Theme Ride Thursday: April is International Guitar Month

Did you know that April is International Guitar Month? This article in My Guitar Lair magazine lists the 10 best ways to celebrate guitars this month; we think they are missing out on one very important and fun way to your indoor cycling class!

I mean, music is such an important part of what we do in our classes to keep our riders engaged and committed. According to this article in Scientific American magazine, when listening to music, people run farther, bike longer, and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it. As cycling instructors, we know that the guitar riffs in certain songs can help raise those endorphin levels of our riders as they lift their heads when their favorite rock-and-roll song comes on and a smile spreads across their face, often encouraging them to reach down to the resistance knob to turn it up harder! 

So here at ICA, we’ve put together two bucket playlists to help you assemble your dream guitar-based ride. One is filled with almost 150 of the most famous guitar licks by famous guitar players of all genres (though, admittedly, it’s heavy on rock, where the electric guitar shines). 

The second one contains great acoustic guitar tracks with over 220 songs. 

I have two guitar-centric profiles for you to use this month. The first one is called In Celebration of Guitars, a series of four working segments of fast flats to climbs. It’s heavy on rock and roll classics along with some more recent tracks.

The second one is called Three Long, Guitar-Powered Climbs, new this year (2024). For this ride, I chose longer classic rock songs (5–9 minutes) and used two tracks that I have always eyed from afar, but never attempted until now. The result is fantastic—don’t miss it! 

I have a group of riders that loves rock so these rides made them extremely happy—I hope you and your riders enjoy it as much as they did.

I don’t know about you, but I had a heck of a time trying to pick my favorite guitar songs for these profiles! The good news is that you can celebrate the entire month of April, so you can create more than one profile. And heck, why not pull these profiles out again six months from now…because no month is NOT guitar month in my indoor cycling book! 

Here are a few of my favorites…

Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin, 5:33, 92 bpm
Depending on what you read or who you ask, any one of maybe five or six Led Zeppelin songs could be considered the greatest guitar playing in all of rock and roll. “Stairway to Heaven” (83 rpm) might be at the top of that list. Perhaps, and I might play it once a year in April to celebrate guitar month, but “Whole Lotta Love” is one of the greatest songs for an indoor cycling class for when you need a driving fast-flat beat, in my humble opinion. Or how about “Rock and Roll” at 86 rpm—another of the best classic rock tracks for an indoor cycling class. That is, except for “Black Dog” (79 rpm) (which I use for the iconic Roller Coaster Ride, a mountain bike simulation and one of the most popular profiles on ICA). Oh wait, I meant “Immigrant Song” for a slow climb at 57 rpm. Oh my, did I forget “Kashmir” (83 rpm) at over 8 minutes long? (That track is featured in my second guitar profile listed above.) See? You can’t go wrong with a Led Zeppelin song for International Guitar Month, especially if you have classic rock fans (which usually means almost any rider over 50 years old. 

When Doves Cry, Prince, 5:52, 126 bpm
It’s hard to deny the impact of Prince’s guitar playing—and you have so many songs to choose from with great guitar segments. From the very first few strums of this famous riff, your riders will be thoroughly committed to a slow, hard climb. 

Don’t Fear the Reaper, Blue Oyster Cult, 5:08, 140 bpm
Great for a fast-paced climb at 70 rpm. I love 5-minute songs; you’ve got more time to focus and commit to digging in deep to get up the climb.

Ramblin’ Man, Allman Brothers, 4:48, 90 bpm
This iconic Southern rock song is perfect for your classic rock theme, a Southern rock theme, a guitar theme, or any class where you want to grab that fast tempo and ride a flat road in the saddle at a moderate intensity. It also works great as a warm-up for any profile. The guitar is featured throughout the song but takes center stage at around the 3-minute mark. The Allman Brothers feature in both of these bucket playlists below as they have numerous songs with incredible acoustic guitar.

Johnny B Good, Chuck Berry, 2:41, 85 bpm
A guitar-themed playlist would be incomplete without Chuck Berry. Use it for a hard interval at 85 rpm. The length is also perfect to use as a recovery song.

Norwegian Wood, The Beatles, 2:01, 177 bpm
Here is one of your recovery songs. Did you know how many acoustic guitar songs the Beatles have? I only discovered that fact while researching for this theme! 

Diablo Rojo, Rodrigo y Gabriela, 4:56, 136 bpm
Stunning acoustic guitar for a fabulous climb…that’s all I need to say!

You’ll find these seven songs in the bucket playlists below, along with almost 300 other fabulous guitar songs. In fact, it’s going to be hard to select only a few for your theme ride because all of them are so good…which means you might have to create two or three or ten different profiles! 

Additionally, you can find a few songs in our Wednesday Timeless Classics series with interesting guitar vibes here and here, and an iconic rock track here

What are your guitar favorites and what do you like to do to those songs? Let us know in the comments. If I don’t already have them, I’ll add them to these playlists.

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