I have, in times past, talked about how I never ride with an iPod. How I intended to never ride with an iPod. How I simply did not comprehend why anyone would want to ride with an iPod.
This was before I got an iPod.
Since then, I have reversed myself. Hey, I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong. And — luckily for you — I have quickly become one of the world’s foremost authorities on proper bike / iPod use and etiquette.
Hence, today I present a clear and simple set of rules and guidelines on the proper way to use your iPod whilst on a bicycle.
Where to Put Your iPod
To simply say you should put your iPod in your jersey pocket is to be both insipid and asinine (By the way, I was once called this very thing — insipid and asinine — on a call-in religious program on the radio. Considering that I had called in pretending to have a serious question and then started quoting Frank Zappa lyrics once I got on the air, I daresay it was a pretty accurate assessment. Hey, I was 15.). After all, you’ve got to consider which jersey pocket. And you’ve got to consider the possibility of a messenger bag or backpack.
Hence, these guidelines:
- If you’re wearing a jersey and no pack: the iPod goes into the pocket of your "bad" hand. Ie, if you’re right handed, the iPod goes in your left pocket. If you’re left handed, the iPod goes in your right pocket. That way, when you go to adjust volume or skip songs, you’ve still got your better hand controlling the bike. It’s a matter of priorities.
- If you’re wearing a pack: the iPod goes in the pack. Find a playlist you can live with for the whole ride (or shuffle, or whatever), put the iPod on "hold" so it doesn’t switch off or randomly skip and volume-adjust on you, and go. Stopping your bike to fish around in your pack so you can change songs or move to another playlist is strictly forbidden.
- If you’re neither wearing a pack nor wearing a jersey: Start wearing a jersey, for crying out loud. You’re a sweaty, stinky mess in that t-shirt, and you’ve got no viable place to put the iPod. And don’t start telling me that the armband thingy works, because it just looks dumb. Stop it.
What Headphones to Use
There are two kinds of ears in this world: ears that work with the cheap, tinny cheesy earbuds that come with an iPod, and those that don’t. I have seen people who seem to have custom-designed ear flanges into which the iPod earbuds nestle comfortably. My ears are of the latter sort, which means that the included earbuds fall out of my ears constantly. Indeed, I believe my ears actually repel the earbuds. It’s as if the earbuds are magnetized to the positive pole, and my ears are, too.
For people whose ears do not work with the standard earbuds but who are loathe to get expensive surgery to make them do so, I recommend the Sennheiser MX75 Twist-To-Fit In-Ear Stereo Sport Headphones. Basically, these suckers cam into your earlobes, so that special machinery is required if you ever want to extract them again. But they don’t pop out while you’re riding. I really wish they weren’t acid green, though.
When to Sing Along With Your iPod
When Billy Idol’s "White Wedding" comes on, you’re going to want to sing along. Or at least you’re going to want to sing along if you’re me. Which I am.
And that’s fine (to sing along, I mean, not to be me, although I further assert that it’s OK for me to be me), provided you observe the following rules:
- There must be no buildings visible in any direction
- There must be no people visible in any direction
- There must be no easily-startled livestock in any direction
- If you are riding with another person (or worse, with multiple people), you must make it clear that you are either singing for comic effect or that you understand you are a goober.
Note that the above rules do not apply if you are going faster than 30mph. At that speed, the wind whips your voice away, effectively putting you in an isolated, soundproof chamber in which it is OK to sing your heart out. At speeds of 50mph or greater, it’s in fact a good idea to sing, because it will lend you courage.
Exception 1: Males cannot sing along with any female vocalists, ever. And especially not in a falsetto. Show some dignity, man.
Exception 2: Nobody at all ever gets to sing along with Whitney Houston. Or with Celine Dion. You may, in fact, wish to have these artists removed from your playlist, because they suck very badly.
When to Leave Your iPod at Home
Is it always appropriate to bring your iPod on a ride? No.
- When You’re Racing: If you need music to keep you entertained and engaged while racing, you’re not racing hard enough. And you’re not able to hear me yell "on your left!" as I rip by you at roughly twice your speed because you are twiddling with your volume control. Leave it at home, pal.
- When You’re Riding with One Other Person: To bring an iPod when you’re riding with one other person is just rude. I mean, I’m taking time out of my valuable day to ride with you, riding at roughly half my normal speed so you can keep up, and you’re listening to music, making it impossible for you to hear the very interesting stories I have to tell. What, precisely, is the point of us riding together, might I ask?
The Two-Pause Rule
If you are wearing your iPod and someone you are riding with starts talking to you, you are obligated to press pause. As a courtesy, the person who is talking with you is obligated to start over so you can hear what s/he has to say.
If, two minutes later, someone (doesn’t matter who) starts talking to you again, you should be aware that this is a chatty group of riders and it’s time to turn off your iPod for the rest of the ride. The person who is talking to you has the obligation to start over so you can hear her/him, but s/he does have the right to roll her/his eyes.
If a rider has to start over while talking to you a third time on a ride, s/he has the right to yank the headphones out of your ears and throttle you with them.
The Oblivious Rider Rule
If you either cause a wreck or nearly cause a wreck in a group because you were wrapped in your own little world of audio and couldn’t hear warnings or traffic, the only way you can hope to save face is to immediately crush your iPod as a sign of contrition, then never ever show up at a group ride with an iPod again.
While I am the final authority on the rules of riding with an iPod, I am not an unreasonable despot. I therefore welcome your suggestions for additional iPod / cycling rules to be integrated — at my discretion — into the final draft of this document, which every cyclist shall be required to memorize, as well as carry a copy on a laminated card.
PS: What to Buy Me
You know, people often say to me, "Fatty, your blog has brought untold joy into my life. I really wish I could somehow give you a gift, as a token of my appreciation." Well, you can. I really want the new iPod Shuffle. I think it would clip onto the front zipper of a jersey beautifully.
Of course, I only need one of these. Well, OK, really I need two, because my wife wants one, too. But once a couple of you have bought me these, the rest of you are going to feel left out. Don’t feel bad, though. You can always send me iTunes Gift Certificates (send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, please).
I shall now go sit in front of my computer, watching as the gifts pour in, as I’m sure they most certainly will.