I subbed a 6:30a.m. class this week and decided to make a new mix for it. This mix shares about half its songs in common with the Sandstorm Spin Mix. Both are hour long classes designed for advanced riders. What’s different is in this class, the drills are grouped together. After the warmup, there are 6 minutes of lifts, then a long, 14 minute climb. We move to 11 minutes of sprints, then climb again for 11 minutes before doing some single leg training and cooling down.

Why not make an entirely new mix with no overlap? I could, but songs the two mixes share are some of my favourite go-to songs right now. This mix is sort of like Halifax weather – if you get something you don’t like, no worries – it’ll change in about 5 minutes. You’ll hear everything from rock, pop, alternative, dance, trance, hip hop and even a couple of songs with a reggae feel to them. Time to ride!

Saltwater – Chicane (3:30): Start with an easy warm up with light tension. As the song builds, add in some dynamic stretching and deep breaths.

Love Generation (Bob Sinclar Radio Edit feat. Gary Pine) – Bob Sinclar (3:34): Take the tension to 3/10. Every 30 seconds, increase your cadence by about 10% for 30 seconds, then fall back to the previous cadence for 30 seconds. This isn’t a sprint, we’re still warming up the legs. This is a good time to work on your pedal stroke – feet flat, making big circles, pushing down, scraping along the bottom of the pedal stroke, and pulling up. Knees point straight, be aware of your inner thighs brushing the saddle with each pedal stroke.

Bouce with Me – Kreesha Turner (3:08): Turner’s first album debuted a week ago and it’s eminently listenable. We’re going to take the tension to 4/10 and move into some lifts. Use nice, controlled movements to move up slightly out of the saddle and back down. Keep the palms of your hands on the handlebars, but make sure you’re not using your arms to pull yourself up. If you find yourself falling into the saddle, take a break. We’ll do 4x 8 counts, 4×4 counts, then 4x 2 counts. Repeat.

Sandstorm – Tunnel Alliance (3:33): More lifts, but random counts at random intervals. Explain the drill and call out each interval change: 4! 8! 2! 8! 2! 4!

Disturbia – Rihanna (3:59): This song starts one mother of a hill: 14 straight minutes of climbing. Start the tension at 5/10 and increase it every 60 seconds. There’s 20 seconds for recovery at the end of the song.

Viva la Vida – Coldplay (4:04): Keep climbing with the beat, with a slight lean towards the downstroking pedal. The last 30 seconds are for recovery.

Keep Hope Alive – The Crystal Method (5:43): We’re getting near the top and the hill’s getting steeper. Our cadence is slowing, but we’re staying with the beat.¬† Use the last 35 seconds for recovery.

The Boys of Summer – The Ataris (4:18): Three 20 second standing sprints, one at each chorus. After the second sprint, increase your cadence during the bridge, before heading into the last sprint. Riders who feel like it can extend the third sprint from 20 seconds to 40 seconds. There are 40 or 20 seconds for recovery at the end, depending on whether riders did the longer sprint.

Stoned in Love – Chicane (feat. Tom Jones) (3:41): Three more standing sprints 30/30/30 at each chorus.

Are You Gonna Be My Girl? – Jet (3:37): We’re going to do these sprints seated – start when you hear “go!” in the song (around :22) and give me 30 seconds sprinting with 15 seconds recovery. We want to hit the lactate threshold here.

U+Ur Hand – Pink (3:34): Back to climbing, but we’re not quite done with the sprints yet – standing sprints at each chorus 30/30/60 but keep to that beat. They’re fast but not all out. There’s one “f” bomb in this song, but I love the song, so I’ve been crossing my fingers that no one complains. The only clean version I’ve found is a different arrangement that I don’t like as much as this one (at least for cycling.)

Billy Jean – Groove Jet (3:43): We haven’t done a seated climb yet, so get back into the saddle and crank up the tension to 6/10. 30 seconds in, take it to 7/10, then 8/10, then 9/10, then maximum effort. Make sure your cadence doesn’t fall below 60 rpms – if it does, cut back on the tension until you’re at your maximum effort for that cadence. Once you’ve hit 10/10 for 30 seconds, start dialling back the tension: 9/10 for 30, then 8/10, and so on.

Lit Up – Buckcherry (3:37): This is a freestyle climb. It’s the last one for the ride, so get all that leftover energy out!

Apologize (Workout Remix) – Power Music (4:21): Finish off with some single-leg training. We’ll do 2 sets of 60 seconds per leg. Keep the other leg on the pedal, but let your lead leg do all the work. You should have enough tension to be clock-watching by 40 seconds in, and very happy to switch. As ever, don’t let the cadence go below 60 rpm.

Angel – Flipsyde (4:27): Found this song on a new iTunes exercise mix – it’s hip hop with a reggae feel and it feels so good to cool down! Take the tension down to 3/10 and do some nice easy spinning. Take some deep breaths and stretch your arms and upper body.

Free Fallin’ – John Mayer (4:24): He broke up with Jennifer Aniston, but he’s been a gentleman about it. A longer ride deserves a longer cool down. Get off the bike to stretch your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Ahhh…

One of my favourite magazines is Women’s Health. They do a kick-ass job of covering fitness and nutrition news in every issue, and they’re geared to the average female recreational athlete. Here’s a recent tidbit from the Women’s Health website:

A Brunel University study by sports psychologist Costas Karageoghis concluded that riders work 7% harder without feeling more fatigued when they synch their pedal stroke to music. I always felt intuitively that this was true, but it’s good to see some scientific proof of it. According to the study, the greatest pedal power comes from music in the 120 -140 beat per minute (bpm) range. Bring on the tunes!