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.

Training for Naught

Over the weekend, WTC canceled their Ironman Lake Tahoe race do to poor air quality resulting from a huge brush fire in the general proximity of the race venue.

I can totally relate to how bad the environment must have been in the Lake Tahoe area.  Living in Florida, brush fires are a reality of my life. Each spring, various fires pop up all over the state, but most notably in the northeast part of the state where I live. The smoke and ash that lingers in the air is heavy, reeks and makes breathing supremely difficult. It’s often as if you’re living in the middle of a campfire.

Smoke from a nearby wildfire in 2011 caused a haze to hang over the Jacksonville area (picture courtesy news4jax.com)

Smoke from a nearby wildfire in 2011 caused a haze to hang over the Jacksonville area (picture courtesy news4jax.com)

 

Canceling the race was the correct thing to do.

Imagine what those athletes likely felt when they heard the news.

They had poured literally hundreds of hours into training.  Many of them had pushed their bodies to the brink and back.  For lots of folks, I’m sure that this was their bucket list event – their chance to become an “Ironman”.   I can empathize with those athletes.  I know how hard folks work for a big event like this.

And then suddenly to not be able to do the event.

Wow.  Heartbreaking.

Of course, I get that not doing a race isn’t the end of the world.  There are far bigger fish to fry.  I feel for those that have lost their house as a result of the fire.  There are so many other social and societal issues that folks face each and every day.  This was just a race.

And yet, I’m sure that the sense of let down was huge for lots of these athletes.  While I suspect that most (if not all) of the athletes impacted can rationalize the decision and realize that canceling the event was the correct thing to do, it’s much more difficult to rationalize emotions.

Surely the thought of having the proverbial rug ripped out from right under your feet had to be disappointing for the athletes, but I cannot fathom what it would be like to race even an hour – let alone up to 17 hours – in conditions like what existed on Sunday.

It would be easy to reflect and rejoice on the fitness gained, the mettle tested, and the experiences gained throughout the time that these athletes trained for their race.  Those would be moral victories.  For lots of athletes, the reality could be that this was their one chance.  Their soon-to-be huge accomplishment.  I feel for them.

Ironman has not yet announced how they will handle those athletes.  I don’t know if they will get a refund, an entry deferral, or simply nothing.  Here’s to hoping that WTC takes care of those athletes and that they have another chance to do their race.

And….here’s to hoping that the lingering effects of not being able to swim, bike, and run this past weekend are able to quickly disseminate like smoke on a windy day.

A Triathlon Marriage Made in Heaven

Rev3-th

About a week ago, Rev 3 Triathlon and Challenge Family Triathlon announced that they would merge and create an even stronger North American race series than the two could have created independently.

Social media exploded.

In fact, I think the news might have broken the internet.

OK – perhaps that didn’t happen, but there was an overwhelming response to the announcement.  Across the board, people were excited, hopeful for great things, and appreciative.  And those were just the M-Dot clones.  The die-hard Rev3 fans shared some bitter-sweetness regarding the loss of the Rev3 brand, but really excited about the merger and the potential the merger brings to the long course triathlon scene.

What do I think?

Honestly, I’m pretty stoked about this.  Now, I’ve never done a Challenge race before.  While they have put on races here in North America (notably Atlantic City, Rancho Cordova, CA, and more), historically, Challenge has been concentrated internationally.  They are super well known for a bunch of races – perhaps best known for their race in Roth, Germany.  Everything I’ve heard about Challenge is that their approach to triathlon and Rev3’s approach to triathlon are highly aligned.

We are Triathlon!” is Challenge’s tag line.  When you read their website, it’s really evident that the “we” in their tag line is not just the company.  It’s the athletes.  The families.  The spectators.  The vendors.  The volunteers.  Everyone associated with a race.

What an awesome concept – and how true.  We as triathletes aren’t the only ones involved in this sport.  Our spouses support us.  Our kids put up with us talking incessantly about training.  Heck, even our pets train with us some.

Challenge brings the term “family friendly” to home, because, well….they ARE a family.  Literally.  The company is family owned (not some huge private equity firm).  And while I know that a company’s core values are often just words on a page, I’m really impressed with some of Challenge’s core values:

  • Authentic
  • Excitement
  • Connected to athletes and partners
  • Relationships
  • Passion

These aren’t all of their core values.  Certainly their other values are no less important, but what stands out to me is that each of the above values is so focused on celebrating our sport, the athletes, and the hard work that each of us puts in.

get these values.  More than that, these are the values that I want from a race company.

So am I excited about this merger?  Heck yes, I am.  It seems to me that Challenge and Rev3 are a perfect match for each other.  100% compatible.  It’s like they were destined to find each other.

Sure seems like this new merger is a match made in Heaven!

Sh^t Triathletes Say (and Don’t)

We triathletes…welll…we talk about ourselves.  Typically a lot.  And to anyone.  Our training partners.  Our coach.  Our friends.  Random strangers at the mall.  Basically any person that we can corner and start shelling with our race history and training regimen.

We generally are good sports about it, too.  Many of us like to poke fun at ourselves (and others like us).  I know I LOVE to people watch and have a good sense of self-deprecating humor.  Besides, if I didn’t laugh at myself, I’d only have to go as far as my house – where my wife and kids are spectacular at teasing me.

Last year, lots of folks did blog posts and YouTube videos about “Sh^t Triathletes Say”.  Some are really funny.  I’ve posted what I think is the original below.  Check it out.  Totally cracks me up!

I may or may not have said some of these.  To find out if I have, just follow my blog…

Here’s a video that gives some examples of sh^t we don’t say…

Hope you enjoy these!  And if you don’t like them, just go eat more fiber!