Mental Skill Drills to Bring Your A Game to the Spring Cycling Season

April 23, 2015
John Luif of BikeParts.com racing in Winter Park

John Luif racing in Winter Park

When we catch ourselves visualizing or fantasying about racing, winning or accomplishing something big in our race dreams, rarely do we visualize ourselves falling apart.  On the contrary, we view the victory as coming rather easily.  Even if the scene involves us digging to the depths of our inner being to pull something out of nothing, that agonizing pull from our inner selves is viewed in fantasy world as masterfully manifested.  In real life, we all know it doesn’t actually work like that.  Many of us can suffer but there are breaking points and limitations to the line we cross.  The mechanism that enables us to reach deeper within ourselves is mental toughness.

As described in the post, Developing Mental Toughness: Are you Tough Enough?, “mental toughness is your ability to persevere in the face of challenges, to keep going even when things get hard, and to have an unrelenting commitment to your goals. When you develop your mental toughness, obstacles are only temporary and one bad performance doesn’t shake your belief in your ability.”

The Spring Racing Season in Colorado is here! With upcoming events like the Karen Hornbostel Memorial Time Trial Series, Rocky Mountain Endurance Series, and Fruita Fat Tire Festival, road and mountain bike racers are ready to ride.  But, don’t think that just showing up on the line is enough.  Preparing mentally, physically, and being bike ready will ensure a successful start to the season.  Following are 4 mental skill drills to bring your a game to the spring cycling season.

Set Goals – For some, early season races are just about getting harder efforts in and saddle time.  However, having defined goals can help reduce pre race anxiety and also help you better evaluate your performance post race.  Identify what you want to accomplish with this event whether it be a targeted heart rate or power zone, a solid nutrition plan, or attacking certain areas on the race course.  Bio feedback is important in early season races.  Why?  Think about it.  We’ve all had those moments when we swear we’re cranking it out on the bike, giving it all we’ve got, leaving it all on the table –  and then – we finish the ride and think, I’ve got more in the tank! I didn’t leave it all out there!  So, how can you tell that you’re working hard enough?   Use cycling accessories that are available to you – as in power meters and /or heart rate monitors.  Our post, The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling, dives into the benefits of training with power. You may also want to check out our post, Heart Rate Training – What You Need to Know for our staff picks at Peak Cycles Bike Shop.

Set Your Nutrition – As you approach your first race of the season, you may want to read the post, A Guide to Race Day Nutrition.  Many cyclist have different preferences as to how they prefer to get their fuel – whether that nutrition is in bars, gels, and liquids. However, oftentimes, the course may dictate other options.  As in, for mountain bike riders, a technical course may present obstacles in taking solid food while riding versus taking fluids.  Furthermore, as the post suggest, “having all of these different (nutrition) options can tend to create confusion and challenges for athletes as to which is ideal and which is best for them. In addition, selecting the right type of fuel depends on many factors such as duration, intensity and what type of activities such as cycling, running or multi sport.” The end result: experimentation during training and early season races will aid in dialing in proper race day nutrition for your “A” races and events.

Get Race Ready – The post, 5 Steps to Being Race Ready, reinforces the need for mental and physical preparation, as well as nutrition and bike parts checks, but part of racing is using your energy effectively – on and off the bike.  Balancing work, family responsibilities, training and racing is a key component to being mentally and physically ready to tackle the demands of early season races.  As you transition from winter training to spring racing, your mental and physical demands will change.  You need to have a transition plan in place to find balance in your life as the cycling season demands more and more of your time.

Get Your Bike Race Ready – It’s obvious, but often overlooked with the excitement of a race – but that is getting your bike ready to race. Notice any bike parts that need to be replaced.  Saddle injuries are the result of poor seat position, height, angle or design.  While your saddle  may look and feel fine, looks can be deceiving.  Materials and composition deteriorate beyond what is visible.  Also, neck, shoulder, and bike pain can result of an improper fitting bike.  Handlebarsstems, and bike position all contribute to a rider’s stability, endurance, and safety. Make sure all is well before embarking on longer rides and races which could lead to lasting discomfort.

