Theme Ride Thursday: Celebrating World Techno Day in Your Cycling Studio

I bet you didn’t know there was a World Techno Day, did you?

As indoor cycling instructors, we understand the profound impact that music can have on our classes. It serves as the driving force behind every pedal stroke, helping our riders find motivation, rhythm, and a sense of purpose on their fitness journey. With World Techno Day just around the corner on December 9, it’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate the genre that has become synonymous with high-energy workouts and futuristic beats—electronic music. Let’s learn about the significance of World Techno Day and explore how you can create an unforgettable cycling experience with some iconic techno (and similar sub-genre) tracks. Then, make sure to follow our two bucket playlists below with over 1,200 electronic songs (broken down by bpm) to use in your profiles.

The Significance of World Techno Day

World Techno Day, celebrated annually on December 9, is a global observance dedicated to recognizing and appreciating the impact of techno music on the world. Techno music has evolved into a genre that transcends borders and cultures and has emerged as a powerful force in the world of fitness and exercise.

The driving beats, pulsating rhythms, and infectious energy of techno make it an ideal companion for indoor cycling classes. Not only does it help to elevate the intensity of the workout, it also adds an element of excitement and motivation that keeps your riders committed and coming back for more.

But what exactly is techno and where did it come from?

Techno music grew out of European electronic music from the 1970s and 1980s. Germany’s Kraftwerk is considered the godfather of techno, and groups such as Tangerine Dream were early influencers of the new style. These artists used electronic synthesizers and songs anchored around repetitive basslines and drumbeats.

However, many music historians claim that techno got its early start in Detroit, emerging from the disco DJs and funk bands of the Black club culture there. Many historians credit Detroit’s Juan Akins with the very first techno song, “No UFOs,” in 1985.

Techno Today: Masterclass’s Techno Music Guide describes today’s techno in this manner:

Today’s ravers dance to a wide array of electronic music. The same nightclub could mix techno into a playlist that includes dubstep, EDM, Chicago house, and breakbeat hardcore. As such, today’s techno music is slotted in among genres that influenced it and genres that grew from it. Techno spawned many subgenres including minimal techno, ambient techno, hardcore techno, industrial techno, intelligent dance music (IDM), Detroit techno, trance, deep techno, and tech house. From these subgenres came offshoots like acid house, rave, electronica, and EDM.

Characteristics of Techno (also from the Techno Music Guide):

  1. Early synthesizers and drum machines: Techno music is created with electronic instruments, and most techno producers show an affinity for vintage synths. These include the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines, the Roland TB-303 bassline generator, the Yamaha DX7 keyboard, and the Korg SQD1 sequencer.
  2. Repetitive, danceable beats: The overwhelming majority of techno music is in 4/4 time and played at a tempo ranging from 120 beats per minute (bpm) to 150 bpm.
  3. Compositional technique based on looping: Most techno songs are derived from a looping bassline and drumbeat, over which a producer may add synth pads, diatonic melodies, or samples. Often, techno songs are improvised in a live setting and vary from one performance to the next.

Those characteristics are what make this style of music ideal for the indoor cycling studio. If you ride to the beat, that 120–150 bpm range is perfect for use in your climbs of 60–75 rpm. Because the downbeat of electronic music is so pronounced, I find it hard not to ride on the beat, although I can dissociate from the beat if necessary and occasionally ask for that in my profiles (depending on how I use a song).

Let’s look at a few classic electronic songs that could be labeled techno or one of the sub-genres listed above.

Sandstorm, Darude, 7:23, 136 bpm
“Sandstorm” is a track that you either love or you hate—there doesn’t seem to be anything in between. In fact, this song can be a running joke on some of the indoor cycling forums on Facebook, a battle between the lovers and haters of it! But no matter on which side you fall, one thing is for sure, this anthem of indoor cycling studios around the world is imbued with infectious energy and upbeat tempo, making it an excellent choice for an intense cycling segment at 68 rpm. (For the record, I’m a lover of this track—that energy and building anticipation is too amazing to ignore—although I try not to use it often. I plan on pulling it out again on World Techno Day!)

The long version gives a perfect amount of recovery in the middle. At 3:42, as the beat drops away, you ask your riders to ease up and gather their energy for the next big effort. The beat starts building back at 4:00 but doesn’t take off at full tilt until 5:00 when you can slam on the resistance, stand up, and drive hard. The 20 seconds prior to that moment help to build excitement and anticipation in such a way that you can feel the adrenaline in the body surging, chomping at the bit, ready to rise out of the saddle. There is a shorter version of this song that is 3:46; the “recovery” in this version is at 1:26 and is just over a minute long.

Don’t You Worry Child, Swedish House Mafia, 6:43, 128 bpm
Like many other songs of this genre, there are ebbs and flows to the energy, allowing for intervals within the track itself.

Born Slippy, Underworld, 5:21, 140 bpm
“Born Slippy” became famous from the movie Trainspotting in 1995. It fused together the sounds of techno, electro, drum & bass, dub, and trance, incorporating all the strengths of the UK scene. Its hard-hitting beat has secured “Born Slippy” as a classic, echoing through the basements of many a student house and in the streets on a summer’s day. (From Technomood, Technos 20 Most Influential Tracks of All Time.)

Wake Me Up, Avicii, 4:07, 124
As described in the “Techno Today” segment above, many sub-genres of electronic music emerged from the original techno. This track is a perfect example of genre-bending by creative DJs. Avicii (né Tim Bergling in Sweden in 1989) was one of the most creative and influential producers of all time. “Wake Me Up” is a fusion of traditional house music and bluegrass and reached #1 in charts in over 60 countries. The world lost a musical genius when he tragically passed away in 2018.

A treasure trove of electronic tracks to use in your cycling classes. 
I’ve been curating songs for cycling on Spotify for almost a decade now. In this post you will find 10 separate bucket playlists that are broken down by tempo and genre, ranging from 55–69 rpm, 70–79 rpm, etc., on up to 100 rpm and over. There are thousands of songs, already categorized for you. This will make it easier to search for tracks of a specific tempo range (for a certain rpm) for your profiles. I further divide them by electronic music in one and all other genres in the other (pop, rock, indie, hip-hop, etc.).

Of those 10 playlists, two of them are electronic genres that fall into the tempo range of 120 to 150 bpm, making them excellent sources for your electronic music searches. I say “electronic” instead of “techno” because they will contain every sub-genre listed above, and not just techno. I’ve posted these two bucket playlists below.

Access to these bucket playlists is one of the perks of being an ICA member. That’s thousands of songs right at your fingertips, tracks that would take you hundreds of hours to curate and categorize…but I’ve done that for you! If you don’t use Spotify to teach with, you can still benefit—simply get yourself a free Spotify account and follow ICA playlists like the one below. You can still refer to them to listen to these tracks and then find them on your music source of preference.

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