Best Cycling Training Tools  to Improve Performance

March 28, 2019

If you’ve been looking to get faster on the bike, then most likely you have explored cycling training tools, as in power meters, heart rate monitors and the like. No doubt, today’s technology provides instant biofeedback and structure to workouts.  And over time, this aggregated training data offers visibility to your training program and progress. The ultimate goal of using training tools is to get faster, stronger, fitter, and optimize athletic performance.  Given that, which training tools are best for you? Read on to find out. 

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. If you do not have a trainer or coach to keep you disciplined during your workout, a heart rate monitor can be a great substitute. It can tell you when your exercise is falling below your ideal intensity so you can instantly improve your performance.  It can be a great biofeedback tool and also help you to monitor your fitness, prevent overtraining, and take your performance to the next level.

Power meters – Training with a power meter is one of the most effective ways to get results. The more power you can produce, the faster your bike will go. Unlike a heart rate monitor that is subjective, watts or power output is not. Watts are watts. Training with a power meter helps establish a baseline fitness and eliminates the guesswork out of measuring fitness gains.  The data provided also helps to get a better handle on overreaching and overtraining during training blocks.  There are different power meters available based on your fitness goals and budget. So be sure to stop by the shop to dial in which power meter is best for you. 

Bike Fit – While a bike fit isn’t necessarily a training tool, it is your first defense in injury prevention.  It’s also one of the quickest ways to get faster on the bike. Leg strength, endurance, and fitness are at the heart of cycling speed, but without a proper bike fit, you are sabotaging your training efforts.  As you know, bikes come in all sizes and shapes, and there are endless bike parts and cycling accessories that can be added or swapped to make a bike become a better fit for you. At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we believe that there is much more to fitting a cyclist to his/her bicycle than just the physical dimensions of a bike. Each cyclist has a different history, experience, comfort level, and goal on the bike; each of these variables is important to the bike-fit process.  Take advantage of our bike fit studio and schedule a bike fit to align your bike with your body posture and improve your cycling

Use power meters and heart rate monitors to guide you through you.  By monitoring your training efforts with specific data, you objectively know when you are pushing beyond your targeted indicators, 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 2019 cycling season goals.

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Don’t Miss It! Cash In on Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop’s Specialized Spring into Spring Sale! Now Through March 31st! 

March 21, 2019

Specialized Spring into Spring Sale at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop

Well, Hello Spring! 

How about these warmer temperatures, sunny and longer days?! It’s about time, right? Finally, we have some good weather to enjoy long rides and get some much-needed saddle time to prep for the season ahead.  

And you know what else is so great about spring? Sales! Springs Sales! At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we have a few great sales going on right now. But here’s the catch – you gotta get into the shop by March 31st to get them! 

  • Save up to 40% on select products! You have to see it to believe it. Stop by the shop, take a look around and you’ll be amazed at the variety of bike parts, cycling accessories, cycling apparel, and other selected items we have on sale. 
  • Need a new pair of cycling shoes? Now is the time to get them. We have last year’s shoe models up to 50% off. Most sizes are still available so come in soon to get your size. 
  • Looking for some new threads?  Slapping on a new pair of tires is one of the best upgrades you can make. Come shop for road or mountain bikes tires from a variety of brands. 20% off tires with the purchase of an install. Good through March 31, 2019 

While you’re in the shop, you might want to pick up any bicycle tools you need for bike maintenance and bike tune-up. Stock up on nutrition items, water bottles, and anything other bike parts you may need.  

Don’t miss the Specialized Speed into Spring event! Stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop and check out the sales of up to 40% off our fastest and most popular road, trail and e-bikes. See you before March 31st, 2019. 


Dressing Successfully To Ride in Transitional Weather 

March 14, 2019

How about these spring cycling conditions? In under one week, we’ve seen rain, snow, wind, warm and cold temperatures.  One question is, what’s rideable? The more important question is, how to dress for a ride? Transitioning weather and riding conditions calls for ninja-like skills in navigating the weather to gear up appropriately for an outdoor cycling workout.  

The goal is to ride comfortably  Yet dressing to balance warmth and comfort is tricky.  If you are really bundled up when you start riding, you will likely want to start shedding layers. If you start out with minimal clothing and a front comes in or you experience windy conditions, then you’re left feeling cold and your muscles may ache. Not ideal for spring training. Is there a way to dress successfully for transitional weather? Fortunately, at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we’ve been asked all of these questions.  Here is what we have found works, and works best! 