How important are brakes?  Obviously, a lot!  When you don’t have them, or they aren’t working properly, then you know the importance of well maintained brakes for your road or mountain bike.  Sure, brakes help stop your bike but they also aid in redirecting the bike, navigating technical terrain, cornering, and overall balance.  As the cycling season starts up, bike maintenance is essential.  We’re happy to help you at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop so bring your bike in for a spring tune up, or you can do bike maintenance at home.  Demonstrated by our staff, at Peak Cycles Bike Shop, using the Avid Professional Bleed Kit are step by step instructions on how to bleed your mountain bike brakes for strong and reliable stopping power: Our Tips on Bleeding Brakes.

Another important component to spring riding is checking out your wheels.  Unquestionably, wheels matter!  They impact ride quality, ease of pedaling, reliability, and functionality.  Spring is a great time to upgrade bicycle components.  The question is, once you’ve decided it’s time for a wheel upgrade, how do you know how to select the best ones? Check our our video, Wheelset Buyer Guide: What You Need to Know.

As for mountain bike riders, you may be thinking about going tubeless. For anyone who wants higher performance and less flats but doesn’t mind a little extra installation time and maintenance, going tubeless is the best choice.  The trick is having the right set up and knowing which bike parts or products to use.  Again, stop by the shop to ask any questions or watch our video for help. GoingTubeless? How to use Stans NoTubes by BikeParts.com

With a little preparation and planning, bringing your A Game to you early season racing can pave the way for a long, healthy, and enjoyable 2015 cycling season.  Stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop to pick up the bike parts you need to launch your best cycling season ever!


How Smart Cyclists Spend Their Tax Refund Money Wisely

April 16, 2015

Tax Refund Money for Bike PartsYou’ve worked hard the past year and expect a healthy tax refund from the government. With anticipation, you’re thinking of how to spend that money wisely.  Maybe you’re thinking you should save that money, put it in the bank, or invest in those long over due house projects.  Yet, the other side of you is taunting you with images of bike parts and bike purchases.  You might even feel these ideas are a guilty pleasure.  However, spending your tax refund money on a new mountain bike or a road bike, or even cycling accessories, does more for your health and longevity than you know.

Investing in your cycling regime is an investment in you.  Physical activity  can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term health benefits. Most importantly, regular activity can improve your quality of life.  With that being said, investing in your bike and cycling program is a great way to spend your tax refund wisely. Enjoy our top 5 ways to do just that!

1. Get a Fat Bike!
Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop is passionate about fat bikes in the winter months but they can actually be ridden year round! They are fun and versatile bikes that can be used in almost any terrain.  We have found the Specialized Fatboy to be a highly rated, mid-range fat bike that is usable for a wide range of ages and skill-levels.  The fun isn’t exclusive to adults either!  Specialized has also created a 20” and 24” Fatboy for kids at half the price of a full sized Fat Boy.  If you’re not sure a fat bike is for you, demo one!  Book a fat bike demo today and up the giggle factor to your normal riding program. Who can’t smile while riding a fat bike?

2. Get New Bike Parts!
So many bike parts – the question is what to purchase?  Consider getting a high quality wheel set.  A good wheel set impacts ride quality, ease of pedaling, reliability, and functionality.  Maybe purchase some new, lighter tires for your wheels. Another option is to reconsider the current crank set and pedals setup.  Who can’t justify spending tax refunds on losing lighter handlebars, a lighter saddle, and seat post?

3. Get a Power Meter!
The main idea behind using cycling training tools is to dial in your training to optimize your performance as it relates to your goals and objectives. Our post, The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling, dives into the benefits of training with power. As for our favorite power meter options, our most popular are Stages Power Meters beginning at $1000. Stages Power meter is the lightest, smallest, most technologically advanced unit available today.  Another option is the Pioneer Power Meter offered at $2000 and is a bit more sophisticated.  A third favorite is a company that’s been around for a while now – PowerTap Power Meter.

