4 Ways Technology Benefits Your Cycling Training

October 16, 2014

Cycle Ops PowerTap CPU head for Pro/ProUsing technology in your training benefits you in many ways: you can learn faster; get visibility to your training program and progress; quantify your work; and learn from your success.  What are some common and not so common ways to use technology to optimize sports performance?

Heart rate Training – Heart rate training has been viewed in many ways over the years, from very precise to not so precise. Now, a growing number of coaches and exercise physiologists support the use of heart rates as an important part of biological feedback, as heart rates are a direct reflection of what is happening internally.  The post, The Variables and Trends of Heart Rate Training,  walks you through the steps of learning your “threshold” heart rate range, setting up heart rate training zones, and identifying the daily variables that affect heart rate.  A heart rate monitor can be a great bio feedback tool and also help you to monitor your fitness, prevent overtraining, and take your performance to the next level.

Apps – Over the past year connected fitness devices — activity trackers and sensor-laden wearables — have consistently made headlines.  There are countless devices that connect back to companion smartphone apps and online dashboards enabling visibility, analysis, and planning for better training and performance.  To get an idea of what is available, check out two of our favorite posts including Apple’s picks for top 42 iPhone fitness apps and Top 5 Apps for Cyclists for Off-Season Fitness Gains.

Bike Fit – Leg strength, endurance, and fitness are at the heart of cycling speed, but without a proper bike fit, you are sabotaging your training efforts.  In a sport based on such a highly repetitive action, like pedaling, the first line of defense against injury is a proper bike fit.  A bike fit doesn’t simply consist of setting saddle height and bar reach. In today’s market, bike brands are designing some top-end rides for us to enjoy, but with these bikes come different geometries.  As such, it’s critical to dial in the fit and confirm you have the right bike parts for your optimal performance.

CompressionMedical compression stockings have been used to treat poor blood flow for many years.  Recently, the technology has been made available to cyclist of all levels.  While the many claim it is difficult to prove that an immediate performance gain from wearing compression garments, many do claim that it lowers perceived muscle soreness the day after a big day on the bike and they can reduce the swelling of legs after prolonged sitting.

There are countless more ways technology can aid in cycling training ranging from power training, cycling software, DVD’s, CompuTrainers, to nutrition and other bio feedback tools.  The main goal of them all is to assist you in dialing in your training to optimize your performance as it relates to your goals and objectives.  Need help figuring out which one is best for you?  Visit us at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado or ask us on Twitter.


Battle of the Bulge: Weight Control in the Offseason

October 9, 2014

image credit: Fox news

As the cycling season draws to an end, many cyclist find themselves at their goal weight or race weight.  It feels great, doesn’t it?

There’s ease in choosing the right foods, maintaining portion sizes, and eating a few treats here and there doesn’t seem like a big deal.  Yet, for many, the transition to the Fall and Winter season means exercise volume decreases not only in sport but in life as well. There are fewer long rides, no lawns to mow and less walking about outside.

Combined with that, daylight hours decrease and it gets colder which leaves most of us less motivated and reaching for more processed, lower nutrient foods, eating bigger portion sizes; and as a result, we gain wait. Ugh! The dreaded Winter weight gain!  It warrants the question, Do Weather Changes Warrant Nutrition Changes?  Do hormones play a role? Experts say that cold weather increases the appetite for foods that warm the body quickly, like sugars and carbohydrates. Cold salads are less appealing. Creamy clam chowder and buttered cornbread is a much more pleasing choice when it’s chilly out.

But managing your weight in the off season isn’t a lost cause!  The post, 10 Ways to Manage Offseason Weight Control, offers suggestions to keep the pounds off.  Suggestions include easy options, as in, writing your food down in a food journal; consider the timing of your meals and intake; and limiting calories on easier exercise days.  As we’ve written previously, there are apps for cyclist to manage off-season gains.  Which ones are our favorites?  The Lose it app.  Lose It! allows users get a customized weight loss plan and then use the app to track food, measure activity levels, and connect with peers for group support to reach their goals. The bonus is that it can sync up with most of the popular fitness tracking devices and wireless scales on the market. It also has a large food database for easy reference. Best part – it’s free!

