Aéro Dynamik [published 1/20/10]

I am finding the wind trainer more and more mesmerizing.  Today never hit 40˚ so I just stayed in and rode it.  I like the steely click and whir the machine makes as the pedals revolve about 80 times a minute as they drive the chainring gears.  When it’s in high power mode (the biggest ring), that’s 52 teeth clicking into chain slots every revolution, or 4160 little clicks a minute.  The way the TV strobes fast-moving objects, it looks from directly above the chainring gear as if the chain is standing still when you’re pedaling at just the right speed.  The rear derailleur sings a similar metallic song as it guides the chain over the rear cogs at just the right tension.  Thanks to all this gearing, a point on the surface of one of the tires is traveling at about 18 or 19 mph, and the air being sliced by all the wheel spokes adds a sigh to the music.  If we were rolling on the road, the highly inflated treadless “slick” tires would be making their own hollow echoes.

In 2003, the year that Lance Armstrong won his fifth Tour de France, the European techno-pop group Kraftwerk released the album Tour de France.  The rhythms and sounds of each track perfectly express that particular light, rapid mechanical rhythm of the bicycle, complementing and supplementing the equally rapid and insistent rhythms of the breath and the heartbeat, the muscular tension and relaxation, of the cyclist.  I’d never wear earbuds on a ride, but the music’s so much in my head that I don’t have to.  One of my favorite tracks is “Aéro Dynamik,” which has a series of evocative rhyming phrases.  I love the multilingual play of the album lyrics, the characteristically Germanic mechanical precision of the rhythms and sounds of the group, and of course especially the German accent and spelling applied to the French words in this song.   So this music reflects and adds to the various sound components of my bike’s own techno-pop song.

Cycling itself seems to require the fusion of the machine and the human, technology and passion, head and heart, classic and romantic.  Robert M. Pirsig talks about some of these same things in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but that’s another story.

NOTE:  There are several YouTube performances of “Aéro Dynamik,” including this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQKMChV1YqY

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