4. Get Cycling Accessories!
Maybe your refund check wasn’t as large as you wanted it to be?  This doesn’t exempt you from spending money on quality bike parts – it just means you might spend less.  Items for purchase in this category include a variety of cycling apparel: jerseys, shorts, tights, jacket, cycling shoes.

5. Get a Bike Fit!
A bike fit isn’t just for professional riders – they are for anyone who rides whether they are a beginner or advanced rider. A bike fit helps ensure riding comfort but it also impacts technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries and how an athlete rides. We can help you use your refund dollars wisely.  Not only can we help you with the fit, but we carry all the bike parts required to get your bike in the very best setup for your riding needs. Give us a call (303) 216-1616 or stop by the shop in Golden to schedule your bike fit.

Considering how regular physical activity can produce long term health benefits, investing your tax refund dollars in your cycling program couldn’t be a wiser choice!


How to Use Spring Training Tools – The Importance of Not Going Out Too Hard Too Fast

April 9, 2015

Bike Fits at Peak Cycles Bicycle ShopAs the temperature gets warmer, the days grow longer, and the weather improves, cyclists everywhere are beckoned to ride their bikes.  While some may have trained through the winter months, many have not.  And the alluring call of gorgeous spring days lures many unprepared cyclist to ride too hard, too fast which can lead to injuries or a set back in the 2015 cycling season.

Whether you are planning to ride a century, multi-day rides, race or aspire to longer or more frequent rides in 2015, monitoring your early season training sets the stage for a successful year ahead.

Key points to keep in mind include training intensity, duration, and frequency.  There are coaches and coaching plans to assist with specific and customized training.  Or, you can create your own training program.

Regardless of your approach, for precise bio feedback to align your training plan, you’ll need to use cycling accessories available to you – as in power meters and /or heart rate monitors.  Early season training lends itself to “false” feedback.  Meaning, because you may be fresh, your perceived effort on the bike may be low causing you to push too hard, too soon, and then training suffers later due to increased recovery time or even injury.  By monitoring your efforts with specific data, you objectively know when you are pushing beyond your targeted indictors, as well as, when you aren’t pushing hard enough.  This allows your body to adjust to increased training load over time and in a manner that meets your 2015 cycling season goals.

Our post, The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling, dives into the benefits of training with power. You may also want to check out our post, Heart Rate Training – What You Need to Know for our staff picks at Peak Cycles Bike Shop.  You can also learn steps in discovering your “threshold” heart rate range, setting up heart rate training zones, and identifying the daily variables that affect heart rate.

An often overlooked, yet incredibly powerful tool for improved cycling is a bike fit.   If you haven’t ridden much through the winter, now is the best time for a bike fit.  Why?  Because your body is unaccustomed to the riding position.  You have an opportunity to optimize your position and make needed upgrades to your road bike or mountain bike.  Think of it this way – 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.  And, a bike fit goes beyond just setting saddle height and bar reach. To get the most enjoyment and reward from your training programs it’s critical to dial in the fit and confirm you have the right bike parts for optimal performance.

There are countless more ways training tools can aid in your spring cycling training.  We’ve mentioned power training and heart rate training, but also consider the importance of nutrition and recovery.  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.

Do you 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.


The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling 

April 2, 2015

Stages Power Meter The main idea behind using cycling training tools is to dial in your training to optimize your performance as it relates to your goals and objectives.  Easy enough, right?  Yet, the market is saturated with countless training aids including trainers, cycling software, DVD’s, CompuTrainers, nutrition, supplements, compression, and the list goes on.  Which ones do you need?  Which ones will deliver the biggest bang for the buck?  While each cyclist has their personal preference, following are the top 3 training aids we find most helpful.

