It’s that time of the year again, when snowy, icy weather occasionally forces us to stay inside. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean you have to wait out the season to get back on a bike—there’s always indoor cycling. Make the best of it by livening up your rides with a motivational mix in your ears. Here, Bicycling staffers share their favorite albums, playlists, podcasts, books, and other tips for making room-temp rides much more fun.

Fire Up a Good Audiobook

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—Pavlína Černá, Newsletters Editor

I love to read—anywhere and anytime. Indoor spinning may strip me of beautiful views of passing landscapes, but at the same time, it provides the perfect opportunity for reading. And let me get one thing straight: No matter what anyone tells you, audiobooks count! I find non-fiction books are especially easier to get through when they’re spoken—I like anything by Malcolm Gladwell or Brené Brown. If I want to just enjoy a great novel, I opt for any book I haven’t listened to or read yet by Fredrik Backman. His storytelling often makes me forget that I’m actually still pedaling.

Feel the Beat

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—Dan Chabanov, Test Editor

I’m not actually a huge fan of electronic music, but the Nero Essential Mix on Soundcloud from a dozen years ago has gotten me through countless tough indoor workouts and Zwift races. It starts with a bit of dubstep, followed by a French electro house section that’s a bit of everything, and then finishes with a final bit of dubstep. There’s an intro on this mix from the original radio broadcast on BBC Radio 1, so if you want to skip right to the music, just start it at the 2:15 mark.

Tune In and Chill Out

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—Theo Kahler, Membership Editor

I like to listen to full albums when I’m indoors because being stuck in the same place allows me to concentrate and get the full experience. Lately, I’ve been listening to some newer stuff ($oul $old $eparately by Freddie Gibbs), or older favorites that are best listened to in order (Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming by M83).

I’m also a fan of throwing on a Tiny Desk Concert. They’re often stripped-down performances of popular songs, since the artists are literally confined to playing at a tiny desk in NPR’s office. The songs aren’t generally high BPM or designed to get you amped up, but I think it’s important to sit back and relax on a ride sometimes. Not everything needs to be about adrenaline and distraction. BADBADNOTGOOD, Mac Miller, and the Avett Brothers are three of my favorites to pedal to.

Follow Your Mood

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—Colin McSherry, Senior Art Director

For slower days when I just want to spin, I listen to Lore and Noble Blood, both podcasts about dark history, mysteries, and the supernatural. For intense days of short and hard (under an hour) workouts, I use very fast-paced music. I don’t have specific playlists, but mostly what could be referred to as hard rock, punk, and metal. Some bands, in no particular order, would be the Oh Sees, Bad Brains, Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Rage Against the Machine, and Deftones. Then there are days that start out hard, but I don’t find I have the stuff, so I reset goals and switch up to something pop or hip hop and just go with the rhythm.

Enjoy the Silence (or Some Indie)

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—Lou Mazzante, Senior Features Director

Even when I ride inside, I like listening to the same elemental sounds you can hear while outdoors on the road or trails: the chain spinning across the cassette or shifting between gears, creaks and pops from the bottom bracket when you stand on a 12 percent grade, and my breathing and gasps. It connects me to the ride and the effort in a way that keeps it real. I’ll put on music, but always through a speaker and on low, to not distract from the sounds I most want to hear. I usually go with something melodic and upbeat. Lately it’s been a lot of Anderson .Paak. For rides less than an hour, the Built to Spill Essentials playlist on Apple Music is nice. Listening to Dinosaur Jr., a band I’ve loved for more than 30 years now, always feels right—familiar and comfortable, like putting on your favorite jersey or shoes for a big ride. I often go with their newer stuff from Beyond, Farm, and Sweep Into Space. Plus, the band’s J Mascis says he rode almost 5,000 miles in 2021, which makes me like listening to them even more.

Play Your Favorite Podcasts

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—Tara Seplavy, Deputy Editor

Admittedly, riding on the trainer is drudgery for me. It’s one of the things I least look forward to, but I know it’s needed so I can maintain some semblance of fitness through the cold, dark winter months. For short trainer rides, my preference for fast punk and indie music helps to punch rides out quickly and maximize my time. For slower-paced or recovery trainer rides, I tend to target podcasts in the 60- to 90-minute range. These are some of my go-to podcasts:

Here are a few favorite Spotify music playlists that I listen to regularly: