Are You Race Ready?

March 20, 2014

Peak Cycles Race TeamThe Spring Racing Season in Colorado is nearly here! With upcoming events like the Louisville Criterium, Front Range Cycling ClassicRidgeline Rampage, and The Koppenberg, 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.

Previously, we shared in our Peak Cycles blog post 5 race day strategies to prepare for the Spring races in Colorado highlighting the importance of setting goals, knowing the race route, establishing race day rituals and getting into the proper mental state for racing.

Yet, with road and mountain bike races beginning as early as next month, you need to dial YOU in to your race schedule.  Are YOU 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.

  • Consider making note of conflicting interests.  See what is incongruent with your schedule, your work or family life and commit to sorting things out in a harmonious way.
  • Communicate your needs and expectations to others.  And, on the flip side, let them know what they can expect from you.
  • Plan ahead. Be proactive.  Set specific times for work, family and the bike.
  • Give something back.  If your family supports you in your training and racing, show how much you appreciate it. Combine races with a family outing and maybe promise to take a couple of months off the bike at the end of the season.

You may or may not be at the front of the pack in your early Spring races, but you can definitely show up at the line in good form, race ready, and prepared for a healthy and strong 2014 cycling season.

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How To Create Your Own Spring Training Camp

March 6, 2014
Joshua Murdock climbing Old Three Mile Highway in Linnville, North Carolina.

Joshua Murdock climbing Old Three Mile Highway in Linnville, North Carolina.

Many cyclists like the idea of using a training camp as a perfect way to get into shape for the cycling season.  Yet, due to cost, work and family responsibilities, traveling to a designated week long training camp is not always a viable option.

If you are looking for a spring cycling camp to really challenge yourself and get in some great base miles, consider creating your own spring training camp.

There are a few factors to consider especially the overall goal of the camp. Sure, getting quality training miles is a goal, but more importantly, you may want to focus on improving ride skills and techniques as well as race tactics and strategy. With that in mind, you’ll need to decide how many cyclist to include in your camp.  Evaluate each other’s fitness levels, strengths, and weaknesses and commit to bringing together a group in which all participants have something to contribute, but will also leave having learned something too.

You will want to decide on a local or remote location.  Of course, weather plays a role in this but more so does your goals.  Are you looking for climbing opportunities?  What about long rides on quiet country roads for race scenarios?  Look ahead to your early season races and consider matching the topography of your camp destination with that of your upcoming races.  One way to stimulate race scenarios is to keep it competitive and fun.  Use Strava to track your progress and challenge your friends.

Optimize your time off the bike too.  Grabbing a few beers and some laughs builds camaraderie but sharing bio feedback, heart rate information and evaluating ride power analysis as a group can offer feedback and insights into your training and performance which may have been overlooked otherwise.  Take the time to discuss nutritional requirements – find out what works and what doesn’t for others and maybe add a few suggestions to your upcoming preparations as the season progresses.  And last but not least, focus on a mechanically sound bike.  Rides don’t happen if your bike isn’t it good working order.  Have replacement bike parts, tubes, and cycling accessories on hand to keep you in the saddle and benefiting from your training camp.

Creating your own Spring cycling training camp can be a fun adventure that gets you into shape.  Teaching and learning, challenging rides and  lots of laughter are all key ingredients to fuel the sprit for a successful 2014 cycling season.


Injury? Winter Blues? Weather? How to Stay on Track When Missing Training

February 20, 2014

BikeParts.comKeeping 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 keeping comfortable if you are fighting an injury.  Sometimes lack of motivation rears its ugly head during these challenging times despite our best efforts to press on.  Yet, this time of year, many cyclists – competitive and recreational – are fighting regular demons whether that is general fatigue, lack of time, or seasonal illness.

Granted, it is widely accepted in the health and fitness community that exercise has a positive effect on our mind body and spirit.  But how do you make these gains and keep your cycling training on track when you are missing workouts?  Let’s look at some practical steps to fight off those winter blues, manage time better, and overcome injuries so you are in your best form for the 2014 cycling season.

