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Christmas / Holiday Indoor Cycling Mix (45 minutes)

santa-with-bicycleI love to do something special in my classes around the holidays, so for the last week of classes before the holidays, I use a holiday playlist and give out chocolates afterward.  There are enough holiday tunes out there to make a full class, but be warned – a little holiday music goes a long way.  I usually only use a handful of holiday songs and try to pick songs that won’t be on heavy rotation at the mall.  I fill in the rest of the playlist with a mix of (mostly) songs from the year gone by.  Here’s my holiday class for 2014.  It’s an interval profile heavy on jumps and climbing, with only one sprint that comes right at the end.

The Nights – Avicii (2:57):  Warm up.

Under Control (feat. Hurts) – Calvin Harris & Alesso (3:04): Another minute of warm up, and at 1:00, add some tension and come out of the saddle into a standing climb.

Strong – Arno Cost and Norman Doray (5:54): A combo seated flat/standing climb, one minute of each, 3 sets.  This is a long working interval, especially if you move right to it from the previous song.

Oh Come All Ye Faithful – Weezer (2:05): Okay, now this is just totally mean: 8 count double-time quad-killing jumps (like a series of short standing runs), at moderate resistance takes us to 10 minutes of work before the first break comes into sight.

Waves (Robin Schulz Radio Edit) – Mr. Probz (3:28): Ahhhh… recovery.  As much as you like.  The whole song, if you need it. When you’re ready to work again, find a flat road, close your eyes, and just ride.  It’s just you and the bike.

Shake It Off – Taylor Swift (3:39):  I love the message in this song, “oh the haters gonna hate…. shake it off…”  I was in my 20s before I truly accepted that not everyone is going to like me, or what I do, and it really has nothing to do with me.  That’s just how it is.  8 count jumps, moderate resistance.

I Bet My Life – Imagine Dragons (3:13): Move into a seated climb for this sweet ode to parents and parenting difficult children (confession: I was one of those – sorry mom).  Lead singer Dan Reynolds croons, “I know I took the path that you would never want for me/I know I let you down, didn’t I?/So many sleepless nights/Where you were waiting up on me … I’ve told a million lies/But now I tell a single truth/There’s you in everything I do.”  Holidays and family occasions can be … complicated.

Fireball (feat. John Ryan) – Pitbull (3:55): Now, in contrast, there’s nothing complicated about Pitbull or his music.  It’s all about partying, or women, or for variety, partying and women.  8 count jumps.  (Crikey, more jumps?)  Yep.

Love Runs Out – OneRepublic (3:45): Here comes one mother of a hill.  Seven minutes to the top.  Find a moderate-hard hill and dig in.  Stand and attack at each chorus.

Break Free (feat. Zedd) – Ariana Grande (3:35): Adjust the tension to a comfortable challenge level and tackle the rest of the hill standing.  Who had a better 2014 than Ariana Grande, except maybe Iggy Azalea?

Run Rudolph Run – Bryan Adams (2:43): Finish with a bike race.

All About That Neis – Maccabeats (2:44): It wouldn’t be the holidays without this a cappella group and their tongue-in-cheek Hanukkah parodies of the year’s most popular songs.  Cool down.

Winter Wonderland – Tony Bennett (2:12): Some additional cool down, stretching and goodbye music.  Substitute any favourite holiday song here.

It’s getting quiet at the gym.  I had only half the usual number of riders in my class today.  But we all know we’re only a couple of weeks from the complete chaos of every gym in January. 

Every year, I set goals for myself in a number of different areas, including teaching indoor cycling and this blog.  Last year, my indoor cycling goals were (1) to increase ridership in my classes, (2) learn the names of all of my regulars, and (3) support new riders in making exercise a habit.  (My goal for the blog was to create and launch the new and improved Bike Cafe – yay! completed just in time.)  

To reach my indoor cycling teaching goals, I created Cynthia’s Cycling Challenge 2014 and announced it at the outset of class for the first two or three weeks in January.  The challenge was simple: complete 12 indoor cycling classes in 12 weeks and win a prize package.  I printed business cards at home that had room for each rider’s name and the numbers 1-12.  When they signed up for the challenge, I put their name on a card and gave them a check mark on the card at the end of each class.  (Of course, I hoped they’d take my cycling classes, but I wasn’t fussy – if they told me they’d been to another cycling class, I gave a check for that one, too.) 

