Kelly’s Korner: On the Road Again…Sans Music

April 4, 2017 Tags:
curvy motorcycle road

On the Road Again – And Despite the Lyrical Reference, Still Sans Music

Twin Triumph Street Triples
Twinsies! Kelly with RiderCoach Andrea and their matching Triumph Street Triples.

I’ve spent most of my riding time this past winter on the dirt bike so last month the Triumph got some long overdue love. Two fantastic lady RiderCoaches from TEAM Arizona and I did the Payson-Pine-Camp Verde loop with original intentions to head over to Cottonwood and then go home on the 89A. That last part didn’t work out and we ended up on the (horrible) I-17 instead, but we had a great day nonetheless, laughing over lunch and coffee, enjoying beautiful scenery, freezing between Strawberry and Camp Verde (okay, that was just me). Later, I was telling some friends about the day and someone asked if I’d listened to music. I was a little confused by the question because I never listen to music on the bike, and I realized, a lot of people do. So let’s talk about riding and tuning in, and why I think it’s a bad idea.

I love music. Listen to all kinds. Just not on the bike. Music has no place in my riding life except as it loops in my head. Sure, in Arizona I have a legal right to wear earbuds while on the motorcycle – I just choose not to exercise it. Because the last thing I need is to add another distraction.

The more I ponder my reintroduction to the road in March, the more affirmed I feel in my continued choice to forgo music. I actually felt like a newbie that day, it had been so long since I’d gone on a real road ride. So add feeling a little silly with weekend Beeline Highway traffic and, and later, cold and wind for which I was unprepared, as well as a relatively new helmet I didn’t realize has compacted to the point that it’s loose and messes with my vision, and you have a whole pile of distractions.

riding gear dinner table
Take a gander at all that quality riding gear. All the gear all the time, people. It’s no joke. Plus, taking a whole table for just your motorcycling stuff reinforces that you are a non-conformist extraordinaire. (Okay, only when the joint’s not full. That’s just rude otherwise.)

Motorcycling inherently is risky. Thus, I don’t think it makes sense to contribute an unnecessary element to that risk and increase the distractions. While people may consider music a factor that helps them focus, give some thought to the possibility that it actually does subtract from your already stretched attention on a bike. Someone pointed out that most people, when they’re driving and trying to locate an address, turn down the radio because of increased operator workload. It’s a solid argument.

I’m also a little old-school about this whole topic. Riding with just my thoughts allows my brain to decompress, wander, dream, maybe have a meaningful insight or two. That, of course, can provide its own set of distractions; I have to make sure I’m attentive to the road, but weirdly, I tend to feel more attuned to my surroundings when it’s just the bike and me (I’m guessing that’s not unique to me). Anyway, I don’t need to be plugged in all the time – in fact, I need to escape from my devices a lot more.

Conduct a test. If you’re accustomed to riding with music, try going without and see what happens. I suspect you will find yourself experiencing more capacity to process and react to your surroundings. And you may just hear something you need to, with no artificial soundtrack whatsoever.

What are your thoughts?  Yes/No to music on the ride?  Place a comment below.

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Kelly Teal Signature


  1. Kathy N 6 months Reply

    I feel exactly the way that you do. I do not listen to music while I ride, I want to hear my bike, I want to hear that something could be creeping up on my sides. I like the moving meditation I get while I ride. I like being unattached. I wont hear that a text or email has come through and then spend my time wondering who and what they want… I like sans earbuds. I sing, sometimes out loud while I ride… This past week on a ride to Coolidge it was Blackwater.

    • Bill Seltzer 5 months Reply

      Yes! We thinking singing in the helmet is even better than in the shower! Thanks for sharing Kathy.

  2. Ronald Bloom 6 months Reply

    Regardless what state that you’re in, no one needs a distraction !!! I’ve seen bigger bike’s have their music on and oblivious to what’s going on around them !!! My opinion and it’s mine, distractions are plentiful in conjustion areas without distractions… On the open road is a different scenario as long as you’re aware of your surroundings. Just food for thought. Ride Safe…

  3. Dan Cavanaugh 6 months Reply

    No music! Pay attention to noises and movement around you. Your music is your exhaust note and the wind.