cereal varnish.  TRISLIDE would make Griswold’s varnish look like glue.  Beware if you do try TRISLIDE as an accelerator for your sled.  If you use too much at one time, land speed records could be broken.

# 2:  Hair Pomade

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Every triathlete wants to look great when they leave transition, and who doesn’t like the “slick” look in their hair?  But seriously…instead of TRISLIDE, go to the drugstore and purchase some Dippity-Do or some other hair gel.  Heck, even Vaseline would look good.  Just don’t use TRISLIDE….because if you do, instead of your girlfriend slowly running her fingers through your hair, her hands are likely to slip right off and hit you in the eyes.  And no one wants to get poked in the eye.

# 1:  Flamethrower

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Who hasn’t wanted to light some aerosol aflame and use as a firestarter?  Why not try your hand at a little welding?  Meet a pesky dog on your run?  OK.  There MIGHT be some potential good uses if you could use TRISLIDE as a flamethrower.  But, don’t do it.  Use a can of Aqua-Net Hairspray instead.  Besides, I’m not even sure if you can set TRISLIDE on fire.

OK.  It’s settled then.  Don’t use TRISLIDE for any of those five things.  Do use TRISLIDE to prevent chafing and hot spots.  Do use TRISLIDE to help get out of wetsuits in a jiffy.  Do share your TRISLIDE with others and not worry about some space-suit wearing dude from the Centers for Disease Control showing up to escort your lube away to some quarantined location.

 

Just so you know, TRISLIDE is one of the amazing sponsors of the Rev3 Triathlon AG team.  They periodically send me products to use.  I LOVE their products and would use them even if they didn’t send them to me…they are THAT GOOD.  To learn more about TRISLIDE and other products made and sold by SBR (namely Tri-Swim Anti Chlorine shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion) and Foggies (anti-fog towelettes), click on their website:  www.sbrsportsinc.com.

 

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.