It’s been another great year here at The Bike Café. In a world that’s becoming increasingly hectic, I tried to make The Bike Café a go-to resource for busy indoor cycling instructors to share profiles, playlists, song ideas, and indoor cycling expertise. 206,270 visitors from 182 countries around the world stopped into the café in 2014. That’s a lot of expertise.
The other big news in the Bike Café world was the move to a new site at www.thebikecafe.com in December, which permitted a whole host of snazzy improvements, a Facebook page (The Bike Café Indoor Cycling Blog) and even a Twitter account @thebikecafe1. I hope you like them!
The blog had 675,154 page views in 2014 and 3,658,362 page views since it launched as Spinning Music way back in May 2008 when the iPhone was only a year old and the iPad didn’t exist.
Once again, Americans led the viewing with 318,811 views from the USA in 2014, 82,122 from the UK, and 50,942 from my home country, Canada. Germany was the top viewing country in continental Europe with 28,104 views, Australia had 11,975, South Africa led that continent with 6,606 views, Brazil led South America with 4,687 views. Turkey led the Middle East with 3,132 views and the Philippines led in Asia with 738 views. There was even a single page view from a misguided soul in Kyrgyzstan, who was probably looking for something else and left disappointed.
People found their way to The Bike Café in lots of different ways, typically via search engines. This blog’s former incarnation, Spinning Music, was the #1 Google result for the terms spinning music, which brought in a lot of the traffic; but alas, the Googlebots haven’t quite found their way to The Bike Café yet. The blog has crept to the 5th link on page 1 of search results (thank goodness – it wasn’t even on page 1 last week). But if you Google The Bike Café, the link for this blog doesn’t show up until page 6. Who looks at page 6? Basically, it’s invisible. So if you’re new to the The Bike Café, thank you for finding it!
The top five referring sites (other than search engines) were Pinterest, activegeek.nl (the blog of Dutch cyclist Pierre Gorissen), thesufferfest.com (if you ride indoors on a trainer – you NEED Dave McQuillen’s workout videos and training plans), Facebook, and YouTube.
The top 5 rides this year by page views were:
(1) Work Hard Play Hard Cycling Mix (60 min) – 16,949 views
(2) Gonna Make You Sweat Cycling Mix (45 min) – 8,955 views
(3) Rock ‘n Roll Cycling Mix (45 min) – 7,109 views
(4) Mortal Kombat Cycling Mix – High Intensity Intervals (45 min) – 5,641 views (the ride that gave me my mojo back)
(5) A ShLOC (Sh*tload of Climbing Cycling Mix) (60 min) – 5,636 views (my dear friend Lisa Goldman’s most recent guest post)
2014 was a weird year for cycling music. There was no breakaway hit like last year’s Wake Me Up, 2012’s 50 Ways to Say Goodbye, or 2011’s The Edge of Glory. Most of the best songs came out in the latter half of the year. I spent a lot of time in 2014 riding to my favourite songs from 2013 so I was delighted with the spate of great new tunes that came out this fall from the likes of Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and Avicii. German music Producer Robin Schulz’s golden touch also anointed several hits that hadn’t previously gotten much recognition. I struggled mightily to choose the #1 song this year. Almost every song in the Top 10 had a stint at #1 on at least one draft of the final 25 songs.
The other interesting thing about this year’s crop of tunes is how many folksy songs and songs ideal for jumps appear on the list. I wasn’t able to find any decent songs for sprint intervals, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Radioactive comes closest. (Did you find one? Do tell!)
1. Come With Me Now – KONGOS (3:32): South African alt-rockers KONGOS did a great job with this song that went to #7 in Canada and #31 in the USA, where it took a long time to find an audience. It was released in 2011 but didn’t chart until 2014 (so I’m cheating a bit by including it, but it was one of my favourites of the year for its driving beat.) I use this one for very difficult jumps, really more of a series of standing runs that are guaranteed to leave riders sucking wind in a very satisfying way. I ended up giving Come With Me Now the nod because it was the song I played the most and because it’s wickedly challenging.
2. Geronimo – Sheppard (3:38): I love everything about this song, the catchy chorus, the relentless energy, the inspirational lyrics about taking a leap of faith. It’s the second single from this Brisbane, Australia-based band’s debut album and went to #1 in Australia and was a top 10 hit in Austria, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and Poland. I’d use it for an especially inspiring warmup or a seated flat. Props to Chris over at Chrispins who first put me on to it. (If you’re not following her blog, go do that right now. We’ll wait.)
3. The Days – Avicii (4:38): Inspirational lyrics and a driving beat, and it’s from Avicii. Warm up or climb.
4. Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) – Mark Ronson (4:31): Best last-minute addition to the list, I love the cross-over power of this song. Riders who like Top 40 and classic rock will be equally delighted with this danceable hit. Jumps.
5. Strong – Arno Cost & Norman Doray (5:54): A cheeky disco beat, uplifting inspirational lyrics, perfect for a combo drill with alternating intervals of climbing and flat road. Another find from the awesome Chris over at Chrispins.
6. Shake it Off – Taylor Swift (3:39): Wunderkind 25 year old Swift really brought it with her album 1989. This song debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 100. I love the message and the song just happens to work perfectly for jumps or a standing climb.
