Holiday Season – Cyclist Survival Strategies 

November 15, 2018

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s – the holiday season is quickly approaching!  While the holiday season brings times of joy and celebration, it is often tainted with juggling holiday parties, kids events, family gatherings, and travel.  While all fun activities, they can contribute to a stressful experience.  

As athletes, we all know that there is only an infinite amount of stress the body can handle.  Holiday stresses of staying up too late, eating tempting treats, and overall training fatigue can create a loss of training motivation or just plain not riding.  Not fun, given exercise can aid in reducing stress.  So, what is the balance during the holidays to reduce stress, maintain fitness, and still hit all the holiday parties and complete those endless shopping lists?  Have a strategy! No different than approaching a race or ride with a strategy, it’s best to have some “go to” plans to navigate the holiday season. 

Avoid stress. First and foremost, address holiday shopping stress! Can holiday shopping really be stress free?  Yes -shop online! At BikeParts.com, we offer a huge selection of road bikesmountain bikesbike parts, BMX bike parts and more – all at your fingertips. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy stress free holiday shopping for your self, riding buddies, and friends. The only time you will find your heart rate rising in on the killer deals you will find at BikeParts.com.

Manage Expectations.  Are your expectations for the holidays realistic? Asking yourself this question is the first step to managing holiday stress. Make a list of what you expect from yourself and your family during the holidays. Hidden within these expectations you might find your potential holiday stressors — the things specific to you that can cause stress.  Once identified, you can then write down what changes you can make to prevent or defuse stress. 

Eat well.  The holidays offer irresistible food temptations adding extra pounds to our waist lines and robbing us of precious energy.  Instead of reaching for the holiday goodies, opt for nutritious snacks.  Focus on good nutrition and choose your bike nutrition when you need it most- on the bike.  Being mindful of your food choices can positively affect your energy levels and help maintain your ability to ride and perform better. You might enjoy reading our post Battle of the Bulge – How to Fight the End of Season Weight Gain for more ideas on developing a plan to keep you on track during your most tempting moments. 

Schedule your rides.  The flurry of holiday activities makes time precious.  You may not have time for a lengthy ride, so schedule your ride time and make the most of the time you have. Shift your focus to what you can control and let go of things beyond your control.  What can you control? The intensity, duration, and consistencies of your workouts.  You can also control the elements surrounding your training, as in, your bike parts, bike functioning, and being well prepared nutritionally to get the best out of your workouts.  

Avoid guilt.  If you just can’t find the time or motivation to ride during the holiday season, avoid beating yourself up with guilt. The strategy for dealing with guilt is just to accept it and move on.  Give yourself a break mentally and physically knowing the holiday season doesn’t last forever.  If you just can’t find the time or motivation to ride during the holiday season, at least feed your velo passion with pictures of new road bikes , new mountain bikes, and cool bike parts.  This will feed your spirit and breathe life into next year’s bike season.

There you have it! Strategies to survive the holidays.  Maintaining a holiday fitness plan doesn’t have be hard.  Be flexible, mix it up, and enjoy!

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The Perils of Training Indoors and What to Do About It

November 8, 2018

It’s tough this time of year figuring out how to get training rides in. The warm, summer days are gone. Winter is not quite here, yet there are blasts of cool days followed by warmer days and yet the days themselves are shorter.

Combine those variables with the fact that the holidays are right around the corner and training rides seem to get shorter or skipped all together.  Perhaps missing a day or two of riding doesn’t seem like much but it does. According to the post, What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Riding, within a relatively short period of time, undesirable consequences result. As in, your metabolism stagnates. Your blood pressure rises. Your blood sugar surges. Fitness declines. And, inevitable wait gain surfaces. Not fun! The goal this time of year is consistency.  It is consistent training that helps prepare your body for the physical stresses of the season ahead. Given the constraints many face this time of year, indoor training becomes the most reliable source.  

Now tell the truth. How do you really feel about training indoors? Most have a love/hate relationship with trainers and rollers but you can find ways to embrace riding indoors to support your cycling training now and all the way through to next season.  Here is how. 

