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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Say What ! !

by John Del Santo
Listen to a conversation between a bunch of motorcycle riders, and the phrases you’ll hear repeated most often are “what ?”  and  “Say that again”.   Along with other things we’ve done in our lives, riding a motorcycle can put a lot of strain on our hearing.  Usually it’s not the sound of the bike that does the damage, but the sound of the wind passing our ears for thousands and thousands of miles year after year.  A ‘full’ helmet doesn’t guarantee hearing protection, and some helmets increase  the noise in our ears.  A good set of earplugs is a great way to protect our hearing.
Everyone loses some hearing over the years depending on genetics, our trade, or the sports we’ve been involved in during our lives. Folks who listen to music with headphones and the volume cranked up can expect trouble down the road;  people who exercise at the gym with earphones on and the volume high can do excessive damage; .  Are you one of the “I-POD” crowd ?  Hearing experts recommend never having the volume set higher than ¾ on the scale.
Anyone who spent a lot of time at rock concerts or clubs will probably spend a lot of their later years not being fully included in many conversations.  If we add motorcycle riding to any of those,  the earlier we start to protect our hearing, the better.  
Some people, (like this writer), don’t give the subject much thought (what, me  worry ?)  until they start hearing tones or sounds like there’s water running in the next room 24  hours a day, or find themselves saying “what ?” an awful lot.  You can pump iron to get your muscles back in tone,  or even do exercises that will improve your eyesight,  but like diamonds ….hearing loss is Forever.
You can find good washable, reusable earplugs, custom fitted plugs, or good disposables.   If you use a computer, try (  You can also try safety supply houses, motorcycle shops (I don’t think they make earplugs in chrome, yet) or at sporting goods stores.   If you are not a user yet, try out a pair; follow directions putting them in, and take them out slowly and carefully to avoid damage to the eardrum.  Keeping the right and left plugs separate is considered to be a safe thing to do to prevent the transfer of ear infection.
They are a little weird when you first start using them… your engine sounds different, and you’ll be concerned that you may not hear that car moving into the lane next to you.   But after all,   we should probably save whatever we can, or get used to writing notes to each other somewhere in years to come.      Be Alert,  Ride Safe, and ……Hear! Hear

John Del Santo
  Benjamin Franklin