About two dozen riders signed up and the results were pretty much what you’d expect: some got one check mark and I never saw them again, others got to three or four checks before dropping out.  One inexplicably completed the challenge and never returned to collect her prize.  In the end, half of the participants completed the challenge, which I thought was pretty good, and about two-thirds of the participants remain regular or semi-regular riders in my classes.  And I know all of their names now!

In early April, after the challenge was complete, I made up a prize package for each successful rider with a Certificate of Completion, a CD of my favourite workout songs, half a dozen healthy recipes, a copy of Nutrition Action magazine, and some swag from my gym (a t-shirt and head band).  If you haven’t seen Nutrition Action magazine, you should check it out.  It’s the publication of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit consumer watchdog in the field of food, health science, and nutrition.  They’re sort of like the Consumer Reports for food.  They summarize the latest science plus review and rank foods, which definitely makes it easier to choose healthier foods at the grocery store, even if you’re a consummate label reader.

I’m going to run an Indoor Cycling Challenge again in 2015, but with a twist: I am going to ask each participant to set his or her own goal for the challenge.  I found that one class a week was too easy for those who were already regulars (my most regular rider hit 12 classes about 3 weeks into the challenge), and I want to offer something for them, too.  I will also collect email addresses and send out a short weekly note with a couple of health or fitness tips and maybe a preview of my playlist for the next class.

How about you?  What are your indoor cycling goals for 2015?

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Up and Down the Ladder Cycling Mixes (50 minutes)

ladder bikesMixes (plural)?  Yep, I’m going to bust out of this long hiatus with not one but two new playlists, both based around the same profile.

I’ve been experimenting a bit with Spinning-style rides; that is, rides where the music is superimposed on a profile and where the music doesn’t always support the work.  I got the ladder idea from the indefatigable Chris over at Chrispins (check out one of her ladder profiles here) who, in turn, got her idea from someone over at Pedal On.

My version is made up of three 10 minute “ladders” plus a warm up and cool down.  Each ladder starts with a standing climb up to the top:

30 seconds on/30 recovery (seated)

40 seconds on/30 recovery

50 seconds on/30 recovery

60 seconds on/30 recovery

Now, we head down the ladder with a fast seated flat:

60 seconds on/30 recovery

50 seconds on/30 recovery

40 seconds on/30 recovery

30 seconds on/30 recovery

Then we start the whole thing again for ladder #2.  I inserted a jump song at the end of ladder #2  for variety and to introduce a longer working interval.  After the jumps, we move on to ladder #3 and finish as usual with a cool down and some stretching.

Here’s the playlist I used for the first Up and Down the Ladder class:



Prayer in C (Robin Schulz Radio Edit) – Lilly Wood & The Prick & Robin Schulz (3:09): Schulz’s remix topped the charts in 21 countries this year and made the Top 40 in both the USA and Canada.  Ride easy to this finger-tappin’ warmup while you explain the day’s profile.  For new riders or those who’ve been off the bike for a while, the news that there is only one working interval longer than 60 seconds will come as a relief.  Regular riders will need to push during the working intervals and ensure they need the breaks when they come, or they may not find it challenging enough.  I coached them to push for something that feels just-short-of-breathless in each working interval.

I’ve structured the playlist so that the music will mostly – 90-95% – support riders’ effort, but there are a few spots in this ride where riders will still need to work when the music slows down or fades.  In those situations, it’s mind over matter.  I like to warn them to expect this and focus on maintaining their effort.

Ladder #1: Dueling DJs

Fine Without You – Armin van Buuren (6:26): Currently the #3 DJ in the world, according to DJ Magazine.

Long Road to Hell – Avicii (3:43): Currently the #6 DJ in the world, but he’s a mere pup, born in 1989 to van Buuren’s old-timer status (born 1976).

You’ll notice each ladder is made up of one longer song and one shorter song totaling about 10 minutes.