And Winter riding can be equally as fun as Summer riding given you have the right cycling apparel, you know how to dress for winter riding, and you have the right bike parts in your winter toolkit.  And while the trails may be covered in snow and the roads less scenic than the Summertime, have no fear of the trainer.   Don’t be a hater! There are means to overcoming trainer woes to keep activity up.

Just as much as the Spring cycling season inspires us to get in shape, tackle new challenges, and reach new cycling heights, the Fall season can inspire us too. Discovering new ways to nurture our bodies, maintain the gains we’ve made during the season, and re-energize for the season ahead.  With a little mindfulness, battling the Winter bulge doesn’t have to be such an effort.


12 Signs Your Are Overtraining and What to Do About It

October 2, 2014

IMG_4888Are you overtraining? Is there a way to tell when you are over-reaching versus over training?

Actually, there is!  There are three stages of overtraining and each stage is defined by certain levels of fatigue and recovery time.  But in a nutshell, there are symptoms cyclists can experience when they over-train.

- get a washed-out feeling
– feel tired
– get grumpy and experience sudden mood swings
– become irrational
– feel a lack of energy for other activities
– suffer from depression
– have a decreased appetite
– get headaches
– get an increased incidence of injuries
– have trouble sleeping
– feel a loss of enthusiasm for the sport
– experience a sudden drop in performance

What can you do about it?  First, there is the recognition that training for cycling events takes some serious dedication.  As a result, some cyclists are often tempted to exercise longer and harder so they can improve rapidly. They are motivated to get faster and stronger but without adequate rest and recovery.  Compounding this, most of us are juggling family commitments, a job, and trying to fit in some social activities. It just isn’t possible to keep balancing all these things.

Begin by asking yourself, Do You Know the Right Way to Train?  Having a strategic approach and structured training means every workout has a purpose.  Every step, pedal and stroke is being performed with the confidence it’s the right thing to do and performed the right way.  The post, The Right Way to Train,  shares four essential components of deliberate practice. Having a plan puts parameters on training so that you actually recover and avoid over training in the first place.  A component of having a plan is having the right bike parts, cycling accessories, and nutritional components in place to support your efforts.  All of these are functional structures that support the full training cycle.

You may also consider slowing down.  As the season changes, there are ways to make the most of Fall season training.  As the post, Smart Ways to Stop Sabotaging Your Late Season Training suggests, switch gears and include strength training and yoga.  Or, better yet, since daylight is short, opt for night rides which add a fresh approach to riding while also reducing intensity.

Ultimately, the best way to identify if you are over training is by listening to your body.  Remember, cycling and training is supposed to be fun! Enjoyable and refreshing!  Use the changes of the season to renew your body and spirit.


Smart Ways to Stop Sabotaging Your Late Season Training

September 25, 2014

www.bikeparts.com There’s a saying in the cycling world, “the off season is where you can make the greatest gains” and at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we couldn’t agree more. The off season is a time when cyclist can work on  weaknesses without having to worry about performance in upcoming group rides and races.   However, there are ways to sabotage the gains.

According to the post, 10 Things Endurance Athletes Need to Stop Doing, cyclist should stop ignoring recovery, stop doing other athlete’s workouts, stop ignoring your diet and your weight and stop ignoring technology in your workouts.  Another saboteur are headphones.  The post, Seven Reasons to Take Off Your Headphones, questions if listening to music while training actually helps or hinders results.  Unfortunately, knowing what not to do is only half the battle.  The other half is knowing what to do.

Making the most of fall season training is about keeping it fresh, trying something new, and also, targeting some fitness goals. You can start to make gains by focusing on recovery after your workouts.  When you think about it, training is all about stressing your body with hard workouts, and then letting your body adapt to that load. If you do not allow your body to recover and adapt to the training load you’ve imposed on it, you simply will not be able to train and stress your body as hard the next workout.  While many riders understand that recovery between workouts is key to building fitness, recovery is also a commonly overlooked injury prevention tool. Recovery, defined as stretching, hydrating, and resting, are traditional tools used by athletes.  Some opt for compression gear, as in socks or tights, which are designed to improve recovery and aid in overall sports performance.  Late season is a great time to test out new products and evaluate how your body responds.

Building on that – don’t let the hard work you’ve gained this year fall by the wayside!  As your training volume and intensity declines, it’s a good idea to begin paying attention to your nutrition and weight.  As noted in our post, Top 5 Apps for Cyclists for Off-Season Fitness Gains, managing your training and nutrition in the off-season can be manageable and can mean the difference between winning and losing during the 2015 cycling season.

