Theme Ride Thursday: Get Ready to Ride into the Apocalypse!

The history of doomsday predictions is a mixed bag of comedy and cautionary tales. Despite all the forecasts about the world ending, it won’t surprise you to know that none of them have been accurate. But one thing they’re great for is humor! I love to make fun of apocalyptic prophecies with an end-of-the-world-themed indoor cycling class. 

It all started in my cycling classes in 2011 when Howard Camping, a religious broadcaster and nutjob, made a very specific prediction about Judgment Day (his THIRD prediction!). In the lead-up to that event, I knew I had to do something with it—so I turned it into a ride and it was a huge hit with my cycling students. (In fact, this was one of my first non-holiday theme rides, which led me to the realization that this theme-ride thing can be super fun—and my participants agreed!)

I continued the tradition in 2012 when the Mayan calendar supposedly predicted the end of the world. By that time, the world-ending claims were getting even more ridiculous, so it was the perfect time to have another themed ride. Again, my class loved it. They got to pedal hard while we laughed at the absurdity of it all.

In 2015, Lisa Piquette created an amusing cycling profile for ICA called “End of the World (AGAIN!)” to poke fun at yet another claim that the world was ending, this time on September 23. This ride—like all ICA rides—was based on solid training principles, but with a heavy dose of humor. 

Later in 2018, I pulled out that profile and added a bucket playlist with over 100 songs to choose from (now up to 230!). This way, you could use Lisa’s ride and switch out a few songs if desired or build your own playlist for a truly unique apocalyptic ride. (ICA members can access that bucket playlist below.)

Themed rides like this have always been entertaining, but I prefer to do them when there’s a specific date or event to focus on. That’s why I was thrilled to discover that there’s actually a National End of the World Day! Did you know that? It happens on May 21, one of the many dates Howard Camping predicted for his numerous apocalypses. This tongue-in-cheek celebration gives us the perfect excuse to bring back the end-of-the-world theme and share some trivia with our classes.

Doomsday predictions aren’t hard to find. In this RationalWiki collection, you’ll see a list of them dating back to the first century and continuing well into the end of this one. There are predictions involving asteroids, UFOs, World War III, the Illuminati, and even Norse mythology. The list of absurdities is endless. Lunar and solar eclipses often get caught in the mix, too. Of course, the most recent eclipse in April of 2024 got its fair share of apocalyptic buzz.

And mark your calendars—according to that list, there will be a Rapture on September 20, 2026…that means it will only be the end of earthly existence for one segment of the population!

It won’t surprise you to learn that some of the latest predictions involve Covid-19. Apparently, the vaccines were supposed to kill most of us back in 2023, and if you believe some of the conspiracy theories, we’ll be gone by the end of June 2024. 

But guess what? We’re still here, still pedaling, and still making fun of these predictions with our theme rides!

Below are some of the songs I recommend for your playlist—they’re perfect for keeping the energy up while we laugh our way through the absurdity of doomsday predictions: 

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine), R.E.M., 4:07, 103 bpm
Ride fast and hard to this song, a quintessential track for your doomsday ride! Another option is to start at a moderate intensity at 80–85 rpm and surge the legs to 103 rpm on the chorus, aiming for an intensity at or above threshold.

Waiting for the End of the World, Elvis Costello, 3:23, 114 bpm
This is a very slow cadence of 57 rpm. That’s fine if you aren’t riding with heavy resistance; make sure to give the option to pedal faster. You can choose to stand or surge the legs +5–10 rpm on the chorus.

Waiting for the End, Linkin Park, 3:52, 85 bpm
This song works well as a ramp, gradually adding resistance every minute or so from low Zone 3 (below moderate) to Zone 5 (very hard).

We Gotta Get Out of this Place, The Animals, 3:15, 124 bpm
Climb, standing on the chorus.

Apocalypse Please, Muse, 4:12, 163 bpm
This is a must-have track for your ride. How about sliding it in as your final working song for a seated hard effort at 82 rpm while he sings about the end of the world? Sounds like a perfect ending, no?

So, let’s gear up, get our legs moving, and remember: It’s only the end of the world if we stop cycling!

As usual, if you have any songs to add to our doomsday bucket playlist below, let me know!

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