How to Develop a Winning Mindset for Early Season Races  

March 16, 2017

Team Rider at BikeParts.com / Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop

Planning and preparing for race season is part of a cyclist’s yearly ritual. Looking forward to focused training and racing is what keeps most coming back season after season. However,  a common misconception is that all of an athlete’s time needs to be devoted to the bike when race preparation begins.  Not true.  Having the right pre season mindset can be a game changer for performance and satisfaction.   

Set Goals – Everyone has different goals.  For some, races are just about getting harder efforts in and saddle time.  For others, it’s making the podium. For most cyclist, it’s about achieving personal bests.  The most important aspect of having a goals it that it can help reduce pre race anxiety and also help you better evaluate your performance post race.  Identify what you want to accomplish with early season races –  whether it be a targeted heart rate or power zone, a solid nutrition plan, or attacking certain areas on the race course.

Pre Race Bike Preparations – While you may have been training on your road bike or mountain bike, race conditions may require more from your bike.  Before you head for the start line, you should conduct a bike maintenance and safety check.  Know which bikesbike partscycling accessories, and cycling apparel are appropriate for the trail or road route you will be racing.  Remember, because it’s early season, the weather fluctuates, so consider variable weather conditions and the bike tools and bike parts you may require under different conditions.  Preparation eliminates the frustration of experiencing a mechanical; so while bike maintenance may not always be fun, it’s worthwhile.  

Establish Race Day Rituals – Most likely it’s been a while since your last race; so remembering what your routines and rituals that worked last season may be absent for this seasons first races.  Designing and refining a pre-event routine is an important part of building a successful race season.  Does having a checklist of race day activities help structure your preparation to the start line?  Include items such as nutrition, hydration, clothes, gear, extra bike parts and basic bike tools.  Consider having a timer count down so you don’t loose track of time.  This way, you won’t forget anything as you prepare for your start.  Use each early season race to build on race day rituals that have helped you in the past and also enhance your support for your next race.

Start Line Mental State – Your thoughts, emotions, and pre race behaviors are components of your mental state.  With that in mind, take inventory of your mental state and align them with your goals.  It’s easy to compare your training and fitness to others.  This is where having your race plan and goals specific to this event comes in handy. 

Mid Race Mental Toughness – Generally at some point during the race, something is going to go wrong – or at least, not quite as ideal as expected.  Either you suffer from a mechanical issue or your race day nutrition is off or you just feel the suffering from a hard effort.  This is the time to dig deep and exercise 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.”  Your “stick to it” attitude during early season races prepares you for the bigger challenges you will face later in the race year. 

Post Race Evaluation  – Evaluate your results based on your goals.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What can you do next race to get a better result?  Be objective and explore how your mental and physical training helped prepare you for this event.

A winning mindset isn’t a set it and forget it type of thing.  Consistency and flexibility are crucial elements in the ongoing approach to your races as the season unfolds.  Be consistent in your preparations yet build upon what you have learned to fire up the engine and get out there and race better with each race!


How to Optimize Your Pre-Season Cycling Training

March 9, 2017

Peak Cycles Race TeamThe weather has been amazing in Colorado!  The warmer temps are beckoning recreational and competitive cyclist to ride!  Enthusiasm is high;  but, caution should be in order!  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.  

Whether you are planning to ride a century, multi-day rides, race or aspire to longer or more frequent rides in 2017, monitoring your early season training sets the stage for a successful year ahead.

Train right:
From a training perspective, 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 2017 cycling season goals.

Optimize Your Bike Fit:
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.

Perform Bike Inspections:
Does your bike have cobwebs on it from non use during the winter months?  Now is 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.  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. 

With a little preparation and planning, your pre season bike maintenance and training can pave the way for a long, healthy, and enjoyable 2017 cycling season.  Stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop to pick up the bike parts you need to launch your best cycling season ever!


The Smart Cyclist’s Guide to Preventing Bike Theft

March 2, 2017

Bikes are Safe and Secure at BikeParts.com

About 15,000 bicycles have been reported stolen to the Denver police since 2011. That’s about seven bikes a day taken by bike thieves.  