Apps – Fortunately, there are now many apps that make your time on the trainer more productive and entertaining. Additionally, these apps record your workout so you can analyze your effort and get your best bang for the buck workout wise. The post, Choosing the Right Indoor Cycling App, offers a list of apps and a description of how they function to help you decide which is best for you.  Some of our favorites from the list include ZwiftCycleOps Virtual Training, and TrainerRoad.  

Bike Setup – Granted, apps can make your ride more enjoyable; yet, having the right equipment can make a difference too. When we’re talking about equipment, sure, we mean having your road bike on the trainer, but we’re also talking about having a fan, a trainer tire, a riser block, a sweat towel, a trainer mat, and indoor riding clothes.  If you are using a basic trainer, you may also want a cadence sensor, a power meter, and a heart rate monitor.  You might not think all of these cycling accessories  add up to a great trainer workout, but  if you’re looking to take your training to the next level, having the right bike parts helps support motivation and training consistency.

Maximize Your Time – Make your indoor riding really count. It’s hard to stay motivated riding indoors for days in a row. So, another way to make riding indoors work is to shorten your ride. In fact, a one hour hard trainer workout will do more to improve your cycling and race fitness than 2 to 4 hours easy on the trainer. So, plan time on the trainer or rollers accordingly.

If you haven’t found yourself on the trainer yet this season, you’re lucky! The indoor riding season is fast approaching.  When you think about it, indoor training doesn’t have to be as bad as you think.  Options are available. It’s all about how you approach it.  


The Cyclists’ Ultimate Guide to Daylight Savings Time 2018 

November 1, 2018

With Daylight Savings time ending this upcoming weekend, darkness will fall earlier each day making it more challenging to fit training rides in the schedule. You’ve worked hard all year long, it seems a waste to let your fitness fall off.  Given that the days with long sunshine hours are ending, what are the best strategies for continued training and maintaining fitness? Fortunately for you, we’ve written about this topic in previous post and we’ve gathered all of our time tested and results proven strategies together to share our best approaches for making the most of the time change. Here’s what to keep in mind. 

Have a goal. The goal can be big, small or in between but having something to shoot for between now and the New Year can inspire you to ride.  Goals can be off the bike or bike specific.  Meaning, setting nutrition or weight goals can support your motivation to ride.  Or, having a goal to ride a certain number of times a week can get you off the sofa and on to the bike.  Pick a goal that inspires you and is manageable.  The last thing you want to do is set a big, unattainable goal which deflates your motivation for maintaining your cycling training. 

Fine tune your fitness.  Leverage the tools available to you to promote motivationUse a heart rate monitor or power meter to benchmark your efforts. 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. 

Time management – It all begins with time management. Schedule your workouts in your calendar.  Consider shifting meetings and family obligations to early morning, late afternoon and early evening.  Think about optimizing your lunch hour as ride time.  These are areas that can assist in getting your scheduled training in during the daylight hours.  Again, the idea here is to create a plan and stick to it.  If you plan a ride during the daylight hours and miss it, then it creates stress on how to make that ride up.  So, if you do, then night riding becomes your option.

Night riding – To begin, don’t be afraid of the dark!  Get the right bike parts and cycling apparel to ride and you’ll be inspired to do it.  Remember, visibility is crucial – for you and your bike. 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.  Don’t forget to wear 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.

Night 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.

Indoor riding – Maybe you just can’t swing riding during the day and night riding isn’t your thing.  You can maintain fitness with indoor training on the trainer.  Granted, 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.  Try different approaches, times of day, and lengths of workouts to keep your trainer workouts fresh.Most cyclist have a love / hate relationship with the trainer. Yet, there are ways to make it work.  Check out our post, Trainer Techniques for Winter Training for tips and suggestions on getting the best out of your indoor rides.

Dial it in!  Your body and your bike – that is! Get 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. Use the time change to your advantage to experiment with bike parts, adjust your riding position, and dial in your most efficient riding position. 

Ultimately, adjusting to the time change is a mindset shift.  The time change can mark the end of the season or bring on a new adventure.  Embrace the challenge! Find the right strategy or combination of approaches mentioned and make the time change work for your benefit. Happy Riding! 


