One of the most exhilarating ways to spice up your cycling class is to embark on an epic theme ride about hitting the road. The beauty of riding a bike that goes nowhere is that, through your playlist and coaching, you can transport participants to exciting destinations. Today, we’ll explore the thrill of the open road and the feeling of driving across the country (or the world). So, buckle up, pedal hard, and let the journey begin!
If you know me by now, you know I like to find an excuse for many of my theme rides. I find I get quite a giggle out of my riders when I announce that we are riding to honor the International Day of Happiness, for example. But honestly, you never need an excuse to have fun, amiright? However, just in case you want an excuse for a theme ride about hitting the road, July 24 is National Motoring Day here in the United States. You can be excused if you’ve never heard of it before as it’s only been around a few years…here is the excerpt from the National Today website:
The National Day of Motoring, celebrated every July 24, is an initiative led by MINI U.S.A. to encourage the public to take their cars on the road and explore the world. Starting in 2021, one of the goals is to celebrate the road trip as a tradition that has defined American culture. While the event is directed mainly at Mini owners, it can also be celebrated by any car owner who has a penchant for the open road and a sense of adventure.
Susan Lafond has assembled a creative theme ride called Adventure Ride on Wheels, Wings, and Waves, a profile that transports you to new horizons, inspiring a sense of adventure and discovery while experiencing different methods of transportation, including a couple of more exotic ones. Explore the freedom of the open road in a car, drive through city streets in a taxi, and travel over golden sands in a chariot. Climb aboard a train, soar through the skies in a plane, feel the wind in your hair on a motorbike, sail across the rough sea in a boat, and embrace the allure of a horseback ride. You’ll even get whisked away on a magic carpet ride for a long culminating interval that will be sure to challenge riders of all levels and experience. Scroll down to find this profile (PDF and Excel) and Spotify playlist below.
There are many musical directions (pun intended) you can take on your indoor open-road ride. I’ve got ten (yes, ten!) different bucket playlists from destinations to directions to means of travel to songs about highways for you to peruse for that perfect song. Scroll down below Susan’s profile and playlist to find the following Spotify bucket playlists to populate your own creative ride:
- CARS/ROAD TRIPS/DRIVING/HIGHWAYS (~325 songs) This playlist includes songs about specific cars, which would make its own fun theme ride, especially for the automobile aficionados amongst your riders!
- SONGS ABOUT ROADS & HIGHWAYS (105 songs) Several years ago I was looking for a specific collection of songs only about roads and highways, so I separated them out from the larger playlist above—now it’s easier to peruse.
- CARS/MOTORCYCLE SOUNDS (45 songs) Very specific, when you need songs with engine sounds or the perfect sound bite!
- TRAINS (>100 songs)
- TRAVEL / TRAIN / BOAT SOUND EFFECTS (28 songs) More sound effects that liven up your profiles.
- CITY / CITIES IN THE UNITED STATES (>315 songs) Driving across the United States, making some stops in specific cities? Have fun with this one (and the next one)!
- STATES IN THE UNITED STATES (~270 songs)
- CITIES AROUND THE WORLD (~200 songs) Prefer to take your class on an around-the-world journey? Use this one and the next one.
- DIRECTION (NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST) (120 songs) This is another one that could be its very own theme, or sprinkle a few changes of direction in your open-road ride.
Note for those who don’t use Spotify: You can still benefit from these bucket playlists if you have a free Spotify account. Maybe you can’t teach from it, but you can still use these collections as resources for ideas for your theme rides. Simply follow these playlists, then find the songs you like and search for them in your streaming service of choice.
Let’s look at a couple of fun song choices for your open-road ride.
Hit the Road Jack, Ray Charles, 1:59, 87 bpm
There are many remixes and covers of this track, but the original by Ray Charles is so special and will give you a nostalgic version of the adrenaline rush of a road trip. Put this song early in your playlist as you decide to “hit the road” (even if it’s a spurned lover sending you there!). At 87 rpm, it’s perfect for a flat road effort at a wide range of intensities; its short length makes it ideal for a recovery song.
Born to be Wild, Steppenwolf, 3:32, 143
Get your motor running with this iconic anthem and unleash your inner wanderlust, channeling the freedom and excitement of a cross-country adventure. This one will take you uphill at a spicy 72 rpm.
Life is a Highway, Tom Cochrane, 4:26, 103 rpm
This song perfectly encapsulates the essence of a road trip. Take your class through the highs and lows of various terrains, mimicking the ups and downs of an epic cross-country drive. Either pedal at 103 rpm the whole song or start below the beat and surge the legs on the chorus to grab the beat.
Route 66, Chuck Berry, 2:51, 158 bpm
Known as the “Main Street of America,” Route 66 is an iconic highway that represents the quintessential American road trip experience. The lyrics describe traversing the country through the cities that line this famous highway. There are many covers to choose from, including by The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty (live), Natalie Cole (cool-down, post-class), and my favorite, The Beatmaster Mix by Depeche Mode, a fabulous 6-minute climbing version at 133 bpm.
Autobahn, R. Huner, F. Schneider, 3:38, 84 bpm
At 84 rpm, it’s perfect for a warm-up. Use this one if your road trip takes you across different nations—in this case, exploring the famous highway system in Germany that has no speed limit. The song begins with a car starting and is sprinkled throughout with occasional German lyrics about driving on the autobahn.
The Race, Yello, 8:09, 122 bpm
No automobile-themed cycling class would be complete without the pulsating beats of “The Race” by Yello. I also love using this song in any racing profile, even for a Tour de France stage. As the electronic rhythms fill the studio, you’ll find yourself in the midst of a high-speed race, pushing your limits and surpassing your own expectations. (There is also a shorter version of this track at 3:20.)
A travel-oriented theme ride can provide an extraordinary escape from the mundane and allow you to experience the excitement of the open road and the thrill of a cross-country journey. Let us know in the comments if you’ve done one of these fun theme rides before or if we’ve inspired you to try Susan’s profile, one of our previous open-road rides, or if you are excited to dive into the many bucket playlists below!
Also, as usual, help me round out these profiles with songs I might have missed.