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Guest Post: Hallowe’en Cycling Mix (60 minutes)

halloween pumpkin bikeGot a note from intrepid California instructor Lisa Goldman asking if I would be interesting in sharing her Hallowe’en playlist with you.  My response?  Hell, yeah!  So, just in time for Hallowe’en week, here’s Lisa:

Confession time: I made a Halloween playlist about 7 years ago and I’ve recycled it every year since.  I figured, “Hey, who’s gonna remember what I played a year ago?”  Well, if not them, then me. I pulled out my trusty Halloween mix, and I just couldn’t do it this year. Not entirely anyway. Truthfully, this new playlist is only about 50% new. But once I ditched Monster Mash and Thriller, it felt 100% new. Besides, I used to make a joke about imagining being chased my Michael Jackson’s over-eager plastic surgeon during Thriller, and now that being chased by MJ’s doctor is actually terrifying, the joke doesn’t play that well anymore. Time for something new.

When I decided to make a new Halloween mix, I tried to go the lazy route, and crib off another teacher’s profile. I searched the web and came up with a few, but I couldn’t make them work for me. Turns out, I’m incredibly sensitive to matching the RPMs I cue to the beat of the song.  I know there are strong arguments for letting the training profile dictate the ride, instead of the music. But, asking me to pedal even slightly off the beat makes me crazy – like the reverse of asking someone to pat their head and rub their tummy – I just cannot do it myself, much less cue others to do so. (My compromise is the shift around my music to fit a profile that makes sense.) I did get some music inspiration from other instructors out there, but had to put together my own ride, Lisa-style.  It’s not my most favorite profile ever, but I think the Halloween music is fun for this time of year, and you can certainly play it up asking people to name the movie (several songs in this list come from movies), or asking other Halloween trivia, and passing out prizes, or as I plan to do, passing out Glo-necklaces for my night classes. Hope you enjoy – Happy Halloween!

[KEY: song time, total run time; BPM &/or RPM, effort level (easy/moderate/hard/very hard/breathless), Terrain (F= Flat, SC= seated climb, StC= Standing Climb, CH= Combo Hill, J= Jumps, RH= Rolling Hills),  + & – refers to increase or decrease in gear, ^ or v refers to increase or decrease in cadence.]

Warm Up

1)   Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead – 9:40, 9:40, 75-95 RPM; easy-moderate, F & SC. I use the first half of this song to let folks warm up on a F at whatever cadence they choose, gradually adding gear. By ~ 5 minutes in, I have people find enough gear to get the cadence to match the beat (75 RPM) and find a moderate hill.  [Cynthia: lots of peppier remixes of this one on iTunes, but this one’s the spookiest.]

STAGE 1 – 7+ minute hill, followed by ~3 minute F

2)   The Black Keys – Howlin’ For You – 3:12, 12:52; 67 RPM with some cadence pick ups for RH. Moderate – Hard.
Power Music – Tales From The Crypt Theme – 2:02, 14:54; 71 RPM, Hard, CH
Danny Elfman – Beetlejuice (Theme from “Beetlejuice”) – 1:54, 16:48; 75 RPM; very hard StC
Linkin Park – SKIN TO BONE – 2:49. 19:37; 80 RPM, easy-moderate. First recover from hill at easy, then find your way back to a moderate flat, bringing wattage back to where you finished your warm-up or slightly higher, but allow yourself to recover because we have a 17 minute hill next, followed by two short, but very steep hills after that. Lots of climbing today!

STAGE 2 – 16.5 minute hill, followed by ~3 minute F

3)   Deadmau5 – Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff – feat. Rob Swire – 5:29, 25:06, RPM 64, mod-hard, CH. Every time you come out of the saddle add ~2 gears, every time you sit back down, take off 1 gear (or half of what you added). [Cynthia: Love!]

4)   Oingo Boingo – Dead Man’s Party – 6:22, 31:28, RPM 81, RH. St and +v, S and ^-. [Cynthia: Love!]