Obvious Yet Worth Repeating: Why Bike Lights Are Important 

October 25, 2018

Bike Lights at BikeParts.com

 

 

 

 

If you have been cycling for a while, chances are at some point in your cycling career you have had an unpleasant experience with a car.  No one enjoys that!  And, while it is a given that vehicle and motorcycle drivers understand that there are certain rules that make things safer for everyone on the roads, they may not know that there are specific guidelines for dealing with cyclists. Likewise, riders must obey certain traffic laws to keep things safe for themselves and motorists. However, you don’t need a license to ride a bike. That’s why it’s even more important to educate both drivers and cyclists about safety on the road.  

This time of year, some cyclist forgo their rides in fear of lack of visibility and poor road conditions to avoid the potential conflicts of not being seen by drivers.  Yet, at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we encourage you to keep riding.  Safety equates to being seen by drivers, as well as, pedestrians. So to continue riding through the fall and winter months, forgo your fear of the dark! Invest in the right bike parts and cycling apparel to ride in the dark. As a result, you will have the confidence to do it. Remember, visibility is crucial – for you and your bike. 

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. 

Commit to regular bike maintenance.  Fall weather conditions create a bit more havoc for your bike. With that in mind, we encourage riders to be mindful of having a well maintained bike with properly working bike parts to maintain safe riding conditions.  We also support mindful bike riding.  As in, not riding on the sidewalk, not riding to close to the curb, maintaining eye contact with pedestrians and motorist, and always wearing a proper fitting helmet.   

Being seen and staying safe on the bike is easy.  At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we provide cycling accessories and cycling apparel to keep cyclist safe.  While having a bike belllights, a safety vest, and a helmet are all helpful, we also encourage riders to know the rules of the road. The post, An Essential Cyclist Safety Guide for Riders and Motorists, shares more details on bike safety.  Additionally, the post How to Not Get Hit by Cars shares important lessons in bike safety.  Be an informed and safe rider – know the rules of the road, ride safe, and be seen. 

Lucky for you, we have lights on sale right now! LED, rechargeable, and affordable. Check out BikeParts.com for our wide variety of light options.  Or, stop by the shop and see which ones are best for your bike setup and type of riding.  See you soon! 


The Importance of Having the Right Bike Parts for Cycling

October 18, 2018

Cyclists generally subscribe to the idea that having more than one bike matters.  Who couldn’t agree with that?! But on the flip side, have you ever wondered if bike parts matter? Sure, bike parts make are part of a complete bicycle but does one particular bike part matter than another?  

When you think about it, bike parts do contribute to your riding comfort. If you don’t feel comfortable, safe, or in control of the bike you are riding, chances are you aren’t going to ride it very often.  Also, bike parts do make a difference in injury prevention.  In a sport based on such a highly repetitive action, like pedaling, the first line of defense against injury is having a proper saddle with aligned seat position, height, and angle – not to mention a few other important factors like handlebarsstems, and the correct bike position.  All of these factor in to a comfortable riding position as well as a rider’s stability, endurance, and safety. 

But what other bike parts are important?  First and foremost would be the bike frame itself.  Whether it is a road bike, mountain bike, or cyclocross bike, the frame provides strength and rigidity and largely determines the handling.  In fact, Triathlete magazine provided the following advice to one of its readers: “When it comes to how your bike fits, rides, handles and reacts, the frame is the most important physical part of the bike. The frame is also usually the most expensive part of the bike and the most involved to replace. Buying a bike with the right frame the first time can not only help you enjoy the benefits of a better riding and performing bike now, but can also save significant money down the road as you will only need to buy some new parts, instead of buying a whole new bike, to upgrade.”  At the end of the day, it all comes down to fit. The frame needs to be the right size for you. 