For starters, general fatigue, lack of time, and life in general will always play a role in preventing training and missing training days. So what do you do?  The post, Missing training – Adjusting the plan,  suggest a few options for recalibrating your weekly training schedule.  The big take away is the mindset.

“Often remind yourself of the big picture. It’s easy to beat yourself up over missed training, but if you have been steady with training, give yourself a break. Gaining fitness doesn’t happen in one or two days and losing fitness doesn’t happen in one or two days. It takes months of steady training to gain good fitness. A few days missed or logging a fewer less hours than planned for a week is a small blip on the radar.”

But that isn’t an excuse to curl up on that couch!  Motivation is key and weather variances can prevent steady outdoor training.  The post, Surviving the Winter as a Cyclist, shares some great “fortune cookie wisdom” in that the hardest part is just getting started.  “Whether it’s starting your workout for the day, or jumping back into training after you’ve been “off the wagon” for a while, getting going is tough. That’s the law of inertia. An object at rest wants to stay at rest. But on the flip side, once an object is in motion, it wants to stay in motion.

The key here – start pedaling.  Make a time commitment to stay on the bike for 30 minutes to see how you feel.  By then, most likely you’ll be into the ride and lack of motivation is disappearing.

And finally, if injury is preventing you from sticking to your cycling training plan, consider watching what you eat!  Not to avoid gaining weight, but to improve your recovery time.  The post, What Can I Eat to Recover from Injury?  illustrates the role of omega-3 fats, protein, glucose, and herbal supplements in injury prevention and recovery. What you eat can affect your mindset, motivation, and outlook.

If all else fails, remember, Spring is right around the corner!  Get a bike fit! Purchase new bike parts, and get ready!


Follow Your Heart: Using Commitment to Reach New Heights on the Bike

February 13, 2014

BikeParts.com InspirationCommitment.  A simple word but can be viewed two fold.  Commitment as being dedicated to a cause or an activity.  Or, commitment as an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.

When you think of being committed to your cycling, which definition rings true for you? Like many, both seem true.  While we all like to consider our training plans and racing regimens to be a true testament to our cycling passion, we also face the time restrictions and sacrifices our cycling commitments force us to make.  Cycling can be a loved and hated passion.

Yet, in between loving and hating our two wheeled friends, there are varying degrees of commitment.  While you tell yourself you are pushing the limits in training, or taking on big audacious goals in the new season, you might find there are still new ways to commit.  You may secretly know where your love of the bike is wavering and in true Valentine’s day form – there is an opportunity to stop hiding out and playing it safe.  You can commit on a deeper level to your fitness and well being.

There are a host of ways to embrace commitment.  It all starts with a desire for more – to improve from a present state to a future state.  For many competitive cyclist looking back to the 2013 cycling season, it begins with personal reflection.  Evaluating the past season with objectivity gives insights as to what worked and didn’t work in the previous year. Committing to strengthening and improving on areas of weakness rather than just concentrating on what you do well elevates your skills and experience as a cyclist.

Looking forward to the 2014 season, commitment takes form by asking yourself  what it is you would love to accomplish?  Don’t just play it safe and do the same events year after year.  Step it up.  Commit to something bigger.  Ask more of yourself.  Choose different events – or do the same events – but faster!  Make your goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound),  but also inspiring.

What other ways can you commit to cycling?  Could it be using your heart rate, or power meter offers options in calculating mileage and other fitness related variables.  Try a new tool and see if it makes adding up the miles a little easier.  Consider getting new bike parts to fuel your newfound commitment to your cycling goals.

Committing yourself to your fondest goals and desires can be comforting while also frightening.  Yet, digging deeper into your dreams and desires and fully committing to their success can be personally rewarding and extremely fulfilling.  Reach new heights on the bike this season – commit to it!


Post Holiday Blues? What To Do When You Are Lacking Cycling Motivation

January 2, 2014

Motivation is the foundation all athletic effort and accomplishment. Without your desire and determination to improve your sports performances, 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.