Take inventory of your cycling wardrobe.  It’s a given that you’ll want to have clothing that is versatile, lightweight, and easy to pack down.  Take inventory of the cycling apparel you currently have and purchase additional items that are missing from your cycling wardrobe.  With this in mind, you might want to consider what type of cycling you plan to do in the early season. That will help you to avoid making unnecessary purchases. Depending on whether you are riding the road, gravel, and maybe a mountain bike trail, your clothing options make the difference between a suffer fest or a great ride.  

Take it a step further. Ask yourself, what clothing do you need to wear in different weather conditions?  Do you have waterproof and wind resistant clothing? Do you have enough of the basic cycling necessities, as in leggings? Arm warmers? Knee warmers? Scullcap? What about your base layers?  Do you have enough of them or do you need to add in some fleece lined clothing?  These items are easy to layer and easy to carry with you while riding. Make sure you have enough. 

Finally, try on the old grade school song for dressing appropriately. It’s the one that goes like this, “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes”…  When gearing up for your ride and deciding on what to wear for your ride, use this song as your motto. Keep those digits nimble! Cold hands make it hard to maneuver the bike.  Definitely go for long-figured gloves or lack liner gloves with thicker gloves in your jersey pockets. Referring to shoulders, think your core or your upper body. The key with upper body warmth and comfort in the winter is layering. Consider a  light, long-sleeved jersey that has pockets in the back is a good base layer and gives you the opportunity to put extra clothes in the back pockets. Next, put another thermal layer on top of the long-sleeved jersey. You want something fairly light, warm, and breathable. As a final option, you want to top your upper body layering with a wind-stopper jacket that deflects wind and preferably is also waterproof.  It’s super easy to keep your knees and legs covered with warmers.  And, last but not least, cover your head!  The relative amount of heat you lose from your head will vary, but it’s been historically said that you lose half of your body heat through your head. You can wear a buff or a cap and headgear to stay warm.  

Ultimately, dressing successfully boils down to experimenting with what works for you. You may find you it’s important to keep your head and core warm for a productive ride rather than dressing full out and including knee and leg warmers.  An important element to keep in mind is that transitional weather is just that. Transitional. It’s not here forever and the spring and summer cycling season is just around the corner.  Do your best with the weather and be sure to stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop to pick up any cycling accessories, bike parts, or cycling apparel you may need. 


Sloppy Weather – Easy Tips to Show Your Bike Some TLC  

March 7, 2019

Peak Cycles / BikeParts.com Training Ride up Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado

It’s that time of the year when road rides alternate between dry pavement and sloppy slush.  And, with the warmer temperatures gracing the Front Range, riding MTB trails is a treat but there is the complication of dealing with mud, slush and a mixture of dry trail. What does this mean to cyclists? it means your bike needs some TLC. Bike maintenance isn’t always fun to do, but obviously, it is a necessity. 

While there are countless recommendations on keeping your road bike or mountain bike in good, working order, these are our top 3 picks for bike maintenance during this transitional season. 

  1. Pay Attention to Your Chain. If you’ve been training regularly then no doubt your chain is showing some wear and tear. Take time to actually clean your chain. For an easy clean, scrub your drivetrain parts with a brush and eco-friendly degreaser and re-lubricate the chain when you are done. For something more thorough, you could buy a chain cleaner like Park Tool’s Cyclone Chain Scrubber, fill it with a non-aerosol degreaser like Pedros Oranj Peelzturn your crank 15-20 revolutions and let your scrubber do the job for you. As for the best chain lube, check out our post, Dry Pavement, Sloppy Slush, and A Muddy Trail: Which Chain Lube Works Best? for options.
  2. Check your Wheels and Tires. Both your wheels and tires are essential for bike safety.  Accompanying the snow and wet riding conditions are salt, debris, and miscellaneous items found in the cycling lanes and roads. Have you checked your tires lately? They may actually need replacing. Begin by cleaning the wheels with rubbing alcohol and dry with a cloth. Check the rims for damage and examine for loose spokes. Your wheel should run smoothly without any side-to-side wobble. Next, replace your tires. If you aren’t up for doing this yourself, let us help you. For the month of March, receive 20% off any tire with the purchase of installation in the shop! 
  3. Inspect Your Brakes. When you are shredding down a long, winding road or a steep trail grade, what’s going to stop you? Your brakes! Bike brakes use brake pads to stop your wheels from turning. Brake pads wear down over time and especially so under wet and grimy conditions. Be mindful to examine your brake pads for any uneven or extensive wear. If you do find uneven abrasions, you probably need to get your brakes adjusted and/or replaced.

As you ride more through the early season, some worn bike parts that weren’t visible upon your first bike inspection may become apparent as the season progresses.  Regular maintenance is essential. Preseason bike maintenance and training paves the way for a long, healthy, and enjoyable cycling season.  Stop by the Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop to pick up the cycling accessories you need to maintain your bike or let us help you!


