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A Playlist Set to the 2017 Road Cycling World Championships

A Playlist Set to the 2017 Road Cycling World Championships

by: Dru Ryan
Monday, September 25, 2017 - 8:20am
A Playlist Set to the 2017 Road Cycling World Championships

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As a cycling aficionado, I like to keep my riders in tune with race calendar.  Whether it be the Tour de France, the spring classics or the Amgen Tour of California; our profiles often mimic real races.       

Each September, the cycling world championships mark the unofficial end to the season.  Held this year in Bergen, Norway, cyclists compete in in various disciplines for the coveted rainbow jersey.  Winners wear this jersey for the next year and then wear rainbow stripes on their lapel until retirement. This article introduces the race and provides a playlist to complement the undulating profile. 

The course is 152 km covered in eight circuits.  The hills will challenge the sprinters with the flats allowing time to chase down the climbers.  The challenge in repeating as a winner in this race is the changing location.  In 2015, Slovakian Peter Sagan took gold with an audacious attack on the cobbled hills of Richmond, Virgnia and then repeated in the wind and sand last year in Doha, Quatar.  On Sunday, he will look to become the first three time winner.

Bergen is the wettest city in Europe, with rain or snow 300 days a year, so expect the elements to play a role in the outcome.  Those who dare to descend without regard for safety may be rewarded for their valor.  Expect to see attacks on the hills while the sprinters will hope for a pack finish within the last 1.5 km.  

The last time the race was held in Norway, a little known American named Lance Armstrong took the title in a rain-drenched affair.   This year, Coryn Rivera, a 24 year old Filipina-American is among the favorites for gold.  Sunday, she won the team time trial with Team Sunweb.  Raised in the Los Angeles area, Rivera has enjoyed a breakout season in her first year as an international racer.  Just last year, Rivera won Washington, D.C.’s Air Force Classic (now called the Armed Forces Classic) race. The pic below (photo credit: Dave Osborne) shows her on a warm-up ride the day before the race.       


Few reading this article will ever vie for the rainbow jersey.  But this playlist gives you a chance to dream.  It covers two circuits and roughly emulates the profile.  So lace  cycling shoes (or fasten your velcro), wear your national colors and GO HARD. 

[I’m including extra notes for instructors.  I’d love to hear feedback if you use any of these tracks in spin class.]  

Epoch 0: Warm Up:
The playlist is about 47 minutes.  Make the most of it by spinning at 80-100 rpms to warm up your legs.  A little old school Madonna and Big Pun are followed by a mood calming track by Flying Lotus.

Epoch 1: Make the Break 
Cycling races typically start with a few riders escaping the pack and forming a group called the breakaway.  The uptempo beat on “Nothing Matters” calls for surges of 2-5 miles per hour (MPH) as the beat increases, then a return to your normal speed. Use the Desi Boys song to perform a casual three minute time trial – start at the 45 second mark.  Don’t attempt to lose your breath.  Just pedal at an elevated pace and see how far you can go in three minutes.  0.8 to 1.2 miles is the normal range.


Epoch 2: Hills 
Take on some rolling hills on Nirvana’s “Know Your Right”.  As the beat gets heavier, add resistance and raise your speed by 4-6 miles per hour.hen recover with the tempo.  Don’t sprint the hill!  Then the first big hill on “Cowgirl.”  Recover for the first minute and then climb for the rest of the song.  Focus on the first six minutes (use your time trial effort to pace yourself) and then go all out until the end.  “Drinkee” is a laid back track for the downhill.  The goal is to keep a pace somewhere between your average and max speed while changing cadence, resistance or bike position everytime the beat changes.  Recover to some classic Washington, D.C. Go-Go by Trouble Funk for 1 minute.  First circuit done!

Epoch 3: Go for Gold with Cadence
September 18 marks 47 years since the passing of the great Jimi Hendrix.  Unusual for rock, “Manic Depression” is written in triple metre (as opposed to a 4 count).  One of my favorite cadence drills, attempt to find resistance that allows you to keep pace with the cymbals (second and third note).  Surge on the chorus and finish the last half of the song  out of the saddle. 

“Use Somebody” is a two part cadence drill/climb.  Find cadence between 75 – 95 RPM on Scala & Kolacny Brothers interpretation.  Then add 10-15 RPMs on the chorus before recovering.  The original, by Kings of Leon, calls for the inverse, adding resistance and losing 10-15 RPMs as you engage in an uphill effort as the beat grows louder.  After 30 seconds of recovery, there’s one more three minute time trial on “Xabier.”  It’s the last climb, so go ahead and beat your original time!  

Epoch 4: Sprint to the Finish
Surge downhill on “Chimes – Gammer Re-Edit.”  Every time you hear the dog bark, add resistance.  Recover on as the beat softens, and then push again – in or out of the saddle.  The song is three minutes long – one more time trial anyone?  Following 50 seconds of recovery, “Rise Above” offers three options for your sprint finish.  Start at the 50 second mark for a 1 minute 20 second effort.  Ten seconds later for 1:10. or wait a bit longer and go for 1 minute.  Visualize your country’s flag waving on the side of the road as you go for the win!

Epoch 5: Cool Down
Whether victorious or not, you’ve earned the recovery.  Take time to listen to the track by Van Hunt.  Released in August, he recorded the album ten years ago, but it was shelved by his label.  Critics have hailed the timelessness of the sound, well worth the wait. 

Want to watch the races?  Check out NBC Sports Gold’s online coverage.  Sadly, cycling isn’t widely televised in the states.  A well worded Google search may unveil a few online streams.  But if you get a virus, don’t blame me!

About the Author

Dru Ryan is a daily bike commuter, indoor cycling coach (EquinoxCrunch, Mint DC) and road cyclist who averages 200 miles a week. Follow Dru on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook or visit his website