It’s a snow day here, and I’m home early with a hot chocolate and some extra time.  I was supposed to teach my spin class tonight but it’s been cancelled due to weather.  The next best thing is a new Spin playlist, right?  My first Best of 2010 playlist was heavy on sprints.  This one is heavy on climbing.

Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) [feat. Freshlyground] – Shakira (3:23):  Warm up your legs and do some dynamic stretching to this cheerful FIFA song.

Dynamite – Taio Cruz (3:24):  First hill of the day, a seven minute climb out of the saddle.  Alternate between regular and aggressive stances, 45 seconds regular, 45 aggressive, add some tension, then 60 regular, 60 aggressive.

Memories [feat. Kid Cudi] – David Guetta (3:31): Okay, leave the tension where it is but pick up the pace: hup!  Add more tension every minute or so to make this an uncomfortable challenge by the time we reach the top of the hill.

I Like It [feat. Pitbull] – Enrique Iglesias (3:52):  For this song, we’re going to climb for the verses and sprint for the choruses.  Take 50 seconds in an easy out of the saddle climb for some well-deserved recovery before we dig in for the first sprint, 15 seconds from 0:52 – 1:05.  Second sprint is 15 seconds from 1:44 – 1:59, third sprint from 2:51 – 3:21 (30 seconds).  Because these sprints are short, with lots of recovery in between, I want to see you out of the saddle giving them your all.

Love the Way You Lie [feat. Rihanna] – Eminem (4:23):  A seated climb here starting at 0:25.  Big hill.  High tension.  Grind it to the top, four minutes from where we are right now.

California Gurls [feat. Snoop Dogg] – Katy Perry (3:56): Time for some jumps.  Let’s start with 8 counts for the verses, 4 for the choruses.  At 2:26 when Snoop Dogg comes on, take it to 2 count jumps to 3:04, when you’ll hit another chorus and go back to 4 count jumps.

Blah Blah Blah [feat. 3OH!3] – Ke$ha (2:52):  More jumps.  Crap.  Keep it going, a minute of 2 count jumps, a minute of 4 count, and finish it up with 8 count jumps.

OMG (Almighty Radio Edit) – Usher (4:28):  Easy climbing out of the saddle with low tension for the first 30 seconds, then when Usher hits it, we will too – breakaway at top speed from 0:30 – 0:59 (30 sec), then settle into the hill.  There’s another breakaway at 1:43 – 2:27 (45 sec).  The third breakaway is at the bridge, from 3:43 – 4:28 (45 sec).

Whoa is Me – Down with Webster (3:44):  Another seated climb with these Canadian rap-rockers that Timbaland called “the most amazing and creative, innovative group that’s going to come out in 2010.”

Dead – Buckcherry (5:27):  Wind it up with some crazy sprints: 15/30/45/60 seconds off/on.  The fun stops at 4:45.  I’ve shortened the song so that it ends there.

Stuttering – Fefe Dobson (3:10):  Cool down with this Canadian artist.  Whenever I have new spinners in the class I always ask the class to give them a big round of applause for finishing their first spin class.  After the cool down, I’ll go to check on them and see how it was for them and answer any questions they have.

Stay the Night – James Blunt (3:34):  A little extra time to stretch your lower body.  I usually have the class stretch quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves on each side, then we hang like a rag doll for five breaths, come up slowly, one vertebrae at a time, and give our shoulders a big roll.  While we’re stretching, I try to give the class a health or fitness tip.  I’ll say my name again at the end of the class and tell them when I’m teaching next.  (These days it’s pretty easy as I have only one weekly class on the schedule.  I still sub from time to time, though it’s far cry from the 4-5 classes a week I was doing before I got pregnant and little Katiebug came along.)

Many competitive athletes have a ritual or good-luck charm they rely on (playoff beards, anyone?)  Cyclists are no exception.  But do rituals and good luck charms really make a difference?  Turns out, they do.  A Cologne University study asked volunteers to try to sink 10 golf putts.  Half were told they had a “lucky ball.”  They sank an average of 6.4 putts, while the other group, who were just told they were using the same ball as everyone else, sank an average of 4.8 putts.  So if you’ve got a lucky head band or water bottle or jersey – roll with it – it might just give you the edge.