Power
Why train with power?  It’s all about “balancing how much work you do with your body’s response.” It’s the best way to measure work and intensity, as in, Power (watts) = Torque (how hard you pedal) x Cadence (how fast you pedal).  “Doing too much work means injury and overtraining risk. Too little means you’re not getting the maximum benefits you want. When power is measured your training becomes that much more effective.”  At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we’ve found the benefits of training with power include

Establishing your baseline fitness

Accurately measuring even the smallest fitness gains

Quantifying intensity, duration and frequency – instead of guessing

Prevention of overtraining

Accurately measuring energy use for nutrition planning

Proper pacing for time trials 

Sounds great!  And it is!  In the recent past, training with power was outside of the price range for most cyclist.  However, times have changed and power meters are much more affordable.  Our most popular are Stages Power Meters beginning at $1000.  Stages Power meter is the lightest, smallest, most technologically advanced unit available today.  Another option is the Pioneer Power Meter offered at $2000 and is a bit more sophisticated.  A third favorite is a company that’s been around for a while now – PowerTap Power Meter.

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.

Nutrition
Many cyclist have different preferences as to how they prefer to get their fuel – whether that is in nutrition bars, gels, and liquids. The main thing about nutrition is that regardless of how you get your calories in on the bike is one thing, but making sure you actually do it –  is critical!  No one wishes for a bonk!  Read up on some recent posts we’ve shared on nutrition to see which options are best for you.

Last but not least, do you need help figuring out which training aid is best for you? We’re happy to help! Visit us at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado or ask us on Twitter.


On Bike Nutrition: It’s Different for Girls 

March 26, 2015
Osmo Nutrition for Women Cyclist at BikeParts.com

Osmo Nutrition for Women Cyclist at BikeParts.com

Over recent years, the number of women taking up cycling has dramatically increased and brands have recognized the need for women specific bicycle geometry by responding with female specific bikes that work with a woman’s body to provide the optimum platform for speed, and/or comfort depending upon the riders’ needs. But what about bike nutrition for women.  Is that different too?  

As a female cyclist, have you wondered about your on-bike nutritional needs? Are you getting the right stuff for you? Does it even matter?  It’s a rhetorical question because we all know that nutrition matters.  Our post, Solving the Bike Nutrition Mystery walks you through off-bike nutritional needs.  However, consuming the right amount of calories combined with the appropriate nutritional mix for your body while training is critical for performance.

Until recently, most of the data regarding nutrition and training was collected about men. That’s great for the guys, but women have a distinct physiology with its own set of needs. In other words, what’s good for a man isn’t necessarily good for a woman. One difference is that women’s menstrual cycle can heavily influence athletic performance and fluctuate hormone levels.  Detailed information on women’s cycles and how that pertains to training, performance and fueling for the female athlete can be found in the post Women Are Not Small Men: Factors to Consider For Performance and Nutrition for the Female Cyclist

With all that being said, what are the best on-bike nutrition options available?  Following are our favorites at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop:

Osmo nutrition – This product is specific to women offering three options:

  • active hydration
  • acute recovery
  • preload hydration

What we like about this product is that it is nutrition “based on peer-reviewed science. The science is simple. Hydration, which refers to the maintenance of water in your blood, is critical to maximizing power, endurance and reducing fatigue. When you’re thirsty, you’ve already lost two percent of your body water—and 11 percent of your power.”  Stop by the shop in Golden, Colorado to learn more.

Another option is Skratch Labs.  Again there are several options to sleet including:

  • All day – daily electrolyte mix
  • Single workout – exercise hydration mix
  • Hyper nutrition – hyper hydration mix
  • Rescue hydration – for dehydration

Finally, an all time favorite!  Honey Stinger products – tasty edibles on the ride.  

  • waffles
  • gels
  • energy bars
  • organic chews

The bottom line? The post, Male Versus Female Athletes, Part 1: Nutrition,  points out that the off bike needs of men and women are surprisingly similar and it boils down to a solid nutrition plan that includes real whole foods.  However, on bike / training nutritional needs may be quite different.  Visit us online at BikeParts.com for your nutrition needs or stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado to learn more.


Spring MTB Racing in Colorado – Events to Plan Your 2015 Cycling Season

March 19, 2015

Peak Cycles Race TeamSpring riding and racing is just around the corner and athletes everywhere are starting to think about their “A” races as well as secondary races to use for training and motivation.  A given rule of thumb is that all races provide experience, training benefits, and act as a stage to assess your form. Because of that, targeting a handful of high and low priority races and events throughout the year can be useful as  learning experiences and opportunities to dial in nutritional needs and race strategies.  The question for many is, where to start?

Use your 2015 cycling goals as your compass.  We talk more about goals in our blog post, but the basic take away is to make your goals SMART.  As in, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.   With that being said, you need to pick the right events during the cycling season to help you best achieve those goals.

Notably, not all events are equal.  Some are harder than others.  One approach is to use different course profiles, distances, and bike part options to mindfully select A, B, and C type races according to your training plans and race goals.  Keep this simple reminder in mind – when you’re working toward a goal that’s important to you, the last thing you want is to face an obstacle or unexpected challenge.  A successful season starts off right by planning ahead, getting your mountain bike in order, as well as, getting the gear and cycling accessories you need.

Now, which races will you do?  There are many tours, races, and events to choose from in Colorado.  While this isn’t a comprehensive list, following are some of our upcoming favorite events at BikeParts.com.

Goudy Grinder – Wyoming – Sunday, May 31, 2015 – Registration open March 16th

40 in the fork – Fort Collins – Saturday, June 27, 2015 – Registration is open now.  This event is considered “one of the Front Range’s toughest mountain bike races.”

Rocky Mountain Endurance Series – Colorado.  This race series offers the best variety of mountain bike racing in Colorado.  Great for beginners to experienced racers including different distances.  The series begins kicks off in late April with the Ridgeline Rampage.  Visit their site for registration and series information and check out our Sneak Peak to the RME Series.  

MTB radio – endurance calendar.  For those that enjoy epic, longer mountain bike events.  Check out the MTB radio endurance calendar. Following are a few of the fun event on tap through May.

  • April 18 – 6 Hours in Frog Hollow – Hurricane, UT
  • April 23, Fruita Fat Tire Fest – Fruita
  • April 25, Ridgeline Rampage – Castle Rock
  • May 1, 18 Hours of Fruita – Fruita
  • May 9, Desert RATS Classic – Fruita
  • May 9, 12 Hours of Mesa Verde – Cortez
  • May 9, Battle the Bear – Lakewood
  • May 16, Dirty Double Fondo – Salida
  • May 23, The Half Growler – Gunnison
  • May 24, The Origional Growler – Gunnison
  • May 29, Grand Junction Off-Road – Grand Junction
  • May 30, PV Derby, Elbert
  • May 31, The Great Bicycle Carnival for Kids on bikes

Planning your 2015 cycling season is a multi step process: Identify your cycling goals, dial in your bike, and select the events you are enthusiastic in participating.  If you’re left questioning how to roll out your pre season training plan, well then, we’ve got you covered on that too.   Check out our previous guides to get you training started or vista us at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop.


The 2015 Training Guide for Cyclist

March 12, 2015
BikeParts.com Gearing Up for 2015 Cycling Season

BikeParts.com Gearing Up for 2015 Cycling Season

March 20th at 4:45 PM MDT marks the beginning of spring.  While  we have a few days to go and the warmer temps may not quite be here yet, cyclist are getting ready for the 2015 season.  

You can feel it – enthusiasm is high!  But, enthusiastic recreational riders and competitive athletes can make early season training errors.  Namely, taking on too much physical activity too quickly. Going too fast, exercising for too long, or simply doing too much of one type of physical activity can strain your muscles and lead to an overuse injury. Understanding how to pace yourself while getting fit is crucial.

