Across America, or at least the parts I biked through on my way from Vermont to California, there’s a great thing happening called Rails to Trails. The initiative uses old train tracks as the blueprint for bike friendly, and just overall friendly, recreational paths. The Adventure Cycling maps take you on these car-less respites whenever possible. I think we made it across the majority of Minnesota on recreational paths alone. It was somewhere in that great lakey state that we began listening to — dun-dun-na-na: music! Ear budding comes with its grains of salt though as it’s a phone battery drainer & can either augment or tune out your surroundings. The safety concern, however, is the biggest & saltiest grain of salt. Choose your musical moments wisely. Biking in the shoulder of a winding road primarily driven by trucks and RV’s (towing a boat, towing a car) is already dangerous enough.
For those days when it really is just you and the sky and the road, you’re in for a real treat. Biking to music is, in my opinion, the next best thing to dancing to music. The following is an annotated playlist of songs that got me cross-country. Scroll down a bit to listen on the Spotify playlist.
- Two of Us on the Run, Lucius : I never actually listened to this song, but it got stuck in my head a lot because of its hyper-relevance.
- Heart it Races, Dr. Dog – I like the line, “Legs like little spiders.” And the beat is a good pedaling cadence.
- Give It Away, Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Do a little dance and then you drink a little water” is a very apt summary of existence. Also, it’s really fun to say “give it away” that many times that fast.
- Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, Bob Dylan – A who-done-it murder mystery and a song all in one. For as many times as I’ve listened, I’m still not entirely sure what happens.
- Lullaby, Dixie Chicks – Kate (my biking partner and I) sang this song at the close of every day and added on verses. By the time we got to California, it was 14 verses long plus the adapted chorus: “How long do you want to bike for?”
- Breaking the Girl, Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Twisting and turning, your feelings are burning, you’re breaking the girl.” I like how this song is in first, second and third person all at once.
- Buzzcut Season, Lorde – Lorde really speaks to me.
- Six Eight, Gabriel Garzon-Montano – A good steady beat for a long steady climb.
- No One Knows My Name, Gillian Welch – It turns out there’s verses other than, “she’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes, yee-haw.” I didn’t know this until we biked with our friend Erik who sang this song a lot.
- La Complainte de La Butte, Mouloudji – This is a French song that translates to “The Lament of the Mound”. It’s about a man who falls in love with a prostitute whose lips smell like the fever of a malnourished child…everything sounds better in French. Pourquoi?
- Jackson, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash – A song to make you fall back in love with the English language and feel like a real American.
- Buckets of Rain, Bob Dylan – “Life is sad, life is a bust. All you can do is do what you must.” That’s really stuck with me.