Rule #62 Exception. photo: Dan Seaton

Preloading The Brain

Preloading The Brain

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Brett’s fine Nick Cave article got me thinking about music and cycling. We spend lots of time alone on our bikes. The bike is on autopilot, it stays upright from second to second, freeing up our brains to consider anything or nothing. Music might be the only riding companion we have but it has to be the right music. 

Being as Pro as possible is not necessarily a good thing. Pros tend to blow through all stop signs and they care not a damn about Rule #62. As adamant as I am about sock length and color, I’m more of a hardliner about Rule #62. It is one Rule I have positively never broken, honest Father. Half my friends do though, oh I see them with their wires and ear buds. I get it, I just don’t ever do it. I want to know what’s coming up the road behind me. I also like to hear the world as I ride but I really want to hear that dog or cement mixer before they are right HERE. And I sometimes enjoy the voices in my head. They get me.

Before you go for a long ride, preplan your music, don’t just turn on the car radio as you motor away to meet your riding friends. A moment of inattention and you could be riding three hours with The Carpenters. My wife and I have a pact when riding together. Neither is allowed to sing aloud whatever terrible jingle or 80’s anthem song is plaguing our brains. Sharing such things is not good for a marriage.

It is the early morning riding where my brain is most susceptible to contamination. Wrung out from a night’s sleep, my brain will absorb anything. I have to saturate my brain with good music before something terrible gets in there; once it is in there, it is not coming out without a fight. I had an early morning teeth cleaning and while captive in the chair, their office music programming played nothing but Cher for thirty minutes. Oh I thought it was amusing at the time. The next day, Cher was still there. I was not amused.

Predawn, rolling along in the truck, bike in the back, something great on the stereo, even if the windshield wipers are on, this is how we get up for a ride. There may only be one song in the head for the next three hours but at least if will be a good one.

// Musings from the V-Bunker // The Rules

  1. Now that Wiscot has given absolution…

    Latest in my brain came from seeing Jackson Browne in Sturgeon Bay WI (really!) back in July.  He’s connected with a music collaborative there and did a benefit for them as a warm up for his upcoming tour after just finishing recording a new album.  Solo show, JB, his piano, and 26 guitars on stage for him to pick and choose.  No set list, just asked the audience to call out songs and when he heard a title that appealed to him, he played it.

    What stuck with me was his rendition of Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money.”  They had a somewhat tumultuous professional relationship/friendship, and Browne did a couple of his songs in tribute.  Always loved Lawyers, Guns and Money — good rhythm and great lyrics — which I now found I can grunt out in phrases, along with grunting out the guitar licks as well.

  2. @teleguy57

    Now that Wiscot has given absolution…

    I thought that absolution could only come from The Prophet himself…and only after a healthy dose of hill repeats

  3. @teleguy57

    Now that Wiscot has given absolution…

    Latest in my brain came from seeing Jackson Browne in Sturgeon Bay WI (really!) back in July. He’s connected with a music collaborative there and did a benefit for them as a warm up for his upcoming tour after just finishing recording a new album. Solo show, JB, his piano, and 26 guitars on stage for him to pick and choose. No set list, just asked the audience to call out songs and when he heard a title that appealed to him, he played it.

    What stuck with me was his rendition of Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money.” They had a somewhat tumultuous professional relationship/friendship, and Browne did a couple of his songs in tribute. Always loved Lawyers, Guns and Money “” good rhythm and great lyrics “” which I now found I can grunt out in phrases, along with grunting out the guitar licks as well.

    Man, that sounds like a sweet gig! Sturgeon Bay’s a nice little town in a very pretty county. Have you ever done the Door Co century? It’s coming up fast. I did it for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. I’m signed up again and will be skipping a work event to do so. No guilt trip involved as I’m missing the Heck of the North because of a work conflict – and I’d paid my registration for that one too!

  4. @VeloVita

    @teleguy57

    Now that Wiscot has given absolution…

    I thought that absolution could only come from The Prophet himself…and only after a healthy dose of hill repeats

    Probably true, but I called him out on it and he asked me for forgiveness. I thought it was the kindest thing to do . . . Mr Merckx is so busy these days he’s hard to get a hold of . . .

  5. @wiscot

    @VeloVita

    @teleguy57

    Now that Wiscot has given absolution…

    I thought that absolution could only come from The Prophet himself…and only after a healthy dose of hill repeats

    Probably true, but I called him out on it and he asked me for forgiveness. I thought it was the kindest thing to do . . . Mr Merckx is so busy these days he’s hard to get a hold of . . .

