In any bike tour over 2000+ meter mountains, there is always the dilemma of "just how do I make the loooonnnng boring downhill crusing more exciting?"
Well, something I discovered this time - the first time I brought my new (used) iPod with me - is that listening to NPR or a Berkley Intro to Economics podcast is NOT the answer.
Yes, before I left, I filled my iPod with all the great podcasts I used to listen to as I rode my bike to work and back - lots of NPR stuff, some ABC news stuff, NewsWeek, and some of the courses I have been following from Berkley's open course podcast directory. (Animal Behavior, Nutrition, and Economics). Just because there was more room on the iPod, I threw on some of the albums I bought from iTunes recently but had not had enough time to listen to - fully expecting that I would never listen to them.
The reason I was putting the more informative stuff on there was to make the urban stretched more enjoyable. A little to my surprise, the time I was least interested in listening is when I was concentrating hard on riding up the mountains, even though that was the time I was going slowest, sometimes at 8km/hr or less. (partly this was because these are some of the best times to really concentrate on your surroundings - your riding slow, there are no cars around, and copious vegetation to view and birds to listen to)
Anyway, I found that when you are riding down a mountain - especially a looonnnngg mountain, with a 40 - 60 minute curvy downhill cruise, with no cars, starting above the tree-line, passing through small villages, and ending in a more urban zone - the best thing to listen to at these times is....
Of course, you have to be sure to arrange the songs in alphabetical order, rather than the order on the album (my iPod seems to have arranged them like that by default so I was lucky).
Imagine, if you can, reaching the top of a 2,000 meter mountain pass. You take a minute to look around, to rest, and to meditate on the joy that lies ahead of you. Then, slowly (for the dramatic effect), you put in your ear-buds, double check to make sure the iPod is secure on your belt, and hit play.
The first song is "Astronaut". (Listen to a sample from Amazon and feel what I feel)
As you place your hands back onto the handle bars, and your feet back onto the peddles, the dong begins...
Hit it G
There is a pregnant pause - silence- as your muscles work to get your bike started - the little push needed before it all starts to flow.
As you begin to pedal, still at the top of the hill, the music breaks into a simple adrenalin starting guitar riff...
Just when gravity begins to take over, and the ride really begins, a second guitar adds similar momentum to the song with a simple scratch on the strings, and within seconds the drums have started and the music is in full swing, in perfect sync with your bike which is now effortlessly cruising at 20km/hr and gaining speed with every second.
Before long G Love breaks in with his lyrics, interspersed with drum breakdowns and guitar riffs... perfectly timed so that just when you hit 50km/hr he is singing
... it's a good time to blast off to space.
Flowing effortlessly, as the bike flows effortlessly into the first curve, into the refrain
Right about now
Awwww, Mama I'm an Astronaut...
And you really do feel like an astronaut, flying down the mountain... or maybe even better, knowing that you made it to the top relying on nothing but your own strength, power, and hard work.
If you listen in alphabetical order, the next song is "Don't Drop It" (Amazon) - a much mellower song, just as the initial adrenalin is wearing down, but still "grooving" enough to work well with the frequent turns that are common at higher altitudes. It's a good rest before...
"Love". Once again the tempo picks up - this time much more "free and joyfull" than the hard core adrenaline pumping "astronaut". The tempo, chords, and lyrics are perfect as by now the turns are a little less frequent, like the song, the road flows more evenly. (You can see a complete video of "love" at the G-Love site - click on "media >> **LAUNCH NEW PHILADELPHONIC VIDEO PLAYER**". To my suprise, the video depicts him riding his bike, turning on his iPod and enjoying the song as he rides - obviously feeling *exactly* as I feel when I hear it riding down the mountain! I - SWEAR- I never saw this video until just now! It's as if he made the entire album to be listened to by bike.)
By the time Love is over there may be a little more traffic if you have passed any tributary roads on the way down. You are feeling high and having fun. "Booty Call" (Amazon) is perfect. Mellow, yet "beautiful", telling a fun story.
neither one of us wanted to give love a try
but we would talk, talk, laugh and have a ball
but then we got drunk and fooled around and had a booty call
a booty call
aint nuthin wrong with a bootycall
everybody like a bootycall
now and then
And let's not forget the ultra catchy refrain which, once you hear, will keep popping up in your mind at the most inconvenient times.
i can tell that were gonna be freinds
i can tell that were gonna be freinds
By now, even though the bike may not be slowing down, your hands are getting tired, and your getting used to the "thrill" it's perfect timing for the mellow regae beat of "Give it to you" (Amazon), followed by the most mellow of all, "The Hustle" (Amazon / video), perfectly timed to coincide with the very bottom of your adrenaline rush and the point in which you start to see more houses, cars, and other signs of civilization, signaling that the "adventure" portion of the ride is over.
After this, it doesn't really matter as much, but the songs keep coming with the perfect combination of tempo that matches the still downhill cruise, and a mellowness such as the next song, "Front Porch Lounger" which contains the perfect lyric for riding into the sunset:
And I'm going
Where the summer never ends.
Yes I'm going...
On my way, on my way
Followed of course by the mellowest of all, "Lovin' Me" ((Amazon)
And although they tend to blend into each other in the last half of the ride, how could I not mention the oh so fun beat of "Back of the Bus" ((Amazon)
In the back of the bus its a make out session
she's got the salad an I've got the dressing
All the cool kids in the back of the bus
Rubba dubba scrubba bubba
Whatchu talkin' bout gus?
breakin the rules
I hope we don't get caught sha la la la la la la la la