Ladder #2: Guitars and Drums

Swamp Thing – The Grid (7:15): Heading back to the ’90s for this ladder, Swamp Thing was released in 1993.  (This is the song people ask me about after class.) Yee-hahs optional.

Drum Trip – Rusted Root (3:45): Released in 1994.


Jump (Malinchak Dub Mix) [feat. Nelly Furtado] – Flo Rida (7:01): I’m gonna go out on a limb here and theorize that Flo Rida has taken an indoor cycling class or two. 4 count jumps, moderate resistance – basically, anything in the range of 65-75% of riders’ maximum capacity is fine with me.  This is what I’d call a comfortable challenge – it’s work, you know it’s work, but it’s not hard work.  Riders should be able to converse in full sentences.

Ladder #3: Techno v. Metal

This ladder is a shout out to two of my regular riders, one who loves trance, and the other who can’t get enough metal.  I like both genres, but I think I might be the only person in the universe who does.

Blade (Jon Doe & Kutski Remix) [feat. Red Monkey] – Warp Brothers (6:51): We don’t know why it’s called Blade, because the song is entirely instrumental.

Kickstart My Heart – Motley Crüe (4:43): We do know what this song’s about.  Nikki Sixx wrote it about a 1987 drug overdose in which he was declared dead but was revived by a paramedic.  We won’t mention that bit in class.  Or the bit where the song was used in an episode of The Office when Dwight gets pumped up before meeting a client.  BTW, if you haven’t seen the clip where Dwight takes over an indoor cycling class, you can watch it here.


ART OFFICIAL CAGE – Prince (3:42): Some new Prince!

Dangerous – David Guetta (3:21): Some extra time for cool down and stretching.



I got really good feedback from my class on my first ladder class so I decided to run the ladder ride again a couple of weeks later with a different playlist.  I think I might even like this playlist  a teensy bit more than the first one.


The Days – Avicii (4:38): Goodygoodygoody, a new Avicii song.  That’s Robbie Williams on vocals.  Dare you not to tap your feet to this sunny, upbeat tune.

Ladder #1:

I’ve kept the idea of a longer and a shorter song in each ladder, but reversed them for this profile so that the shorter song comes first.

Blame (feat. John Newman) – Calvin Harris (3:33): More new music (released September 2014) from Scotland’s Harris, who might have come in at #11 on DJ Magazine’s Top 100 poll but was the highest paid DJ in the world this year according to Forbes magazine, which reported that the 30 year old Harris pulled in a cool $66 million dollars – more than double the take of the #2 DJ on the list, David Guetta, who earned a paltry $30 million in comparison.

Pistolero – Juno Reactor (6:14): I’ve had this song on my on deck list for a while, so I was delighted to finally use it.  It has a Latin vibe and great energy.

Ladder #2:

Dangerous (feat. Sam Martin) [Robin Schulz Remix] [Radio Edit] – David Guetta (3:21): New Guetta, released in October 2014.

Tosh (Gosh) – Fluke (6:31): Dates from 1995 but when the drums kick in at 0:45, its relentless.


Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) – Mark Ronson (4:31): Brand new (released in November 2014) and hovering near the top of the iTunes chart.  Everybody needs a little funk now and then.  Four count jumps.  As with the previous profile, anything that riders can call ‘work’ with a straight face works for me.  New riders might prefer to ride easy and just recover before the final ladder.

Ladder #3:

Divine Sorrow (feat. Avicii) – Wyclef Jean (4:39):  A new song from Haiti’s Jean, the proceeds from which will benefit the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  I’ve been sweet on Jean since his 2008 tribute to Venus Williams in I’m Ready in which he urges her, “don’t stop, even if you clash with the Titans.”  It’s a rare song about a woman that has nothing to say about her beauty or appearance but instead celebrates that she’s a “master of all turfs” and that her “serve is like lightning.”  If you like, you can swap out Waves or Rather Be and use it for one of your cool down songs.

Strong – Arno Cost and Norman Doray (5:54): Finish up with some inspirational lyrics and a cheeky, cheeky disco vibe.


Waves (Robin Schulz Radio Edit) – Mr. Probz (3:28): A beautiful, comtemplative song.  This would be a great track to just close your eyes and ride.

Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne) – Clean Bandit (3:48): from the lilting beat to the strings and the backup vocals, it’s pop perfection.  When I first heard Rather Be in a shop, I couldn’t wait to Shazam it to find out the title and artist.  (Yep, I’m that weird person holding her iPhone up to the speaker in the ceiling.)

Other Uses for Ladders

Both of these playlists have lots of energy and would probably work well with a number of different profiles.  Any of the six single ladders (2 songs) will also work well if you need to expand one of your own rides to fill a longer class.  I subbed a 55 minute early morning class a few weeks ago, and since my lunch time classes are all 45 minutes long, I needed to add 10 minutes to the ride I planned to use.  I added a single ladder to the end of a different ride and hey presto, a 55 min ride.

And a confession…

Loose_Leaf_Premium_TeaAugh, I know I promised an iTunes widget so folks can preview songs right from the blog.  But I can’t &%?&? figure out how to insert it, and it’s nearly 11:00 p.m. on a Sunday night, so I’m going to have to call Dave Moore (a.k.a. my web guru), and edit this post to add one later.  I neglected to mention that web guruing is actually Dave’s sideline – his main gig is Satya Tea.  The company tagline is Liquid Wisdom.  I don’t know if I’m any wiser for drinking the tea, but it is some of the best tea I’ve ever had.  The Jasmine Sunset Green tea is heaven in a cup and they have a delicious Oolong tea called Iron Goddess.

Look for an updated post with an iTunes widget this week, along with a Christmas Ride.  And stay tuned for The Bike Cafe’s annual Top 25 Indoor Cycling Tunes of 2014 before year-end.  What were your favourite indoor cycling songs of 2014?

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Half Century Cycling Mix (45 minutes)

50milesA “century ride” (100 miles) is a goal for many outdoor riders, sort of the way that a marathon is a goal for many runners.  As with running, there are multiple shorter options available as well: the quarter century (25 miles), half century (50 miles), metric half and full centuries (50 and 100 km respectively), and longer options: the double metric century (200 km) and double century (200 miles).  Today’s ride is a musical half century – we’ll start in the 1960s and travel, decade by decade, through to the present day.

1960s bike1960s

Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones (3:43):  If this 1968 hit doesn’t get your heart pumping, I don’t know what will.  Plus, Keith Richards turned 70 yesterday.  Take the resistance up until you can feel a flat paved road and get ready to ride.

Fun, Fun, Fun – The Beach Boys (2:21):  Released in 1964.  Moving into a surge (fast seated flat, not-quite-sprint, about 80% of maximum effort) for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds at about 60% effort (a comfortable pace, but still work), repeat.

1970s bike1970s (Hill #1)

Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees (4:46):  Leaving the 60’s behind, you know we’re in the 70’s with this one (1977 to be exact).  Jumps on a hill, 8 counts up/down about 80% max effort.

Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin (3:41): Released in 1972.  Sprints!  Starting at 0:06 15/30/45 seconds on/off (recovery on the off-bits).

1980s bike1980s (Hill #2)

You Shook Me – AC/DC (3:55):  1980.  A standing climb, starting moderate and increasing resistance every 60 seconds.  The last minute should be an uncomfortable challenge.  Stay with the music, don’t fall behind.

Raspberry Beret – Prince (3:33):  1985.  Four count jumps this time, still on a hill, about 70% max effort.

1990s bike1990s (Hill #3)

Fridays I’m in Love – The Cure (3:35):  I could have sworn this was an 80’s song but Wikipedia has the release date as May 11, 1992.  A fast, seated flat.  Pick a resistance and cadence you think you can maintain for 3+ minutes – don’t be too sure – explore your limits here – and go.  I don’t chatter for this one, I let everyone ride with their thoughts.

Gonna Make You Sweat – C+C Music Factory (4:03): This song’s release in 1990 marked a sea change in popular music: the rise of house music, wide popularization of hip hop, and the intersection between club music and workout music.  It’s practically a musical history lesson, but for us today, it’s a seated climb up a big-ass, two-song, 8-minute hill.  Increase resistance each minute, making the last minute uncomfortable.

