I’ve never really wanted to listen to music while running or riding outdoors, but I think I fell in love with it last week on a mountain bike ride.

I grew up in Chicago where when you’re outside, you don’t disassociate from the people around you unless you don’t mind being mugged, raped, or beaten. I had a Walkman in high school, and felt like I was starring in a music video every time I listened to it while riding the train, but even then I kept one ear open to my surroundings.

I realize that the crime in Asheville is a far cry from that in Chicago, but I believe most crimes are based more on situations than percentages, so I remain careful. The good thing here is that most of the criminals are either drunk or on drugs, which means they are much easier to outrun than the ones in Chicago, who make gangs and robbery a career choice. Maybe I’m just older and faster now.

As for being in the woods, I want to hear the acorns pelting against the ground, the squirrels scurrying through the ferns, the swish of my front wheel over berms, and the rat-a-tat-tat of my suspension as I smash through rock gardens and root beds. I want to hear the bear lumbering after me before I feel it swipe the jersey from my back.

But on this day…I danced with my bike. Aceyalone & RJD2 grooved into my head as I started up the trail, warming into the first section of slight incline, bumping my wheels over the bridge and into the roots. When it comes to hip-hop, it’s not often that I get the chance to really hear all the words to all the songs, so that in itself was interesting—and a bit annoying.

The Chinese Man helped me appreciate a really good climb that often hears heavy cursing and quizzical quips concerning imagined heart attacks. It’s hard to shake the Chinese Man. When the lyrics get annoying there’s nothing you can really do. This is unfortunate. This is how Mister Modo tortured me. Despite the torture, I found it was still easier to be pissed at Modo than my own weak legs.

It was Izza Kizza with “Ooh La La” that took me down Old Hickory Top, ripping through turns and hopping logs with more grace than I realized I possessed. My back wheel never even caught the big logs as I compressed suspension with perfect timing, and without nagging doubt. “You know I got that smokin’ smokin’ ooh la la…that ooh la la…”

Thassss right…i had the ooh la la. Not just any “ooh la la,” but the “chili bang chicken nova ooh la la.”

I couldn’t believe my good fortune. The unfortunate part was that Izza Kizza wrote a song about three minutes shorter than my descent down Old Hickory Top, causing a really smooth and boisterous ride to screech into a dirt-flying, mud-spattering stop so I could fumble for the replay button. The perma-grin popped back across my face with the first beats as I shouted to the bears about how much ooh-la-la I got and what’s all swingin’ from my dingalingling. Even though I was certain I didn’t have one of those, I didn’t think the bears would be checking.

However, the guy at the bottom of the trail may have had a few questions. I wasn’t even sure how long he’d been privy to my dancing and lies, but the beauty of the earphones is that I was in another world, far, far away from his, and in MY world, I was also the fastest and smoothest on a bike.