intervals from obstacles

Quick Profile: Intervals from Obstacles

The Indoor Cycling Association’s motto is “Keep It Real,” and this profile keeps it real…real fun and real weird. It takes riders’ minds off of the discomfort of their high-intensity efforts through imagery, humor, and fun. It’s guaranteed to bring a smile to their faces at certain times and a grimace at other times. The concept is to mimic aspects of an outdoor ride. They will encounter obstacles along the ride which will require them to ride fast and hard to get away. The obstacles encountered are all suggested by the music using sound effects embedded in the songs. I’ve come across many of these obstacles on my own rides, but never all in the same ride.

The terrain of the ride is flat, suggesting a high cadence and relatively low resistance. Because of the higher cadences, most of the work is done in the saddle, just like a real outdoor ride. But there are plenty of opportunities for riders to stand, either during recoveries or as they surge away from the obstacles encountered. Most of the intervals are long and are ridden at or slightly above threshold (Zone 4 and 5a), with a few brief Zone 5b periods and one set of sprints in one song. Sufficient recovery is incorporated following higher-intensity efforts.

This profile is different, creative, and memorable. It has become my “go-to” profile when I am subbing a class. Riders who don’t know me sometimes roll their eyes when I announce that the profile will be inspired by an outdoor ride, but after experiencing a few of the obstacles, they figure out that the ride is different from what they expected. Shortly after that, they forget all of their initial apprehension because they’re having a blast. At the end, they invariably ask me what other times I’m on the schedule.


  1. Bill, I LOVE this idea! The only song that I’ve ever done anything like what you are doing is “Who Let the Dogs Out”. ….and some songs for Halloween. But, THIS is brilliant. I’m like, why haven’t I ever thought of this?….I ride outside, for goodness sake! I may not get to this profile till the Tour De France is over, but I’ve already printed it out and I’ll be working on it. This sounds super fun and different!! Thank you!

    1. Author

      Mary – It’s great to hear that you LOVE it. I’m sure that your riders will also LOVE it when you do it in class after the TdF. Credit goes to Jennifer Sage for providing a resource to share profiles like this and asking me to post this one for ICA members.

  2. Happy 4th!! I have a playlist on spotify called Nature Ride that I hope others may enjoy. I begin class by telling them that we are going to go on a group ride outside, meeting very early in the morning. There are 5 songs before Nature intervenes! As we take a little recovery we hear the drone of Bees! I start slapping myself and tell the group to “Ride away” to the song, The Flight of the Bumblebee” we outride the bees only to find ourselves climbing to “Honeybee”. As we reach the top and admire the view we recover to Anyway the wind blows. Then I tell them not to look back, there is a black cloud behind them. Using wind sound effects I tell them we need to head home now! I have them run on three with resistance to Headlong by Queen feeling the headwinds. Fall like Rain and couldn’t Stand the weather follow. Then sound effects of Thunder!! They run on three to Thunder by AC/DC Now tighten the gear and climb to Rock you like a Hurricane!! Riding the storm out is our ride home telling people to get serious about getting home. Just as they are pulling into the driveway, Tornado sirens!!!!! Take cover. Then for a cool down, Over the Rainbow…the second cooldown song, “Here comes the sun” I tell them the storm is over, do you want to go again. The sound effects from Spotify vary in length, you can make them shorter. I’ve also included some additional songs at end of the playlist to change it up. I hope you enjoy this Nature ride.

    1. Author

      CQ – That sounds like an interesting and fun ride. I often mix sound effects over music using Mixmeister, a music editing software package. In this Quick Profile, the artists added the sound effects which created our obstacles. Not only is it more professional sounding than my amateur mixing, but it sounds better since the sound effects are part of the context of the song. I’d suggest trying this profile and letting us know how it went.

  3. Love this profile. Thx for sharing!

    1. Author

      Diana – You’re welcome. I hope that your classes love it as much as you do. It’s so much fun.

  4. Just a little confused about the RPM’s on some of songs, where they match the BPM. I’m thinking I would coach song 10 starting at the higher cadence, but as the tension goes up (wind strength) the speed will invariably go down, albeit the power will increase. Other songs, like song 11 seem to indicate similar slower cadences. Am I dancing to a different drummer?

    1. Author

      Karen – I’m glad that you’re reviewing the profile and asking these questions. In all instances, the RPM matches BPM of the song. When the BPM is less than 110, we pedal every beat. It’s half of the BPM when the beat is above 110 BPM. Pedaling every other beat for songs below 110 BPM will result in cadences below 55 RPM and pedaling every beat for songs above 110 BPM will push the cadence above 110 RPM, both of which are unsafe and ineffective.
      The beat of song 10 is a consistent 96 BPM. As the wind picks up, we add resistance and maintain our 96 RPM cadence. This will result in both higher power and intensity, starting at a moderately hard Zone 3 and finishing at a breathless Zone 5a into the wind gust. Similarly, we’re pedaling on beat at 104 RPMs for song 11. When the rain intensifies, we add gear (resistance) to go faster to find shelter. Maintaining the 104 RPM cadence while adding resistance results in increased power and intensity.
      Feel free to ask more questions if this isn’t clear. I hope that you and your class enjoy the profile as much as my classes have. It’s a blast.

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