2000s bike 12000s (still Hill #3)

Viva La Vida – Coldplay (4:04): 2008.  Rising from the saddle, we’re going to finish this hill standing, but thankfully, the resistance backs off to a comfortable level as the hill levels out and rolls (resistance up/up/up a notch, then down/down/down again).  Still my all-time favourite Coldplay song.

It’s My Life – Bon Jovi (3:44): 2000.  Wind ‘er up with some sprints: 30/40/60 seconds (one at each chorus).  They’re at 0:34 – 1:04, 1:40 – 2:20, and 2:38 – 3:38).  Bon Jovi is the only 80s ‘hair metal’ band to break the top 40 post Y2K.  Formed in 1983, the band achieved massive success with 1986’s Slippery When Wet album, which contained both Livin’ on a Prayer and You Give Love a Bad Name.

2000s bike2010s

If you’ve got a 60 minute class, add a couple of songs from 2010-2013 here.  Hill #4?

Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams) – Daft Punk (6:10):  Time to cool down and stretch to one of the biggest songs of 2013 that harks back to disco and funk of the 1970s.


MomMo&CindyJuly06This ride would be a good bet if you’re subbing a class and don’t know the ages or musical preferences of your riders.  The profile is simple and the songs are well-known.  It even got my mom’s stamp of approval.  I’m visiting her and as I write, we are sitting at the kitchen table, laptop to laptop, me blogging, her playing Bookworm.  I was running through the playlist on iTunes and she said, “Is that the music you use in your cycling class?”  I nodded, and she replied, “I’d ride to that.” (That’s her, on the left, me in the middle, and my sister on the right.)

I’m making up for lost time on vacation: there are two more posts coming before year-end, another high intensity interval ride and a ride that includes 220 jumps.  Both use my favourite Top 40 tunes.

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Get Lucky Extended Cycling Mix (45 or 60 minutes)

biking_on_sunsetThis ride is a companion to the Mortal Kombat HIIT ride I posted in October. Both are made up entirely of extended mixes: no song under 6:00 minutes for the working part of the class.  Longer working intervals = more challenge.

Get Lucky (Joe Maz Remix) – Daft Punk (5:28): Warm up with a peppy remix of one of THE songs of 2013, and it’s long enough to increase to moderate resistance and move into some work around 4:00: either a standing climb or some 4-count jumps.

Play Hard (feat. Ne-Yo and Akon) [Albert Neve Remix] – David Guetta (6:53): This one’s a combo: climb/jump.  Take it like this: 0 – 2:00 Standing climb, 2:00 – 3:30 8 count jumps on a hill, 3:30 – 4:45 seated climb, 4:45 – 6:15 back to 8 count jumps on a hill, 6:15 – 6:53 recover, grab some water.

Ring the Alarm (Freemason’s Club Mix) – Beyoncé (8:34): I will be forever grateful to Schwinn Master Instructor Keli Roberts and reader Lisa Goldman for putting me on to this song.  (I don’t know Keli – the song came to me through Lisa Goldman’s Sh*tload of Climbing guest post, which was based on one of Keli’s rides.)  It’s exactly the right kind of relentless.  If it is not on your iPod, for goodness’ sake, go download it now.  We’ll wait.

Back?  Okay… the other thing I love about this song is, it’s versatile.  I’ve used it here as a long series of rolling hills, standing the whole way (yes, longer than you would outdoors), with the resistance going up up up a notch at a time, then down down down again.  I’ve alternated between climbing and 4 or 8 count jumps (1 min each interval), or perhaps my favourite: a bike race where each rider gets a turn to attack (sometimes two!)

This last works only in a smallish class (say, under a dozen).  First I give everyone a number: 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.  The song is a seated climb up a medium hill.  Whomever’s number is up looks for a good time to attack.  When they find it, they come up out of the saddle and go like stink, with everyone else following.  I usually decide how long the interval will be; when I sit down, everyone else can, too.  If you have a class of regulars, you could let the lead rider decide when to attack and how long the interval will be.  When the interval is done, everyone sits and keeps climbing.  It’s on to the next person (#2) to decide when the next attack should happen.  And so on, until everyone has had a turn (or perhaps two).  I love doing the drill this way because I find that the riders almost always work themselves harder than I would work them.  The song generally ends with some very satisfying sucking of wind.

