Biking Music.

By | January 8, 2014

One of my biggest cycling pet peeves is people wearing headphones while riding.  People cannot hear me yell, ‘On your left!’  Then they looked surprised, scared and annoyed when I pass them.  This is annoying, but it is even worse when done on the road.  You cannot hear approaching vehicles.  It is dangerous.  NEVER WEAR HEADPHONES WHILE CYCLING!

Over the last few years, I have noticed a compromise.  People have been riding with their cell phones playing their tunes.  Some people have gone so far as to hook up portable speakers, which can be quite loud.  A few folks at RAGBRAI have taken this to a new level.  Some of them pull trailers with batteries powering a BOOMING stereo!  At least these people are not is also lose awareness of their surroundings.

Recently NPR ran a piece about tunes to listen to while commuting by bicycle.  Here it is.    Maybe it is a sign of my age, but I have never heard of any of that music…  When I did listen to it, I did not enjoy it.  Surely I can do better!

In general, I am not in favor of riding with my tunes blaring, however I do make an exception from time to time.  They are as follows:

1.  During a long day on STP or RAGBRAI I am bound to experience highs and lows.  When I am dragging ass, I can be uplifted by my fellow cyclists tunes.  I have even been known to speed up or slow down to keep pace with someone whose music I like.  After a few minutes of tunes, I am ready to go again at my own pace.  If I were to provide my own soundtrack to get out of these tough moments these songs would be a necessity.

2.  On a long climb or a challenging section of road, I have been known to pull out my phone bring up Pandora and use the beat to set my pace.  Often I refer to this as ‘Riding angry.’  This is when I want to attack.  This loud, angry music would set the proper mood!

3.  I really hate to admit this.  However, since this blog post will likely be read by 20-30 people whom I will never meet…  I feel that my secret is safe.  At times when I am struggling, I sing along to the music in my head.  Something about controling your breathing to sing helps return me to a cycling rhythm on the road.  I want to slow my breathing down at these times.  I want to relax.  Usually something just pops into my head.  Remembering it now is difficult, but these songs have a slower rhythm and are typically vocally driven.

  • Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues  This song pops into my head frequently on the saddle.  He speaks of suffering, rolling, the rails and torture.  Seems perfect for a day in the saddle.
  • Cake – You turn the Screws  The first time I hears of this song, I thought of cycling.  Now when I cycle, I think of this song.
  • Audioslave – I am the Highway  Good song if you are on the bike, or if you are going through a messy break-up.  If you are going through a messy break-up, you should be on your bike ayway 🙂
  • Rupert Holmes – Escape  It has been a long day in the saddle.  You are suffering.  You can spread that misery.  Drop this earworm on the guy who drafts without asking…  or you you can punish your fellow riders at random, belt out a few lyrics when being passed or passing someone.  Make it real special and make up your own lyrics.  ‘If you like Pina Colonics!’
That is my list.  It is nowhere near complete.  Do you have anything to add?  I would love to hear it!
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