In fact, Denver consistently ranks in the top ten cities nationwide for bike theft. More so, over a million bikes are stolen every year across the United States. Bike theft is on the rise.  Beyond the financial cost of the crime, it’s heartbreaking to find out someone stole your bike.  Cyclist love their bikes.

As much time as cyclist invest in selecting their road and mountain bikes, and choosing the perfect bike parts and cycling accessories, it’s imperative to protect the bikes we love.  Here’s how.

Make it hard to steal
This is obvious and a no brainer; however, how many times have you been on a ride to find yourself dismounting from your bike to quickly run into a corner store for food or water?  Most times, your bike is left without supervision.  Do not leave your bike unattended. For even safer keeping, do not store bikes unlocked inside home garages.  Leave your bicycle in a visible, well lit area.  When commuting, if possible, avoid leaving your bike locked overnight.

Location
There are numerous bike racks strategically located around coffee shops, stores, and workplaces.  These bike racks are typically in public locations where theft is obvious and rarely occurs. If, however, a bike is parked or locked at a location other than these racks—for instance, attached to a tree or street sign—theft is more likely to occur.   Be mindful as to where you leave your bike.

Lock it
You should always carry a secure lock whenever you plan to leave your bicycle unattended. The U-locks have proven to be most effective, but like all locks they can be defeated. At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we have bicycle locksU locks, and U lock combination kits.  Depending on your bicycle components, you may opt for one lock or multiple ones. 

Lock it correctly
Yes, there is a right way to lock your bike!  When locking any bike on the street, secure both the wheels and frame. (hint – that is why you may want more than one lock and opt for a combination kit.) Remove, or take with you, any easily removed bike parts. Specifically, remove cycling accessories, your helmet, locking skewers on wheels, locking saddle rings and  lights.  If you bike commute regularly, you may consider installing fixed baskets and panniers vs having removable ones.  It’s a good idea to have a messenger bag or something similar to use on a regular basis as well.  These are the basic necessities needed to secure your road or mountain bike while you’re away at work or running errands.  

Register it
No different than a car, it’s important to register your bike.  Start with documenting ownership of your bike(s): take photos and document the bike’s serial number and all bike parts. Retain all purchase receipts.  Next, register your bike with the National Bike Registry.  If you live in Denver you can register your bike at the Denver Bike Registry.   

What if your bike is stolen?
If your bike is stolen, act fast!  File a police report. Bike Denver offers more information including filing a police report.  You may be hesitant, but have an officer come and take down the report.  Alternatively, if you can, or go to the station with your information, including the bike’s serial number, make, model, and photos of the bike for the report. If you have any video surveillance of the incident—or know there were cameras in the area—include that information with the report.  Take action! Spread news about your stolen bike far and wide throughout your social networks. Post a photo of your bike on Facebook and Twitter and get your friends to repost. The more eyes you have on the streets looking for your bike, the far more likely you are to uncover it.

Prevent bike theft by adhering to the above tips. Of course, no one is guaranteed that their bike will be safe, but these tips will help keep you and your bike safe.


Fitter, Faster, Stronger – with Power Meters

February 23, 2017

Power – we all want it! But how do we get it?  Gaining power on the bike isn’t an overnight achievement but one that is obtained through hard work and discipline.  In the past, power was somewhat of a subjective thing but today, with so many cycling training tools available, power is quantifiable.  In fact, the main idea behind using cycling training tools is to dial in training to optimize performance as it relates to specific goals and objectives.  How can using power help you to get fitter – faster- and stronger on the bike? 

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!  But how do you know which power meter is best for you?  With so many bike parts and cycling accessories available, choosing the ideal product for your training and fitness goals is important. Fortunately, the post What to Know Before Buying a Power Meter, offers a breakdown on available power meters. Now, you might be wondering about costs? 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.

Finally, the next question – how to get started?  Training with a power meter is one of the most effective way to get results. However, to get those results you need to know what those numbers mean and how to use the data to dial in your training. A great resource available via Training Peaks is a Free Ebook: How To Start Training With Power.  The Ebook starts by covering the basics like determining your threshold and setting your zones. It also explains the metrics behind power, how to analyze your data, see long term trends and how to use the numbers to get faster.  