Yet, having the right bike setup, cycling accessories and gear makes all the difference too.  Especially so if you have taken it easier over the winter months. Transitioning to more time in the saddle and longer rides on the bike can be either a pleasurable experience or a painful one!  Here’s your guide to getting your bike and training in order for spring cycling.

Bike Inspections:
Does your bike have cobwebs on it from non use during the winter months?  Now’s the time to dust it off, put some air in those tires and do a thorough bike inspection.  It seems simple enough but there are some critical areas to pay attention.

What do you look for? Notice any bike parts that need to be replaced.  Saddle injuries are the result of poor seat position, height, angle or design.  While your saddle  may look and feel fine, looks can be deceiving.  Materials and composition deteriorate beyond what is visible.  Also, neck, shoulder, and bike pain can result of an improper fitting bike.  Handlebarsstems, and bike position all contribute to a rider’s stability, endurance, and safety. Make sure all is well before embarking on longer rides which could lead to lasting discomfort.

How important are brakes?  Obviously, a lot!  When you don’t have them, or they aren’t working properly, then you know the importance of well maintained brakes for your road or mountain bike.  Sure, brakes help stop your bike but they also aid in redirecting the bike, navigating technical terrain, cornering, and overall balance.  As the cycling season starts up, bike maintenance is essential.  We’re happy to help you at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop so bring your bike in for a spring tune up, or you can do bike maintenance at home.  Demonstrated by our staff, at Peak Cycles Bike Shop, using the Avid Professional Bleed Kit are step by step instructions on how to bleed your mountain bike brakes for strong and reliable stopping power: Our Tips on Bleeding Brakes

Another important component to spring riding is checking out your wheels.  Unquestionably, wheels matter!  They impact ride quality, ease of pedaling, reliability, and functionality.  Spring is a great time to upgrade bicycle components.  The question is, once you’ve decided it’s time for a wheel upgrade, how do you know how to select the best ones? Check our our video, Wheelset Buyer Guide: What You Need to Know.  

As for mountain bike riders, you may be thinking about going tubeless. For anyone who wants higher performance and less flats but doesn’t mind a little extra installation time and maintenance, going tubeless is the best choice.  The trick is having the right set up and knowing which bike parts or products to use.  Again, stop by the shop to ask any questions or watch our video for help. GoingTubeless? How to use Stans NoTubes by BikeParts.com  

Training and Racing:
Now that you have your bike dialed in, the next part of the equation is training.  Do you have your 2015 goals in mind?  Aside from the traditional goals to ride more, to lose weight, and to explore new rides, consider being a little more ambitious!  Stretch yourself to reach new heights!  Maybe create your own Spring training camp with friends or challenge yourself to 20 Colorado Front Range Bucket List Rides.  

If you are a competitive cyclist, determine if you are race ready.  The post, 5 Steps to Being Race Ready, reinforces the need for mental and physical preparation, as well as nutrition and bike parts checks, but part of racing is using your energy effectively – on and off the bike.  Preparing mentally, physically, and being bike ready will ensure a successful start to the season.  Our post, 5 Race Day Strategies for Spring Races in Colorado walks you step by step through the process of race preparation. 

Nutrition:
As you approach your first race or long ride of the season, you may want to read the post, A Guide to Race Day Nutrition.  While riding, many cyclist have different preferences as to how they prefer to get their fuel – whether that is in nutrition bars, gels, and liquids. However, oftentimes, a course may dictate other options.  As in, for mountain bike riders, a technical course may present obstacles in taking solid food while riding versus taking fluids.   Our post, Solving the Bike Nutrition Mystery and Training Peak’s post, Strategies For Optimum Recovery offer great suggestions to getting you on track for the nutritional demands of training and racing.

With a little preparation and planning, your pre season bike maintenance and training can pave the way for a long, healthy, and enjoyable 2015 cycling season.

Stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop to pick up the bike parts you need to launch your best cycling season ever!


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