5)   101 Strings Orchestra – The Exorcist (Theme from Tubular Bells) – 4:23, 35:51; 74 RPM, SC with 4 passes (picking up 20-30 RPM, maxing at 100RPM – if you can go faster than that, you need more gear!) 1-1:15, 2-2:25, 3-3:25, 4-4:15.

6)   Bow Wow Wow – I Want Candy – 2:45, 38:36; 90-110 RPM, easy-moderate FF with headwind + at chorus. [Cynthia: Love!  The perfect antidote to all the creepiness.]

STAGE 3 – 4 minute hill, 3 minute F, 5 minute hill with passes

7)   Harajuku – The Phantom of the Opera – 4:11, 42:47; 66 RPM, hard-very hard, CH. [Cynthia: Iron Maiden has a hard-driving song with the same title and it clocks in at 7:21.  Anyone brave enough to pull out Iron Maiden in cycling class?]

8)   Santana – Black Magic Woman – 3:16, 46:03; 80-110, FF, easy-mod

9)   Karl Jenkins, Marat Bisengaliev & West Kazakhstan Philharmonic Orchestra – Requiem: Dies Irae – 4:36, 50:39; RPM 61, very hard-breathless, StC with seated passes 20/15/15/35, ^ ~20 RPM and shoot for breathless at 1-1:20, 2-2:18, 3:05-20, and 4-end.  [Cynthia: Love!  See, this is why Lisa is the best.  How does she find this awesome music???]

Recovery & Cool Down

10)                  The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil – 6:18, 56:57

11)                  Mumford & Sons – Ghosts That We Knew 5:40, 1:02:37

Spotify Link: Halloween 2013

Hey folks, Cynthia again.  I was going to pull out MY good ‘ole Hallowe’en playlist that I’ve used every year since 2009 (in journalism these sorts of things are called ‘evergreen’ because they never lose their currency) but Lisa has inspired me to, if not completely rework it, at least play with it.  Hallowe’en playlists are flying thick and fast on Facebook indoor cycling groups, but like Lisa, I can’t simply co-opt someone else’s ride.  I need to make it my own first.  I’m not above shamelessly lifting great tunes, though.  Here are some of the best Hallowe’en cycling tunes I’ve encountered this year:

Cry Little Sister – The Anix (3:32):  Theme from The Lost Boys.  This one’s industrial metal; for a dancier version, check out the Mozart and Friends Remix (4:57).  Thanks to Jen Ward Horenziak for this one.

Maneater – Nelly Furtado (4:19):  This song was EVERYWHERE in 2006-07, plus Furtado is Canadian.  Thanks to Vicki Greenwood for reminding me of it.  (She used the dancier David Garcia and Morgan Page Remix).

Swamp Thing – The Grid (7:15):  I’ve used the 3:59 Radio Mix a few times, but man, was I delighted to see Vicki scared up (ha!) a longer version with the same driving beat.  High intensity intervals anyone?

Shivers (Radio Edit) – Armin van Buuren (3:09): or the full version at 7:33.  A tough connection to Hallowe’en other than the title but if you’re looking to add a little trance to your mix, this is a great bet.  Vicki…

Bleeding Out – Imagine Dragons (3:43):  Sometimes evergreen playlists can feel a little tired; this tune will inject an of-the-moment feel.  Plus it’s catchy.  Clearly, I owe Vicki Greenwood a latte.  This one’s hers, too.

Night Crawler – Judas Priest (5:44):  Not quite ready to rock out to Iron Maiden on the Spin bike?  This head-banger is perfect for high intensity intervals and you never know… you might find you have a few closet metal heads in your class.  This one is from Kathy Schiebe Leggitt.

This is Hallowe’en – Marilyn Manson (3:22):  Not exactly subtle, but that’s why I like it.  Another from Kathy.

Dragula – Rob Zombie (3:43):  Another industrial metal tune from Kathy – she and I are sympatico on this: industrial metal is great for indoor cycling.  (Go ahead, listen to Megalomaniac by KMFDM while cycling and you’ll see what I mean.)

Somebody’s Watching Me (Freakmatique Cut) – DJ Brian Howe (3:23):  An old standby I use for jumps.

