A memorable playlist is like a musical wind tunnel. The outside world ceases to exist, leaving you preoccupied only with your effort on the bike. These curated playlists tend to eschew the familiar or expected, with an emphasis on tempo.
Try D.C. spin instructor Dru Ryan’s playlist during your next indoor cycling session.
EPOCH 0: PRE-CLASS (CADENCE)
The first song always belongs to me — it’s my “get hyped” track. The high hat on “Migos Origin” provides a perfect cadence to start the ride. “Lock It” by Rare Essence is another up-tempo track and a nod to D.C.’s native music: go-go.
A Tribe Called Quest’s “Kids” (ft. Andre 3000) pushes cadence and allows me to highlight a rare cycling mention in a rap song while setting the tone for the class. Q-Tip opines, “If life’s an obstacle, then I’m gonna bike through it.” That would be our takeoff point for the ride.
EPOCH 1: WARMUP (START FAST)
I like to start class fast. Each of the first three tracks pushes cadence with varied levels of resistance. Riding a bike without resistance is like doing jumping jacks. Yes, you’ll breathe heavy, but you’re not exerting yourself much. Missy Elliott’s “Pass That Dutch” is a go-to for any spin instructor. “Nookie” by Limp Bizkit is the first climb (rolling hills) where we lean more toward resistance than cadence. Gary Clark Jr. lays a killer bassline for the first sprint of the day.
EPOCH 2: CLIMBS
Climbs require mental toughness, so the music needs to reflect the effort required. Major Lazer’s “Sound Bang” has a 30-second intro, perfect for the sprint recovery. Tempo increases, riders add resistance every 15 seconds until climaxing at the 90-second mark. Three of the next four tracks are climbs, with merengue-driven “Tra Tra” being a respite — a cadence drill with resistance. The Bollywood-esque “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom” is an out-of-the saddle steady climb, while Aretha Franklin’s “I Say a Little Prayer” is mostly in the saddle with a couple of surges (increased speed or watts). “Saint Cecilia” is a staircase climb, adding resistance every 30 seconds, maxing out at the end.
EPOCH 3: INTERVALS
Intervals call for heightened efforts followed by active recovery. “Of the Night” is a playful track that allows for intervals — either in or out of the saddle. The Tabata-driven “Work Work” calls for 20-second all-out efforts, followed by 10 seconds of recovery. The shorter efforts should be stronger than the previous track. “Sunset” by the XX is the finale.
EPOCH 4: COOL DOWN
“Get It While you Can” is part of my call for riders to take their growing fitness outdoors. The joy of outdoor riding brings out the kid in all of us. Closing with A Tribe Called Quest (my favorite rap group as a youth) acts as a reminder of how blessed we are to be here.
Music and cycling go hand in hand. For best results, jump on a bike shortly after reading this. And please share your feedback in the comments.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT SPIN CLASS