7. All About that Bass – Meghan Trainor (3:38): This song’s such an earworm, my four year old daughter sings it. Another debut album, Trainor’s hit went to #1 in the USA, Canada, and an astonishing 56 other countries. Trainor is only 21 but has been performing and writing songs since the age of 6. This one’s for jumps or a seated climb. Shake it Off and All About That Bass are probably the two songs on this list that got the most airplay in 2014, and that counts for something.
8. Waves (Robin Schulz Radio Edit) – Mr. Probz (3:28): This hit from Dutch hip hop performer Mr. Probz took off like a shot after producer Robin Schulz released a remix and became a #1 hit in six countries. I love this one for a contemplative seated flat. Riders can close their eyes and just ride.
9. Dangerous (feat. Sam Martin) [Robin Schulz Remix] [Radio Edit] – David Guetta (3:21): a relentless climb. I love the strings.
10. Prayer in C (Robin Schulz Radio Edit) – Lilly Wood & The Pr*ck (3:09): Okay, I’m totally cheating. This song came out in 2010 but the Schulz remix didn’t hit the airwaves until 2014 and it was the remix that became a #1 hit in 21 countries but strangely, not the United States, where it topped at #69 on the Billboard Hot 100. I like it for cool down energy but it’s a versatile song that would also work well as a seated flat, climbing or jumps.
11. I Bet My Life – Imagine Dragons (3:13): A sweet song written for the lead singer’s parents about all the trouble he caused them (“I know I took the path that you would never want for me…there’s you in everything I do.”) Perfect for a heavy seated climb.
12. Radioactive – Within Temptation (3:14): I never knew quite what to do with this Imagine Dragons hit until I discovered this cover by Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation. This one’s great for a race to the finish line.
13. Angel in Blue Jeans – Train (3:24): I was able to do an entire playlist of folksy tunes this year, such was the surge in that genre with folks like Ed Sheeran, Phillip Phillips, Jann Arden (You Love Me Back), Train, KONGOS, and country cross-overs Taylor Swift and LeeAnn Rimes. This one’s a seated flat with accelerations at each chorus.
14. Peace – O.A.R. (3:36): Sweet, sweet cool down energy from these Maryland rockers. The lyrics lament an argument between a couple: “I want love/I want us/I want you/I want me/I want peace.” Another song with a folksy bent.
15. Circles – I see MONSTAS (3:29): A third find straight from Chris at Chrispins. I’d never heard of this British electronic group formed in 2012, but I loved the relentless beat of this song, one of the few this year that’s suitable for really opening up on a flat road. It even gets all gospel in the middle before a big Las Vegas finish.
16. The Nights – Avicii (2:57): Ditto. Why not play The Days and The Nights back to back? This makes a nice climb or a seated flat.
17. Liberate – Eric Prydz (5:14): Prydz has many cycling-friendly songs suitable for zoning out and just riding. This one works for a climb, a flat, or a combo.
18. Blame (feat. John Newman) – Calvin Harris (3:33): Did anyone have a better year than Harris, who took the honours at the highest paid DJ in the world this year with earnings of $66 million, allegedly about a half million dollars per gig. This one’s a climb, standing or seated.
19. A Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay (4:28): When this song came out in June 2014, it gave me hope that the year wouldn’t be a total miss for music. A top 10 hit in 16 countries, I use it for warmups and seated flats. No, it’s never going to top Viva La Vida, but frankly, what could?
20. Raging Fire – Phillip Phillips (3:55): a gorgeous seated flat with accelerations at each chorus.
21. Heaven in our Headlights – Hedley (3:09): a strong pulsing beat for a seated flat, one of the few songs this year that is particularly strong for flats. The song was released in Canada (Hedley’s home country) in 2013 but didn’t get released in the USA until 2014, so I figure it’s still eligible.
22. Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne) – Clean Bandit (3:48): I love the strings. I love the piano. I love the backup singers. Another #1 hit (in Britain, where the band hails from). I’ve used this song for seated flats and as a cool down.
23. Break Free (feat. Zedd) – Ariana Grande (3:35): a top 10 hit in 10 different countries from this up-and-coming star. You know there’s a hill right? Let’s climb.
24. Gasoline and Matches (Dave Aude Radio Mix) – LeeAnn Rimes, Rob Thomas and Jeff Beck (3:47): Rob Thomas put out one of my all-time favourite sprinting songs, This is How a Heart Breaks, so I get excited whenever he has new music. This collaboration with LeeAnn Rimes and Jeff Beck is a grind of a climb with a country edge.
25. Hideaway – Kiesza (4:12): a climb from this young Canadian performer’s debut album. She was inspired after listening to her mother play 1990s dance music, such as CeCe Peniston and Robin S, and those influences are readily apparent in the music. The song became a #1 hit in the UK, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia and Scotland, but strangely, not in Canada (#5) or the USA (#51).
A few more songs that I enjoyed and used quite a bit in 2014 but didn’t quite make the top 25 (tough choices) include Fireball (feat. John Ryan) – Pitbull, Summer – Calvin Harris, Maps – Maroon 5, Love Runs Out – OneRepublic, Love Someone – Jason Mraz, Boom Clap – Charli XCX, Sing – Ed Sheeran, Living for Love – Madonna. Iggy Azalea’s Fancy and Ariana Grande’s Problem (feat. Iggy Azalea) were everywhere this year, and there are workout remixes of both songs out there, but I just didn’t find them good for cycling.
What do you think? Did I get it right? Did I miss any of your favourites?
Happy New Year to all, and best wishes for a healthy, prosperous, and vital 2015 with as much time in the saddle as you can manage.