From Paris to Berlin Spin Mix (35 minutes)

19 11 2008

I noticed two consequences to teaching all those cycling classes last week – a burst of creativity (and another new mix today), plus, was I ever hungry!  I just couldn’t fill myself up.  This mix is 100% brand new – none of the songs have ever appeared on the blog, though I will admit that a couple of fun remixes snuck in.

Ready to ride?

biking-in-rome2 100% Pure Love – Crystal Waters (4:39): This 1994 tune hit #1 on the U.S. Dance charts.  It’s got a nice steady beat to warm up to, and it bookends the other 90’s dance hit in this mix, a cover of Ce Ce Peniston’s chirpy Finally.

From Paris to Berlin (Radio Edit) – Infernal (3:29): Thanks to S., a spinning instructor from Denmark and blog reader, for suggesting this Danish band.  What a great, relentless beat.  Take the tension to 5/10 and climb.  At each chorus, stair-climb (as erect as possible, light, quick feet on the pedals).  Easy?  Take the pace to double-time.  You need to have sufficient tension on the bike to keep yourself up here.  Keep both hands touching the handlebars for balance.

This is How a Heart Breaks – Rob Thomas (3:51): Picked up this wicked sprinting tune from the Top 20 Spinning Songs List at the Spinning website and it’s been on heavy rotation on my iPod ever since. (They post weekly playlists there, too – check them out.)  Two quick, out of the saddle sprints 15 seconds (0:44 – 1:00) and 20 seconds (1:32 – 1:52), then recovery until 2:20 and a final seated push for 1:15 (2:20 –  3:35).

Mr. Hurricane – Beast (3:26): This is the first single from Beast’s debut CD – it was the free download of the week on iTunes a couple of weeks ago.  Great new Montreal band!  I love it when the gospel singers come in about 2/3 of the way through.  It’s a high tension, seated climb.  Start at 8/10 and give it a couple more cranks, find the beat, and start pushing up the hill.  Throw in a couple more tension increases.  The goal is to have the class cursing at you by the time you reach the top.

Finally (Classic Radio Mix) – Love to Infinity (4:09): We’ve got to balance out that grind of a climb with some quick legs, so take the tension back to 5/10 and get up out of the saddle.  From :00 to 2:35 we’re going to alternate 15 seconds of standing sprints with 15 seconds of recovery.  Just to prove I have a heart, we’ll take a longer recovery period from 2:35 – 3:20 before the last 60 second push from 3:20 – 4:20.  Don’t need no stinking recovery?  Okay, do 4 count lifts from 2:35 – 3:20 before the last sprint.  Ce Ce Peniston’s original hit #1 on the Billboard Dance Chart in 1991.

Somebody’s Watching Me (Freakmatique Cut) – DJ Brian Howe (3:23): I don’t know a lot about this tune or the DJ – he’s not even on Wikipedia.  It’s just a good song to do some lifts: 8/4/2 counts, but with a twist: follow the beat and do them double-time.  I know, I’m mean.

Just Dance (RedOne Remix) – Lady GaGa and Kardinal Offishall (4:19): How excited was I when I realized Toronto hip hop artist Kardinal Offishall collaborated with Lady GaGa on a remix of her best song?  Listen closely – it’s got a lot of Offishall’s own hit Dangerous in the background.  As the Lady would say, “This beat is sick!”  This is the last climb of the day.  Take the tension up high enough to support you, but not so high you’ve got difficulty keeping the beat.  5/10 is about right for me.  Close your eyes and really concentrate on your pedal strokes – see if you can zone out so it’s just the ride and the music.  If the lyrics make it hard to do this, an alternate song is Busy Child by Crystal Method (7:25).

If I Were a Boy – Beyonce (4:09): New Beyonce, from her CD I am… Sasha Fierce, just released today.  This single has been out for about a month, and it’s going to be a huge hit.  Beyonce says Sasha Fierce is the alter ego she adopts when she performs.  I get that.  We worked hard today, so take the time for an easy spin to cool down, tension around 3/10.  Mid-way through, take it to 2/10.

It’s a New Day – (3:39):’s delighted response to Barack Obama’s election as the next American President.  A little extra time to cool down and stretch.

The Truth about Stretching

According to a New York Times report on October 31, 2008, static stretching (holding a pose for 20-30 seconds) before a workout decreases muscle strength by up to 30% for as long as half an hour, and is of little or no benefit.

A better warmup includes dynamic stretching (stretching muscles while moving), which has been shown to increase power, flexibility, and range of motion.  Guide a proper warmup by getting riders to increase their body heat and blood flow with light aerobic activity at about 40% of their maximum heart rate, slowly increasing to 60% of their maximum heart rate over 5-10 minutes.  The best warmup for a sport activates all of the joints and connective tissue needed for the task ahead – for us, some easy spinning at light tension, slowly increasing tension or cadence, or both, until the riders reach 60% of their maximum heart rate.  I also include some dynamic upper body stretches.  The New York Times report suggests 5 minutes of recovery before the workout begins and a longer warmup before sprinting.  I address this in my classes by easing into the first drill, generally a climb, never a sprint.

Thanks for all the comments and support – this little blog is now well over 22,000 page views and getting more than 225 views a day.  Keep the music suggestions coming!


Chinese Democracy Spin Mix (44 minutes)

11 11 2008

Lots of new music in this mix: Creature, Lady GaGa, Wyclef Jean, P!nk, and the first single from the long-awaited (and I do mean long, it’s been 17 years) Guns ‘n Roses CD, Chinese Democracy.  Turns out, Axl can still rock.