Gear Review: Camelbak Chase Vest

March 1, 2019

chase1Tested- Dirty Kanza, Monarch Crest Trail, Cycle to Saturn, + a solo bikepacking trip and most rides in between!

Price: $100

Pros:

  • Stays in place
  • Comfortable throughout the ride
  • Price
  • Small part storage

Cons:

  • Reservoir
  • Large item storage
  • Jostles against armpits when empty

 

Overall- 4.5/5

Just over a year ago, in January of 2018, Camelbak announced their new Chase bike vest– dubbed as a minimalist hydration pack perfect for everything from enduro riding, to full days on the saddle. Over the course of a year, I had the opportunity to test this pack in nearly every condition, mixed with several styles of extreme riding.chase2

 

Three days before driving out to Kansas, I purchased this vest. On the morning of June 2, I committed a crime I swore I wouldn’t commit again- use a vital piece of gear for the first time during a mentally exhausting endurance event. Leading up to the Dirty Kanza, I had been using a Deuter Race EXP- the same pack that I used in the 2017 Colorado Trail Race. Although this pack is phenomenal as a loaded up work horse, I simply just didn’t need the 3 liters of water or extra carrying capacity that makes the Deuter excel as a backcountry cycling backpack. After seeing a few people I trust swear behind the new Chase vest, I decided to give it a go. 10 months later, odds are that if I’m leaving for a ride, the vest comes with me.

 

It stays in place, and stays comfortable

Runners have known this for decades- the design of this bag doesn’t move when you do. While this makes a difference in long road rides and gravel races, nothing puts a bag through a better “shake test” than a proper mountain bike ride. My biggest qualm with most backpacks, is that they tend to jump around and smack your neck when riding over rough, loose terrain. This bag, is different. Much different. When weighted down not only does it stay in place, it gets forgotten about all together. Bonus: You still have access to all rear pockets!chase3

 

Price and pockets

 

Coming in with an MSRP of $100, this is on the lower end of the Camelbak price sheet. With basic packs starting at $50 and going past $200, the features and storage available on this pack make it a worthy investment. Although it holds a relatively small 1.5L(50oz) of water, it seems to have plenty of spaces to stash away everything from well over a day’s worth of calories, to an emergency rain jacket. Two chest pockets give the ability to stow snacks, and even a Camelbak Stow Flask, should you want an extra 17 oz of water easily and quickly accessible. I find it to be the perfect size for a large pickle, seen here.

Poorly designed reservoir

This bag is so close to perfection, with one large but fixable problem. In my opinion, the reservoir is worthless. It fails at two points- the fixation to the inside of the bag, and the refill closure. Using a hook and loop system, the bag is supported near the top. While functional when affixed properly, getting it in and out can be a slippery slope to hurt finger tips (and the questioning of your ability to succeed at seemingly simple tasks). There’s no reason why the loop can’t be any bigger, and seems to cause more trouble than it needs to.chase4

 

The second issue, is the closure of the reservoir. No matter how careful I am, it rarely seems to thread on correctly the first (or second or third) time. I felt slightly better after realizing I wasn’t the only person having issues, following several customers returning to the store wondering why the closure was so difficult to thread back on.

Storing larger items

 Since the Camelbak Chase Vest isn’t necessarily designed around the ability to store larger items, it seems unfair to knock it for that reason. That being said, the stretchy stow-away stuff pocket that encompasses the back seems to provide few benefits. At first, this seems like the only place to store things such as a rain jacket, or extra layer. In reality, the stretch is nominal, and the position of it makes storing any larger, bulkier item a bit of a nuisance, throwing off the way the bag naturally sits on your back (due to the compression of the reservoir, and in turn, pressure on your back).

Jostling around when empty

 My last critique is the movement of the bag when the bladder is completely empty. Without micro-adjusting the straps to an almost painful amount of cinch, the bag tends to jump up and down and rub the inside of the armpits- due to the harness system not having a waist belt. That being said, the point of this pack is to carry water, so this problem should rarely happen (and when it does, congrats! You should be nearly done with your ride)!chase5

Overall

 The only valid shortcoming to this pack is the reservoir- all other negatives can be overlooked, as they’re nitpicky problems that can be easily solved. While slightly annoying, this can be fixed relatively easily buy purchasing a different bladder. When the cost is considered and weighed against how stable of a pack this is, it jumps to #1 on the list of hydration packs that I’ve used over the years. Go grab on, and get out for a ride!


Lacking Cycling Inspiration and Motivation? Try This! 