Other suggestions for late season gains include strength training and yoga.  Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists Matters. Since you are only as strong as your weakest link, the stronger system you build as a whole, the more potential you have for cycling specific gains.  And there’s a lot to be said for yoga.  Cyclists need to focus on leg strength, which many poses in yoga target, but they also need to focus on flexibility and lower back strength.  All key elements in extending the fitness gains you’ve made through the current year.

Finally, keep it fresh and fun. The Fall season can be a great opportunity to get new bike parts.  During the season, the focus is on riding; whereas during the Fall, there’s more time for mental wanderings and fun! Check out our daily closeouts and overstock items to spark renewed interest in your cycling program.


Are You a Left Brained or Right Brained Cyclist? 

September 18, 2014

Cycling Motivation at BikeParts.com

Motivation is the foundation all athletic effort and accomplishment. Without your desire and determination to improve your sports performance, all of the other mental factors, confidence, intensity, focus, and emotions, are meaningless.

To become the best athlete you can be, you must be motivated to do what it takes to maximize your ability and achieve your goals.  The key question here is what keeps you motivated month after month? Through each season?  And, year after year?

The post, MotivationUsing the left or right brain, offers some insights as to how brain function plays a critical role in cycling motivation.  As a brief reminder, most people have tendencies which lean toward exhibiting more “left brain” or “right brain” characteristics. You’ve undoubtedly heard of the differences between the two.

Left brain characteristics:
– linear
– logical
– analytical
– serious
– organized

Right brain characteristics:
– holistic
– intuitive
– creative
– fun-loving
– socially adept

One isn’t necessarily better or worse than the other; they both have their functions.  But, as this relates to cycling, training, and fitness, it plays a different role. So if you think you are left brained, what are ways to motivate yourself for riding?  If data and analytical conversations get you excited , then you need to motivate yourself by the potential numbers to be worked and gained within a workout. This also means to focus on potential elevation gain, distance to be covered, or how many complete intervals you think you can achieve.  Focusing on analytical data as in, learning the right way to train or making proper goal setting a priority can help dial in motivation.  Another way to use your logical mind for motivation is to research bike parts, bike geometry and test ride cycling accessories to see how it impacts your ride.

On the flip side, if you are a right brained cyclist, consider a holistic approach to your experience.  As in, focus on the journey and what you may experience on each ride. Consider multiple options for routes that will allow you to experience the views of the season, then which route best suits the workout. On any day, think about what the feel of the workout will bring, with breathing, the rhythms, and how enjoyable that is. Grasp this and use it to your advantage, because visualization and feel is your main motivation.  Visualization can take place off the bike too. Yoga for cyclist and year round strength training and visualizations of a stronger and fitter body can aid in the motivation experience.

Ultimately, what it boils down to is that whether you approach your motivation for cycling from a left or right brained perspective, what matters is that you are having fun and engaged.  Motivation is easy to maintain when you are experiencing the rewards of your cycling and training experiences.


How the Fall Season Can Help You  Manage Over Reaching and Over Training 

September 11, 2014

bikeparts.com

At the beginning of the race season, enthusiasm and energy is high!  About the mid-season point, accumulated season fatigue catches up with most racers. Recovery rate from workouts and from races slows down and finally, by the end of the season, some find their motivation waning.  Oftentimes, throughout the season, cyclist find themselves over reaching and over training in their training.  What is the difference between the two and how can the Fall season help?

The term over-reaching was adopted by exercise scientists to describe the short-term overload that can be managed within a few days. However, over-reaching can develop into over-training (from which it can be more difficult to recover) if the athlete does not mitigate the factors that caused the over-reaching or fails to allocate proper recovery time.  The symptoms of the overtraining syndrome are difficult to define since there can be many and they are seldom exactly the same in any two overtrained athletes. According to Joe Friel,  physiologically, the only ones that are common are poor performance and fatigue.  However, there are a few other indicators.  The symptoms of overtraining are many and include the lack of motivation to race and train, inability to complete most workouts due to fatigue, loss in power, and general overall irritability.

So, How Long Does it Take to Recover From Overtraining? “Most athletes will recover from overtraining syndrome within 4-6 weeks up to 2-3 months. This will all depend on a few factors such as how overtrained you really are, genetics, and age. Determining how overtrained you are can only be answered by the amount of time it takes you to recover.”