Following the frame, other considerations include bike components and wheels.  Regarding cycling components, we’re talking about the drivetrain, gearing, and braking systems.  Focus on getting bike parts of a level that are designed for your riding style and frequency.  And wheels – they matter! They can make a basic bike ride a lot better while sub-par wheels can make an otherwise exceptional bike feel mediocre.  There are different wheel types, a variety of options for tube or tubeless wheels, and ideas to consider in tubular wheels, rim shape, spoke count, and hub options. While wheel options may seem overwhelming, it’s really straightforward. To make it easier to understand, check out our post and video, Wheelset Buyer Guide: What You Need to Know

All in all, bike parts do matter. They keep you safe and comfortable and out riding your bike.  Fortunately, 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.  Stop in to see our road and mountain bikes. Check out any bike parts you want to upgrade or replace. Better yet, schedule a bike fit and dial in your optimum riding position.  Happy Riding! 


Riding in the Cold and the Rain Requires a Strategy! What’s Yours? 

October 11, 2018

BikeParts.com Team Riders Training in Spring WeatherIt seems the warmer days of summer are gone!  Just this past weekend Colorado cyclists along the Front Range were greeted with cold and chilly temperatures.  Those caught off guard by the swift change in winter conditions suffered mightily during their weekend rides.  Now the week has progressed and we are over three days in to rain, cold, and light snow. Many cyclists are wondering how to salvage their fall training plans and make the most of this cold and wet fall weather.  Generally, it requires a shift in focus from longer rides to perhaps shorter, more intense rides.  

When faced with poor weather, the primary “go to” option for cyclists is the trainer.  Granted, most cyclist have a love / hate relationship with the trainer.  As a training aid, cyclist love it because it offers training options during poor weather and winter months.  Yet, on the flip side, trainer rides can be boring, lead to muscle- specific fatigue, and basically, offer uninspired riding. Usually, most cyclist aren’t getting on the trainer this time of year.  With hesitation, many are asking, “Is there a way to make it work?”  Yes! It’s important to have the right trainer setup.  When we’re talking about setup, sure, we mean having your road bike on the trainer, but we’re also talking about having a fan, a trainer tire, a riser block, a sweat towel, a trainer mat, and indoor riding clothes.  If you are using a basic trainer, you may also want a cadence sensor, a power meter, and a heart rate monitor.  You might not think all of these cycling accessories  add up to a great trainer workout, but  if you’re looking to exchange a longer, more intense ride with a shorter one because of weather related restrictions, then yes, having the right bike parts helps support motivation and training consistency.  Our post, Making the Most of Winter with Trainers, Rollers, and Indoor Riding offers more detail strategies for making the most of indoor riding. 

While the trainer is definitely a training option, you don’t want to miss riding outdoors all together.  So, it’s important to dial in your cycling apparel for the type of riding you will be doing.  Specifically, when you are riding, you want to balance your warmth and comfort with the intensity of your bike ride. If you are really bundled up when you start riding, you will likely want to start shedding layers. It may feel good to sweat in 25 degree weather, but you want clothes that are both breathable, wind-stopping, and sometimes waterproof. You also want to evaluate the type of ride you are doing? Is this a training ride? Will you be working really hard? Or are you just going to work? With all that in mind, get clear on the type of cycling apparel you have in your existing wardrobe and identify the clothing you need purchase to enable you to ride in a variety of weather conditions.  Fall cycling apparel usually includes the following: 

Rain jacket – Cycling rain jackets are optimized to be fully waterproof and breathable while allowing for a range of movement, and they often have subtle (or unsubtle) reflective accents. The thing to be mindful of when choosing one is the hood. If you ride in a helmet, is the hood big enough to fit over it? If not, opt for a head cap. A cycling cap, worn underneath your helmet, will help keep the rain from running into your eyes while you ride, and help shield your face from the rain.

Shoe covers or waterproof shoes – Shoe covers, also known as booties, cover the exterior of your shoes and protect from wet, cold, and wind. There are several options: some that cover just the toes and others that encompass the entire foot. Sometimes, even shoe covers aren’t enough protection. Waterproof cycling shoes and boots can be a very smart investment, especially if you’re determined to ride in the rain frequently.

Gloves – Perched out on your handlebars your hands face the brunt of the weather. As your hands become numb from the constant rain, their temperature quickly cools, and before too long you can have some very frozen fingers to deal with. Frozen fingers aren’t much good at changing gear, braking or clinging to the handlebars, and they’re extremely uncomfortable. Opt for full finger / windproof gloves and waterproof gloves.

