January 22, 2012

Head games

I stumbled upon another interesting tip while reading a popular ultra-distance blog, involving music, which I might try later this spring.  Like the author of that piece (I'll link later), I often find myself with music drifting into and out-of my head in the middle of riding the odd 200km brevet, yet I'm hesitant to ride with headphones.  The songs just pop into my head, and I've been okay with that.  I've cataloged a great deal of these songs in the footnotes of most of my ride posts, as sometimes they subtly speak to my state of mind for that particular venture - but it never occurred to me to put them all into a single playlist.  Now, for commutes and training rides it's still very doubtful that I'd use headphones.. even a single earbud.  Traffic and such - in town - not a good idea in my book, though I'm sure a lot of folks do it every day and don't end up a statistic.  However, when distances extend beyond 300km, later this spring - in those darker times when my mind is looking for ways to no longer participate in the task at hand -  maybe it's advantageous to have those tunes that would pop into my head in better times ready to go?  Maybe it'd be a clever trick to get through those tougher overnight hours, or when emotions run south for an hour here or there after fatigue sets in.  Hard to tell -- but an iPod shuffle takes up very little space, after all.  While I think this is definitely a terrific plan for the PA system strapped to the front of the RAAM support vehicle, off in some distant future, time will tell if I join the earbud-club on the next 600k.  Still on the fence.  However, personal squeamishness aside, I suppose it is indeed one more item for the mental toolkit towards randonneuring success... just to be used with a grain of caution, of course.

Carry on!

Post-script:  Reviewing my personal playlist, I struggled with omitting certain songs and came up with a way to get around the hesitation to include them:  if you're as musucally ecclectic as I profess to be, it's often very confusing as to WHY certain songs (that, in popular company, I'd probably admit to "hating") pop into my head while on long rides.  I've found it best not to limit yourself here.  Add it to the playlist.  It's a very special place that randonneuring takes your mind - hours in the saddle, mindless pedalling, endorphins, nutritional peaks and valleys, and mental wandering...and of the thousands of songs I've listened to and called "favorite", it's weird what actually ends up repeating in my brain sometimes.  Upon logging post-ride notes it's often the reaction of, "why was it THAT song???"

It may be your subconscious' way of telling you that you really DON'T "hate that song".  Perhaps there's a certain rhythm, a chord change, a specific lyric that is relevant... and you have to "suffer" through the first half of it to get there.  'Come into my Life' by Robert Plant comes to mind... where my first instinct is to skip the track, but six minutes later I remember why I love it.  Let it happen, don't hesitate to include it - even if in certain circles you'd be ridiculed for it.  There is no shame in music.  Coming from a childhood upbringing that included ABBA to Zappa and quite literally dang-near everything in between, there is little reason for me to enjoy listening to overplayed Top40 tripe like Katy Perry or Breathe Carolina ... but I do anyways.  I have no wonders about HOW my tastes got so varied to begin with - I'm very glad they are:  thanks, Mom & Dad.  When it doubt, just go with it.

If you employ the above method of reverting to an earbud during hour 21 of a 600km epic, and "that song you hate" comes on, you will grumble, you will laugh, and then you will sing along.... but, most importantly, you won't be giving a moments thought to the saddle sores and aching legs you were trying to forget in the first place.


Vance Ricks said...

Happy 2012, Keith!

Do you know about these? (I got one as a gift recently.)


Monkeywrangler said...

Oh man, I grew up riding those roads! Please keep writing about riding NEKS, especially Douglas/Jefferson counties....I so miss that area!