My Wednesday night riders have been asking for lots of different genres… most recently a 70s ride. “Disco?” I asked. “Half disco,” was the response I got. So I started working on a 70s ride. The rule: every song had to come out in the 1970s. I checked each one on Wikipedia (and in fact, gnashed my teeth over losing a bunch of great tunes that inexplicably came out in 1968 or 1969 and in 1980.)
This ride is half disco, half rock ‘n roll. Each half features 11 minutes of rolling hills, separated by 9 minutes of (mostly) flat road in between.
Video Killed the Radio Star – The Buggles (4:14): We’ll start by warming up in 1979. This song will forever remind me of going to the roller arena and skating in circles, hoping the crush du moment would ask you to skate while a disco ball threw sparkles all over the rink. It cost $2 (most of my allowance) to get in each week but I went anyway. Pick up the pace by 10% during each chorus.
Mamma Mia – ABBA (3:31): I’d lose all credibility if I did a disco ride without ABBA. This one’s from 1975 and it starts us off on 11 minutes of rolling hills. Come on up out of the saddle and we’ll tweak the tension up/up/up/down/down/down (basically, I coach a resistance change every 15-60 seconds, with the challenge being to ride at a steady cadence over varying resistance.) Offer the option of a seated climb at any point.
Disco Inferno – The Trampps (3:39): More rolling hills. I used this song only grudgingly, as it reminds me of one of my first indoor cycling instructors. I went to her classes for more than a year. As far as I could tell, she had three CDs and simply rotated them. There was not one new song, or new profile, the entire year. (You’d never do that, right?) This song figured prominently on one of the CDs and I heard it enough for a lifetime back then.
YMCA – The Village People (3:45): See my comments above about having my street cred revoked if I didn’t work it into a 70s ride somewhere. This 70s anthem has survived as a wedding reception perennial.
Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees (4:46): Rolling Stone tapped this 1977 hit as #191 for the Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. (#1? Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan. Really?!?) It’s perfect for 8-count jumps on a hill (resistance at 8/10).. if you’re badass, take it double-time at the choruses.
Does Your Mother Know – ABBA (3:17): I’m breaking all the rules including two songs by the same group and the funny thing is, I wasn’t even a fan of ABBA back in the 70s. (I was more into Billy Joel, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.) This one’s a fast, seated flat. It will feel really good after all that climbing.
We Will Rock You – Queen (2:02): We transition from disco to rock with another anthem. This is the seated climb in the middle, to Freddie Mercury’s soaring vocals.
Crocodile Rock – Elton John (3:55): Back to 1973 for this cheerful ditty that featured in a wedding dance scene in one of my all-time favourite movies, Four Weddings and A Funeral. This is the other half of the seated flat that we started with ABBA.
Back in the USSR – The Beatles (2:42): This 1976 UK single starts off the second 11 minute segment of rolling hills. Once again, remind riders that they can choose a seated climb at any point.
You Really Got Me – Van Halen (2:39): Yes, yes, I know the Kinks did it first (1964) but that’s no good to me in a 70s ride, so I used the Van Halen version from 1978.
It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll) – AC/DC (5:02): Okay, the metal head in me loves that I worked some AC/DC into this ride. Bonus points for the title. This tune came out in 1975, only a couple of years after AC/DC formed. If you’re climbing and minding your own business and you think, “are those BAGPIPES?” yes, yes they are. According to Wikipedia, the band’s producer encouraged lead singer Bon Scott to take up the pipes for this song even though he’d never played a note on them. Scott used the pipes during live shows until the following year when he set them down too close to the edge of the stage and they were destroyed by fans. The band went with a tape recording after that.
Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2 – Pink Floyd (3:59): We leave the 11 minutes of hills behind and move into some more jumps on a hill, back up to 8/10 and 8 counts again for this anthem for disaffected youth.
Gallows Pole – Led Zeppelin (4:56): This one was for Ray, one of my regular riders. It offers 60 seconds of recovery, followed by an out of the saddle climb from 0:60 – 4:40 (or you could do a combo climb/surge, switching up every 45 or 60 seconds. He was beaming when we finished and I think he won some folks over as Led Zep fans.
The Devil Went Down to Georgia – The Charlie Daniels Band (3:44): Shamelessly cribbed this sprint-to-the-finish from a former colleague, Fabia, for whom it was a signature tune. Four seated sprints of 20/35/30/30 seconds at 0:56 – 1:17, 1:32 – 2:06, 2:18 – 2:46 and 3:07 – 3:40. Year? 1979. (Whew, that was close.)
Dust in the Wind – Kansas (3:26): This cool down song evokes powerful memories of my early years as a DJ for my high school radio station. The station didn’t have a lot of money (okay, any money) so we had to spin the same 20 albums over… and over… and over. I played Dust in the Wind dozens, maybe hundreds of times but it’s just as haunting a reminder of our mortality as it ever was.
I’m a Believer – Neil Diamond (2:43): Taking it back to 1971 for the stretching and goodbye music. I didn’t appreciate Diamond’s genius as a songwriter until I heard other people covering his songs, which are enormously popular even now in the bars of my home town. This one has a special place in my heart because I was a giant Monkees fan in the 70s and while Diamond did well with this song, The Monkees knocked it out of the park. It was the #1 hit of 1966 and the biggest-selling record of 1967, one of fewer than 40 singles to have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
I didn’t quite manage a song from each year – you’ll notice 1972 and 1974 are missing. Why’d I put disco first? My first draft had the rock first but I really wanted to finish up with The Devil Went Down to Georgia and I didn’t want to mix up disco and rock (though a disco v. rock ride would be fun, too). My next mission? Another regular rider asked me for 90s boy bands. (I don’t know if my male regulars would tolerate an entire class of 90s boy bands. I have no idea what I’d have to do to make amends for that.) I trolled through iTunes for an hour last week and while there are tons of hits from these bands, few of them work for cycling. Just gonna have to keep looking. Got any ideas?