But when the weather is poor, sunlight is at a minimum, and riding conditions are less than ideal, what do you do?  Add to the fact that the holidays are now over with not much to look forward to between now and Spring and race season, many find the added holiday weight gain and winter conditions to be a downer on motivation. How do you stay motivated to ride?

The reason motivation is so important is that it is the only contributor to sports performance over which you have control. Much like training your physical body for the challenges of cycling, motivation is built too – it is not stumbled upon.  Following are 5 ways to build your motivation muscle:

Have a goal.  As you are considering your new goals for 2014, it’s important to evaluate the previous season with an objective, yet critical eye.  Too loft of a goal may be intimidating and back fire on you.  The post, Make Proper Goal Setting a Priority for Your 2014 Cycling Season offers 10 key questions for evaluation and proper goal setting for your 2014 season.  Make intermediate and long term goals to keep you inspired to do your daily workouts. 

Fine tune your fitness – use a heart rate monitor or power meter. Sure, heart rate monitors and power meters have been around for a while now, but how effectively are you using them?  Learning what what you need to know about the nuances, ranges, and data interpretation can make a difference in just getting a workout in versus targeting a specific workout in which you hit numbers and are motivated to get after it again the next day. 

Make friends with the trainer.  Nobody likes riding the trainer much less riding it for consecutive days in a row, but there are ways to overcome trainer woes  to eliminate boredom and support your training.  Read the post here for ideas on the best equipment to use and tips for trainer workouts.  Try different approaches, times of day, and lengths of workouts to keep your trainer workouts fresh.

Dial it in!  Your body and your bike – that is!  Have you gained weight during the holiday season?  Check out Top 5 Apps for Cyclists for Off-Season Fitness Gains –   for easy ways to drop the pounds.  And, consider getting a bike fit.  Yes, a bike fit.  We’ve heard about them, talked about them, but somehow, most of us don’t get one.  And why not?  They say the quickest way to get faster on the bike is with a bike fit.  Sure, fit impacts comfort but it also impacts technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries and how you ride. Meaning it directly affects how much power you can efficiently deliver to the pedals. Dialing  in your body and your bike parts will keep you motivated as you discover how the new changes positively affect your time on the bike.

Train your brain.  How are you training your brain? We think of discipline as a form of training or exercising the brain but use the power of visualization to motivate yourself and accomplish you 2014 season goals. The post, The Power of Mental Suffering offers key insights as to how thought creates a powerful reality.

Ultimately, motivation is not something that can be given to you. Rather, motivation must ultimately come from within.  Just like the passion you have for cycling.  Dig deep, find what inspires you, connect with that and pedal your way to a successful 2014 cycling season.  Happy New Year friends!


Make Proper Goal Setting a Priority for Your 2014 Cycling Season

December 26, 2013
Joshua Murdock climbing Old Three Mile Highway in Linnville, North Carolina.

Joshua Murdock climbing Old Three Mile Highway in Linnville, North Carolina.

While the year may not be quite over, many are already planning their 2014 race and cycling season.  Sure, it’s fun to have lofty new goals, new ambitions, and new venues to fuel your cycling passions through the winter months and holiday season, but not pausing to reflect on what has recently come to pass during the previous season is missing a valuable opportunity to make personal gains that only you can make.   Personal reflection offers insights to truly optimize your training and racing regimen.

Before setting your sights on new goals for 2014, it’s important to evaluate the previous season with an objective, yet critical eye.  The post, Athlete-Coach Season Review, poses 10 questions to review your past season’s performance:

  • What was the highlight of your season (for example, best race or greatest accomplishment)?Why?
  • What was your greatest disappointment? Why?
  • Review your top three goals for this season. Do you feel these were achieved?
  • What did you do in training this season that you feel made you faster?
  • What did you do in training this season that you feel was not productive?
  • If you could change your training, mental preparation, or race tactics/strategy this past season, what would you do differently?
  • Was there anything missing in your training this season?
  • Do you feel that you trained enough and worked hard enough in training this season?
  • Do you feel that you had adequate rest during training and before races?
  • Do you have any extra comments and insights on this season?