The Veldt (8 Minute Edit) – Deadmau5 (8:40):  Another combo: jump/climb/flat x2 with a recovery break in between.  Start with 4/8 count jumps (1 min) then on to a standing climb (1 min) and a seated flat (1:30).  Recover from 3:30 – 5:00 then repeat.  I usually fast forward to the next song 40 seconds from the end but you could also take it as recovery.

The Black Pearl (Caribbean Trance Mission) – Scotty (6:39): Combo again: seated flat/standing climb (1 min each interval, 3 sets).

If you want to make this a 60 minute ride, add Palladio here (totally cribbed from the Mortal Kombat ride):

Palladio (Symphony Mix) – Silent Nick (9:44):  Big hill: 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.

Snakefood – Safri Duo (6:04):  Two seated flats with a long break in between.  This is the last work of the day,  time to get all that energy out, so I coach riders to choose a resistance and a cadence that leaves them wondering if they can complete 2 minutes without pulling back.  At 1:00 they should be worried, at 1:30 galvanized, and at 2:00 they’ve earned a delicious 1:30 recovery interval.  Time to reflect: did they get to that ‘oh crap what have I done?’ place?  Time to adjust and go again: the second interval runs from 3:30 – 5:30 (you could take it right to the last drumbeat at 6:00 if you like.)

Blurred Lines (feat. T.I. and Pharrell) – Robin Thicke (4:23): Oh boy, do I have mixed feelings about this song.  On one side: one of the biggest songs of the year, it’s catchy, it spawned a useful discussion about consent and rape culture.  On the other side: It objectifies women and presumes that they are ready and willing (“you know you want it”) in virtually adolescent fashion (and that’s just the lyrics – do not, under any circumstances, view the uncensored video if the lyrics make you angry).  Plus, I can’t unsee Miley Cyrus twerking against Robin Thicke at this year’s Video Music Awards, which was to sexuality what Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes’s jerking movements were to dancing.  What to do?  After a great deal of thought, I decided to include it as a cool down song IF I could also say a few words about the controversy (I do) and mention the cheeky video parody made by a couple of Halifax women called Ask First (in which they’ve rewritten the chorus: That’s why you need to ask first / No way to know I want it / No way to know I want it / Unless I say I want it / Ask first / Consent is sexy / Shows you respect me) and parade around with sex toys.  Do not, under any circumstances, view the parody video if you are prudish or easily offended.)  Personally, I think it is brilliant.

Anything – Hedley (3:11):  Some additional cool down and goodbye music with inspiring lyrics from these Canadian rockers.  There is something that sounds like an f-bomb in there but I’m hearing it on FM radio here in Canada.  If it’s unintelligible enough to make it past the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC), it’s probably okay to play in class.

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Guest Post: Let The Sun Shine In Cycling Mix (60 minutes)

Sunshine bicycleReader Fern sent me this ride with a note:

  • Hi Cynthia – I have been following your blog for a couple of years. You used to be so great about putting up playlists. [Cynthia: Gaah, the guilt, the guilt!]  I found such great songs and learned a lot about how to coach them. I have been teaching a really awesome ride. I have taught it a few times and for me it is time to retire it. [Cynthia: Nooo! You could easily pull this one out again in a few months.] But I have had amazing feedback from it and I thought I could put it into a format and give something back to you so other people who come to your blog could be helped. I just really wanted to give something back to you. If you don’t want to put it up it is totally cool. But if you want to, [Cynthia: I do!  I do!  It looks like an awesome ride] all you have to do is cut and paste. I see you haven’t put something up in a while and I just wanted to give you something back for all that I have gotten from you. Please feel free to use it if you want. Happy Holidays!

Commit to Change – Finding Inspiration

This ride has 3 climbs. In each climb you will be challenged.

Most of the climb will build to the lactate threshold and we will hold it there building aerobic endurance.  Then you will be challenged to dig deep inside to find more.

