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I started this trip without an iPod. My little nano was stolen just before we left Australia (with reference to a previous blog, this would come under the category of “predictable losses”, as it was in my unlocked car in my driveway!) I didn’t really think I’d want to listen while riding anyway. I like to fully engage with the environment, and to listen out for birds, water, silence, and of course traffic.

Then one day I saw Katherine distracting herself with an audiobook during a particularly nasty all-day headwind, and thought hmmm, now that’s not a bad idea! So I borrowed Tom’s iPod to try it out in northern Mexico, to drown out my Whinging Internal Monologue during long climbs or when battling headwinds.  I started working my way through the James Herriot series and pretty soon the iPod was spending a lot more time on my bike than on Tom’s!

We bought me a tiny iPod shuffle in Oaxaca, and discovered podcasts at about the same time. What an amazing thing, all that listening for free!  Now, podcasts have become an important part of our lives. We have Spanish lessons, and a bunch of ABC and BBC programs including health, science, current affairs, environmental issues, history, plays and comedies. It gives us endless topics for discussion: “have you listened to such and such yet?” and with my usual love of multi tasking, I like the idea that I am educating myself while riding. I hope my Dad, who is frequently appalled by my lack of general knowledge, would be proud!

It needs to be kept within limits, though, and it’s still important to me to have iPod-free time – time to let my thoughts roam and to fully BE where I am. I also tend to pause it and remove ear pieces when we are passing through villages, so that I am open to meeting and greeting. And I keep the volume low enough to hear the traffic! Tom rides with just one ear piece in for the same reasons. Usually it works out that if the riding is interesting and varied, I don’t feel any need for the iPod. Once we hit the tarmac, however, out it comes. Try as we might (and do) to avoid highway riding, still it is inevitable at times, getting in and out of towns….. I don’t particularly enjoy this type of riding, the road out of La Paz being a prime example! We now tend to refer to these boring stretches as “iPod days”.

Only rarely do I listen to music, and then Tom can usually tell, by the arms waving in the air or drumming on the handlebars….

Sharing music with one of the locals (photo: T.Walwyn)

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