Okay, I’ll cop to it: I work full-time, I teach three cycling classes a week, I have a husband and a preschooler at home. I have zero free time. Oh blog, I have thought about you so often. Many times I’ve had the computer open and fingers poised over the keyboard only to be drawn away. So here it is, going on midnight, but I’m awake and I have a new ride that I really want to share.
From time to time I’ll put together a ride with a focus on one particular movement: climbing, jumping, sprinting. This one is all about the seated flat. I love standing climbs and I find that sometimes plain old seated flats don’t get enough attention in my classes but I have been absolutely loving this ride.
The profile is simple: six seated flats alternated with something else. Each seated flat has a purpose. The music is almost all brand-new stuff that’s come out in the month or two. Geeky indoor cycling instructor bonus points for using songs with titles about roads or riding, right?
A Road to Ride On – Joshua Radin (3:03): Warm up perfection, this. Zach Braff called Radin, “the new Paul Simon” and he’s not far off. Peppy, energetic, all good things here. “We’ve been waiting, anticipating, your arrival…. Turn the lights on, give us road to ride on…” Thanks to Chris over at Chrispins for this one. If you haven’t been over to her blog, you must check it out. She is incredibly prolific and uses awesome music.
Crazy Kids (feat. will.i.am) – Ke$ha (3:49): A smooth transition into a standing climb with 1 minute each at the intensity of 7/10, 8/10, 9/10.
Hey Boy Hey Girl – The Chemical Brothers (4:50): This one is from reader Ian, and it is magnificent. The first of six seated flats, this one has two purposes. First: practicing a round pedal stroke. I ask riders to focus first (20-30 seconds) on the downstroke, on trying to make it round. Then we focus on the scrape across the bottom of the pedal stroke, like scraping mud from a shoe, and finally on the upstroke. Then we put it all together into a round pedal stroke. I ask them to think of a pencil attached to their ankle making circles as they ride and we ride for a minute or two, then do a cadence check. I ask riders to hold a hand over one knee so that the knee touches their hand as they ride, then I will call time and we’ll count (silently) how many times our knee touches our hand. I used 30 seconds but you could also use 10 (x6 for RPM), 15 (x4), 20 (x3) or 30 (x2). Everyone should be between 80-110 RPM for seated flats.
I have heard that the RPM program goes higher than 110 RPMs. One instructor told me she goes to 140 RPMs and I don’t know if the program permits this or if she’s doing it on her own. I’m not overly worried if an experienced rider goes somewhat over 110, provided they’re always in control of the bike and not the other way around, but I have trouble believing many riders can be in control at 140 RPM on an indoor bike. You can use this song to demonstrate the need for adequate resistance to maintain control: get riders to take all the tension off and they’ll see immediately how the bike starts driving them along so they can know to avoid this.
A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) – Fergie, Q-Tip & Goonrock (4:01): Love this new track from the Great Gatsby soundtrack. Time for some 4 count jumps on a bit of a hill – resistance at 6/10. Throw in a resistance increase half-way through for those who didn’t quite put enough on the first time.
This is What it Feels Like (feat. Trevor Guthrie) – Armin van Buuren (3:23): Second seated flat, a chance to close your eyes, zone out, and let it be just you and the bike. I tell riders I am not going to chatter, I will only talk to call out the minutes (1, 2, 3) and offer them the chance to make alterations at that time if they wish.
Down the Road – C2C (3:27): 30 blessed seconds for recovery and a swig from the water bottle, then it is on to 8 count jumps on a hill – 7/10 or 8/10. Get riders to push the tension up until they can really feel the hill before starting with the jumps. C2C is a veteran group of French DJs who won the Disco Mix Club World DJ Championship in 2006. This song hit #1 in France in 2012 and charted in Canada but not the USA. I love the innovative mix of electronica and R&B.
Snake Food – Safri Duo (6:04): Every time I use this Danish electronic percussion duo, someone asks for the name of the group. This one’s an irresistible tribal beat to take us through the third seated flat. It’s broken into two intervals: 2 minutes on, 1:30 for recovery, then 2 minutes on. The two minute portions are meant to test endurance. I ask riders to choose a tension and cadence that they aren’t sure they can maintain for two minutes, to try to find that edge where their personal limit is. I would rather see them overestimate and have to back off than finish the two minutes feeling like they had more to give. After the first interval I ask: “how’d you do? Did you find that spot?” We mop our brows, drink water and ride easy for a bit, then I ask them to decide on how they’re going to tackle the second interval. More resistance? Less? Faster pace? Then we go for another two minutes. This one and Down the Road both come thanks to the Former Cycling Pingers group.
