Here's a bit of data to back up something you may already know—fast music can encourage you to ride harder.
A recent study by the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University found that cyclists would ride harder when they listened to music with a faster tempo. Objective ratings were recorded for watts, heart rate and cadence, as were subjective reports on the effort and the music.
Speeding up the music increased power and cadence by as much as 3.5 percent. Slowing the program decreased performance by between 3.8 and 9.8 percent.
You can easily build a high-tempo music mix using Apple's iTunes. The free software works on PC and Mac computers, and features a beats-per-minute (BPM) category.
iTunes doesn't calculate a song's tempo itself, however, but several third-party applications, such as MixMeister BPM Analyzer and beaTunes, analyze the tempo of tracks in your iTunes library and fill the BPM field. Jogtunes.com has a free tool that lets you choose BPM range and music genre, then spits out songs that fit your parameters with direct links to the iTunes store.
The tempo of most electronic remixes and commercial dance music, which usually range from 120 to 160 beats per minute, roughly correspond to workout heart rate. Some Metallica tunes top 200bpm.
Most riders use an iPod while warming up for a time trial or when out training alone. We asked a few pros for their pre-race music preferences.
Jeremy Powers, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com
The Clinton Sparks SmashTime Radio weekly Podcast. It's a live mix show, sort of hip-hop electro. Every time I listen to it I like to zone out and pretend I'm in the club, DJ'ing.
Burke Swindlehurst, Bissell
Warming up for a time trial, I go for something hard, maybe a little angry. Probably my all-time favorite is Metallica's "Kill 'Em All." Lately I have been listening to The King Khan & BBQ Show, and I also really like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Barry Wicks, Kona
Kid Cudi's "Man on the Moon." I've also been listening to the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album, and I also like The Ting Tings. They are sort of disco-fied hipster dance music. I like chicks who kick ass.
Mike Creed, Team Type 1
I listen to talk-radio Podcasts, like the Ron and Fez Show, or the Adam Carolla Podcast, or This American Life. It makes a long bike ride go by fairly quickly. I don't like to listen to music on the way to the start ramp. I need to be calm and relaxed.