During the No Frills ride, I had a small battery-operated speaker I'd purchased years ago and my iPod in the top pocket of my pommel bag. It was somewhat tedious to get the damn thing in and out to turn on, but it worked well. I could hear my surroundings and hear my music.
However, I recognized that others on the trail probably wouldn't care for the music (I'd seen some front-runners with earbuds in to be less intrusive to others...and not hear surroundings?). As a result, I turned my speakers on and mostly off throughout the day. The most I listened to music was the last 5 miles or so when I was alone and really whooped mentally. I needed the music to get me through, distract me, give me something to focus on and give Q a nice beat/tempo to move to.
So, obviously, the speaker in the pommel bag probably wasn't a good solution for my must-hear-surroundings-in-addition-to-music desire.
Fortunately, Funder and Mel commented on the No Frills gear post and shared about some headphones Funder discovered on Amazon that they've both been using during their outdoor pursuits. They don't go *in* your ears. They sit in front of them and use bone conduction technology to help transfer sound. You could hear music and your surroundings and not be obnoxious to others.
I didn't hesitate - I bought some.
Thanks to Amazon Prime, I had them within 2 days of ordering.
I whipped them out of the box and put them on, their maiden song "Destination" from the new Nickel Creek album. Hrmmm. Spiffy. I could hear small rustlings in my immediate vicinity AND hear my music. Most excellent.
Last night I took them out to the barn for the first time. Listened to music on them on my drive over - very much like the radio, but more localized to my ears. Surrounding noises + music. Awesome.
Got to the barn and spent the whole time tacking and prepping Griffin with them on, too. Mike showed up from a 2½ hour ride on Q while I was doing this and I was able to hold a conversation with him while still listening to my music. Kickass!
Mike decided to go out with Griffin and I as a chaperone for a couple more miles (2.15 mi.), so I didn't take the headphones on the trail this time. Tonight though, I plan to use them while I do a jump session with Qbert.
Love them! They don't pinch my head too tightly, so I don't think they'll cause me grief after wearing for any length of time. I love that they aren't in my ears because my ears always sweat and earbuds always fall out. Additionally, the super high east coast temperate rain forest humidity makes keeping earbuds in a crapshoot without the addition of movement and sweat!
I could hear what was going on around me AND hear my music. The main objective of this whole thing: fulfilled. Additionally, the little volume up/down/off controller I can clip to my sleeve makes changing volume/turning off a breeze!
Standers-by can hear the music, too, but its muted in comparison to the speaker. Someone will have to ride right up to me to hear it, and even then, with the hustle and bustle of moving horses, footfalls, tack, etc., I think the noise will be negligible.
Overall, I am VERY pleased and very excited to be able to have the best of both worlds, music - or a book on tape!!!!!! (imagine how fast 50 miles would pass!) - and the ability to hear my immediate surroundings so that I can anticipate and be aware of other riders and horses + things that may alarm my horse and cause them to spook or be on high alert.