Lots of my friends train or ride while listening to MP3 players these days. It makes sense. A few tunes can help motivate you to keep a rhythm, and thereâs nothing like some fast and frantic noise to inspire a big effort on a climb.
Iâve always been a bit dubious about reducing my ability to hear whatâs around me, though. For dirt-road mountain biking, fair enough, but on tarmac, I want to be able to hear the traffic, even when thereâs not much of it. Iâm lucky â or, perhaps cursed as weâll see â not to need an MP3 player, though. I have my own internal iPod Shuffle.
This morning I had the Tom Robinson Bandâs â2-4-6-8 Motorwayâ going round in my head as my colleague, training buddy and sorta-coach Jeff and I knocked over our morning 45km. That one got loaded into the mental jukebox at the weekend driving to Wales with a couple of old friends who had it on their iPod. Thatâs a great track for riding â the chorus stomps along at exactly a climbing rhythm, though it gets a bit much after the sixth or seventh repetition.
Some tracks are less useful though. Thanks to Never Mind the Buzzcocks I had âTotal Eclipse of the Heartâ by Bonny Tyler stuck in my head a couple of weeks ago. Aaaaargh! That one doesnât make you go faster, it just makes you go mad.
And sometimes âwhere did that come from?â is a total mystery. I can see why âTotal Eclipse of the Heartâ was followed by âBat Out of Hellâ by Meatloaf. Thatâs one bombastic rock ballad after another and at least the chorus of âBatâ has some pedal-pounding oomph to it. But where the hell did. âAll Along the Watchtowerâ by Jimi Hendrix come from this morning? (Yes, I know itâs a Bob Dylan song, but my mindâs iPod plays the Hendrix version, complete with guitar solo.)
Some songs, you really, really donât want in your head. Now and then, âBirdhouse in Your Soulâ by They Might Be Giants gets stuck in my brain like a tree clogging up a weir. Itâs aggravating as all hell, I canât remember most of the lyric and itâs aggravating as all hell. And it wouldnât help if I could remember the lyric because â now that I google for it â I find that itâs meaningless wibble that appears to be about a light switch and it really is aggravating as all hell. â£Filibuster vigilantlyâ my arse.
Itâs almost tempting to carry a real mp3 player to drive out the bad tunes, but then I might never stumble across 2-4-6-8 Motorway for real, or arrive at work inspired to Google for it and find this free live version. Enjoy!