We Own It (Fast & Furious) – 2 Chainz & Wiz Khalifa (3:48): This one’s on the Fast & Furious 6 soundtrack (which, by all accounts, is actually a decent flick). I am going to parlay my willingness to see it to get my hubby to go with me to Before Midnight when it opens later this month. Time for a seated climb and another cadence check. This time, everyone should be between 60-80 RPM. That should be no problem if they are riding with the music – they’ll hit 60. I always make a point of telling riders I will never ask them to ride slower than the music (and I never choose a song that will take them below 60 RPM) and if they can’t keep up with the music, they need to take some resistance off the bike.
The Black Pearl (Caribbean Trance Mission) – Scotty (6:39): More awesomeness from reader Ian. Start with 30 seconds of recovery, then we’re going into more speed work for this fourth seated flat. 15 seconds on/off, then 30, then 45, then 60 on/off/on. Unlike the long, two minute endurance flats we did previously, these are short, sharp efforts with incomplete recovery. Each interval is going to push our heart rates higher than the last. We’re looking to end up around 95%. (And if you’re thinking, “hmm, that sounds like the song from the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack,” you’d be right.)
Come On – Andy Hunter (6:40): Why not chase a six minute seated flat with six minutes of rolling hills? I can’t recall who put me on to Christian DJ Andy Hunter (if it was you, for goodness sake, drop me a comment so I can give you a proper shout out). If there are mutterings about how you’re mean, a monster, and all that, you can offer a 40 second rest from 3:30 – 4:10, but then it’s back to the hills. Hup!
Girlfriend – Icona Pop (2:51): They’re Swedish, and they’re everywhere this year. This is a seated flat where we’re going to pull back a bit and take it at about 70% of max effort, just a tad higher than our warmup pace. Why, you ask? Mwah ha ha!
Feel This Moment (feat. Christina Aguilera) – Pitbull (3:50): Start this one 35 seconds in (click on the song in iTunes, then on File/Get Info/Options and put in 0:35 to start). Jumps: 8 counts for the chorus, 4 counts for the verses. (The song starts with the chorus.) If you’re running out of time or have a slightly shorter class (50 or 55 minutes) Girlfriend and Feel This Moment can be skipped.
Take My Hand – Simple Plan (3:51): The last seated flat, and it’s a road race. This one’s an everything-you’ve-got, head-for-the-finish-line romp. (Now you know what the maniacal laugh was all about back on Girlfriend.) Simple Plan is an alt-rock group from Montreal, Canada and this whole song is one great big juicy sprint.
#Beautiful (feat. Miguel) – Mariah Carey (3:23): Some are touting this as THE song of summer 2013 (and those that aren’t have put their money on Get Lucky). I will confess, I have never been a Mariah fan, but I’ve found myself humming this one more than once. Sweet, sweet cool down energy.
Get Lucky – Daft Punk (6:10): Now THESE guys really are everywhere this summer. Could this be the song of summer 2013? I like the easy disco vibe but I’m not convinced. Some extra cool down, stretching, and goodbye music.
I’ve had a few small classes lately, classes that are well-attended during the university term but sparse in the summer. I’ve been using them to learn more names, chat with my stalwart regulars (you know who you are!) and experiment a bit. One of my experiments involved using a long song The Veldt (8 minute edit) by Deadmau5. It’s super-versatile, a good fit for almost anything (and how many songs can you say THAT about?) I had a class with four riders one day and said, “Okay, I’m putting you in the instructor seat. This song is 8 minutes long and we’re going to switch it up every minute. Each of you is going to call the shots for two intervals – you choose a drill: seated flat, seated climb, standing climb, or 4 count jumps, and I’ll take it from there. About 10 seconds before the switch, I’d say, “Okay Pam, what are we doing next?” We did a bit of everything and man, did they push us! The only difficult part came when one rider suggested a contraindicated move – figure 8s. I just said, “hmm, that one’s a bit controversial as there’s a risk of back injury. Can you pick something else?” She did, and we did, and the moment passed.