Dream Season: Fueling the Fire for the 2015 Season

November 20, 2014

image credit: http://bit.ly/14O4ccQ

“We grow great by dreams.  All big men are dreamers.  They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter’s evening.  Some of us let our dreams die, but others nourish and protect them, nurse them through bad days till they bring them to sunshine and light.” ~  Woodrow Wilson

Gone are the epic rides of summer only to be replaced with cooler temperatures, shorter days, and less time on the bike.  Aside from cyclocross, the 2014 cycling season is over, but, this season may just be the most important season of them all.   Now, it’s dreaming season .  Dreams are where the journey starts for next year. Dreams set you down the path towards achieving something you may not have believed you could accomplish. They are what drive you to fit workouts into hectic schedules and push you when you want to quit.  Dreaming season is when you start fueling the fire for 2015.  Have you dialed in your cycling dreams for next season?

For some, it may seem too soon to think about next year but for others, many are already planning their 2015 race and cycling season. Regardless of which camp you fall into, it’s important to have lofty new goals, new ambitions, and new venues to fuel your cycling passions through the winter months.  However, one misstep in planning is not pausing to reflect on what has recently come to pass.   Personal reflection of the past season offers insights to truly optimize your training and racing regimen going forward.

Fueling the fires for next year begins with evaluating this past year.  Set aside some time for reflection; consider asking yourself 10 Questions to Evaluate the Success of Your Cycling Season.  Or, get insights into your performance by evaluating if your goals were smart (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound).  You may question if you were Mentally Set Up for Success?

Moving past the emotional and psychological evaluation, don’t forget to take stock of your bike and bike parts performance.  Did you have the right bike and tire setup for the conditions, geography, and terrain in which you raced or trained?  Take notice of what worked and what didn’t work. It’s easy to get attached to particular brands or a set up because that is what you have always used; but upon reflection of bike accessories and bike part performance, honest appraisal of performance can steer you to look for cycling accessories that will work better for you in the future.  Sometimes getting a bike fit can help better position you for a season of successful riding.

As an athlete, there is certainly a lot of value in staying in tune with your achievements and goals. However, it’s equally important to take the time to reflect on those achievements so that you can repeat them. If you find yourself unable to reach your goals, don’t get discouraged – take the time to re-assess them.  Equally important, wWen you’re working toward a goal that’s important to you, the last thing you want is to face an obstacle or unexpected challenge.  Set up your 2015 right by planning ahead, plan now to get your road bike or mountain bike in order, along with the gear and resources you need.  By dreaming big and having the best bike parts, your successful training and race prep is well underway for a successful 2015.


Weather Woes? 3 Ways to Bike Through Through the Arctic Outbreak

November 13, 2014

BikeParts.comAs a cyclist, you can either hate the winter, or make the best of it. As temperatures  plummet to record lows across the country, some bundle up and dress to embrace the winter chill while others opt for the dreaded trainer. Sure riding the trainer can be a necessary compromise, but it doesn’t have to be all bad. Indoor training is a lot more convenient, and potentially more effective, than riding outdoors.  It’s also an optimum means to saying lean and fit to ensure you can have more fun on outdoor rides when the weather improves.  The trick is knowing how to master indoor training.

Learn to love the trainer.  The post, Don’t Be a Hater! Overcoming Trainer Woes, offers key suggestions to improving your trainer experience with equipment being a key factor.  Having the right equipment can make your indoor workouts less boring and more effective. When we’re talking about equipment, sure, we mean having the right bike parts and having your road bike on the trainer, but we’re also talking about having a fan, a trainer tire, a riser block, a sweat towel, a trainer mat, indoor riding clothes, a cadence sensor, a power meter, and a heart rate monitor.  You might not think all of these cycling accessories  add up to a great trainer workout, but according to the post, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Trainer, it can make all the difference in the world.

You might be wondering how so?  Shared in the post, 3 Indoor Cycling Workouts Under 1 Hour, are effective workouts to pair technology with your over/ under intervals, power intervals, and speed intervals.  Without the distractions of outdoor scenery, using these tools aids in motivation by setting time goals or power goals to engage your brain.  Another motivation technique includes using the technology tools as valuable feedback for precise and strategic cycling in specific zones which adds to up to greater gains later in your cycling season.

If all else fails, forego inside riding all together and get a fat bike!   Fat bikes were originally invented for winter trail riding and racing in sub-arctic Alaska and simultaneously, for touring the deserts of New Mexico. But they have gained severe popularity! Their utility has expanded to include all forms of cycling; they thrive in snow, sand, desert, and mud, as well as, riding what is considered normal mountain biking.  In fact, fat bikes are the fastest growing segment in the bike industry.  Fat Bikes Are Big in Colorado – Check here to find out why!