Reader Di commented recently with a link to her Hallowe’en playlist here.  (I especially liked Scream, Bodies, and Run with the Wolves but you’ve got to check it out for details.)

And I can’t resist a link to ChrisSpin’s hot-off-the-presses Hallowe’en playlist here.

scooby-dooAs long as we’re on spooky, I am loving that my daughter (age 3.5) is really into Scooby Doo at the moment.  I downloaded the first season (1969) onto our iPad and we also have a Scooby Doo book that has become a go-to favourite for bedtime stories.  They are just the right level of spooky for a kid – it’s comforting that the monster is always captured and unmasked as a plain old person at the end.  I remember enjoying the show when I was little and I love that I can share Scoob and Shaggy and the gang with her.

Happy Hallowe’en everyone!



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Mortal Kombat Cycling Mix – High Intensity Intervals (45 min)

fall_bike_rideI’ve been thinking about high intensity interval training (HIIT) for a long time, but I wasn’t sure how to incorporate this wildly effective training tool into my classes.  Short, Tabata-style, intervals would have the working part of the ride over in 8 minutes… but my shortest class at the gym is 45 minutes long.  So I explored longer intervals, like 60 seconds on/60 off – which I’ve been doing for years – but mulled over the coaching aspect.  HIIT works best when exercisers push hard on their limits.  Seriously hard.  The working interval has been described as “extremely unpleasant”, “feeling like you’re about to puke”, and “feeling like you’re going to die.”  How could I motivate riders to go to such a brutal place in an indoor cycling class?  How could I accommodate riders of all levels in a HIIT class?

I was reading the newspaper on Monday (Toronto’s Globe and Mail) and came across this interesting article on HIIT.  The article relates a Queen’s University Study that had “two groups doing a cycling workout alternating 60 seconds hard with 60 seconds easy for eight to 10 repetitions. One group did the hard intervals at 100 per cent of peak power, while the other group used a more moderate intensity of 70 per cent of peak power. Both groups made gains in muscular and metabolic health, but in the most important health marker of aerobic fitness, the high-intensity group gained 27.7 per cent in three weeks while the moderate-intensity group gained just 11.0 per cent.”

Bingo.  I knew just what I needed to do, and I had a pretty good idea of how I’d coach it.  But crap, I didn’t have a HIIT profile in my book of rides.  I decided to turn one of my previous rides into a HIIT ride and chose the ride below, which I put together in response to a request by one of my most stalwart regulars for a Mortal Kombat ride.  I’d run it a couple of times but hadn’t even put it on the blog because, well, it was sort of meh.  Just okay.

And if I am being totally honest?  A lot of my classes lately have been just okay.  I’m working very long hours these days (1.5 FT jobs) and realized on the bike last week that I wasn’t enjoying the ride – my class was just another thing on my to too-long to-do list.  I’d lost my mojo.  I am a perfectionist.  I am not okay with just okay. 

It occurred to me: maybe it’s time to hang up the cycling shoes.  And then: Whoa.  Where did THAT come from?  I’ve never thought about quitting before.  I continued mulling it over on the way home when it hit me: it’s not just indoor cycling.  I’m not enjoying ANYTHING at the moment, because I am working too damn much.

Fortunately, this too shall pass.  The contract that’s got me squeezed (great work, just too much of it) ends on November 30 and life will return to… normal, or something like it.  (Assuming I don’t stupidly say “sure!” to the next shiny penny interesting project that comes along.)  For some reason, knowing why I’d lost my mojo was oddly comforting.

So today I pulled out this just okay ride and my teeny-weeny mojo and the ideas I had about how I might coach a HIIT ride.  I took the class sign up sheet and scrawled “High intensity intervals today!” across the top and I’m pretty sure I ended up poaching three or four riders from the extremely popular aerobics class that runs in the same time slot.

And you know what?  It worked.  By God, it worked.  It was a GREAT ride.  The best ride I’ve done in months.  And I could tell from the sucking wind and spontaneous whoops that my riders thought so too.

Now, the little ride that could is blog-worthy.  Here it is.

