02 June 2011

Climbing to the Beat

Tunes for the Road Bike
Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt.
Dance like nobody's watching.
Sing like nobody's listening.

"Pedal like you're burning calories."(that last line by me)


Fat Cyclist has a list of favorite climbing songs.

Indoor Cycling has a spinning music database.

About.com has a tune list with tons of additional reader suggestions in the comments.

These are all acceptable, and they provide enough variety to meet the tastes of just about any music lover. Nevertheless, it's now time for me to join the club and list ingredients in one of my Pikes Peak Summit secret weapons.

MotivationI'm compiling a special mix I will get to listen to only on Assault on the Peak day, and only on the final 12 miles. I will carry my phone and mini speakers during my summit bid (I NEVER wear earbuds while riding), and the music choices will range from classical to gospel to rock to soundtracks.

Just about anything by Van Halen, Led Zepplin, Aerosmith, Queensryche, Scorpions and a host of other oldie but goodie bands serve me well when riding. Instrumental, however, often pushes me up and over on my most difficult rides. It must have something to do with the marching sensation that kicks in whenever I hear favorite soundtracks, David Garrett or Jesse Cook.

(During last weekend's training ascent of Deer Creek Canyon, a group of extremely fast cyclists whizzed by me and then slowed to listen to the rest of the Led Zep ditty currently playing. One guy even danced on his pedals. The group called out, "Good tunes!" at the end, then motored on up and were well on their way back down to the bottom of the canyon before I ever reached the top.)

October through March, I can listen to Trans Siberian Orchestra almost non-stop. And then in April I finally get tired of it until after the aspen leaves turn gold again.

Haik Naltchayan is likely to power me up at least some of the mountain before I reach treeline. I can listen to "24 Solo" and "Off Road to Athens" soundtracks endlessly when I'm on my bike. I wish the entire soundtracks for both "Race Across the Sky" movies were available. A few of the lesser-known tunes from APM Music would be on my phone.

Sometimes, I just like a song. Stevie Wonder will be on my list. He makes me want to get up and dance. I may need that impetus on Pikes!

Sometimes it's the lyrics. Sometimes it's modified lyrics. And sometimes, I don't know why a song works on my adrenaline the way it does, but if it does, by golly, it gets to come along, too.

My phone has 240 songs, but only half of these make the training mix I call Climbing Music, which I'll listen to until treeline on Summit Day. The climbing mix will be whittled down to about 30 by August for Pikes Peak. I expect the final 8 miles of the climb to take at least two hours (yes, I'm THAT slow), so I'll get to hear the special songs two or three times each. These are my likely choices for my Summit Mix as of my first uber high altitude ascent of the year last weekend:

30. "Back in the Saddle Again" by Aerosmith (self-explanatory)
29. "High Hopes" by Pink Floyd (self-explanatory)
28. "Kashmir" by David Garrett
27. "Stairway to Heaven" by Rodrigo y Gabriela (climbing, climbing...)
26. "Change of Heart" by Cyndi Lauper (literally, I'll be needing a heart transplant...)
25. "Sunglasses at Night" by Cory Hart (because sunglasses keep annoying bugs out of eyes when riding at dawn and dusk)
24. "Show Must Go On" by Queen (yesiree)
23. "Don't Fight It" by Kenny Loggins and Steve Perry ("It will do your heart so good!")
22. "Keep Pushing" by REO Speedwagon (no better lyrics than that)
21. "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
20. "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins (30 mph winds at 14,000 feet)
19. "Deeper Still" by Jericho Road (Ken Chlouber preaches "Dig Deep" throughout the "Race Across the Sky" movies)
18. "Escaping the Smokers" (Track 2) by James Newton Howard, "Waterworld" soundtrack (I've never seen the movie, but I love the soundtrack. It always reminds me of high school band marching season.)
17. "Tempest" by Jesse Cook
16. "Don't Tell Me What Love Can Do" by Van Halen (don't tell me what SAG can do)
15. "Crying in the Rain" by Whitesnake (been there, done that...)
14. "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zepplin ("and she's climbing the stairway to" ...)
13. "War/Fanfare" by Vince Dicolla, "Rocky IV" soundtrack (super motivational)
12. "Smooth Criminal" by David Garrett
11. "Kashmir" by Led Zepplin (because there's almost nothing better than the real thing)
10. "Epic" by Faith No More
9. "Thunderstruck" by David Garrett
8. "Underwater March" (Track 13) by Klaus Badelt, "Pirates of the Caribbean" soundtrack
7. "Vivaldi vs. Vertigo" by David Garrett
6. "Kashmir" by William Joseph
5. "The Fifth" by David Garrett
4. "Daredevil Descent" by Haik Naltchayan, "Chasing Legends" soundtrack
3. "Mirror Mirror" by Def Leppard
2. "Going Through Changes" by Army of Me (an ode to the band name, but also full disclosure... "this is not painless")
1. "The Mountains" by Haik Naltchayan, "Chasing Legends" soundtrack