Sure enough, Winter riding is not without hardship. Evenings comes early, forcing riders to pedal home in the dark. Snowdrifts squeeze streets, eliminating a comfortable side lane for bikes. Frozen fingers and feet are common issues for the unprepared.  With that in mind, maybe indoor training isn’t so bad after all?


Use Support Goals to Make Fitness Gains Through the End of the Year 

November 6, 2014

Halloween has come and gone.  Daylight savings time has ended.  Ugh, the dreaded winter months will soon be upon us.  Keeping up the motivation to exercise on a cold winter day instead of curling up under a warm blanket on the sofa can be difficult, not to mention the allure of the holidays.  All distractions pulling our energy and focus everywhere but the bike.

Yet, there are ways to make the transition through the Fall and Winter seasons work.  Some use cyclocross to maintain or gain fitness; others use technology as a means to boost motivation.  While others, think a little outside the box and choose to focus on support goals.  You might be wondering what the heck is a support goal?  Supportive goals are those activities that are indirectly related to your cycling yet can positively impact your performance.  They are oftentimes activities that are neglected during the season.  The Fall and Winter months are ideal to opt to focus on supportive goals.  Here’s why.

Selecting a goal to focus outside of the scope of your general cycling regimen can be refreshing and help you feel like you are still on your game.  These goals can be less time intensive allowing you to enjoy more family or social time.  Check out these support goals for ideas.  Consider selecting one to focus on for the month of November and add another one to focus on for the month of December.  Before you know it, you’ll be moving into 2015 refreshed and energized with added gains.

Build up your core with core exercises.  For some cyclists, strength training is a welcomed part of the training process; however, for others, it is a necessary evil. Yet, to avoid injury as well as get stronger on the bike, strength training is becoming a critical aspect of year round training.  The best way to train all parts of the body is through working with a full range of motion while strength training.  Dial in the best core exercises for you by reading Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists.

Improve your flexibility.  Consider doing yoga.  In cycling, the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hips never rest. As a result, riders often have overdeveloped quadriceps and tight hamstrings, which can pull the hips out of alignment. Also, a cyclist’s spine is constantly flexed forward. If proper form isn’t maintained, it can result in muscle pain and strain in the back and shoulders. Yoga helps ease the tightness, creating core strength, and aligning the spine.  Even if you aren’t into yoga, there are 3 poses you should practice.

Improve your body image.    As athletes, many have negative self conversations that impact how they feel about themselves and ultimately, affect performance. Learn the Three Steps to Having a Healthy Body Image and move into 2015 feeling better about yourself.  It’s important to be healthy, be fit, and be proud of who you are.

Ultimately, if all else fails, remember, the Holiday season is right around the corner! Nothing inspires cycling more than getting a new bike, purchasing some new cycling accessories or getting some new cycling apparel to wear.  Better yet, why not add some support goals AND get some new bike parts?!


How to Make the Time Change and Night Riding Work for You

October 30, 2014

When the clocks change and the night draws in, cyclists have a decision to make: get in the groove with night riding and embrace the darkness.  Or, hang up the wheels and miss out on hours of glorious saddle time.

Sometimes it’s a depressing thought with the time change and the nights closing in.  However, night riding can also be relished as one of the most rewarding experiences you can have on a bike, and especially when riding with a group.  Riding in the dark heightens your senses, improves your skills and builds awareness.   Switching up the training regime can freshen your attitude, spark some fun, and maintain fitness.

The trick to capturing the benefits is to make the time change and night riding work for you.  Develop strategies that support your cycling while embracing the darkness.  Here’s how!

A Well Lit Bike
Visibility is critical.  Outfit your bike with a good light system.  You will want lights for the front of your bike.  Consider having multiple lights for the front of your bike.  One on your helmet so you can shine side roads and traffic and have a second light on your handlebars so you can see at least 10 ft. or more in front of you.  For the rear of your bike, opt for a rear red light- particularly one that blinks. A blinking red light is much more likely to get the attention of a passing motorist who might otherwise not notice you.

For those who need a really bright headlight check out the NiteRider Pro 1800 Race on the BikeParts.com website. Designed for mountain bike racing,  and with 1200 lumens you can expect to get about 1 hour and 30 minutes of run time. At 700 lumens you should get 3 hours, 400 lumens yields 4 hours, 200 lumens 12 hours, and 80 lumens 25 hours. It takes about five hours to fully charge the four cell Lithium Ion battery.

