Thursday, 22 August 2013

Playing Air Guitar on the Trail

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.

~ On Top of the World - Imagine Dragons

What a great set of lyrics -and a great song too (see below).  I'm a firm believer that music makes the mood.  Whatever it is you're doing, music can either bring you up, or take you down.  On a long bike ride, music can help sooth the monotony of the pedal strokes.  It can also help to guide those pedal strokes with a strong cadence.

On normal in-city rides, I typically don't wear headphones.  Far too dangerous to have one sense disengaged while trying to avoid cars, open doors, sirens, train whistles, barking dogs that jump out of bushes right in front of you (happened on my driving test 23 years ago.  Seriously.), etcetera.  However, if I'm riding on an isolated stretch (such as the Elora-Cataract), I will put the earbuds in from time to time.  And with over 30,000 songs in my collection, making a good cycling mix can be a task bigger than changing a flat in Mosquitoville. 

Choosing songs to listen to while riding is akin to deciding how to spend birthday money...the right choice is pure reward.  Choosing wrong however can be chock full of regret.  Music is one of the most subjective items available to mankind.  Everyone has different tastes and preferences.  Mood can also dictate what music gets blared through speakers or headphones.  With that in mind, I do have playlists at the ready for when I am in the mood to listen while I ride.  Here are some of my favorites:

1) Float On - Modest Mouse: I love the melodies of this song.  Great coasting tune, especially during the chorus..."and we'll all float on, OK?".

2) On Top of the World - Imagine Dragons: I simply love the sound that the Las Vegas-bred Imagine Dragons produces.  This track (which I first heard on the FIFA 13 soundtrack, by the way) has as strong up-beat tone with a truly inspiration chorus.  You can't help but take your boot out of the clip and tap along...on flat surfaces anyways!

3) Grace for Saints and Ramblers - Iron & Wine: Cruising through a pasture or down a slow slope, I just love how this song just ambles along.  You just can't help but bop along.

4) Harder Than Stone - City and Colour: There is just something about listening to this song as the last one on your ride.  You just feel a sense of "accomplishment".  For me, the Canadian references are pretty cool too.

5) Gold On The Ceiling- The Black Keys: I'm going to default and put the ENTIRE El Camino album in the playlist.  Pat's heavy drums and Dan's wailing are simply enough to take you anywhere on any ride.  Pure Gold...on the ceiling and everywhere else!

6) Be Faithful - Fatman Scoop: Changing the genre a bit, I enjoy hip hop and electronica in my mix.  It is great pump up music, especially when you are bonking.  I love this old school-sounding track...takes me back to my bar days (yup...I'm old!).

7) Maximal Crazy - Tiesto: If you don't completely go nutters while playing this song, you are deaf.  The groove and beat push you to your max, which is exactly what you need when you're pounding through a tough and muddy slog.  I think I passed out trying to ride to this in an RPM class once!

8) Spin the Black Circle- Pearl Jam: Time to put your head down and grind out that climb.  Eddie's gritty lyrics and wail during the chorus can't help but get you to the next level.  I also love the song because its about one of my passions - vinyl records!  Although, "spinning the black circle" could mean a tire?  Hmm.  Find a live version of this to really hear the Grunge Gods at their finest.

9) No Easy Way Out - Robert Tepper: There is no workout, cycling or otherwise, that doesn't include a track from the Rocky IV soundtrack.  The guy looks like Michael Bolton's twin and the video is from 1986 (cheesy as all hell), but I can't help but want to be Rocky when I hear the bassline and lyrics.

10) Drive Me Home - The Reason: You know when you walk into a Starbucks (sorry Tim Horton's drinkers!) and place your order, only to have to stand and wait for your $5 latte under those ginormous Christmas lightbulbs and there in front of you is the tantalization of free iTunes tracks?  Well, that's how I found these guys.  This track was the "free song" of the week and throwing caution to the wind (who cares, right?  Its free!), I grabbed one of the business card sized tokens.  Entering the code on my phone, the track soon downloaded and I was soon blown away.  Thse guys ROCK!  And the best thing...they are from Hamilton.  For those around the world reading this, that's about 45 minutes away from me.  Having seeked out more information about them, I stumbled upon another song called The Longest Highway Home (appropriate name for a cycling blog huh?).  Check out the bonus video below and consider it my gift to you.


BONUS (just in case the ride goes a little long!) - Carry Me Home - Hey Rosetta!: I save this track for the home stretch.  Another outstanding Canadian band (What?! I love my country!), this time hailing from "Out East" - St. John's Newfoundland.  I can't recall how I found these guys (likely the same method I used to find The Reason), but I simply love the melodies here.  This song - with its novelty title cries for the opportunity to Carry [You] Home at the end of a long ride.

I seriously could add 100 more songs to this list (hmm...maybe I'll make this a regular feature.  Thoughts?).  This is just a small sampling for a short ride.  Is there anything that you would add?

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