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.


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.


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