A Well Lit Cyclist
Purchase cycling apparel that is visible.  There are options to choose from including vests and ankle bands.  Also, reflective tape is a good idea. 3M makes black reflective tape that is great to put on black wheels. You do not notice it during the day and it shows up white at night.  And, as the temperature drops, it’s hard to know what to wear when it’s 50 degrees and sunny outside versus 30 – 35 degrees and cloudy.  Riding in transitional weather can be a challenge!  But, with clothing that is versatile, lightweight, and easy to pack down, you can find a cycling wardrobe that works for you. Watch our video, How to Dress for Winter Cycling to get ideas.

Ride options:
Riding in the dark makes the riding of any technical section immediately harder than in the day.  It takes a good while to overcome this, so don’t set yourself a task to ride the most demanding trails you have.  Ease yourself in as the nights start earlier and downgrade your expectations.   Remember, you will inevitably ride and travel more slowly than in daylight.  With that being said, be mindful that your route doesn’t exceed your lights battery capacities.

Bike maintenance:
Experiencing mechanical difficulties in the cold and at night is not fun!  A well maintained bike is a fun bike to ride.  Yet, for some, bike maintenance can be a chore.  Having the right set of bike components and tools can make all the difference.  When prepping your bike for for the colder temps and night riding, there are several things you want to do to keep your bike in good working order.  A good thing to always do is to wipe down and inspect the frame.  As the weather changes, rain, snow, ice, and road elements pose different cleaning challenges to your frame and bicycle parts.  Consider using a stiff, soft-bristled brush to knock off any chunks of dried-on mud that may be on your frame or wheels. Then, follow that up by taking a rag to your bike, wiping it down generally all over to get off any remaining dust or dirt.

Also, remember to lube your chain and cables.  As unglamorous as chain lube is, it is a necessity for winter riding.  It will keep your bike parts in working order and squeak free! There are many lubes to choose – wet vs dry lube.  As conditions vary, you may want to have a couple of different choices on hand.  Finally, since you can’t see what you are rolling over in the dark, it’s a good idea to frequently inspect tires, wheels, and brake pads.  Check that there is adequate air pressure in the tires. Check that there aren’t any cuts or nicks in the sidewall or tread of the tires. You’ll want to make sure the brake pads are not worn. And, remember to inspect where the brake pads hit the rim; they should contact the rim evenly on both sides and not rub the tire in any way that may cause a flat.

Here’s where the rubber hits the road: the time change can mark the end of the season or bring on a new adventure.  Embrace the challenge and make night riding work for you!


The 2014 – 2015 Ultimate Cyclocross Resource

October 23, 2014

image credit: http://bit.ly/ZNTEHXWhile the cross country mountain bike  and road bike race seasons may be winding down, the cyclocross race season is heating up.  And, it’s not just heating up in Colorado but across the nation.

According to USA Cycling, cyclocross is the fastest growing field in cycling.  Why?  For starters, it’s fast, frantic, spectator friendly and plain good fun.

Cyclo-cross  - or cross, cyclo-x and CX – is a sport that takes modified road bikes off road in races that typically last for 60 minutes and includes obstacles where you need to dismount and run with the bike over your shoulder.   While that may not sound fun to some cyclists, contrary to popular belief, cyclocross racing is actually a ton of fun. It’s also technically challenging and physically demanding. The effort and skill required to compete elevates your overall racing fitness and leads to great improvement when the spring races roll around.

At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we find many are cyclocross curious; whereas others, are full in to the sport.  Whether you are a newbie or a veteran, cyclocross has something to offer everybody.  Here’s a good place to get started.

News and Calendar of races
2014-15 Colorado Cyclocross Race Calendar and Professional CX Calendar
- USA Cycling Pro Cyclo-cross Calendar
-  Cyclocross News and Race updates

CycloCross 101: Q&A
- How do I learn more about cyclocross? Cyclocross 101 
- An Introduction to Cyclocross + 3 Workouts

Learn Basic Cyclocross Skills
Overcoming obstacles on a cyclocross course
- Cyclocross Training: Mastering the Fundamental Dismount/Remount 

Cyclocross Training
- Workouts and Drills to Prepare Yourself for the Cyclocross Season
- How to Plan Your Cyclocross Training Week 

Best bike parts for cyclocross
Cyclocross Bicycle Parts and Cross Bike Components
- What tire tread is best for cyclocross?

Cowbells and Heckling Etiquette
- Cowbell etiquette – How to Play the Cowbell – entertaining video  
An Op-Ed on Heckling in Cyclocross by Daniel Curtin

The bottom line – join some cross races. Keep in mind that you can ride them mainly for fun and general fitness. You don’t have to take it too seriously. And even riding mainly for fun, cross will help you a lot. It improves bike handling and power and builds your cardiovascular system. You’ll be amazed how great you feel and how much more confidence you have on your bike when the race season arrives.


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.


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