Can you hear me now?
6/15/2011 10:12:13 AM
I'm sorry it's been a while between articles...been doing lots of riding, lots of honey-doo stuff, work has been busy (thankfully!), and I'll admit that I just have been distracted. My son got me started playing golf last summer, and I'm really enjoying it, so when I'm not riding, I'm swinging clubs a lot more. Wish I would have started sooner, because I probably would have been really good by now...
Anyway, I wanted to talk about noise today...and my hearing.For the last couple of months, I have been having buzzing/crackling in my right ear while at highway speeds. It's been getting worse. It's fixed now, but I want to tell you what happened, and also stress the importance of protecting your hearing while you ride.
I went on a long ride last week, leading my SCRC group to Key Largo from Palm Beach for lunch. It's only about a 2 hour ride on the highway, but as bikers, we never take the direct route, right? :) The ride down was fine, but coming home, we all decided to hop on the highway and just get home, since it's been so damn hot lately.We rode home doing about 75mph, and by the time I arrived, my right ear felt clogged.
I was not wearing ear plugs because it was so hot I didn't want to hold in any additional heat in my head by clogging my ears with plugs...yeah, dumb, but it was hot and for whatever reason, I didn't want plugs under my full face helmet.
Anyway, I got home, jumped in the pool to cool off, and my ear cleared just fine so I didn't worry about it. I figured the crackling I was hearing from the wind noise was just from my younger years - loud music, etc. and now I'm 46 and my hearing is slowly going...But I did decide that maybe I should start shopping around for quieter helmets, and everyone says the Shoei helmets are pretty quiet. OK, $500 for a new helmet???
I really love the Joe Rocket Carbon helmet I'm using now...great ventilation, and light, but noisy on the highway. But I figured it's worth it to protect what's left of my ears. I decided that I'll go helmet shopping and see what I can see...
Yesterday and the day before was about 100 degrees in South Florida, and really humid. I didn't want to show up at the shop all sweaty and nasty to try on helmets, so I haven't gone yet. Today it's actually overcast (dare I say "comfortable"???) so I may take a ride at lunch and try some on. Hopefully they'll let me go for a ride with one...because wearing it in the shop will let me feel the comfort and weight, but not the noise level.
Something really interesting....and maybe a little gross....but I'll share anyway....I'm a surfer and this weekend I surfed twice. Monday, my right ear was completely clogged...thought it was swimmer's ear or something, but it didn't go away...cleaned my ears well and didn't get any wax, so now I'm getting worried thinking I have a real problem - not hearing anything at all out of my right ear...so I went to the clinic to be told I have a wax buildup in both ears...and that the earplugs I've been using has been packing it in, past the point that a q-tip would clean. How embarrassing - not like I don't shower, shave, and clean myself daily! So they "pressure cleaned" me... OMG - I can hear EVERYTHING now, and no more buzzing with music and wind, etc.
So here's what I learned: Q-tips: NO NO. Use an ear wash twice a year (or more if you're a big wax producer). The foamy plugs that you squeeze then insert are less likely to pack the wax down than the rubber ones or deep ear buds for music. But the ear wash is the real trick to dissolving the wax that a q-tip can't get.
So I don't have an ass-screeching emergency to get a new helmet, but the doc agreed that I should get the best/quietest helmet I can afford, and said I should use the plugs at least on the highway. I'll tell you...I played lead guitar in a rock band as a kid...I've always had loud stereos in my vehicles...and now the riding (after 6 years). If all adds up to affect your hearing negatively. It doesn't seem like a bad problem until you can't hear! I LOVE music, I love listening to my motor, and I would HATE to lose my hearing. SO PROTECT YOUR EARS!!!
I went to Walgreens yesterday, and was AMAZED at the choices for plugs! All around $5-$8. So I bought the silicon-blob ones, I bought foamy ones (33db!), and I bought molded silicon ones. So I'll experiment. If you've never tried ear plugs while riding, let me tell you - they know how to block certain frequencies like wind noise, but let the music from my helmet speakers come through beautifully. That's the main reason why I never wanted to use plugs - I thought I wouldn't be able to hear music!
Anyway, I'm going to head out and try on some helmets - hopefully they'll let me take a ride with one or two to hear the difference, and I'll report on that soon.