5 reasons good hearing is important for cycling
Here are some common signs of hearing loss:
- Require frequent repetition.
- Have difficulty following conversations involving more than 2 people.
- Think that other people sound muffled or like they're mumbling.
- Have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms.
- Have trouble hearing children and women.
- Have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume.
- Answer or respond inappropriately in conversations.
- Have ringing in your ears.
Source: Better Hearing Institute
Written By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Hearing Associates
Pedaling on two wheels is one of the most enjoyable outdoor recreation experiences in Colorado. From road biking up breathtaking mountain passes to heart-pounding downhill on exhilarating singletrack, the world-class cycling options are endless. Bike safety tips often include helmet, stretching or other gear and fitness advice, but good hearing is piece of safety that shouldn’t be overlooked.
“We have to be able to hear what’s going on around us while riding our bikes,” said Krisztina Johnson, a cyclist and audiologist at Hearing Associates in Glenwood Springs.
At high speeds, the ability to hear traffic and environmental sounds diminishes for most riders, even those without hearing loss. According to online cycling forums and laws that vary from state to state, the jury’s still out on whether headphones can be worn safely during rides — but Johnson advises fellow riders to never listen to music while biking.
Here are some of the ways your hearing has a bigger impact on your riding than you may think.
- Sharing the road
Ever hear a car coming up behind you too fast or too closely? Or have you heard a wild animal trampling through the leaves while on a mountain bike trail? These noises affect riders’ reactions and can have major impacts on safety, Johnson said. Whether you’re trying to avoid a collision with a Ford Mustang or a mountain lion, being able to hear what’s happening around you could potentially save your life.
- Bike mechanics
There’s a very distinct sound that occurs when a bike chain is about to malfunction or when breaks need a tune-up. When you’re pedaling and the wheels stop turning, or you’re trying to maneuver a tricky uphill turn but your bike chain has other plans — those moments can be prevented if you can hear the sound of your bike’s mechanics, Johnson said.
Sometimes a little thunder in the distance is the exact warning sign you need when trying to determine how much further to ride. The sound of running water ahead could signal a river crossing, or raindrops on the leaves could prompt a quick addition of layers. Whatever the weather may bring, good hearing can help riders stay prepared, Johnson said.
- Trail conditions
Just about every one of our five senses comes into play while cycling — even taste, if you happen to roll over your handles bars and eat the dirt or pavement. While feeling the ground beneath the bike is one of the best ways to assess trail conditions, Johnson said hearing things like mud or falling rocks and branches can help you make better decisions while riding.
- Group riding
Communicating is one of the most important aspects of a group ride. Hand signals are critical when speeds are high and hearing becomes more difficult, but solid hearing for verbal communication is just as important. Make sure you know what your group’s signals are — both verbal and nonverbal — and make sure you can hear and see them.
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