Sexual Healing (Original Mix) – Alibi vs. Rockefeller (6:53):  Warm up for the first four minutes while explaining the basic principles of HIIT.  I told the class we were going to do 5x 60 second high intensity intervals today but that to get the maximum benefit, they had to prepare themselves to take it beyond, to something that would feel “extremely unpleasant,” might make them drop f-bombs, “I think I’m gonna puke” territory.  “I want you to hate me when you finish this,” I told them.  Then I made a joke about my CPR being up to date.

I explained that if riders didn’t feel quite ready for “I’m gonna puke” there were still very good gains to be had even if the maximal effort was at 70% rather than 100% and as always, to ride their own ride.

When not working at high intensity, I asked riders to stay between 55-75% of maximum effort – enough to feel they were working but not so hard that it would be difficult to speak in complete sentences.

From 4:00 – 6:15 we moved into a fast flat, and from 6:15 – 6:53 slugged some water and prepared ourselves to begin.

Palladio (Symphony Mix) – Silent Nick (9:44):  Let’s start with a big hill.  (I didn’t say we’d do the intervals right away).  Hill first.  From 0 – 2:45 a standing climb; 2:45 – 3:10 break; 3:10 – 5:10 seated, heavy climb; 5:00 – 5:25 break; 5:25 – 6:45 standing climb; 6:45 – 7:20 seated climb; 7:20 – 9:20 standing climb; 9:20 – 9:44 recover.  Ha!  I distracted you with intervals and snuck in a 9 minute hill.

Control – Traci Lords of Juno Reactor (6:27):  Our first tune from the Mortal Kombat soundtrack.  A bit more recovery from 0 – 0:27, then let the high intensity intervals begin: 3x 60 second intervals with 60 seconds for recovery in between.  With the explanation I’d given, I could tell that the riders really were digging deeper, pushing harder, looking for that extremely unpleasant place.

At 6:15 we fell back to ride easy and suck wind until 6:27.  I checked in with them.  Did they get to that place?  I saw nodding heads.  I asked them to take as much time as they needed and join me when they felt ready to work again.

Jump (Malinchak Dub Mix) – Flo Rida (7:01): Jumps on a hill: 8 counts from 0 – 2:53, switching to 4 counts from 2:53 – 6:30 and moving to recovery from 6:30 – 7:01.  Remember, nothing over 75% here.  The hero stuff comes later.

Juke Joint Jezebel – KMFDM (5:16):  Another Mortal Kombat tune and a combo-drill: two standing climbs, two seated flats.  Climb from 0:15 – 1:15, seated flat from 1:15 – 2:15, back to climbing from 2:15 – 3:15, and a second flat from 3:15 – 4:15.  From 4:15 – 5:15 you could do a third standing climb, but if you’re heading in to the last two high intensity intervals, I’d take it for recovery and preparation.

Theme from Mortal Kombat – Utah Saints (3:00):  Two more high-intensity intervals: 60 seconds on, followed by 60 seconds off, and a final gruelling 60 seconds on.

Going Wrong – Armin van Buuren (5:36):  Cool down.  I told the class that while HIIT feels AWFUL while you’re doing it, many people say that once they’re done, they feel like a million bucks.  (“Like I just had a big poo!” one of the riders at the front volunteered.)  I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that little tidbit of TMI so I just thanked them for riding with me (I always do) and said I hoped they enjoyed the ride.

I got great feedback – more than half the class made a point of stopping to tell me how much they liked it.  And you know what?  I felt like a million bucks for the rest of the day myself.

Are you using high intensity intervals in your classes?  How often?  How many?  How long are the intervals?  How much recovery in between?  What are your favourite songs to use for these intervals?

I’ll leave you with a bit of virtual archaeology.  A Facebook cycling group I belong to recently unearthed this 1995 Youtube gem: a supremely fit Johnny G, sporting a mullet and expounding on his brand new Spinning program.  The excitement from participants at fitness conferences is palpable.  “This is it,” one of them says.  (Look for a cameo by actor Kristin Davis, who was cast as Charlotte in the Sex and the City series in 1998.)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIHueGFdSzo&w=420&h=315]