The Fall season can be an opportunity to rest and recharge while still maintaining fitness on the bike.  The post, How Cyclists Can Manage the Fall Season, shares that this time of year can be very beneficial in letting you recharge the batteries and gain some mental freshness. Right now you’re setting the stage for your mental acuity going into next season. Ignoring mental fatigue right now can actually end up being detrimental to your coming season.

Also, as mentioned in our previous post, The 10 Essentials of Fall Cycling, having access to resources, tips, and a supportive environment makes it easier to enjoy all the benefits cycling has to offer.  Knowing where your body is as it relates to your training cycle, motivation, and energy levels can make a difference.  The Fall season can be a great opportunity to get new bike parts.  During the season, the focus is on riding; whereas during the Fall, there’s more time for mental wanderings and fun! Check out our daily closeouts and overstock items to spark renewed interest in your cycling program.

All and all, whether you have pushed your limits to the max or not, rest and a reduction in training volume is the only cure to getting back into the groove when it domes to motivation and excitement for training.  Use the Fall season to transition into a better 2015 cycling season.


The 10 Essentials for Fall Cycling

September 4, 2014

fall leavesAs we transition from Summer to Fall, the Colorado mountain colors explode into a vibrant mix of autumn hues. What better way to enjoy the brisk temperatures and vibrant colors of the leaves turning than from the view of mountain bike or road bike? The added bonus is maintaining fitness through the fall and even building it well into the winter months.  Yet to make the transition from Summer to Fall to Winter riding safely, it’s wise to make sure that your bike is working and that you have the proper cycling apparel to keep you warm and also motivated to ride in the cooler temps.

At Peak Cycles Bicycle shop, we recommend getting a tune-up, having a set of reliable lights and wearing the right bike clothing. Frequently we’re asked what are the essential cycling apparel to have on hand. Here’s our list:

1. Wind Vest – The wind vest is one of the most used pieces of cool weather gear. It keeps your core body protected from frontal winds, but vents in the rear to keep you from overheating. The wind vest is also very versatile and can be added to different clothing combinations, using it with regular jerseys, winter jerseys, and arm warmers. It’s also easily stowed in a pack or shirt pocket.
2. Wind / Rain Jacket – It’s always a good idea to keep a water resistant jacket handy when rain is in the forecast.
3. Arm Warmers – Arm warmers are a must during the Fall season.  While they don’t take up much room, they are great for temperature control.
4. Full Finger / Windproof Gloves – When riding in cooler temps, one of the first things to freeze is the fingers. Protect your hands with full fingerers and / or windproof gloves.
5. Knickers, Knee Warmers, and Pants – As the temperatures drop, it’s a good idea to cover your knees. Many cyclist prefer tights whereas others prefer leg warmers.  There are also knickers which allow more airflow over the legs, and they are good for those in-between days. Consider trying out each option and experiment to dial in your preference.
6. Head Band or Skull Cap – The vents in your helmet that are such an asset during the summer months become a major liability when the temperatures begin to drop. To prevent from losing heat from your scalp, be sure to wear a thin skullcap or headband under the helmet
7. Wool Socks – Keeping your feet dry and warm can be a challenge in the cold weather, but nice wool socks are your best bet.
8. Shoe Covers – Shoe covers, also known as booties, cover the exterior of your shoes and protect from cold and wind.  There are several options: some that cover just the toes and others that encompass the entire foot. Toe covers are great for Fall but as you transition to Winter riding, you may wish for a pair that covers your entire foot.
9. Lights – Within a month, the days will be much shorter! Plan ahead and get your lights ready. Get a red blinker for the rear that mounts to the bike or your pack, and a decent headlight for the front.
10. Tool kit – The bicycle tools needed to have on hand in inclement weather matter.  Discover what the best bike parts for fall commuting  and build a tool kit that meets your needs.

Why is all this important?  Because having access to resources, tips, and a supportive environment makes it easier to enjoy all the benefits cycling has to offer.  It gets you outside – on the bike and riding!  Whether you are enjoying the vibrant mix of autumn hues from a scenic country road, a bike path, or a cyclocross race course, fall bike rides in Colorado are the best way to get up close and personal with the season’s colors  while filling up their lungs with crisp Colorado air.


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