In May I decided that once a month, I would spend the warm-up in my class talking about proper bike fit.  So that it would be easy to remember, I chose the first class of each month to do this.

My first class in June was a full class with a couple of new faces.  One guy I didn’t recognize was riding at the back of the class, on the bike closest to the door.  He was extremely fit (and it didn’t hurt that he was also good-looking!)  Not that I noticed.

As planned, I spent the warm-up talking about bike fit. 

As the class progressed, I noticed that no matter what type of drill we were doing, the new guy’s form was excellent.  He left during the cool down, but came back to chat once everyone had gone.  He told me he is a Spinning instructor

A slight bend in the knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

in Pittsburgh (aha!  That explains the great form.)  He was in Nova Scotia on business.  This sweet guy took the time to come back to tell me he thought I’d explained proper bike fit perfectly.  I beamed.  So David from Pittsburgh, if you ever read this – thanks.  You made my day.

It occurred to me on the way home that some might be interested in knowing what I said to my class about bike fit.  Here’s what I told them:

I’m going to spend the warm-up for today’s class talking about how to ensure you have a proper fit on your bike.  Keiser bikes allow for three adjustments: the seat goes up and down, it goes backwards and forwards, and the handlebars go up and down.  As they go up, the handlebars also move away from you.

The line of power from knee to ball of foot to pedal shaft.

Let’s deal with seat height first.  You want the highest seat height that is comfortable for you.  Start by putting the seat a little too high and then move it down in increments until you feel you’ve got it right.  How do you know?  Well, first test: is your knee a little bent at the bottom of your pedal stroke?  If it isn’t, your seat is too high.  Second test: Focus on your hip bones.  Are they rocking up and down as you pedal?  If so, your seat is too high.  Third test: Do your knees splay out as you pedal (I demonstrate).  This is a sign that your seat is too low.

Once you’ve got your seat height where you want it, let’s move on to seat position.  Stop pedaling for a sec, with your feet parallel to the floor.  Look at your front foot.  The front of your knee should be in line with the ball of your foot and the ball of your foot should be on the pedal shaft – that’s your line of power.  You should be able to draw a straight line from the front of your knee down through the ball of your foot and the pedal shaft and into the floor.  Can’t see the front of your foot?  Your seat is too far forward.  Front of your knee over the middle of your foot?  Your seat is too far back.  Adjust it until you’ve got that straight line you’re looking for.

Finally, we get to handlebar height.  This is mostly a matter of personal preference.  You are looking for a slight bend in your elbows while your hands are on the handlebars.  Most people like to adjust them to the height of their seat, or perhaps a bit higher, but keep in mind that on Keiser bikes, as the handlebars go up, they also move out.  Make sure you’ve still got a slight bend in your elbows.

Once you’ve arrived at a proper fit, you will notice that your bike has letters or numbers at the various positions.  Just jot down or remember your numbers for the three adjustments and you can set up your bike in no time flat.

If anyone would like me to do a personal bike fit, I’ll be available after class today.  You can also grab me before or after any class and I’ll make sure your bike set up is right for you.

Today’s ride is one I put together to sub a longer 75 minute class on the weekend.  It’s a mixed bag, an easy start befitting a longer class, three large hills that will take 7-9 minutes each to climb, lots of jumps, and 14 gruelling minutes of intervals to round it out at the end.  If you’re doing a 45 or 50 minute class, you can switch to the cool down at the water break, but you’ll lose most of the sprints, so it might be better to trade a couple of the climbing songs for sprints.  Most of the songs on this playlist are brand new and charting right now, but I’ve also thrown in a few older favourites.  It does skew heavily to club music.

Good Girl – Benny Benassi (3:41):  We don’t get too far into this one before we think: “is this song about a dog?”  Hey, whatever.  The beat rocks.  We’re doing a two-part warm-up today.  Easy spinning at low tension for now; for the next song, we’ll step it up a bit.

Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – Coldplay (4:03): Brand new Coldplay (goody!)  This one debuted at 29 on America’s Billboard chart and sold 85,000 copies the first week of its release.  We’re going to complete our warm-up by increasing the tension to 4/10 and coming out of the saddle for some rolling hills.  I like to simulate rolling hills by cueing two small tension increases about 20-45 seconds apart, followed by two small decreases.  (That’s one hill.)  Repeat.

Till the World Ends – Britney Spears (3:58):  Time for some jumps.  Take the resistance to 6/10 and do 4 count jumps for the verses and 8 count for the choruses.  Ke$ha has a co-writing credit on this one and although Britney recorded it, she didn’t write the song.

The Edge of Glory – Lady GaGa (5:21):  Here starts a 9 minute, two-song hill.  Riders looking for an extra challenge, eliminate the break between this song and the next one.  We’re going to climb for the verses and roll into standing sprints for the choruses: 30/30/60 seconds.  The sprints are at 1:04 – 1:34, 2:28 – 2:58, and 4:02 – 5:02.  Hmm, can I get away with putting this song on every playlist I do this summer?  I think I might try.  It’s five and a half minutes of spinning pop deliciousness.  The gorgeous sax solo is by Clarence Clemons, of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.  I was saddened to read that he died on June 18 after a stroke.  He was 69.