    I think I did penance in full last night on my first attempt at the A ride — got dropped midway up a long grade after riding stupidly, but chased solo for 10 mi at 22mph – that’s really hard for this old too-fat-to-climb guy.  And no, I didn’t get back on….

    Wiscot, yeah, that’s a great ride.  My wife attends an industry trade conf each year and I’m the corp spouse for it — and unfortunately for riding, they changed their standing weekend a couple years ago to conflict with the DCR.   grrrrr…..  I may do the new Penisula Century the following weekend.

    I do ride to/in Door County a fair amount as we have family there.

  6. @teleguy57

    Now that Wiscot has given absolution…

    Latest in my brain came from seeing Jackson Browne in Sturgeon Bay WI (really!) back in July. He’s connected with a music collaborative there and did a benefit for them as a warm up for his upcoming tour after just finishing recording a new album. Solo show, JB, his piano, and 26 guitars on stage for him to pick and choose. No set list, just asked the audience to call out songs and when he heard a title that appealed to him, he played it.

    What stuck with me was his rendition of Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money.” They had a somewhat tumultuous professional relationship/friendship, and Browne did a couple of his songs in tribute. Always loved Lawyers, Guns and Money “” good rhythm and great lyrics “” which I now found I can grunt out in phrases, along with grunting out the guitar licks as well.

    Yes, I have spent much time on the bike with Mr Zevon in the head. Excellent company, right there.

    And coming up on a rider who can’t hear you because of their earphone are blaring, making a greeting or conversation impossible. It makes me want to blow by that much faster.

  7. @teleguy57
    I’ve ridden the DCC for the past 4 years but will miss it this year. Am doing the Peninsula Century instead.  If your going email me. kpgigot at new.rr.com.

  8. @razmaspaz

    Since this is THE place to shit all over crap kit, what are some good criteria for selecting a pair of stylish headphones for pre race wear? And of course, quality sound is a style criteria all its own.

    Budgetatus-wise ($100) you can’t go wrong with the Sony MDR-7506. It’s the big S of audio, so forget style, but the sound quality beats anything at twice the price.

    If you want to spend $300 or more, Beyerdynamic, PSB and Sennheiser have options that fit both bills. Grado look great, but sound like crap.

    All things being equal, open will sound better than closed, but one shouldn’t masturbate in public.

    And honestly, if you’re just going to plug them into a phone, the cheapest shit you can find will do.

  9. @actor1

    starting at 1:38 mark, kmfdm stole that riff & made this gem, called ‘godlike': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ho_WeNKhgxk

    Great choice, KMFDM are my selection for those long solo rides where tunes are required, although cadence normally matches the beat regardless .

    As for headphones, a cheap pair of sports earbuds that wrap around the ear with the right earbud cutoff to allow me to hear the traffic (Australian, drive on the left) and resist the temptation to stick the other one in. Luckily years in technical roles where I need music to concentrate and an ear open to the 2-way mean I don’t find this too difficult.

    The sports earbuds after an apple earbud fell out, wrapped itself in my rear wheel and removed my phone from my pocket at 30km/h.

  10. @pistard

    @razmaspaz

    Since this is THE place to shit all over crap kit, what are some good criteria for selecting a pair of stylish headphones for pre race wear? And of course, quality sound is a style criteria all its own.

    Budgetatus-wise ($100) you can’t go wrong with the Sony MDR-7506. It’s the big S of audio, so forget style, but the sound quality beats anything at twice the price.

    If you want to spend $300 or more, Beyerdynamic, PSB and Sennheiser have options that fit both bills. Grado look great, but sound like crap.

    All things being equal, open will sound better than closed, but one shouldn’t masturbate in public.

    And honestly, if you’re just going to plug them into a phone, the cheapest shit you can find will do.

    I’m fortunate enough to spend my working days without the inconvenience of co-workers, so I have all day to bask in the glory of a better than middling sound system.  I will say though that I can hear a difference between those pieces of junk Apple ships with the iPhone and a real set of headphones.  The amount of time I used to spend on an airplane led me to pick up a decent set of noise cancelers.  I was listening to Nicholas Jaar the other day on them, and there is no question even plugged into a phone, they make a difference.

    Sadly nearly every pic of the pros is bought and paid for by beats.  I guess more than brand, what I’m curious about are some rules for headphone selection.  Brand and sound are highly personal, but If I’m matching my tape to my saddle to my tires, am I matching my shoes to my headphones?

  11. @razmaspaz

    @pistard

    @razmaspaz

    Since this is THE place to shit all over crap kit, what are some good criteria for selecting a pair of stylish headphones for pre race wear? And of course, quality sound is a style criteria all its own.

