Preloading The Brain

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Rule #62 Exception. photo: Dan Seaton" width="620" height="413" /> Rule #62 Exception. photo: Dan Seaton-Velonews

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.

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91 Replies to “Preloading The Brain”

  1. Never, ever, no matter how much your kids beg, watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang before a ride longer than 2 hours   If you do, “Kyle’s Mom is a B!tch” from South Park can provide some distraction.

  2. Timely piece.  I was stuck with the sound track to the Blues Brothers rolling around my brain for an entire 115 Km mostly solo ride this past Saturday.

  3. A-Merckx! I don’t feel connected to the bike/road/environs/myself if I have buds in the ears, so strategically loading the brain buffers to replay the right music during the ride is very useful.  For most rides I’m able to roll out from my doorstep, so I load the mental playlist while kitting-up.  I can always rely on one of the following:

    • Mozart’s Symphony #25 in G Minor
    • Rossini’s Barber of Seville Overture
    • Mendelssohn’s Symphony #4 in A Major “The Italian”
    • Anything by Rush

     

  4. Out on a ride around the Scottish Borders today I found myself humming Wu-Tang lyrics, definitely made hill climbing a tad more aggressive!

    Bring the Ruckus.

  5. Even worse than a song is a fragment of one because you can’t remember the words. I did a double century last year, having heard a OneRepublic song in the car the previous day. “You’ve got something I need… Da da da dada da dada da da… And if I only die once, I want do die with youuuuuu!!” Repeated. For 13 hours.

  6. Lordy, and here I thought I was the only one with this affliction. Every ride, and not by any choice of mine, I’ll have one song on repeat in the ol’ noggin for the duration of the ride. Thankfully who’s ever playing the DJ has good taste in music.

    There must be an explanation for this which avoids use of the word “dude.”

  7. My wife and I have a pact when riding together. Neither is allowed to sing aloud whatever terrible jingle or 80″²s anthem song is plaguing our brains. Sharing such things is not good for a marriage.

    We are not married (together for 16 years though) but we have this Rule even outside riding. The worse the song or jingle, the higher the crime of making it known. Partners in life should not be made to suffer in isolation; this is what we have each other for. But some things must be suffered alone, and this is one of them.

  8. Prep music is key; the more gnarly the ride, the more critical this is.

    And prep music can be different from riding music, because riding music needs a rhythm you can jam to when you’re in the hurt box going up some Merckx-forsaken climb. Something you can time your breathing to.

    But the prep song, especially when you know there is little waiting for you than suffering, is key. Whenever in doubt, its The Ghost of Tom Joad by RATM.

    The VMH’s choice is Eye of the Tiger or Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.

    All good songs, but when it comes to riding – as Gianni would say: “WE’RE VERY FAR APART ON THIS“!

  9. @ten B

    Even worse than a song is a fragment of one because you can’t remember the words. I did a double century last year, having heard a OneRepublic song in the car the previous day. “You’ve got something I need… Da da da dada da dada da da… And if I only die once, I want do die with youuuuuu!!” Repeated. For 13 hours.

    Yes. This. I started a 14 hour ride once with only the chorus of “One” by U2 in my head and by the end of the ride I’d sorted out all the lyrics. That was the best possible result.

  10. @ten B

    Even worse than a song is a fragment of one because you can’t remember the words. I did a double century last year, having heard a OneRepublic song in the car the previous day. “You’ve got something I need… Da da da dada da dada da da… And if I only die once, I want do die with youuuuuu!!” Repeated. For 13 hours.

    That is my greatest fear…a long long ride with the worst kind of fragment of an insipid song with no hope of an eject button. We refer for the need of a “bottle brush” song, as if one was pushing a bottle brush in one ear and it coming out the other. It is a song so shitty it actually replaces the other one in the brain.

  11. @frank

    Partners in life should not be made to suffer in isolation; this is what we have each other for. But some things must be suffered alone, and this is one of them.

    +1

  12. @frank

    The VMH‘s choice is Eye of the Tiger or Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.

    Note to self: Be very afraid when pre-ride with your VMH. She is a glutton for punishment.

  13. I found it’s key to get a good, high bpm ear worm in my head driving on the way to a TT. Seems to help delivering the V on course. So far I’ve been risking it leaving it to whatever is on the radio.