Wash My World – Laurent Wolf (3:34):  Okay, this one’s a bit of an in-joke.  See, the weather in Halifax has been truly abysmal for almost three months.  It’s been overcast and rainy six days out of seven, and the temperatures haven’t pressed much above 21 degrees Celsius yet this year.  Essentially, we had March, then April, then April, and then April again.  Finish off the first hill with a seated climb.  The challenge will be to keep the beat with tension set at 7/10.  Trivia: French DJ Wolf won top DJ at the 2008 World Music Awards.  Not too shabby.  Thanks to reader Ove for suggesting this tune.

PainkillerFreestylers feat. Pendulum (5:31):  Two seated surge intervals here at 80% of your maximum effort.  Think medium resistance and fast legs.  The first one is three minutes long and runs from 0:45 – 3:40.  There’s a recovery break from 3:40 – 4:15, then the second interval runs from 4:15 – 5:11 (about 1 minute).  Surges, no problem.  The catch?  Every time you hear the word “painkiller,” you’ve got to come out of the saddle for an explosive four count jump.  It’s devilishly ingenious. Thanks to reader Greta for suggesting this song and her idea that riders jump with every “painkiller”.  You’ll find the PKs clustered around 1:40 – 2:00, 2:45 – 3:18, and 4:15 – 5:11.  There are even three of them during the recovery break!

Niton (The Reason) – Eric Prydz (2:45):  This one’s a tempo drill.  Choose a tension and cadence that you can maintain for almost 3 minutes, but not much more.  Once you get settled into a rhythm, close your eyes and focus on the ride.  It’s just you and the bike.

Bon Bon – Pitbull (3:36): You can almost taste the Miami vibe in this new tune from Pitbull.  It’s not the most complicated song ever written, but it’s perfect for jumps.  Jack the resistance to 8/10 and give me 4 counts for the entire song.  Hup!

Dirty Dancer – Enrique Iglesias with Usher (feat. L’il Wayne) (4:05): Here’s the second hill.  We’ll be 7.5 minutes to the top.  Once again, riders seeking an extra challenge can choose to eliminate the break between this song and the next one.  Dial the resistance back a bit to 7/10 and dig in.  When you hear the choruses, move into a standing jog.

Where Them Girls At? (feat. Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida) – David Guetta, Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida (3:15):  Guetta is all over this song.  If you can get past the astonishingly bad grammar of the title, it’s a relentless beat for an out of the saddle climb.  Dial the resistance back to 4/10 and hit it.

Alone (Radio Edit) – Jasper Forks (3:17):  I have reader Ove from Sweden to thank for this song, too.  He put me on to German DJ Jasper Forks.  The piano in his songs is hauntingly beautiful, and just when you think it’s a ballad, he pulls out some dance moves.  Alone is here to keep us company for a water break, a necessity on a longer ride.  Riders can refill their water bottles and take some recovery time, but not too much.  We’ve got another hill to climb, along with all those intervals.

Sweat (Remix) – Snoop Dogg vs. David Guetta (3:16): Third hill starts here.  7.5 minutes to the top.  As with the previous two hills, riders seeking an additional challenge can skip the break between this song and the next.  Not much resistance here, maybe 4/10.  What makes it tough is the beat, just as relentless as Where Them Girls At without the poor grammar.

S&M – Rihanna (4:03):  Second half of the hill.  We’re going to add a little tension (5/10) and keep climbing.  For each chorus, add tension to get to 7/10 and move into 4 count jumps.  When you hear Rihanna singing “la la la la la come on,” hit it double-time and do some 2 count jumps.

Megalomaniac – KMFDM (6:08):  The good news?  That was the last hill.  The bad news?  We have 14 minutes of intervals between us and the cool down.  German rockers KMFDM put this song out in 1998.  We’re going to use it for some surges, starting at 0:45: 15 seconds on/off, then 30, then 45, then 60.  Want an extra challenge?  Do ’em on a hill (tension 5/10 or 6/10).

Fire – Scooter (3:30):  Time for a pace line.  Split your riders into three groups.  The deal here is 20 seconds of  full-on sprinting, followed by 40 seconds of recovery, with each group taking three turns at the lead.

Dread Rock – Oakenfold (4:40):  Part of the Matrix Reloaded Soundtrack, this song is perfect to simulate a race to the finish line.  We get some easy spinning for the first 30 seconds, then come out of the saddle to climb from 0:30 – 2:45 while the music builds.  At 2:45 when it picks up again, we explode forward with everything we’ve got left.

Give Me Everything (feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer) – Pitbull (4:16):  I confess to being far more partial to this song and to Hey Baby (Drop it to the Floor) than Bon Bon.  It’s got beautiful cool down energy, but would work just as well for more jumps.  What, no one’s interested in more jumps?

Ghetto Love – Karl Wolf feat. Kardinal Offishall (3:05):  Wolf is a Montreal hip hop artist who has a knack for updating 80s pop songs.  When I heard that he’d collaborated with Toronto rapper Kardinal Offishall on this new song, I just about did a happy dance.  More excellent cool down energy for some stretching and goodbye music.

You gotta love afterburn: the increased metabolic rate that toasts extra calories for up to 14 hours after you finish a workout.  A recent study out of Appalachian State University quantified the afterburn that comes with a 45 minute cycling session: 190 calories.  Sweet.  The catch is that to get the afterburn, you’ve got to exercise at high intensity: too high to carry on a conversation.  Hmm, sounds like a spin class.  Veteran health journalist and Spinning aficionado Gina Kolata covers the study here.