    Budgetatus-wise ($100) you can’t go wrong with the Sony MDR-7506. It’s the big S of audio, so forget style, but the sound quality beats anything at twice the price.

    If you want to spend $300 or more, Beyerdynamic, PSB and Sennheiser have options that fit both bills. Grado look great, but sound like crap.

    All things being equal, open will sound better than closed, but one shouldn’t masturbate in public.

    And honestly, if you’re just going to plug them into a phone, the cheapest shit you can find will do.

    I’m fortunate enough to spend my working days without the inconvenience of co-workers, so I have all day to bask in the glory of a better than middling sound system. I will say though that I can hear a difference between those pieces of junk Apple ships with the iPhone and a real set of headphones. The amount of time I used to spend on an airplane led me to pick up a decent set of noise cancelers. I was listening to Nicholas Jaar the other day on them, and there is no question even plugged into a phone, they make a difference.

    Sadly nearly every pic of the pros is bought and paid for by beats. I guess more than brand, what I’m curious about are some rules for headphone selection. Brand and sound are highly personal, but If I’m matching my tape to my saddle to my tires, am I matching my shoes to my headphones?

    The obvious answer is in the top image: Match the headphones to your cycling cap.

  12. @razmaspaz

    If you’re going to wear them pre-ride, then by all means match them to your shoes or kit. Of course, if you need gold or pink ones you might be limited to beats or skullcandy. But seriously, sound, fit and build quality are what matter and what you should be comparing. Open or closed depending on ambient noise and privacy. There are online reviews that can help, but testing some different models, with music you know well, is the way.

    @Shlumpen

    Or just get some that double as a helmet…

  13. @pistard

    @razmaspaz

    If you’re going to wear them pre-ride, then by all means match them to your shoes or kit. Of course, if you need gold or pink ones you might be limited to beats or skullcandy. But seriously, sound, fit and build quality are what matter and what you should be comparing. Open or closed depending on ambient noise and privacy. There are online reviews that can help, but testing some different models, with music you know well, is the way.

    @Shlumpen

    Or just get some that double as a helmet…

    I thought that was a funky mailbox at first. Headphones you say though . . .

  14. @Dr C

    True, the earplugs are a shortcut to the Rearly Gates, but a compromise is to jam your phone in your central helmet vent, vertivally, much like a Shark fin (I assume this is how Vince Nibali got his name

    You do look like a twat, but Barbra Streisand has got me up a few long climbs that I may have felt I couldn’t have conquered, accompanied only by the silent spinning of my chainset

    Obviously, if your phone doesn’t fit in your helmet properly, much as with your sunnies, get a new helmet

    ….what….?

    This is great. Like seeing the guys tooling around the city on their beater bikes with a boom box strapped on, only way more stylish…. Maybe.

  15. @therealpeel

    @Dr C

    True, the earplugs are a shortcut to the Rearly Gates, but a compromise is to jam your phone in your central helmet vent, vertivally, much like a Shark fin (I assume this is how Vince Nibali got his name

    You do look like a twat, but Barbra Streisand has got me up a few long climbs that I may have felt I couldn’t have conquered, accompanied only by the silent spinning of my chainset

    Obviously, if your phone doesn’t fit in your helmet properly, much as with your sunnies, get a new helmet

    ….what….?

    This is great. Like seeing the guys tooling around the city on their beater bikes with a boom box strapped on, only way more stylish…. Maybe.

    Barbra Steisand? What rockin’ tunes by her get you up the climbs? Do tell . . .

  16. @Dr C Nipple lube you mad Irish fucker.

    Where have you been?

  17. @wiscot

    @therealpeel

    @Dr C

    True, the earplugs are a shortcut to the Rearly Gates, but a compromise is to jam your phone in your central helmet vent, vertivally, much like a Shark fin (I assume this is how Vince Nibali got his name

    You do look like a twat, but Barbra Streisand has got me up a few long climbs that I may have felt I couldn’t have conquered, accompanied only by the silent spinning of my chainset

    Obviously, if your phone doesn’t fit in your helmet properly, much as with your sunnies, get a new helmet

    ….what….?

    This is great. Like seeing the guys tooling around the city on their beater bikes with a boom box strapped on, only way more stylish…. Maybe.

    Barbra Steisand? What rockin’ tunes by her get you up the climbs? Do tell . . .

    This is good you picked up this thread. Many questions here, not enough answers. Phone jammed into helmet like shark fin playing Barbara Streisand. I actually did a spit take when I first read that. Very messy. Life is different in N. Ireland.

  18. No music while riding, because riding is only for riding, nothing else. I loved the Oriva Greenedge vids, what happened to this years one?