    I should be better organised and make a mixed V tape.

  14. If you want to listen to music on the bike, fine, it’s your loss, your funeral but for Gods sake, ok, for MY sake don’t put your music on your phone and play it via loud speaker up the climbs. Ye gads! It’s one way to run a guys rhythm that is for sure. Fortunately I could out climb the fool, unfortunately it was 12% took some time to get our of ear shot.

  15. @the-farmer

    I’ve just discovered Racer X. Those get in your head and won’t go!

    The Big Black EP or the LA glam metal band? I readily endorse the former (and Albini’s subsequent output).

  16. I have never ridden with music on outdoors…it just seems dangerous?  However, the turbo is an entirely different matter.  I spent several months on a turbo rehabbing from an ankle reconstruction and the right music made a huge difference whilst watching a virtual DVD of climbing Ventoux or L’Alpe.

    However as has been mentioned different rides or different stages of a ride require different music.  Favourites invariably move and change with the times too, but always always always at some point I come back to Fleetwood Mac – The Chain.  It is 2mins 55s of prep followed by eyeballs out sprint when that guitar kicks in!

  17. @ten B

    Even worse than a song is a fragment of one because you can’t remember the words. I did a double century last year, having heard a OneRepublic song in the car the previous day. “You’ve got something I need… Da da da dada da dada da da… And if I only die once, I want do die with youuuuuu!!” Repeated. For 13 hours.

    I doubt the experience would have been improved by remembering the entire song.

  18. @pistard they are from the 80’s Paul Gilbert is the guitarist, god knows how I found them, I think I was googling guitar music, love a good riff but I can’t play music, found them and Dokken! Mr Scary has ace guitar on it.
     

  19. My son is into K-Pop and J-Pop. Accidentally catch some Korean rap on your way out the door and that’s your day screwed right there.

  20. I find that the right mix, during a TT warm up does a good job of setting the mood to prepare for the on coming suffering.  To me there is something supremely unique to the suffering of a time trial, and doing so consumed with a calm psychopathic like fury gets the job done rather nicely.  Only a handful of songs can incite this emotion, but chained together and piped into my skull via a personal little stereo system is the way to do so pre race.

  21. Obits have been on full rotation on the playlist in my mind on the last few rides.

  22. @Deakus

    @the Engine

    This for instance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzC4hFK5P3g

    There! Right There! I see what you did. That’s my ride today now fucked!!!

    That’s nothing.  I took the family to a kids concert on a Saturday afternoon.  Sunday morning was 3 hours of this…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lauLmAYqXdo  At least it has a driving beat.

    The worst part of the unwelcome song is that despite attempts to come up with a replacement, I am in the moment unable to think of the name of a single song, much less replay lyrics in my head to push it out.

  23. Timely article.

    I have never been one to break Rule #62.  On Sunday morning though, as I was kitting up for what was to be a solo century, I thought, “…maybe it would be nice to have some music along for part of it”.  And so I stuck the wife’s Ipod into the back pocket of the jersey.  At about the halfway point I gave it a try.  For me, the iPod headphones are such a leaky fit that I found that I could still hear cars and the like on the quiet road that I was riding.  Even still, I rode about half the time with the left earphone out.  Audio fidelity wasn’t particularly important to me….just being able to hear enough to be able to internalize the melody and feel myself riding with the beat was enough of a distraction for me.  I don’t think it will become a regular thing though…

  24. @frank

    Yes. This. I started a 14 hour ride once with only the chorus of “One” by U2 in my head and by the end of the ride I’d sorted out all the lyrics. That was the best possible result.

    I used this video as a bit of breakfast inspiration before a 100k/3000m sufferfest last year, needless to say the very self evident song lyrics of the soundtrack were on loop all day.

    <iframe src=”//player.vimeo.com/video/73669400″ width=”500″ height=”281″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/73669400″>H500 DIRTY DONNA</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/pineapplekeith”>PineappleKeith</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

  25. I regularly ride the MTB with the iPod and one ear bud in with very select music and I love it

    I rarely ride the Tarmac with music

  26. @Deakus

    I have never ridden with music on outdoors…it just seems dangerous? However, the turbo is an entirely different matter. I spent several months on a turbo rehabbing from an ankle reconstruction and the right music made a huge difference whilst watching a virtual DVD of climbing Ventoux or L’Alpe.

