Photo Credit: Trek Bicycle CorporationIt's cold outside. Polar Vortex, Alberta Clipper, I don't care what you call it, it's been down-right chilly in metropolitan Minneapolis. The cycle-classes I teach have been the superb answer to my cabin fever, and although they don't compare to a beautiful summer afternoon ride, they have served to keep me in the saddle. I have done some pseudo-research on the music that keeps the cadence going for many spin instructors, and club goers alike, and have distilled some of my findings here for your education and some anecdotal insight.
There is a science behind cycle-class music, that previous to this Winter I knew next to nothing about. Music that is typically used for spin classes or cycle-classes is often referred to as dance music, club music or simply techno. Although these are three terms used they don't really cover the breadth and depth of electronic music. There are several genres of electronic music that are most popularly used for cycling classes, and they are most commonly used because of their beat. I will touch on a couple of these genres, but for sure, try them all on for size and see which keeps you rolling best.
Hardcore is a genre that is characterized by its slightly higher rapidity and cadence. Hardcore, a subset of the broader techno music was formed in the 1990's in the underground rave scene and features noticeable loud bass lines and often characteristic kicks (a term used to describe a loud drum line or beat). Hardcore is a very popular genre and with a beat around 160-200 BPM, it's half beat makes for a good options for your cadences between around 80-100rpms.
Trance is another style of electronic music. Unlike hardcore however, it has a beat that ranges from 125-160 BPM, so although it would be difficult to ride at a 150 cadence, you can half it and ride on the half beat when the BPM range is in the 150-160 rhythm range. Trance has a sound quality that is soothing in nature which is where it gets its name. Its hypnotic sound qualities allow it to be a form of music that has a good beat, but also doesn't leave your brain rattling for hours after you've stopped listening to it. Armin van Buuren is a very popular artist that mixes a great trance mix. Here is an example of his work:
Another example of trance is found in a great deal of DJ Tiesto's music as seen here:
Trance is a good style if you are riding if you are doing hill work or are grinding at a lower cadence.
Another genre of electronic music popular in the cycling-class community is House. House music is a style of music that is characteristically played at clothing retailers or on the catwalk. House music is synonymous with fashion music. House music has a slightly slower beat at about 115-130 BPM. Even though house is a bit faster than a typically fast cadence for cycling, you'll find that much of the house music out there has several beat lines which makes it easy to crank along at about a 90 cadence to this music...prime cadence to push around 18-20mph when in the big chain-ring and mid-way up your cassette in back.
DJ's that I have recently enjoyed using in my mixes include the artists I've mentioned: DJ Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, and also names like DJ Sammy, Skrillex, Andy Hunter, and ATB.
An example of my playlist for a Saturday morning "Weekend Warrior" class looks like this:
1. Tu Es Foutu (R&R Remix) Clubland Vol.3
2. Summer of 69,(Remixed), Bryan Adams
3. Don't Wake Me Up (Deluxe Remix), Chris Brown
4. Viva la Vida (Factory Dance Remix) Axel Force
5. Get Down Saturday Night (LMC Remix) Oliver Cheatham, Clubland Vol.3
6. Feel So Close (Extended Mix) Calvin Harris, Ultra Dance 13
7. To Life To Love, Life Album, Andy Hunter
8. Heaven, DJ Sammy
9. Fly On The Wings of Love, XTM & DJ Chucky Clubland Vol.3
10. Can't Live a Day, Avalon 02, Avalon Remixed
11. El Shaddai, Felicia Sorensen, Sonic Praise 2
12. Your Love is My Drug, Ke$ha, Now That's What I Call Club
13. Self Control, Clubland, Clubland Vol.3
14. Alive, Life Album, Andy Hunter
15. Sun Is Up (Play & Win Radio Edition, Inna, Ultra Dance 13
16. This Is Goodbye, Clubland, Clubland Vol.3
17. A Maze of Grace, Featuring the Katinas, Avalon 02, Avalon Remixed
18. The Best Thing (Euro Stack Mix), Avalon 02, Avalon Remixed
19. Eyes (Extended Mix), Kaskade, Ultra Dance 13
20. Get Outta My Way (SDP Extended Mix), Kylie Minogue, Now That's What I Call Club
21. Bubbly, Colbie Caillat, Coco [This song used to help cool down]
We all march to the beat of our own drum, as the saying goes...but when it comes to cycling on my trainer indoors, I need some groove'n music to keep me rolling. Hopefully these tidbits will be helpful in helping you find your groove.
Train Smart, Keep Balanced.
Tri Coach K