Music is a powerful tool. Play a song and you’ll be taken right back to a moment in your life, you could probably even recite the song’s lyrics word for word. Music can help to focus the mind, cheer your mood, make you feel sad, hype you up or pull you through some of the darker moments on the bike – every emotion can be evoked from just three minutes and 30 seconds.
That’s why you can often see professional athletes with their headphones on before any big event – focussing on what’s to come. Cyclists in particular are seen before big races, legs spinning, headphones on, completely focused, tempering any nervous energy. But what are they listening to? Do they have a song they swear by and have on repeat? Or do they just press shuffle on one of their playlists and go over their ride tactics?
We asked those who featured in our Mind issue of Rouleur about what songs pump them up or pull them through when they are on the bike, preparing for a race or sweating it out on the turbo.
- Gabriel by Roy David Jr
- This Must Be the Place by Talking Heads
- It’s Plenty by Burna Boy
“I love songs that remind me of summer, and Gabriel does the job of that perfectly. Talking Heads’ song makes me feel like a true voyager making my way to each destination, so it really hits good on a long travel day between races and stages. Finally, Burna Boy because if you play this song and you aren’t smiling by the end of it then you have cold blood running through your veins!”
- Strobe by Deadmau5
- Golden Cage (Fred Falke remix) by The Whitest Boy Alive
- Headlines by Drake
“When I was racing, my warmup was a series of progressions and Strobe is just this epic electronic progression. I actually listened to the extended version, which was 11 or 12 minutes long, all leading up to this crescendo with some polyrhythms in there. It’s a really moving song if you are focused on it, especially if you are doing a similar progression with your body.
“Listening to Golden Cage always takes me back to earlier in my career when I was doing the track. It gave me a lot of energy. Looking back on it, there are perhaps some interesting correlations between how I felt at the time, and how I felt trapped in my own environment. That didn’t really resonate at the time though, it was really just more the energetic quality of the song.
“I didn’t really want to enter Drake into the mix, but it was the only other song I could think about….