Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bike Tunes

Rider's Writing Cycle challenge from Highwaymunky; Tune selection


I am a very passionate music fan & former musician with tastes more diverse than the faces on a New York subway. I can get totally lost in a piece of music, nearly to the point of losing track of my surroundings. It's great to have such a powerful connection to music but it can also take more of my concentration away from keeping the rubber side down. So there are times when I skip the externally produced tunes and stick with the internal sound track. I always have music playing in my head so I have a great selection available, it just may or may not be coming from an electronic source. Given the power music holds over me, I generally only listen with one ear piece though since I want to be aware of the truck that is about to roll over me before I feel it. Perhaps that way I can avoid becoming an extra large street pizza.

An Important Note: We're all adults here so we make our choices and live with the results so I don't pass judgement on those who do listen all the while they ride unless they are weaving like a maniac and can't hear my pleas to let me pass in which case they're just rude and inconsiderate, both of which I think are unnecessary on the trail.

First Movement - The Commute

Adagio - Morning

In the morning it's an eclectic blend with Radio Heartland, a public radio station with a web feed and an iPhone app, hits the spot perfectly as long as I can maintain the signal. When I can't, my choice could be anything from Allison Krause or Stacey Kent to Bela Fleck or Vivaldi, perhaps even Eric Dolphy or Lyle Lovett. Maybe even these guys. It all depends on my mood.

Presto - Evening's past

Before I got my iPhone, I had a phone with a radio and I took perverse pleasure in listening to traffic radio on my afternoon commute. We have a great public jazz station that also does traffic reports. Depending on my contract, my commute has generally had me riding near enough a major highway that I can track my progress against the cagers. There's few things as enjoyable as riding along a trail that parallels the highway, moving faster than the traffic listening to some driving jazz and hearing traffic reports about how long a delay they will incur. They play quite a variety but it's mostly straight ahead jazz and really pushes my commute on.

Allegro - Evening's present

Now that I can't get that station, it's mostly jazz on the way home such as Chet Baker, Count Basie, Weather Report, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, maybe Ella Fitzgerald. Whatever it is has to be cookin' since I have only so long to work out the stress of the day and I want the music to kick up the tempo.

Second Movement - MTB

I don't generally listen to music from an external source though there was a run this winter through my local single track where I had Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Winter of course, and it really hit the spot. My internal iPod generally plays something pretty kick-ass when I am flying down the singletrack so the Vivaldi was a surprise but the first and third movements are pretty up tempo. Most of the folks I ride with leave their tunes behind which generally works out pretty well because then we can hear, and join in, the grief being passed up and down the line.

Third Movement - Road Riding

On my road rides I listen exclusively to John Cage's 4' 33". This is a piece that is often referred to as 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence but is actually the listeners hyper focused on the sounds in the environment. For me, when I'm on the road, I feel I have too much to think about and too many other folks dependent on my actions to give any attention to music. I am inches off someone's wheel or they are inches off mine, often both, and the margin of error is too close for me to have the sounds around me blocked out. This is, of course, strictly my opinion, your results may vary, offer only good on my blog, this cyclist has been injured in the development of this opinon, I don't care if you try this at home.

Finale - Indoor Trainer

I feel this is the most pathetic "cycling" I do and only on those rare occasions where I can't ride for some reason or get my work out from cross-country skiing or running. In other words, it's a short list of times I'm not doing something else but when I do find myself on the trainer, it's podcast time! My current favorite is RadioLab from WNYC and broadcast throughout the public radio waves.


  1. This is a smart post. Interesting music choices there.

    I always have only the left ear thingy of my iPod (away from the road) in my ear when I ride on the road, too.

  2. Thanks Groover, I try to keep my brain engaged and my appetite for music is completely insatiable.