Three important things to keep in mind:

1)    Cycling is an aerobic exercise. The more oxygen you inhale, the more you can fuel your working muscles.  Make your breath mindful and breath from your belly.

2)    Mostly we think about putting resistance on.  On this ride we are going to have some challenges where we are forced to decide how much resistance to take off.

3)    Have fun. Make it your journey. Anytime you need to back off or change something it is totally ok.  Each rider must listen to their own bodies.

This is what I use as a reference for Rate of Perceived Effort

[Fern sent me a fancy graphic that I loved and totally wanted to steal, but it did not like being cut and pasted into WordPress.  I am not doing it justice but here’s the text:]

100%     Maximum effort

90%        Very hard

80%        Hard

70%        Somewhat hard

60%        Fairly light

50%        Light

40%        Very light




Warm Up

          Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine in (70-90 RPM) 4:52 –Peace People – Seated, Position 1 –  Warm Up – This is the first song to get your legs moving. It’s important to take time to let your muscles warm and your joints loosen.  Pick a cadence between 70 and 90 rpm that works for you.  Add 4 increases of resistance.  Make them small changes, but feel the difference through the pedals.  Increases at 1:00, 1:55, 2:51 and 3:25.  At 3:25 stand in position 2.  What is your inspiration to get on the bike?  What brings you here?  Fitness? Training for a race? Burn some calories?  Fit into a new outfit?  Fun?  Your friend dragged you?  Just think about it.

Hold Resistance through song 2.

2)    Castle of Glass (108 RPM) 3:25 – Linkin Park – Seated, Position 1 – Fast Flat – Start out at 100 RPM – this is the first opportunity to decide about resistance.  Take the first 30 seconds to let your body adapt to the speed.  Then after 30 seconds, decide if you can maintain the speed.  Adjust if you need to.  There are 2 changes. The first change at 1:30 increase cadence to 110.  The second change at 2:15 – Stand up – it is ok to let your cadence decrease but try to keep it as high as you can.  Keep your effort up. Option to increase resistance at 2:40. At 3:25 Have a seat – position 1 and slow your legs.

Building to First Climb

3)    Stay the Night (90 RPM) 3:32 – James Blunt – Seated Position 1 – Seated/Standing Intervals – There are 3 intervals where you stand.  Make 3 increases of resistance along the way. We are building to the first climb.  Increase resistance just before the interval and then stand for the duration of the interval, sit at the end.  Intervals 20/20/30 from 1st (:50-1:10) 2nd (1:50-2:10) 3rd (2:50-3:20)

Climb 1

4)    My Love is Not Blind (Vocal) (65-80 RPM) 6:25- Margaret Grace – Seated Position 1 – Climb – Build resistance to the lactate threshold at 8/10. You know you will be at 8/10 because we are going to increase our speed for 20 seconds.  You will know if you are 8/10 because when we increase our cadence for 20 seconds you will feel mild hyperventilation. You will have taken one foot over the line.  Get to 8/10 by 1:36.  From (1:36-1:54) increase cadence to 80 rpm.   Check in.  Did the increase in cadence cause your breathing to become anaerobic?  If not, add some resistance.  Hold 80 rpm once more for 1:40 from (3:06-4:55).  Focus on breathing – staying in control of your breath.

Hill continues – stand in position 2 at the end 6:25

One Thousand Suns (70 RPM) 8:01 – Chicane – Standing Position 2/3 – Working on aerobic endurance stay at 8/10 for the entire song.  Once you are settled into the beat ride in position 3 as long as you can. This is a great song with a really catchy beat. Don’t need to say much here…let the riders have their own space.  Remind them to breath, to stand or sit as they would like but to hold the effort of 8/10 building aerobic endurance.

Hard change comes at 8:01 at the end of the song.  You are going to stand and increase cadence to 90 rpm.  This will be challenging. 

5)    Torn (90-95RPM) 4:05 – Natalie Imbruglia – Standing Position 2 Run.

Take 30 seconds to let your body settle and then decide how much resistance you should take off.  Stay standing with as much resistance as you can.  at around 2:00 ask – Did you take too much resistance off?  A break is coming in 2 mins, are you working as hard as you want to?  As hard as you can?  Do you think you could work just a little harder?  Earn the break?  If you turn the resistance up, you can always take it down.


