RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

Golden Spinning Wheel: An Unexpected Soundtrack

Dec 08, 2013 View Comments by

Music for the Ride Home: Golden Spinning WheelI rode Big Red to the office this week since the weather has been mild for December. The morning ride was uneventful and featured the usual Philadelphia traffic. On the way home, though, I had an odd experience. Traffic was heavy on the Blue Route and I rode along as the sun set towards the Commodore Barry Bridge, which for me signals the end of the congested part of the ride. On the other side of the bridge I exit off onto side roads for the last few miles, suddenly alone in the dark after having been surrounded by cars and trucks for an hour.

I ride with a Bluetooth helmet unit that has a radio built into it. Occasionally I thumb through stations looking for something good on NPR or something unusual on WXPN. I happened across a classical station at a point in the ride where it wasn’t wise to take a hand off the bars to keep flipping so I let it play (I enjoy classical music but it’s not my first choice while riding). The piece was called Golden Spinning Wheel by Dvorak, I was so struck by it that I repeated the title aloud in my helmet so I wouldn’t forget it.

The piece, I read later, is based on a rather grim fairy tale about a king in love with a peasant girl. The king is tricked by an evil stepmother who substitutes her own daughter for the king’s true love. In the end, the king and his true love are reunited and the stepmother, well, let’s just say she doesn’t make out so well and gets what she had coming.

On the air the DJ alluded to the grim nature of the story. I didn’t know all the details at the time but I knew it was telling a dramatic tale. The piece served well as the soundtrack to my own personal fairy tale. The evil-doers in my story were speeding semis flying past buffeting me all over the road and reckless drivers failing to signal as they zipped in and out of traffic in a futile attempt to get someplace faster ten feet at a time. As I rode along I could feel the cool air on my cheeks but I wasn’t cold. The temperature was in the 50s, just like I like it. Golden Spinning Wheel reached a triumphant climax just as I crossed over the bridge having completely enjoyed the ride; a drive that I absolutely hate when I’m in a car.

It was one of those rides where you don’t put a wheel wrong, all your intuitions ring true, and all your anticipations are good ones. This time, though, it was accompanied by a profound piece of music that perfectly punctuated the experience I was having on the road. My fairy tale ended happily as well. I slew my dragons and arrived home at exactly the same time as my Cori; which made me feel every bit the king.


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About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.