Quick Profile: Pub Crawl

Piggybacking off a recent theme ride playlist, Bottom’s Up—A Drinking Playlist, our newest profile is intended to be a fun and creative way of offering the benefits of long aerobic intervals all while on a pub crawl. Who isn’t willing to work long and hard for a drink? There’s no actual alcohol involved, since most clubs prohibit it, but pretending to ride bikes on a pub crawl is a blast, and allows you to have fun with the music too. You’ll ride from bar to bar in search of a drink on a pub crawl but when you arrive, there’s always a different reason why there’s no booze. As riders get thirstier, they ride harder and faster to the next establishment in search of that elusive drink. The intensity starts in Zone 3 (sweet spot) and increases to Zone 4 (threshold), ending slightly higher (Zone 5a).

The entire playlist relates to our goal: getting buzzed while on a pub crawl! I used songs featured in the ICA “bottoms up” theme ride playlist.

Before I go any further, let me emphasize that you really need to know your riders before doing a theme ride like this. And they need to know your style and humor as well. Just like you’d have to know them before doing a Christmas or Passover theme. Or all one artist (that they might hate). I only use this with classes I know extremely well. So my top tip for you is: do not use this profile to sub a class!! 

I use pictures to help drive the profile and add some humor. The images are included in an attached file on the profile page and are referenced in the profile description. Images work well in facilities with a projector and screen, but if you don’t have them, do like I do at one of my gyms and walk around showing the pictures individually to riders either on your laptop or print them out. This allows me to interact with each of my riders and focus my energy on them and the story that I’m creating, not on my workout. This type of profile is an excellent opportunity for instructors to use their imagination and creativity to create an enjoyable, fun, and memorable experience for their participants.

To shorten the ride, instructors can skip one of the bars. For example, eliminating the second bar will allow songs 5, 6, and 7 to be removed, cutting the profile’s length down by almost 11 minutes. Similarly, taking out the beer tavern will remove songs 11, 12, and 13, which shortens the profile by 8 minutes.


  1. I get the objection to the theme of this ride. However, I’m in recovery and I was laughing out loud as I read. In the recovery community where I live, we love to laugh at ourselves and our former transgressions. Not all the time though-I have lost 9 friends to the disease in the 15 years that I have been lucky enough to not take a drink. It’s a deadly disease and one must be vigilant not to put oneself into triggering situations, such as this playlist might be for some.

    For me the most remarkable part of this profile is the music. Most un-Bill Pierce-like!

    1. Author

      I’m glad that you appreciate the intent of the ride and understood its humorous intent. While the playlist has some unusual songs for my tastes, it also contains some of my’normal’ songs from LCD Soundsystem. New Pornographers, Phantogram, and Queens Of The Stone Age.

  2. I have a drinking playlist that I use and my classes love it. However, Jennifer’s point is spot on – you must know your group so you know they’ll take it in the right spirit. (ha ha – pun intended!) Years ago I had an ammunition playlist but for obvious reasons, that one got shelved. Great songs but given the current climate, inappropriate and insensitive. I’m also super careful about inappropriate lyrics and get the clean version of songs. I never play anything remotely religious or that can be associated with religious based holidays as I have a really great mix of beliefs and non beliefs in my classes. Bottom line – know your people. Playlists/songs should never offend. btw I adore these theme lists. I have been doing theme rides forever and your suggestions have added to my repertoire. Thanks.

  3. I have to say I was surprised to see this as a theme ride and even more surprised when I actually read the suggested narrative. It’s not April 1, so it must not be a joke, which I was hoping it was. I”m disappointed in ICA for publishing this one. Not all instructors know their riders well and this type of ride could be a total turn off for a rider who is in recovery, has loved ones in recovery or in general is turned off by the idea of riding to get buzzed, drunk or intoxicated, even if it is just pretend. If I was sitting in a class and this was presented as the ride I would walk out.

    1. HI Liz, thanks for your comment. I totally get it!

      Some years ago, we did an article on whether instructors should play Christian music. It was based on a discussion that was going on in one of the forums. That article has among the top 10 number of comments in all of our articles (in over 7 years) with some extremely passionate views on both sides. Some LOVE playing Christian music, others said they would run out of the class.

      In the FB group thread, it actually got mean!

      We also hear this every single Christmas.

      Me? I would probably run out of class if it were a “boy band” theme! 😉 (Not really…I’d hold my breath, though.)

      The point is, with almost every theme (except maybe puppies and Valentines!) you need to know your riders before doing one. And I would suggest, they need to know you and your humor and style.

      I would never do this profile if I didn’t have a very good relationship with my riders. I had one group last year who I would have dared do it, and another who I would not have.

      BTW, I have known Bill Pierce for almost 2 decades (since the early days of the online forums) and his humor has always been a huge part of who he is. It sure comes out in his classes, too. Knowing he himself doesn’t even drink much—and never one to do a pub crawl—makes me realize that he’s just having some fun here. At least, that’s my take. (I also know he gets to know his riders very well.)


      I have edited the copy to make this point more clear, so thank you again.

      1. Thank you for your reply and yes, knowing your students is really the point. I appreciate the changes you made emphasizing that. Some theme rides are a little easier to share than others. I understand that. I don’t know Bill Pierce personally, but I have followed his rides for many years on other forums and they are great rides that challenge riders and increase fitness. I’ve used several of them over the years. Thank you.

        1. Author

          Liz – Thanks for your understanding and courteous reply. You and Jennifer have handled this discussion gracefully. It’s really all about being sensitive to issues and knowing your riders. As a non-Christian, I’m sensitive to overtly religious holiday classes. I wrote an article about it several years ago for ICA. Yet, I annually do a secular holiday ride to enable me to provide gifts to my riders, many of whom don’t celebrate Christmas. I’m able to get away with it because I know them.

          I’m flattered that you’ve followed my rides in the past and greatly appreciative of your support for my profiles and the Indoor Cycling Association.

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