Monday, August 3, 2009
Gimme some climbing luv! 7 hours of climbing music
I'm very grateful for where I live, and I admit that I am pretty spoiled because of the beauty of these surroundings and the great, but challenging cycling. Around here, you better like to climb (at elevation no less) or you're going to be relegated to only riding east or west (left to right) in the photo below, in that valley between where I am taking the picture below (which is a gated community called Mountain Star), and the mountains across the valley, looking south towards Beaver Creek ski area on the left and Bachelor Gulch on the right, another gated community. Literally all other roads heading north and south of this valley go UP.
I took the above photo last fall. It will look like that again in about 6-7 weeks from now. At the moment, it is a verdant green, due to a very wet spring that has provided us the most beautiful and lush summer I can remember in 15 years! On Saturday, I rode 2.5 hours, first going up into Beaver Creek and onto some of the roads into the hills. Sometimes I like to ride up there just to ohh and ahh over the amazing houses (and dream). Then I rode over Bachelor Gulch. It's a 5-mile climb, with 2,200 feet of elevation gain that tops out at about 9,200+ feet in elevation. I'd say it's 7-8% on average, with sections of 9-10%. That's steep! I think of this climb as my "test" ride for Alpe d'Huez! I always time myself on this particular climb, to use as a litmus test for how fit I am (or not, as the case may be). Saturday I climbed it in 47:40; not my record but still faster than I ever did it on my old bike. I was feeling tired from some pretty hard Spinning classes the three previous days, but I wasn't about to turn around, no way!
Prior to going for my ride, I created a climbing playlist for my iPod shuffle to use on long climbs like this. I wanted to add songs that aren't on almost all of my other "climbing" playlists, such as from my Moving Mountains or Alpe d'Huez rides (although admittedly, one or two made their way into this list; I must really like those songs).
Now before I give you that playlist, I'm sure I'll get comments on riding a bike with an iPod. I should preface this with the fact that when I am on busier roads, I always take out the left earbud and keep it very low or turn it off. The sound of the wind in my ears covers up far more of the sound of approaching cars than my music does - wish I had an "off" button for that! But when on climbs like this, on roads with very little traffic, I feel comfortable riding with my music (still listening for cars though). On Saturday's ride up Bachelor Gulch, exactly zero (yes, none, zippo, zilch) cars passed me in that 47 minutes. That's because these are second homes, where the owners might stay 2 weeks in winter and 2 in summer. For some reason, they're not here right now. Many of them look like this:
It's almost sinful that these houses sit unoccupied for much of the year...(most have full-time caretakers).
Anyway, I want to share with you this playlist of great climbing music. Click here to download the iTunes playlist. In this almost 7-hours of music, there are only 44 songs; that's because they range from just under 8-minutes on up to almost 13-minutes long. I like lonnnnng songs when climbing because I can really get into it and focus on the rhythm, and when it's over, I mentally acknowledge that a long time has passed, which translates to covering a lot of road uphill. It's a mental trick I play with myself.
There is great variety in this playlist, though most of the tunes are under the "electronic" umbrella. But you will find reggae inspired electronic (Beat Pharmacy), ambient psychodelic (Asura, D.P.O.D., Enigma, Delerium - in fact, Delerium figures the most in this list with 5 songs), Alternative (from the early 90's The The to more current Death Cab for Cutie), heavy tribal beats (Manaca, Chus & Ceballos), techno (Crystal Method), rock remakes (Eric Prydz vs Floyd), even rock (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and even, dare I admit it, Guns 'n Roses)!
Some of my most recent favorite climbing songs are in this list. Breathless by SBP is one of my new top songs after using it in my Mont Ventoux playlist during the Tour de France. Le Ciel est Triste by Emou is a long time favorite - it has a slow bpm, good for steep hills like this one where my rpm struggles to stay at 60-65 rpm. I LOVE the very catchy and engrossing Give me Luv (That Kid Chris Tribute Mix) by Alcatraz. I have to admit that I replayed this song several times as I was climbing, trying to match my cadence with the bpm. I could only do so on the easier climbs; when I did so on the steep parts of Bachelor Gulch, my HR went too high (above threshold, which is not good when you still have a long way to go uphill) and I had to slow my legs down. BTW, this song is the source for the title of this blog post!
I also discovered some new (or in some cases, re-discovered some forgotten) favorites that I'll be putting into a Spinning profile soon. Strange Shades of Light by Midnight Society, Hug the Scary by Will Saul, Giant by The The, Emergency by Faithless, Resurrection by Delerium, Things Can Change, Klangstrahler Projekt (another slow bpm for slow rpm climbs).
Where can you find these songs? I haven't had the time to peruse eMusic to tell you if they're available there. However, check out this list of songs I've gotten on eMusic first. However, just because it's not on that list doesn't mean it's not available there; either I've not looked yet, or because eMusic has recently significantly expanded their library, so make sure to do a search.
I think eMusic is one of the better downloading sources - the songs are only about $.50 instead of the over $1 on iTunes (and you can get free songs just for signing up - click on the eMusic icon on the top left of this blog for 25 free downloads). You can also google the artist, or check beatport.com, a good, but fairly expensive, source for hard to find electronic music (some of the songs on my list might only be available there - but if you found them it would be worthwhile). I always use iTunes as a last resort - you'll pay a lot more for the average song you can find elsewhere for less, but they have a big variety. It's one thing to pay more for a hard-to-find fantastic song on Beatport, but for a song available elsewhere, iTunes can make us instructors in search of musical variety go broke...
Oh, by the way, there are a few songs in my list that say "Track 8" and then words like "good tempo, HIT, STR**" These are just notes to myself. HIT = high intensity training, STR = Strength, JOH = jumps on a hill, and ** means I really like this song. I will do this when a track doesn't have a name to help me remember it. These come from the Hanima Hitechwell cds from an Italian producer. I got them at a Spinning conference a few years ago. I believe they are doing a BIG sale right now - I will write a blog post soon about how to get some of these songs and cds. These are fantastic climbing songs.
Check a few blog posts back on my discussion of the song Breathless by SBP on the Ventoux ride profile. It's also from Hanima Hitechwell, but available on the Spinning CD, Vol 13 - that post tells you how to d/l those songs from Spinning.com. Many others on that cd are GREAT climbing songs.
For long lists of my other favorite climbing songs (both short and long) I wrote two posts last year. This one and this one.
Enjoy all this great climbing music!