A Cyclist’s Soundtrack

My trusty steed. Photo by Abby B.

May is here, and that means it’s time once again for one of my favorite events of the year, Bike to Work Month. To increase the visibility of urban cyclists and encourage others to ride their bicycles to get around the city, Cascade Bicycle Club sponsors a number of events throughout the month, including the Group Health Commute Challenge and Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 20th).

Like a small but growing number of Seattlites, I commute to work on a bicycle year round. It’s a great way to stay in shape, blow off steam, save money (especially when gas costs $4/gallon!), and help the planet. However, there are days when I have trouble getting motivated to get on my bicycle and ride the 9.5 to 20 miles (round-trip) to each of my branches, especially with the miserable weather we’ve had this spring. Luckily, I have my own personal soundtrack of bicycle-related tunes to get me pumped to ride despite the driving rain and 15 mph headwinds. Here are a few that you can find at The Seattle Public Library:

  • “Bicycle Race” by Queen. On Greatest Hits. My colleague Tom wrote a great post about this song last year for Bike to Work month.
  • “My White Bicycle” by Tomorrow. On Nuggets II. Perfectly captures the feeling of riding your bicycle full speed down deserted, late-night city streets.
  • “Bike” by Pink Floyd. On The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Relics. A delightful bit of Syd Barrett-era sonic silliness.
  • “The Bike Song” by Mark Ronson & the Business Intl. On Record Collection. This song also has an awesome video, and you can download it for free through Freegal with your library barcode number and PIN!

One last tune that has seemingly nothing to do with cycling, but is on my soundtrack this month is “Gimme Sympathy” by Metric (on Fantasies). My co-workers on the two Seattle Public Library Bike to Work teams will know why when they hear the chorus: “Who would you rather be?/The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?” [Answer: the Stones, obviously!]

What music makes you want to ride your bike? Tell us in the comments!

~Abby, Magnolia and Fremont branches

10 thoughts on “A Cyclist’s Soundtrack”

  1. This post is kind of ambiguous about listening to music while riding so as a year round bike commuter, I’d like to say, please, please, please don’t listen to music while you ride. It’s fine if you want to listen to something before you head out, but listening to music while you ride is a good way to get yourself killed. Or, at the very least, annoy the hell out of anyone who passes you while you’re blissfully unaware of the noises that surround you.
    Oh, and I love the Drive By Truckers, and the SPL has plenty of their CDs.

  2. Sean, I am so glad you mentioned the importance of NOT listening to music when you ride. I should have been more specific in my post — I never ride with headphones, or do anything else that might distract me from the road (like talk on a cellphone!). It is a a major safety hazard — and the roads can be dangerous enough without another distraction. These are songs I listen to before I head out to brave the elements. Like today!

  3. Who says you need headphones to listen to music while you ride?!? My mind provides me a lifetime’s worth of music to listen to. My top songs have no bike in the title, and no direct relation to riding, but maybe work for me just by virtue of their optimism. Both by George Harrison, “Here Comes the Sun,” and “My Sweet Lord.” In fact, this time of the year is perfect for seeing the rising sun hit the eastern side of Queen Anne, reflecting in Lake Union, as I glide south on Lakeview Avenue. You see (and hear) so much more from a bike!

  4. Beatles RULE, Stones drool! And I love that song by Metric. Gets me going every time.

    So many pet peeves, so little time. Seeing other cyclists with headphones makes me crazy.

  5. The Apology Song by The Decemberists is about a guy who gives his bike to a friend while he’s on vacation, and the bicycle gets stolen! The bike’s name is Madeleine, so you don’t realize that he’s talking about a bike unless you listen closely. Bike pop!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s