With these personal insights in mind, you are better equipped to plan and execute a rewarding and successful 2014 cycling season.  Take the lessons and insights from these questions to make SMART goals for 2014.  When you make your resolutions SMART  (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound), not only do you boost your chance of  attaining your goals, but you also  become a better cyclist in the process.  Aside from the traditional resolutions to ride more, to lose weight, and to explore new rides, consider taking on some different resolutions.  Explore how these suggestions can add to your training or mental preparation for the upcoming season.

Set a personal goal for the miles you want to ride in 2014.  Using a cycling computerheart rate monitor, or power meter offers options in calculating mileage and other fitness related variables.  Try a new tool and see if it makes adding up the miles a little easier.

Learn to maintain your own bike. For some, bike maintenance  can be a chore, but having the right set of bike components and tools can make all the difference.  Consider creating a pre-ride bike check or an ongoing maintenance program to follow.  Bike maintenance can be a great way of engaging in your cycling passion the whole year long.

Bike commute and do it more often. Bike commuting improves fitness, health, saves money, and also benefits the environment by keeping one less car on the road.  If you aren’t a bike commuter now, maybe in 2014 you will be.  And, if you already bike commute, perhaps resolve to commute by bike more frequently.

Inspire others to get out and ride.  Bike inspiration comes in many forms, from DVD‘s, to books, to new bikes and bike parts, to riding with others.  Share your bike passion with others in ways that are meaningful and inspiring to them.  How many friends do you think you could inspire to be two wheeled friends in 2014?

Give Back.  Cycling by nature brings out the best in us all.  Consider volunteering your time, skills, or resources at local bike races and bike events.  Event participants will be in your gratitude but you may get back more than you give!  Many volunteers are inspired to participate, race, or take on bigger goals than they previously imagined due to volunteering and helping others to reach their goals.

Commit to a Positive Attitude.   Nothing is more contagious than a positive attitude!  Resolve in 2014 to embrace power thoughts and bike parts that motivate you to get on your bike and ride. Surround yourself with fellow cyclist aiming for similar goals.  Remember, your attitude determines your altitude.

For cyclist, attaining goals is part motivation, part perspiration, and part having the right tools to help you reach your goals.   Here’s to a bright and rewarding New Year ahead!


10 Questions to Evaluate the Success of Your Cycling Season

November 7, 2013

What makes a successful cycling season?  It is having a good coach? Having a really fast bike? Having the right bike parts for each race or event?  According to Mike Ricci, head coach of the 2013 National Champion CU Triathlon Team, it is consistency that pays off.  This means consistency in hitting your workouts week in and week out, month in and month out, and year in and year out.

As the 2013 cycling season comes to a close, now is a good time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work in meeting your goals and objectives this past year.  How did training consistency play a part in your success or lack of success this past year?  How should you be planning for 2014?  And, what other questions should you be asking yourself to improve upon this past year’s performance?

While the year may not be quite over, many are already planning their 2014 race and cycling season.  Sure, it’s fun to have lofty new goals, new ambitions, and new venues to fuel your cycling passions through the winter months, but not pausing to reflect on what has recently come to pass is missing a valuable opportunity to make personal gains that only you can make.   Personal reflection offers insights to truly optimize your training and racing regimen.

The post, Athlete-Coach Season Review, poses 10 questions to review your past season’s performance:

  1. What was the highlight of your season (for example, best race or greatest accomplishment)?Why?
  2. What was your greatest disappointment? Why?
  3. Review your top three goals for this season. Do you feel these were achieved?
  4. What did you do in training this season that you feel made you faster?
  5. What did you do in training this season that you feel was not productive?
  6. If you could change your training, mental preparation, or race tactics/strategy this past season, what would you do differently?
  7. Was there anything missing in your training this season?
  8. Do you feel that you trained enough and worked hard enough in training this season?
  9. Do you feel that you had adequate rest during training and before races?
  10. Do you have any extra comments and insights on this season?

With these personal insights in mind, you are better equipped to plan and execute a rewarding and successful 2014 cycling season.