Do you have questions on which power meter fits your fitness needs or budget? Stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado to dial in your specific needs. You can browse the variety of cycling apparel and bike parts we have in the store while getting all your power meter questions answered.  We hope to see you soon!


5 Ways to Cross Train for Fitness Gains in 2017 

February 16, 2017
Cross train with a Fat Bike from BikeParts.com

Cross train with a Fat Bike from BikeParts.com

Whether you’re recovering from an injury, giving your body a break, or just finding a way to stay fit through the winter months, diversifying your activity is a great way to keep things interesting and your body bike-ready.

It’s important to fuel your desire for your sport.  One way to do that is by not losing interest in your routine—or even the sport itself. You need variety, and you need to have fun.  Hence, enter the picture for cross training!   Following are our cross training tips for fun and fitness gains. 

  1. Running – Some question if running is good for cyclist. Fortunately, it is!  Running is good for you whether you are a road cyclist, mountain bike cyclist, or cyclocross cyclist.  The post, Is Running Good for Cyclist shares more in detail, but the bottom line is, running adds extra gains when used as a cross training aid. 
  2. Yoga – Some of the most elite cyclists use yoga as part of a successful training program, including 2012 Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins’ benefits from the focus it brings to his cycling, while others, such as pro mountain biker and Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, use yoga to gain strength. From power to endurance, athletes at all levels are incorporating yoga to gain an edge over the competition, and prevent injury.  The next question – how to get started? Check out our post, Yoga and Cycling: What’s In It For You? for ideas and inspiration. 
  3. Hiking – Hiking is a great way to get your nature fix while mixing in a little exercise.  Hiking helps build up your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, core, and hip muscles—crucial muscles that can help your riding.  As a bonus, it helps with bone density because it’s a weight-bearing exercise. Aim for shorter and longer hikes to mix it up. 
  4. Strength training – For some cyclists, strength training is a welcomed part of the training process; however, for others, it is a necessary evil. Many cyclist wonder if they should train year round?  Answering these questions, the post, Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists  states , “one of the main goals with sport-specific strength training is to target your prime movers as well as the assistance muscles that support your prime movers. With proper strength training, each time you press on the pedal, your primary group of muscles (those that take on the majority of the load) will be stronger and have a stronger group of assisting muscles to help produce power. 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.  For ideas and inspiration on strength training, read our post, Why Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists Matters.  
  5. Bike parts – Hmmm? You might be wondering, how does cross training apply to bike parts? Well, consider doing different types of workouts and rides on different bikes.  Use your road bike for intervals, your mountain bike in the nastier weather and to do drills to improve bike handling, and race your fat bike on the snowy days.  Mixing it up keeps it fresh!

Get started cross training to make 2017 one of your best years yet! 


Valentine’s Day Love to Our Two-Wheeled Friends 

February 9, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day from BikeParts.comOur two wheeled friends have a way of bringing people together. Whether it is for a competitive group ride, a casual bike ride with friends, or a stroll with our significant other.  

Riding bikes has a way of unleashing powerful emotions.  You know, like the sense of power you get when the wind is at your back.  Or, the seance of wonder and appreciation you feel upon glancing at our natural environment.  Emotions are an expression of the joy we get from riding our bike.  

Since bike riding gifts our spirits and bodies with so much, why not share the love this Valentine’s Day with your bike?  

Upgrade dated or worn bike parts
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to show your bike some love! At BikeParts.com we have ongoing closeouts that save on bike parts, cycling apparel, and cycling accessories. With that in mind, replace bike parts regularly.  

Don’t wait until you hear odd little noises or you notice that your bike is taking too long for the brakes to engage before investigating.  Some parts of a bike have a set “wear life”. As you put in the miles, they gradually wear out and need to be replaced. Typically, this includes chainscassetteschainringsbrake pads, and cleats.  Stay one step ahead of the game by purchasing these types of bike parts on sale and have them on hand when you need them. 

Bike Maintenance 
Bike maintenance can be a chore, but a necessity. Regular maintenance is essential to any good relationship, right? Including the relationship with your bike! There are several ways to show your bike some love.  For starters, wipe down and inspect the frame.  Rain, snow, mud, 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. 