February 28, 2019

In between the New Year and the spring cycling season, there seems to be something like a Bermuda triangle affect taking place in terms of motivation, training, and sticking with goals.  They all seem to disappear. Even the best of intentions seem to dissolve into thin air.  

Granted, the weather doesn’t help. Cold days followed by warmer days and then again, snow or wet days.  Training outdoors proves to be inconsistent. Training indoors consistently, can be maddening. Add the frustrations up and it’s easy to see why those New Year goals may have fallen by the wayside.  

Yet, on the bright side, spring is right around the corner. And while there are some wet and sometimes snowy days ahead of us, now is the time to dig a deep and set those training goals in motion.  So when you are experiencing a lack of motivation to train, try some of these tips to get you going. 

One of the reasons training year round is to maintain a base level of fitness.  Also, training year round helps to reduce injuries.  In a sport based on such a highly repetitive action, like pedaling, the first line of defense against injury is a proper bike fit. The benefits of a professional bike fit will not only help improve your riding position, but it will also help motivate you to ride your bike and perfect the mechanics of your pedal position and body posture.  The results of a professional bike fit will leave you feeling more confident in your bike parts, bike set up, and inspire you to reach your potential – which translates into riding more.  And that is the objective! To ride more regularly and frequently during the pre-season. 

Another option is to trade saddle time for gym time to gain core strength.  The primary focus when it comes to strength exercises for cyclists is to train in a similar motion to cycling with the lower and upper body while increasing overall core strength and muscular endurance. Check out The Best Strength Exercises for Cyclists or 7 Hip and Core Exercises for Endurance Athletes to get you started and also – to keep you motivated through the winter months.  

If those two options don’t get your motor running, then sit down and revisit your 2019 cycling goals.  What is it that you wanted to accomplish in 2019? Get back on track.  Check out our post, The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling.  The post dives into the benefits of training with power meters.  Maybe to spark some motivation you need to invest in new cycling accessories like a power meter or heart rate monitor.  

Quite frankly, we’ve found one of the best motivators for riding is purchasing a new bike! Whether you choose a road bike, mountain bike, hybrid/ commuter bike, or even a fat bike, getting a new bike turbo charges motivation and inspires a sense of adventure. There is just nothing quite like the feeling of purchasing and riding a new bike! 

When all else fails, remember something is better than nothing. Meaning, some training is better than no training at all.  Give yourself a break for those days missed and shift your focus towards being consistent in your training.  Spring will be here sooner than you think!  


Celebrate Fat Biking at the Staunton Fattie Frenzy: A Fat Bike Celebration

February 21, 2019

Fat bikes are awesome! Riding a fat bike gets you outside during the winter months, improves your cycling endurance, and well, puts a huge smile on your face! There’s no question that riding a fat bike ups your giggle factor! And that is why all of us a Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop are delighted to be part of the Staunton Fattie Frenzy! It’s this Sunday, February 24th at Staunton State Park.  

The Staunton Fattie Frenzy is a celebration of front range fat biking featuring a fast-paced and spectator-friendly circuit race. Racers can go solo or in teams of 2 or 4 on the 1.5-mile loop so gather your friends, plan your costumes (optional), and get ready for some fat fun. The race is 90 minutes plus one lap.  While fun is the name of the game, we are also offering prizes.  Our primary motivation for the Staunton Fattie Frenzy is twofold: 

1. We love fat biking and we want others to love it too! Because we know great trail conditions can make a good day into an awesome day, Big Ring Cycles and Peak Cycles have partnered with 285 Nordic and Staunton State Park to raise money for grooming equipment at Staunton. Join us in building a great location for fat bike riders for years to come, right here in the front range.

2. We believe in supporting and encouraging young cyclists in this great sport so we will also be raising funds for the High School Cycling League. In 2018, the High School League had 1383 riders building strong minds, bodies, and character one pedal stroke at a time. Join us in supporting the future of cycling!

Make plans for some fun! Register today to join in the fun this Sunday. Your registration fee includes: 

• Park entry fee

• Race timing and awards

• Cold brew coffee by High Brew

• Contests and general silliness

• Delicious lunch

• Beer and beverages

• Donation to 285 Nordic for trail grooming at Staunton State Park and to the High School Cycling League.

If we have snow, the trails will be groomed for fat bike use.  This is a fat bike race only. A minimum 3.8″ tire size is required for all racers. 

Visit us in Golden, Colorado for your bike parts and cycling accessories prior to the event.  Be sure to register for the Staunton Fattie Frenzy: A Fatbike Celebration.  See you this Sunday, February 24th at Staunton State Park at 8:30 AM!