Bicycling Music

This week for the first time I’ve been listening to music while riding to and from work.  Yes, with earbuds and an ipod.  I would not do this on busy streets, but I’ve decided that it’s perfectly fine on the deserted lakefront trail and quiet side streets.  I keep the volume low and, conveniently, only one of my earbuds works, so I hear all around me. 

I LOVE music, although I have no special talent for it myself.  Music makes everything better!  So this morning was The Dresden Dolls and this evening was Arcade Fire, both perfect choices.  The Dolls really helped me through the mean headwind.  Tomorrow morning is wide open: maybe some Lucinda Williams, Neutral Milk Hotel, or Tori Amos.  My sweet friend Erin mailed me a new album that I’m digging – Rokia Traore, so maybe her.  Or an All Things Considered podcast! Limitless options. 

With a soundtrack I feel more like the girls in this video and less like a woman chugging along to and from work in the city.

Anyone else have some favorite bicycling music?  Anyone disagree with me about listening to music while cycling?  It’s not like I’m listening to Eye of the Tiger or anything awful like that.   ;)

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20 thoughts on “Bicycling Music

  1. John says:

    I found you over at chicago bike blog. I’m a music love and big fan of Corrine. I also know Lucinda Williams but none of the other. I’ll have to give them a listen, because I’m always open to new music and books. Have you heard the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack? Wonderful.

    See you around.

  2. Tinker says:

    Listening to music in stereo will distract you ever so much more, than listening to music in mono. Apparently it engages both halves of your brain, which is Certain Death!

    Just thought you’d want to know.

  3. Ian says:

    Anything from the…
    The Beastie Boys: Wild and agro…all mountain and downhill mtb.
    Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings…XC mtb.
    John Coltrane or Miles Davis…chill road riding.
    Tupac…in between…

  4. jhaygood says:

    My go-to choice is This American Life. Love it. And since it’s spoken word for the most part just using one earbud works fine.

  5. Bike Jax posted a little video montage not long ago that featured a stellar tune by Luka Bloom called “The Acoustic Motorbike” ( And back in October, played a set that included the following four bike-themed songs: “Flashing Red Light” by The Gruff; “Mr. Schwinn” by Darryl Purpose; “Busted Bicycle” by Leo Kottke; and “Bicycle” byLivingston Taylor. Splendid.

  6. Lynn says:

    Amadou and Mariam – Dimanche a Bamako

  7. tsalyards says:

    I personally do not listen to music while biking. I just get too wrapped up in it. Your sense of hearing is so critical to safe riding and being aware of your surroundings. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen while riding, but to me, listening to music on a bike is far more dangerous than not wearing a helmet.

  8. Last Fall, I would listen to music on my commute home from work. I felt safe because I knew the route and where the danger spots were. I preferred funky stuff with a groove because it got me biking harder. But I didn’t make it a daily habit because I don’t want to become dependent on it, to get me biking. There is so much to enjoy while biking, that I just made it an occasional treat.

  9. Johnny says:

    In Maryland, driving anything with two headphones is illegal, from bikes to cars.

    Either way, I’d get distracted with my short attention span, LOL. I miss music, though. I’ve love to get a nice little system for my bike that would be weather-proof and not cost a fortune:)

  10. Trisha says:

    I have mixed feelings about this one. I miss listening to music/NPR in the morning, but at the same time I like not being plugged in for at least 30 minutes out of every day. Plus, on my route, not being able to hear traffic can be dangerous.

    BUT, if I did listen to music while commuting, Lily Allen’s new album would be my current choice.

  11. 2whls3spds says:

    I occasionally listen to music on longer rides. I currently use a single blue tooth earphone hooked up to my Crackberry…that way I can answer calls too. ;>) FWIW it is a stereo headset but I don’t wear the other one when riding. I have been looking at some of the Ipod units that will fit in a water bottle rack and have a speaker with an IR remote unit that you can mount on your handle bars. Might be a decent compromise. Musical tastes vary greatly with mood…


  12. justfoster says:

    not sure that I would condone listening to music while commuting, but one song I would love to is one of Metric’s new songs – “Help I’m Alive”, the acoustic version is really good too an available for a free download on their website:

  13. Björk- Homogenic. Kills it every time.

  14. dottie says:

    Love all the music recs – thanks!! I really don’t get what would be dangerous about listening to low music with one ear on a deserted cycle path, but it’s interesting to hear different perspectives.

  15. MelissaHopeS says:

    In this weather: Bob Marley!

  16. Anna says:

    i listen to music with both earbuds and haven’t experienced any problems or felt that i was being unsafe. oh well.

    sereolab is wonderful for a beautiful happy day, kings of convenience for a cloudy day, radiohead for a “roar!” kind of a day…

  17. I listen to music regularly. When I am on busy streets, I have only one headphone on. I wear both when I am on my long bike path (away from vehicular traffic).

    I have a few playlists for biking. Bands/Artists include Tori Amos, Porcupine Tree, Sara Bareilles, Opeth, Modest Mouse, Ingrid Michaelson, Dresden Dolls, Flogging Molly, The Pogues, Strapping Young Lad, John Coltrane and Kaki King, just to name a very few.

    I also wanted to tell you that ever since I noticed your blog (after you made a comment on mine) I checked out DutchBikeCo Chicago and bought some sweet panniers. I will post pictures soon. Great blog, I’m so glad I started reading. Keep it up! :D

  18. Capateto says:

    I think the key to remaining safe while listening to music on your bike is to keep the volume down. I always make sure I can still hear the sound of the hub freewheeling, which means I’ll also be able to hear engines revving, horns blasting, bicyclists telling me to hold my line, etc.

    Also, never listen to anything that’s too new (i.e., music you’re not very familiar with) — otherwise you might pay too much attention to the new tunes and not enough to the delivery truck making that wide right turn right in front of you.

    Another thing that helps is to make sure your iPod/MP3 player is well-secured. I use one of these:

  19. Lily Allen – Alfie Lyrics…

    Allen posted her fourth track on her MySpace personal page, called “Who’d of Known”, stateing that the track had been recorded for the album but would not be included because of legal issues since the chorus is musically……

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