I’ve done a lot of riding over the years — and most of it without ear plugs. Throw in a whole bunch of rock concerts from a long time ago, and you have a recipe for aural attenuation (reduced hearing).
Some guys/gals don’t like ear plugs — and I can understand why. It takes more time to get on to the road while you insert them in your ears. When you stop for gas, it’s harder to speak with others, unless you take the plugs out. Ideally, you would then clean your hands before you put new plugs in, so you don’t get anything untoward in your ear canals. And that can slow things down a little more.
Ear plugs have made their way into my road gear over the last few years. Particularly when I’m going on longer rides. The reduced noise just makes the trip more comfortable…up to a point. Perhaps I haven’t tried enough different kinds of ear plugs, but the barrel-foam variety that I use, as well as the re-usable rubbery types that I often wear, create their own fatigue after several hours. Somewhere between 3 and 5 hours, they start to become a nuisance. The good news is that when I take them out after a chunk of riding, and then continue on my merry way, I’m definitely more refreshed than I would have been without them.
There are some riding adjustments I need to make when I’ve got the plugs in. I have noticed that I tend to go faster and I’m guessing it’s because the engine is quieter so it “sounds” like I’m going slower than I really am.
For me, ear plugs just add an additional element of riding safety: I’m more alert for longer periods of time. I’m more comfortable. It’s important to note that ear plugs do not reduce all the noise: I can still hear what’s going on around me. The ambient sound is just softer. It’s not as quiet as driving in a car, but it’s a more pleasant way to spend longer hours in the saddle.
The lessened noise reduces general fatigue by cutting down the strain on my ears. Hopefully, this will help reduce the amount of future persons that will be repeating in my direction “Can You Hear Me Now?” (Or is that just a standard cell phone conversation?)
Do you use ear plugs?