This mix is three rolling hills in rhythmic sequence: Climb/Sprint/Lift, Climb/Sprint/Lift, Climb/Sprint, Cool down.

cycling-yangshuoMy spouse and I visited China in 2005.  We spent a few days in Beijing, where we slurped noodles and hiked 10km along the Simitai section of the Great Wall.  We flew south to Guilin, then travelled by bus to a small village called Yangshuo, where we biked through the Karst peaks with a local guide, stopping to watch giggling school children pass a wizened farmer walking with his water buffalo. The photo on the left looks very much like the Guilin area of China, which is famous for its Karst peaks.

China is a country of extreme juxtapositions: a Beijing of skyscrapers and luxury cars, while only a few hours away, rural folk live without electricity or indoor plumbing. I was left with this image of modern China: a guy in a tattered sports jacket riding a rickety bicycle and talking on a cell phone.

In and Out of Love (feat. Sharon den Adel) – Armin van Buuren (6:01): A longer class needs a longer warmup.  Take a few minutes to really focus on your pedal stroke here – knees pointed straight ahead, nice round pedal strokes, pushing down and pulling up.  Back is straight, shoulders, elbows, and wrists relaxed.  It’s just you and the ride, today.

Pop Culture (GYR8 Mix) – Creature (3:38): Take a drink and jack the tension to 5/10 for this fast, light-footed climb.  At 1:30, increase the tension to 6/10; at 2:30, take it to 7/10, while keeping the beat.

Stoned in Love (Radio Edit) (feat. Tom Jones) – Chicane (3:41): Best sprinting song, ever.  30/30/30 seconds, one at each chorus.  I want your tension at 4/10 or 5/10 and when you hear the chorus, I want you to GO LIKE STINK.  Advanced riders looking for that pleasantly thrashed feeling can do them as standing sprints.

LoveGame – Lady GaGa (3:32): Lifts to the latest dance tune from NewYork’s Lady GaGa, who doesn’t believe in spaces between words.  I hear a definite Britney influence on this tune.  To make it more challenging, call out for change at random intervals: 8! 2! 4!  Make riders spend a little more time at 2 beats than 8 beats.  Or do free-style lifts – everybody can go to their own beat.  That would be interesting.

I’m Ready – Wyclef Jean (3:55): The first hill is behind us.  We’re starting up the second hill here.

Bad Girlfriend – Theory of a Deadman (3:26): Great view from the top – now let’s sprint back down.  Three sprints here 20/15/60 at 0:57 – 1:17, 1:39 – 1:54 and a last, sustained push from 2:18 – 3:18.  Any riders who aren’t looking like they’re thinking curse words should do these standing as well.  New riders should do the last sustained sprint as a simple push by increasing their cadence by 10-20%.

Sober – P!nk (4:12): I am consistently in awe of P!nk’s talent.  So What? started grating on me pretty fast (I think it’s the na na na) but I’m loving this contemplative tune from her new CD, Funhouse.  More lifts, high tension this time at 7/10 or 8/10, with 8 counts for the first verse, 4 for the chorus, back to 8 for the second verse, quick – up to 2 for the second chorus, back to 4 for the verse, 2 counts for the chorus, staying with 4/2 until the end of the song.

Chinese Democracy – Guns ‘n Roses (4:42): The third hill starts here.  If you’re feeling charitable, give riders the first 60 seconds for recovery, pushing them to climb when the guitars come out at 1:00.  If you’re not feeling charitable, fast forward to 1:00 and start climbing now.  This is a fast, hard, climb.  Mix up the tension, but never take it below 4/10.  The jury’s out on this song – it’s not Paradise City, but I’m still keen to hear the rest of the CD.

Are You Gonna Be My Girl? – Jet (3:37): Last drill of the day and we’re sprinting 30 seconds on, 15 off.  Start the first sprint at 0:22 when you hear, “Go!”

Old School – Hedley (3:41): It’s true, I’m pulling out all of my favourite songs today.  Slow your pace to a nice, easy spin at low tension as your heart rate decreases.  Take five deep breaths, sweeping your arms over your head on each inhale, and lowering them for the exhale.  Careful dismount, take all the tension off the bike (this significantly prolongs the life of the brake) and do some stretching off the bike: quads, glutes, hamstrings.

Free Fallin’ (Live) – John Mayer (4:24): Are Mayer and Jennifer Aniston back together?  Is she really expecting his baby?  Why do I even wonder about this stuff?  Come on, free fall into nothing.

Cynthia’s Spin Mixes now available as iMixes on iTunes!

7 11 2008

I uploaded all of my posted Spin mixes to iTunes today.

itunes-icon1You can find them by clicking on Nike Sport Music, then iMixes.  All of them have the words Cynthia’s Spin Mix in the title.  Otherwise, they’re titled the same as they are on this blog.  Publishing my playlists as iMixes allows you to listen to a 30 second snippet of each track, and purchase single tracks or the whole mix at the usual iTunes price.  (No, I don’t get any money for this – the blog and the iMixes are strictly a volunteer effort.)

There’s a bit of a technical glitch – iTunes only lists songs from iTunes, but even with this limitation, it looks like some of the iMixes are missing songs.  I will try to address this.

I’m teaching four classes next week – a 30-minute lunch class, two 40-minute after work classes, and a 60-minute Saturday morning class, so there will be a new mix or two next week for sure.

Happy cycling!

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