Don’t forget to lube your chain and cables.  As unglamorous as chain lube is, it is a necessity.  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, inspect your brake pads. 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.

Experience something new
Demo a fat bike!  That’s right! Fat bikes are all the rage – they thrive in snow, sand, desert, bogs 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.  Book a fat bike demo. Better yet, purchase a new bike. 

There are other ways to show some love for our sport this Valentine’s Day.  Consider donating unused or older bike parts to someone or an organization in need.  Pledge to support bike programs like People for Bikes or Bike Denver.  Maybe show your own heart some love and invest in a new heart rate monitor and take your fitness to a new level.  

Regardless of how you express your love for bikes and cycling, all of us at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, encourage you to embrace your true love of the sport this Valentine’s Day.


Fat Bike Essentials for First Time Fat Bike Riders 

February 2, 2017

Demo a Fat Bike at BikeParts.comLess daylight, cold weather and difficulty planning winter workouts all contribute to less time on the bike.  But, if you want to get fitter, faster, and more efficient on the bike, then guess what? You got to put your time in.  So what do you do? Ride a fat bike!  First time fat bike riders may question the bike parts and cycling apparel needed to ride comfortably, so below are our fat bike essentials to make fat biking work for you. 

PEDALS & SHOES 

Many new fat bike riders wonder if they should use clipless or flat pedals on a fat bike?  Guess what? It’s your choice! The biggest problems people have making this decision is deciding how to best keep their feet warm. Having flat pedals will allow you to wear thick winter boots, which are more conducive to keeping your feet warm. However you can buy clipless boots that are designed to handle colder temperatures. Using a clipless pedal could prove annoying in snowy terrain if you have to dismount and remount frequently during your ride.

SMART CLOTHING CHOICES AND POGIES & GLOVES

Obviously, if you are going to be riding out in the cold, you’ll want to dress warm and dress appropriately.  But what does that mean exactly? You have to think a little bit harder before and during your fat bike rides in the cold. Generally the most important tip for keeping warm is to layer, and to carry a pack to put your extra layers away. Some people prefer to wear ski goggles and a ski helmet, and lots of people wear winter boots.  Poagies, insulated hand covers that slip over your handle bars, are also very useful for keeping your hands warm.   Keeping your feet warm is key. Wearing boots, preferably water proof, with thick socks on flat pedals or clipless boots with multiple pairs of socks works.

FACE AND EYE PROTECTION 

Obviously, cover your head!  You can wear a buff or a cap and headgear. Buffs are really good for neck protection as well. Another option are balaclavas – especially so if you want to keep almost your entire face warm.  Remember to wear appropriate eye protection too! The glare from the snow can be blinding.  While not as stylish as some of the cycling eyewear we carry on BikeParts.com, you could consider wearing goggles to help protect our eyes and face in snowy conditions.

TIRES AND TIRE PRESSURE

Hmmmm, decisions here – What kind of tires should I use? How wide? What pressure do I run? Tube vs. Tubeless?  Here’s what we suggest. You have to match tire pressure with conditions. Softer snow conditions: 6psi. Harder conditions: 8-10psi. (much lower than the normal bike). Fat-bike tires are typically marked as 26 x 4.0 though most are really more like 26 x 3.7 or 3.8. The actual size of the mounted tire will vary depending on the rim width used for the wheel.  Many riders prefer tubeless because they reduce over a point of rotation weight and they provide better traction.

A FAT BIKE 

You have to have a fat bike to ride one!  Finding the fat bike that works for you will depend on the type of riding that you do and, more importantly, your budget.  At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we are all big fans of fat bike riding. Stop by to buy a fat bike or demo one.  And if you want even more fat bike ideas, or need for cycling apparelbike parts, and cycling accessories, stop in the shop for that too! We’ve got all the gear and cycling accessories for you riding needs! 

Get in on the fat bike action!  Take your cycling to another level of fun and sign up for one of the upcoming fat bike races. Check out our  2017 Colorado Fat Bike Racing Calendar.  Stop by the shop for bike parts, cycling apparel, and get all your fat bike questions answered!