Class Profile: Pedal and Percussion—High-Intensity Intervals with Drumming Power

Drumming and cycling share a common thread: rhythm. When you pair a high-energy beat with a high-intensity interval ride, the results are electrifying. That’s why I celebrate International Drum Month with rides that feature playlists centered around percussion. If you haven’t tried my first “Pedal and Percussion” profile, “Climbing to the Rhythm,” you should check it out. It takes you through three epic climbs, each one driven by a powerful drumming track, and ends with a fast-paced finale that will leave you breathless.

Now, I’ve created a new drumming-inspired interval ride, “Pedal and Percussion: Intervals to the Drum Beat,” designed to push your limits. Assembling the playlist for this ride wasn’t straightforward. Interval rides require a lot of shorter songs for recovery, while the main segments should have driving energy. But with a smaller pool of songs that fit a theme, finding the right balance can be a challenge. I had to sift for hours through many tracks to create this intense, exhilarating ride, but the result is worth it. (By the way, this is a great reminder for ICA members how much time and brainpower we save you with our extensive profiles, both themed and non-themed!) 😊

The Profile: Intervals to the Beat

This ride is a high-intensity VO2 max interval workout. After a long warm-up, we start with a Zone 4 (threshold) interval that builds from a low to high cadence. This is followed by a series of 2.5- to 3-minute intervals that reach Zone 5, or VO2 max, with 3-minute recovery periods, allowing sufficient time to catch your breath and prepare for the next push. The ride finishes with two sets of Zone 5 30/30s (30 seconds very hard, 30 seconds recovery). 

If you’re hitting the intensity targets, you’ll spend about 17 minutes in Zone 5 during this ride, which is challenging yet doable for fit riders who attend classes regularly. But if your riders are new to high-intensity training or have lower fitness, this ride might be too much to handle. That’s why I recommend a few modifications to make the profile more accessible.


  • Aim for high Zone 4 during the main interval sets, at or just above threshold, and reserve Zone 5 for the final 30/30 intervals.
  • Complete the first four Zone 5 intervals, then finish the ride at a sustained moderate intensity without doing the final 30/30s.
  • Do every other interval at the target intensity, riding easily in between, and only one set of the 30/30s.

Keep in mind, as instructors we should always offer participants the freedom to ride at their own pace for any reason, even if it’s not in line with the original intensity goals. 


This high-intensity interval ride combines the driving force of drumming with the demands of a challenging cycling workout. The intense VO2 max intervals, balanced with adequate recovery, provide a rewarding experience that will push you to your limits. Give it a try and feel the power of percussion propel you through this exhilarating ride!


  1. GREAT profile!! We had so much fun with this one, thank you!

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