    However as has been mentioned different rides or different stages of a ride require different music. Favourites invariably move and change with the times too, but always always always at some point I come back to Fleetwood Mac – The Chain. It is 2mins 55s of prep followed by eyeballs out sprint when that guitar kicks in!

    See, I always associated “The Chain” with BBC coverage of Formula 1 – that used to be the theme music.  For cycling, it was/is Ride Like the Wind by Christopher Cross – I saw a Tour video montage in the 80s to that song and it’s been in my brain ever since!

    I never ride with buds in on the road. On the local rails-to-trails path I do. 20 miles of flat, straight gravel each way means I need something extra to keep it fun. Also, no semis or cars to worry about. In the woods? Never.

    Can’;t beat some Husker Du or Bob Mould on the trainer though . . .

  27. @wiscot

    @the Engine

    This for instance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzC4hFK5P3g

    That is so wrong on so many levels. I’m quite speechless . . . how do you know about such stuff?

    Having a 14 year old son who’s in to manga, J-Pop and K-Pop ‘ll do that to ya.

    We let him listen to his own music in the car now on headphones otherwise the rest of the family will be at risk of catching mental.

  28. Doesn’t Phinney the Younger talk about having “I Gave You All” by Mumford & Sons going around in his head on the day he got dropped and refused to get in the broom wagon, but just rode himself home?

  29. Ok, I’m going here — even though I will be totally exposed.

    Training rides in the late 80s — John Tesh.  Some of the soundtracks from the early CBS Tour coverage and his TDF album on a Sony Walkman in my jersey pocket.  Headclobbers, Road Made for Animals etc actually made for some really grade V training rides.

    And even…. wait for it….. Yanni (?!).  Paris-Roubaix coverage, Eric Vanderaerden so covered in muck you could hardly see him…   Pretending I was chasing him down as I rode kep me going deeper than I thought I could.

    There.  I put it in print for the world to see….

  30. @teleguy57

    Ok, I’m going here “” even though I will be totally exposed.

    Training rides in the late 80s “” John Tesh. Some of the soundtracks from the early CBS Tour coverage and his TDF album on a Sony Walkman in my jersey pocket. Headclobbers, Road Made for Animals etc actually made for some really grade V training rides.

    And even…. wait for it….. Yanni (?!). Paris-Roubaix coverage, Eric Vanderaerden so covered in muck you could hardly see him… Pretending I was chasing him down as I rode kep me going deeper than I thought I could.

    There. I put it in print for the world to see….

    I’m seriously invoking the masturbation principle here! But whatever works my friend, whatever works!

  31. @Gianni – good stuff.  As a younger man playing hockey, pre-loading was a must and the Byrds’ Lover of the Bayou was it.  Psyched me up while suiting up and put a gnarly edge ont eh attitude.  Very appropriate for the rides where climbing is involved –  the man with the hammer takes on a funky form.

    And I’ve got cats and teeth and hair for sale
    I’m the lover of the bayou
    Beware a zombie is on your tail
    I’m the lover of the bayou

  32. @wiscot

    @teleguy57

    Ok, I’m going here “” even though I will be totally exposed.

    Training rides in the late 80s “” John Tesh. Some of the soundtracks from the early CBS Tour coverage and his TDF album on a Sony Walkman in my jersey pocket. Headclobbers, Road Made for Animals etc actually made for some really grade V training rides.

    And even…. wait for it….. Yanni (?!). Paris-Roubaix coverage, Eric Vanderaerden so covered in muck you could hardly see him… Pretending I was chasing him down as I rode kep me going deeper than I thought I could.

    There. I put it in print for the world to see….

    I’m seriously invoking the Masturbation Principle here! But whatever works my friend, whatever works!

    Acknowledged.  It was 25 years ago…  Is my sentence reduced for for good behavior since?

  33. A friend posted this on FB about 2 weeks ago and the ear worm has dug deep and set up shop.  Luckily I dont think its a terrible song, but I was only a wee kid(8) when it came out.

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