Lights – Even if it’s daylight out, you should ride with lights—for the same reason cars turn their lights on in the rain.  The sky is darker, rain can obscure your outline, and drivers are already distracted. Using lights will make you more visible, and help you stay safe.

Maintenance – Experiencing mechanical difficulties in wet conditions is not fun!  A well maintained bike is a fun bike to ride – even in the rain. While bike maintenance can be a chore, having the right set of bike components and bicycle tools can make all the difference.  Good reminders for riding in wet conditions is to wipe down and inspect the frame.  Then, follow that up by applying lube your chain and pivot points.  

Rest assured, the rain and cooler temps won’t be around for long.  While the days of summer have ended, no doubt we will experience warmer and dryer days before winter sets in.  In the meantime, have a strategy to approach the transitional weather conditions that supports your training schedule and stock up on your cold weather cycling apparel.  Fortunately, at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we can help you with all of your cycling apparel needs! In fact, we’ve got quite a lot of new cycling clothing in store right now. Visit us at BikeParts.com, follow us on Twitter, and keep in touch on Facebook


5 Uncommon Bike Buying Questions

October 4, 2018
So you want to buy a bike?  Who wouldn’t want to get a new bike?! Actually, now is the best time of year to purchase a new road bike or mountain bike because this year’s bikes are on sale and we’re clearing the way for next year’s models.  With so many bike choices available, there are quite a few questions to dial in when considering purchasing a new bike.  In fact, we’ve written about many of those questions in the following blog posts and you can check them out here:  
But, what about the uncommon questions?  You know, the ones you might be a bit shy to ask the salesperson.  No need to hesitate with your questions, we’ve got you covered.  
 
Question #1 Let’s get the first question out of the way.  Do you need to buy your bike at a bike shop?  You can buy anything on the internet these days including bike parts, cycling accessories, and complete bicycles from us at BikeParts.com.  However, we do encourage you to purchase your bicycle at a bike shop.  Here’s why. Bicycle Magazine sums it up best, “When you buy a bike from an authorized retailer, you know that the bike was assembled by a professional mechanic, and you begin to build a rapport with that shop—a great way to find out about new routes or group rides or maintenance clinics and events. You also ensure you’re not getting a counterfeit product, which is a continuing problem in the bike industry.” 
Question # 2 How do you know if a bike fits you? Test ride it!  Bring your cycling apparel with you, including your cycling shoes and helmet, when test riding a bike.  Before heading out on your test ride, take time to visit with your salesperson about shifting, brakes, and any particular feature of the bike you are testing out.  A bike that feels good and is comfortable to ride is one you will ride often.  So, go with feel. And then, after your purchase, schedule a bike fit with us to dial in the specific bike parts you may need to achieve optimum comfort, power, cadence, and fit for you.  
Question #3. Do I have to dress like a cyclist like the riders you see on the Tour de France?  Well, you can if you want to!  At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we have a wide variety of cycling apparel to match your style.  Some prefer jerseys and lycra shorts and other prefer a more casual ride style.  Again, go with what is comfortable to you. We have cycling apparel on sale and new items coming in for the winter months. Stop by and see what works best for you. 
Question #4 Should I use clipless or flat pedals? Note, clipless pedals are the ones you clip into with cycling shoes with cleats on the bottom.  Flat pedals are simply pedals, like you would have on a BMX or kids bike. They are not popular with many racers or road riders because clipless pedals help improve your performance in racing, especially for road disciplines. But don’t rush to use clipless or exclude flat pedals from your practice completely. Start with what you are most comfortable and make changes as you see fit. 
Question #5 How do I maintain my bike?  Bike maintenance may seem overwhelming to the new rider and even to veteran riders too.  Some cyclist really enjoy doing their own bike maintenance and others prefer for our shop mechanics to do it for them.  Again, do what is best in your comfort zone.  As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to follow some of these guidelines that we’ve written about in our post, 4 Essential Bike Maintenance Tips to Get Your Bike on the Road.
 
What other questions might you have that we missed? Don’t be shy! Stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop to test ride a bike, check out our winter cycling apparel, and get all of your questions answered.