i was driving to a race this past weekend — usually this means carpooling with a teammate and chatting, or caravaning the whole family up for a day at the races, but for this particular drive i was alone. with my thoughts. and my nerves. before a race.
i needed some music, and i needed it fast.
so i slipped a CD in the player (i know, so old-school), and lo and behold, it turned out to be the perfect pre-race music for me: pretty mellow, good rolling rhythm that reminds of a nice steady 85 rpm cadence, doesn’t require too much focus. it was perfect atmosphere for thinking calmly about the upcoming few hours, getting my mind right so i wouldn’t be tempted to try a solo break from the gun and blow up and end up dnf’ing.
see, i tend to get kinda geeked up before races — the last thing i need is the ramones, or nirvana, or public enemy, or rage against the machine, or any other in-your-face band (and yes, i know i’m aging myself with these references). as much as i like all of these (well, i never quite got the rage thing, but they are loud and urgent), their music just jangles my already jangled nerves.
what i need is the mellow groove as i control my breathing and focus on relaxing, sharpening my reflexes, calming the nerves that leave me unfocused and unprepared. i’m not talking about downright sleepy stuff, as much as i like that music in other parts of my life (no iron & wine or nick drake).
but i know that some riders really like the musical equivalent of smelling salts to get them pumped up (the robert duvall and flight of the valkyries school), while others find any music at all a distraction from focusing on the task at hand.
what (if any) music gets you ready? do you have a lucky song? and what’s your feeling about riders blaring music from their cars before a race for everyone to hear? i mean, the last thing i want is ‘sweet home alabama’ worming its way through my brain because some joker had his car stereo up to 11 as he warmed up on the trainer. on the other hand, i totally get the prerace atmosphere of idle chatter, nervously waiting in line for the toilet, and a kind of aural battle of the bands in the parking lot.