After work rides are generally preceded by buzzes. Noisey remnants from a day at work. Emotional brain crumbs that didn’t get wiped off the surface. I don’t have a stressful job but I do work in a big open office though. This tends to inflict upon me a lot of office related audible stimuli and that sometimes creates an uneasy head noise. Chatter. Phones ringing. Bleeping office electronics. Whirrings from the server room next door.

I try not to complain about this. I recognise the need for the machines that produce these noises. I usually side with the printers and bleeping phones when others complain. Taking on the role as the go-to mediator between humans and robots. The first to say “they’ve had a tough time recently”, “they are overworked” or “they have no consciousness”. Sometimes even I get fed up though. When this happens you need to move away from the noises of the modern workplace and hear some different tones. A change of audio landscape. Time for a mountain bike ride!

Whilst my tire gently weeps

Noises I hear out on the mountain bike are a lot less draining. They feel like less of a personal attack than those at work. Energising. Exciting. Welcome. They are familiar sounds that associate with joy and all things rad. 

A tire buzzing on the tarmac is the sound of my bicycle gently agreeing with my life choices. Subtly encouraging me to keep doing what I’m doing whilst delicately vibrating my seat in a way that says “this is good for both of us”. 

Yes master

A noisy hub is a metronome for the life a panicked man or woman. The rapid ticking is giving me strong messages. Shouting orders to hurry up. At first, it is scary. This new frantic life coach sat between my legs nearly feels too much to take. I give it a chance, and soon get swept up. The relentless ticking starts to draw me in as I ride the wave of adrenaline and submit to the new greasy overlord. I am living life at a different pace, dancing to the beat of a new funky drummer. Tick. Tick. Tick. To the power of a million billion.

Note to self – must stop personifying objects and calling them greasy overlords.IMG_20170610_111233806_HDRBreaking grip in corners under the weight of the bike produces one of the most satisfying sounds know to humankind. The schralp. A sound that can only be likened to an aggressive rip of velcro. The trail noise connoisseur who takes this noise further can sometimes be rewarded with a satisfying yet demoralising tire burp and hiss of air. Usually followed by a familiar sigh as I think “I’ve forgotten my pump”.

The home of the new funky drummer

By the time I’ve heard all of these noises it normally means I’m coming to the end of the ride. I’ve adjusted to the sounds of the trail. The bleeps from my office equipment friends back at ‘Generic Corporation Building’ are long gone. New sound waves are now flowing through my head pool. Lap them up. Don’t urinate in the water. IMG_20170612_191352451Now is the time to consider these friendly tones from the trail with a moment of quiet reflection. Take stock of the new sounds that fill my head and appreciate them.

The soundscape I am in at that moment is made up of the sounds I have witnessed in the last hour on the trail. If you drafted in a professional sound engineer and asked them to analyze the whizzes, schralps, and clunks that now occupy my thoughts. Demanded they wrote up a riveting, insightful and scientifically accurate report. Then kindly asked them to leave my psyche and close the door on the way out. I’m sure they would then find that the songs produced by the depressing band of office equipment would be technically similar to the noises produced on the trail. They may be no less harsh or intrusive but they are a much more pleasurable experience.

When I am sat reflecting in relative quiet, It’s obvious to me that the problem of annoying work noises can not be remedied by achieving inner silence. That is too hard for me to find. Instead, I can choose to surround myself with buzzes, ticks and tocks that I actually enjoy and welcome into my life. Noises that are byproducts of the awesome sport of mountain biking and it’s mechanical components. This is a playlist I have opted into and taken control of.