Going for your allowed daily lockdown escape ride is becoming the anchor of sanity for most cyclists during the coronavirus pandemic. But are you unnecessarily increasing risk, by attempting to isolate too much from a world seemingly gone mad?
As digital media has enabled the conveniently portable stowage and playback of huge music libraries and captivating podcasts, riders are more given plugging-in those wireless earphones than ever before.
For those cyclists who harvest a greater state of mindfulness when riding with audio entertainment in their ears, lockdown appears to be ideal. Regular vehicle traffic is at a trickle, making it safer than ever to go on a road ride, but has the restrictions on other road users created a false sense of security for cyclists during lockdown?
Riding with earphones is a personal choice. For many, it creates a needless barrier between the rider and true experience of two-wheeled escapism. You don’t quite hear the sound of wind whistling past at an angle, revealing that audible sense of speed. Or the hum of a specific tyre tread pattern on asphalt, when all else is quiet, as watts are transferred from your cranks to rolling momentum at the wheels.
Earphones block out many of the background sounds that allow us to approach that pinnacle of zen when riding along, in perfect harmony with our bike at a steady and efficiently engaging cadence.
Avoiding unnecessary riding risks when out on the road during lockdown is valuable. We are all deeply aware that national health service resources are straining, and ICU beds should not be caring for the consequences of avoidable riding incidents.
There is an argument which says you can just get on the smart turbo trainer at home instead, and not bother even going outside, thereby nullifying the issue of riding with earphones. But in the United Kingdom and other select global territories, cyclists are authorised to practice one form of outdoor exercise daily, and it is something which serves incalculable anxiety mitigation during lockdown.
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Riding with earphones creates pointless risk and is not advisable for your lockdown road ride. Any lockdown road ride should be an experience where you embrace the purity of riding. Music and podcasts can be listened to at home, which is where most of us are being forced to spend an inordinate amount of time during lockdown.
The allocated daily road ride should ease cyclists into healing escapism and that cannot happen when you are stimulating your brain with streaming media.
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Lance Branquinho is a Namibian born media professional, with 15-years of experience in technology and engineering journalism covering anything with wheels. Being from Namibia, he knows a good gravel road when he sees one, and he has raced some of Africa’s best-known mountain bike stage races, such as Wines2Wales and Berg&Bush.