Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Perfect Soundtrack


What's your perfect running/cycling playlist?

It's a question that's been on my mind quite a bit lately as I begin my final preparations for the Death Ride Tour in June.  Now, I'm no connoisseur, but I do have particular tastes in music when it comes to what pumps me up during a workout or race.

It all started when I was working out with my battle buddies during my extended vacation in the Middle East.  They would drag me to the gym to lift and the music on my mp3 could really enhance or slow down the intense workout sessions.  Problem was, I was using my wife's mp3 player, and there were songs loaded onto it that just didn't work for me.  I would get annoyed having to skip through songs until I found one that I liked.

Then, last month when I ran the Dirty Deid Half Marathon, I had the perfect running soundtrack.  I mean, perfect.  I didn't skip a single song.  It seemed as though each new track that popped up was meant for just that section of the race.  It really got me thinking, what would the perfect riding soundtrack include?  How could I get enough songs together to cover a 6 hour ride without getting bored, or annoyed and having to skip through tracks?  Let's be honest, halfway up a 6 mile climb at 10,000 feet above sea level is a bad time to be fiddling with an mp3 player.

A bad soundtrack/playlist can really ruin a good workout or ride.  You become annoyed with the sound in your ear and then you get bitter at everything around you.  During an exceptionally long and painful ride, emotions are amplified in both positive and negative directions.  I know that I personally can be truly elated at something simple, while a minor inconvenience will derail the whole ride and throw me into a rage.

In my perfect playlist there would have to be songs that were upbeat and exciting enough to keep my adrenaline flowing.  Then, there would be songs that were a little slower, without putting me to sleep, to let me enjoy the more reflective moments of the ride.  A good playlist has to include variety between styles and tempos to keep it interesting.  As much as I enjoy a good hard rock song, sometimes that's just too much in the middle of a race/ride.  Too much death metal and the natural body rhythms are lost in the seemingly mindless chaos of angst and fury.  Likewise, some of my favorite songs would be too slow and annoying when trying to keep my heart-rate and cadence up.

A good playlist is like a work of art.  You have to establish a good theme behind the tracks you choose.  Then they must be balanced with enough variety to break up the monotony of a single style.  If they are overtly uniform in tempo or genre, you'll become bored with your own playlist.

I have a great love of alternative rock, but enjoy all genres including classic rock, hip hop, r&b, etc.  Here's a short sample of the playlist I'm building for the Death Ride in June.  Feel free to comment with your suggestions, and I'll add in my own additions as we go.

Queen, Bicycle Race
The Police, Message in a Bottle
Cold War Kids, Hang Me Up to Dry
Middle Class Rut, New Low
Middle Class Rut, Busy Bein' Born
Macklemore, Thrift Shop
Black Sabbath, Iron Man
Flobots, Handlebars
Deftones, Change in the House of Flies
Duck Sauce, Barbara Streisand
Kasabian, Club Foot
Of Monsters and Men, Little Talks
Cage the Elephant, Shake Me Down
Cage the Elephant, Aberdeen
Cage the Elephant, Ain't No Rest for the Wicked
Foster the People, Helena Beat
Foster the People, Pumped Up Kicks
AWOLNATION, Sail
Health, Tears
Jay Z, No Church in the Wild
Kid Cudi, Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Home
Mumford & Sons, I Will Wait
The Moldy Peaches, Anyone Else But You
MGMT, Electric Feel
MGMT, Kids
Music Magnet, Too Close
The Silent Comedy, Bartholomew