Riding Solo: A Strength-Building Pyramid Ride

You can feel like a hero after this ride—strong and powerful!

Some days you want to feel like a hero, like you’ve climbed a mountain (on a bike) and reached the top, feeling victorious. This ride will simulate that experience. It’s a pyramid ride, meaning that all the gear changes are positive (as in: heavier) for the first part of the workout; then, you’ll linger at the top, before making your way down the other side. Along the way, you’ll build strength, stamina, and cardiovascular endurance.

It’s a challenging ride but it keeps things interesting by varying the pace, body position, and resistance levels within the strength-building zone. (If you get to the point where you're pushing so much resistance that you can’t keep your RPMs above 45 or 50, drop a gear to protect your knees.) Step one: Create a playlist with the songs that follow. Have a towel handy (because you will sweat a lot!) and a large water bottle to keep you well hydrated during the workout. Then, get ready to ride and conquer!

Song:  Budapest, George Ezra

What to Do: Warm up. With your hands on the back of the handlebars, sit and pedal with light resistance at a steady pace for 1½ minutes. Transfer the work to your right leg for 30 seconds, then switch it to your left leg for 30 seconds. Engage both legs again.

Duration: 3¼ minutes           Speed (RPM): 80-100          Difficulty (RPE):  4-5

Song:  I Need to Know, Marc Anthony

What to Do: Add enough resistance to support you in a standing position, and bring yourself to a standing jog with your hands in position 2. 

Duration: 3¾ minutes           Speed (RPM): 60-80             Difficulty (RPE): 5-6

Song: Songs I Can’t Listen To, Neon Trees

What to Do: Add a little more resistance so you feel like you’re above a flat road (but not quite on a hill) and pedal quickly for 1½ minutes.

Stand up and maintain your pace with your hands in position 2 for 30 seconds. Sit down and continue the fast, steady pace for the last 1¼ minutes.

Duration: 3¼ minutes           Speed (RPM):  70-80            Difficulty (RPE):  7

Song: The Boys of Summer, DJ Sammy

What to Do: Add a little more resistance, find a quick baseline pace, and pedal steadily for 30 seconds. Do a speed interval, pushing your pace to 110 RPMs for 30 seconds. Slow down to the baseline pace for 30 seconds and repeat this pattern all the way through the song.

Duration: 5 minutes  Speed (RPM):  70-80/110    Difficulty (RPE):  8

Songs: Can’t Hold Us, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis; Let’s Go Crazy, Prince

What to Do: Add moderately heavy resistance and do a seated climb for 45 seconds. Stand up with hands in position 3, add resistance and make it a heavy standing climb for 45 seconds. Bust through the resistance by adding 10 RPMs or two pedal strokes for the next 30 seconds. Lower the resistance to just above a flat road and recover for 30 seconds.

Then, repeat the pattern through both songs making each pass through the circuit more challenging.

Duration: 9 minutes    Speed (RPM):  50+             Difficulty (RPE):  7-9

Song: Freak, Kelly Rowland

What to Do: Add medium-heavy resistance and pedal in a seated position, adding resistance every 30 seconds. When you get to the point where you can’t take any more resistance in the saddle, bring yourself up to a standing climb (hands in position 3) and stay there for the rest of the song; continue adding resistance every 30 seconds until you reach the top.

Duration: 4½ minutes           Speed (RPM):  45+ Difficulty (RPE):  8-10

Song: Left Hand Free, Alt-J

What to Do: Drop a considerable amount resistance but stay on a moderate hill and pedal while seated for 30 seconds; then, stand and pedal with hands in position 3 for 30 seconds; bring your body upright (hands to position 2) for 30 seconds. Sit and repeat.

Duration:  3 minutes    Speed (RPM):  60-80    Difficulty (RPE):  6-7

Song: Night of Your Life, David Guetta & Jennifer Hudson  

What to Do: Drop some more resistance so that you’re just above a flat road. Find a quick baseline pace and pedal steadily for 30 seconds. Do a 25-second speed interval, pedaling as fast as you can. Slow down for 30 seconds and repeat the pattern until the end of the song.

Duration:  3¾ minutes    Speed (RPM):  70-80/110    Difficulty (RPE):  6-7

Song: Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, Spin Doctors  

What to Do: Start with light resistance (just above a flat road) and a pace that’s comfortable for you; lock it in. After 30 seconds, add a small amount of resistance and keep your pace steady; add a bit more resistance after another 30 seconds while maintaining your pace. Bring yourself to a standing climb (hands in position 3) and stay steady for 30 seconds. Have a seat, take some resistance off, and maintain your pace for 30 seconds. Repeat the sequence.

Duration:  3¾ minutes    Speed (RPM):  60-80    Difficulty (RPE):  5-6

Song: Ordinary Love, U2    

What to Do: Bring your resistance down to a flat road and pedal steadily for 1 minute. Then, shake out your legs by picking up your pace (lifting from the knees as they come around) for 30 seconds. Return to the original pace and sit up tall in the saddle: Take some big, deep breaths, and do a series of upper body stretches, followed by lower body stretches off the bike.

Duration:  3¾ minutes    Speed (RPM):  60-80    Difficulty (RPE):  4-5

Congratulations! You are officially stronger.

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