Just barely missing the list is Aerosmith's "Dream On." I love the song, and it's angry enough to make me keep pedaling, but after last year's failure, I'm not tackling this year's climb with any "Dream On" sentiment. I intend my summit dream to come true in 2011.

Christopher Cross' "Ride Like the Wind" is another powerful and Colorado-appropriate song I love, but I'm not taking any chances. Same goes for Scorpions' "Winds of Change," Kansas' "Dust in the Wind" and REO Speedwagon's "Riding the Storm Out." (Peter Frampton's and Styx' "Show Me the Way" sound too much like "Blow Me Away.") No wind is invited this Assault!

Oh, and PS: Yes, I sing on the bike. I sing loud. I sing like no one is listening. Because no one is listening...

Climb on!


  1. Hah, that's when I sing too, when nobody is listening. Or when everyone else is singing and can't notice my singing.

  2. Here's to a windless Assault! (Feel like I should knock back gulp of a 30 year single malt with that kind of toast.)

    Love the playlist- it's amazing how music drives the feet, the mind, the soul. You've harnessed it to your bike in the best possible style!

  3. o dear, do you never take a break? You DO burn caloreis when you´re pedaling, but you also eat a lot. :)

  4. Music is a powerful force. I love Jesse Cook!

  5. If I were to concoct a truly appropriate playlist for myself it would have to include "Fat Bottomed Girls".

    There are TWO Race Across the Sky movies? (We watched one recently, thanks to one of your posts, and loved it. Will have to look for the other one.)

    Isn't it funny how we like different music at different times? I'm a baroque lover, except when I visit family in California. Then I listen to KLOS (classic rock) because it's just right for driving the freeways.

    Good luck on your climbing and thanks for sharing the list!

  6. Really good music ages well :)

  7. Yes, Sue, there are TWO "Race Across the Sky" movies. One with Lance, one with Levi. I like the one with Levi better because they put so much time into human interest stories, everyday people overcoming overwhelming odds (and some not succeeding...), but there is a moment in the Lance movie that is gut-busting hilarious. Lance flats and doesn't have a support crew to take care of it for him

  8. 1247 miles!! Not bad for a 'youngun'!
    I can't believe I know most of those songs....I hope I age as well as they have (thanks, cat, for the idea).

  9. We watched the Lance one. The flat part was truly hilarious. The whole movie I kept thinking how different this race must be to what I imagine is his usual race experience with every need catered for. (Not that I really know anything about it.) He's awfully determined to win, though, isn't he?

    I saw some pictures in another of your posts of the Levi race. Will look for that movie for sure. I've always had a soft spot for LL. Seems like he got the short end of the stick in so many TDFs, either having to support Lance, or falling and breaking bones. (I suppose that's cycling treason. Of course team members support their captain.)

    Thanks for the movie tip. :)

  10. I love your list. "Stairway to Heaven" made me laugh - perfect words!


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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