6)    Brother Down (100 RPM) 4:24 – Sam Roberts – Seated fast flat recovery.   Let your heart rate fall. Don’t drop down more than 7/10, the bottom of your aerobic effort.  Think about your breathing, breath deep.  Think about your position on the bike, soften your upper body, smooth pedal strokes.  As you start to recover, add resistance on.  Make sure you are connected to the road beneath you.  Add 3 turns 1:30, 2:30, 3:45.

Climb 2

7)    Get Lucky (60 RPM) 4:08 – Daft Punk.  Power Burst Jumps – Seated/Standing Position 2.  Cyclists normally stay in the saddle.  They come out of the saddle for a reason.  Usually to get some power to speed up or when they are climbing.  Power Burst Jumps are done as follows.  1) Start with enough resistance on the bike to feel like you are working at 7.5. 2) Stand and accelerate your cadence, as much as you can. 3) Slow your cadence down back to 60 RPM. 4) Gently lower down into the saddle.  You will feel your heart rate increase and your quads start to burn.  Continue doing Power Burst Jumps to the end of the song.  Increasing 3 resistance turns along the way. Cueing – Stand, Burst your legs, get some power, slow the legs, gently slide back to the saddle.  Check in along the way and offer any rider the chance to sit one or two out if it is too much. At the end stay standing.

8)    Feel the Love (feat. John Newman( ( 55-90 RPM) 4:05 – Rudimental – Standing Heavy Position 2 Climb – Stand and increase the cadence [Cynthia: I think Fern means resistance here?] as much as possible to slow the legs down to 55 RPM  from (0-1:04).  From 1:04 to 2:34 increase the cadence to 90 RPM decreasing as much resistance as you need but keeping as heavy as you can.  Match the cadence at 90 RPM and hold.  A good break comes at 2:34 – 3:22.  Sit and slow the cadence down.  Recover  50 seconds  – Big deep breaths.  Don’t touch the resistance.  At 3:30 ask could you turn up the resistance just a bit.  One Power Burst to Finish (3:22 – 3:50) Stand and go as fast as you can.


9)    Suddenly I See (80/100 RPM) 3:22 – KT Tunstall – Seated/Standing  Position 2 Intervals – Recovery and then 3 intervals 20/20/45 increasing resistance before each one building back to Climb #3. 1st (0:40-1:00) 2nd (1:35-1:55) 3rd (2:33- 3:12)

Climb 3

10)Zocalo (68 RPM) 8:32 – Armin van Buuren – Seated/Standing Climb – Change positions as desired.  Work to effort.  Building resistance from 0 to 1:53.  By 1:53 you want to be at 8/10 perceived effort.  At 1:53, turn the resistance until pedals start to slow just a little and stand.  Hold 80% (1:53 – 5:13) working on aerobic endurance.  2 ½ mins from the top ask for every bit of effort.  Come back to your inspiration. Why you are riding.  Your body is tired but you want to push through the fatigue and ask yourself for more.  Everything you have.  Don’t leave thinking, I could have worked harder. Know, it’s going to be worth it because you did your best.  Keep your thoughts positive and find your inspiration.  Ask for commitment.  at 5:13 add resistance, add speed, add whatever you can to get to 100%.  Don’t talk too much, just count the time.  Let the music move the riders.

Cool Down

11)Say Something (feat. Christina Aguilera) 3:49 – A Great Big World

12)Stay (feat. Mikky Ekko) 4:01 – Rihanna

       Thank you so much Fern, for sharing this ride.  I love the eclectic music – any ride that veers from cheeky disco to Linkin Park to James Blunt, R&B inspired and Top 40 radio hits gets my vote.  I like your profile of three hills with flats, power burst jumps (they are hard, oh so hard) and I like that you included your coaching notes.  Happy holidays!

       Readers, I have three rides of my own in the hopper.  Should get them all posted within the next week (promise!)  Look for one more post before year-end: my sixth annual Top 25 Indoor Cycling Tunes of 2013.  Want to vote for your favourite tune?  Leave it in a comment.