    These are an interesting concept, but my opening statement still stands.

    Sound through your jawbone? sounds a bit weird.

    http://road.cc/content/review/124592-aftershokz-bluez-2-wireless-bone-conduction-headphones

  19. Very late on this. The OGE use of Iggy’s Wild One may have linked to an audience more likely to be familiar with the Godfather of Punk but it is a seminal Australian piece.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_One_(Johnny_O%27Keefe_song)

  20. Geeky, I know, but to alleviate the boredom of a long steady ride and to keep myself within the bounds of Rule #71 (rather than get all over-excited, acquire Top Gun style lock-on on a fellow rider and race to my feeble max hr) … I sometimes listen to BBC Radio 4 podcasts; documentaries and current affairs shows. One earpiece only. Thank you that is all.

  21. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jn0FF1KwL4I

    …and now we know what happened to Andy Schleck.

  22. @blackpooltower Headphones during the ride! You’ll never hear the elusive shift “click” of the rider coming up from the back to attack — that is all.

  23. @Gianni

    @wiscot

    @therealpeel

    @Dr C

    True, the earplugs are a shortcut to the Rearly Gates, but a compromise is to jam your phone in your central helmet vent, vertivally, much like a Shark fin (I assume this is how Vince Nibali got his name

    You do look like a twat, but Barbra Streisand has got me up a few long climbs that I may have felt I couldn’t have conquered, accompanied only by the silent spinning of my chainset

    Obviously, if your phone doesn’t fit in your helmet properly, much as with your sunnies, get a new helmet

    ….what….?

    This is great. Like seeing the guys tooling around the city on their beater bikes with a boom box strapped on, only way more stylish…. Maybe.

    Barbra Steisand? What rockin’ tunes by her get you up the climbs? Do tell . . .

    This is good you picked up this thread. Many questions here, not enough answers. Phone jammed into helmet like shark fin playing Barbara Streisand. I actually did a spit take when I first read that. Very messy. Life is different in N. Ireland.

    I’m quite certain that that is all too strange, weird, wrong, whatev…,  to be true.

    Me personally, Rage Against the Machine’s Bombtrack followed by Killing in the Name, will do the job for me on any Strava segment I’m having a run at while on a solo ride. And Apple’s 2nd gen earbuds do work well for bike. As a youngster I’d keep a Walkman cassette player, usually with live Stones – Love ya Live or Get your Ya Ya’s out, in my ski jacket pocket. And keep the POS headphones tucked under my cap while heading down the mtn. I’ll take the phone and ear buds over that gear any day.

  24. So all this talk about music while riding reminded me that I never got over the loss of the best set of cycling earphones I ever had – vanished in a house move somehow at the beginning of last year.

    I have tried others since then but the Bose sie2i are without doubt my favourite and I recommend them highly, not for their music qualities but for their cycling-friendly aspect.

    • They are non-sealed – they use a shaped earpiece into the ear, not a soft round earbud – so unless you have the sound up very loud you aren’t blocking out the traffic noise.
    • They are very secure –  a semi-soft shaped piece holds the earphone and sits in the ridge of your ear.  I find anything sticking out or above the ear like an over-the-ear bracket creates a lot of wind noise which makes it hard to hear the music and blocks traffic noise.
    • The cord is short. It comes with an extension if you need it but it means you haven’t got a whole load of excess cable to get stuck. Even if they fell out it wouldn’t go into wheel or chain.
    • They also come with an armband which fits an iPhone5 and is lined to prevent sweat/water getting in. The earpieces are also water-resistant.
    • The sie2i comes with a control and mic so you can change volume or pause the music. The sie1i is cheaper and doesn’t have the control.

    It’s just really well thought out. They’ve looked at all the problems and issues that come with listening to music while exercising outdoors and provided a solution.

    They aren’t cheap. About $140-150 US. I asked my wife for some at Christmas and she looked at it and couldn’t bring herself to pay that much for earphones. I did point out that it was sort of the point of a present to be something that you might not just buy for yourself.

    Anyway, since then I’ve tried cheaper ‘sport’ earphones from Monster (OK but sealed so block noise and the spring on the clip rusted away almost immediately so the cord is now a major liability. You’d think they might have anticipated sport earphones getting sweat on them.) and Bluetooth earphones I was given (skip a lot, stick out, lots of windrush).

    But I was passing by the Bose shop in Dubai Mall yesterday, and I couldn’t resist. I am once more musically mobile.

  25. Ramping up on Rush before this perfect group ride on this perfect evening. And the kids here are getting a good dose of Rush as well.

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