You have to be a biker to get this and I’m sure that if you read my blog you are one. Probably you are just suffering from the Parked Motorcycle Syndrome (it’s winter as I write this). You go to the garage just to clean your bike and start it “to charge the battery”. You listen to the engine sound, and feel energetic about planning trips for the next year.
If you are like me, destination is not a purpose, but direction is. You probably take “random” trips through Europe (or were you are) and think that one continent is not enough. There is nothing like going through the mountain roads with am empty mind from the mundane day by day chores. You get that life is different from anything that your parents or the society has told you. Freedom. Happiness. And if you are lucky enough you meet the “biker’s God” – that inner discovery process where you re-define yourself and what you want do you with your life.
Stop. Everything can change and it will change and you will lose everything. And no, no, I’m not talking about becoming an organ donor as everybody is keen to remind you each and every day. It’s worse. It’s about being stolen the happiness to ride. Because of the “Silent Motorcyclist Killer”. What on Earth is that?
“Most motorcyclists understand the effects of a “silent killer” which follows them every time they enjoy riding their bikes. Based on several research studies, the major contributor to hearing loss in the motorcycle industry remains the “silent killer” known as “wind noise.” Generically termed as the amount of noise turbulence produced around the head while the rider is in motion. Its inherited consequences result in irreversible hearing loss damage over a period of time when adequate hearing protection is not worn.” – source Motorcycle Facts – freehearingtest.com
I remember the day 2 years ago when I was riding with my buddies towards the French Alps (generic destination, we also got to Italy and Croatia) and I realized I can’t hear anymore with my left ear. Permanently. Last year I rode around 400km. The entire year. No more 13 hours per day in the saddle, no more 9000km in 10 days touring the Europe. No more “let’s go to other continents.” Sure, I’ve seen the doctors. It’s permanent and they can’t guarantee that I won’t loose the hearing to my other ear as well if I continue to ride. Here it goes the joy to ride. I had everything, and now I have nothing.
Happily for you that haven’t yet been killed by the silent killer, there is an easy solution (and I pray to the motorcyclist God that you spread the word to as many bikers as possible) and that is wearing specially designed ear plugs. And I insist on “specially designed” as a matter of experience. Since being diagnosed with permanent hear loss from extended high level of sounds I’ve tried all kinds of foam or silicone ear plugs with various degrees of success but none proved good enough to regain my joy of riding. Foam is hard to use and you can only fit it correctly a few times. Silicone tends to become itchy in not time and without specific filters for the motorcycle sounds they will just mute everything.
So you might want to try some ear plugs especially designed for bikers and motorsports. I’ve tried the Auritech Hearing Protectors that you can get from http://www.allearplugs.com (being winter I tested them mostly while driving my 1970 beetle which is a noisy beast! – yeah, I have loud toys, I know). There are several things I like to these ear plugs: they got a special ceramic sound filter that attenuate the frequencies specific to motorsports but allows conversation, sirens and traffic noise to pass through enough to be safe on the road. Here is the thing that makes a difference:
They are smaller in size than other similar products (which means they stay in position while putting your helmet on – I found out that it’s a pain in the ass to keep others fit). And most importantly they really do decrease the noise to a comfortable level. On the downside I found that wearing them for more than 4-5 hours straight becomes uncomfortable, but most other are much worse in this domain.
I’ve got them from here. Hopefully for a small price I’ll get my joy back. Will get more testing done as soon as the blizzard goes away!
And remember! Please, please let all your biker buddies know that they should keep their ears safe!