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!


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!   


How to Stick with Your 2017 Training Plan 

January 26, 2017

Out with the old – in with the new.  That’s pretty much the motto of the New Year. Many cyclists, both competitive and recreational, commit to New Year cycling resolutions; but, it’s right about now, late January, when those resolutions begin to fade.  Whether is is general fatigue, lack of time, seasonal illness or just plain boredom, many find the resolutions of the New Year in the rear view mirror.  Is there a way to make resolution stick?  At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we think so! Following are the 4 components to making your resolutions stick.

#1 ENJOYABLE: Plain and simple.  If you enjoy what you are doing, you’ll do more of it.  So, make winter riding more fun.  Get the right clothing, winterize your bike, and get going!  Check out the post,  21 Ways to Have More Fun on Your Bike, for more fun ideas including singing, testing new bike parts, experimenting with new cycling apps, and opt for new cycling accessories

#2 CONSISTENT: Consistency in training helps you physical body prepare for the physical stresses of  the upcoming season.  According to the post, Nine Golden Rules for Training, consistency is key. That means consistently training but also, consistently racing builds fitness too.  Consistency in racing builds all kinds of fitness: mental, physical, and psychological fitness.  The post, 4 Habits to Increase Your Consistency, offers more suggestions on increasing consistency, such as, being purposeful, following your plan as best as possible, and getting in shorter rides when you have less time to train.

#3 CONVENIENT: The winter months make riding outdoors less desirable. So, riding outside may not be the most convenient option.  Instead, schedule your workouts inside on the trainer.  Before you groan, read our posts  Don’t Be a Hater! Overcoming Trainer Woes for great suggestions on making trainer workouts work for you.  Additionally, shared in the post, 3 Indoor Cycling Workouts Under 1 Hour, are effective workouts to pair technology with your over/ under intervals, power intervals, and speed intervals.  Without the distractions of outdoor scenery, using these tools aids in motivation by setting time goals or power goals to engage your brain.  Another motivation technique includes using the technology tools as valuable feedback for precise and strategic cycling in specific zones which adds to up to greater gains later in your cycling season.

#4 REWARD: There is true satisfaction to be gained by following your fitness routine.  Whether that is increased fitness, a sense of well being, or making progress towards your 2017 cycling goals.  But rewarding yourself can take on other pleasures as well.  Consider purchasing new bike parts or new cycling apparel as a reward for your hard efforts. Treating yourself to these pleasures invites more motivation to stick with your training plan through the cold, winter months.  

It’s easy to keep your resolutions when you focus on having fun.  When you love what you are doing, you’ll keep doing it.  Here’s to your best year yet!


Trainer Techniques for Winter Training

January 19, 2017

Trainers at BikeParts.comAs a cyclist, you can either hate the winter, or make the best of it. Some bundle up and dress to embrace the winter chill while others opt for the dreaded trainer. 

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.  Ugh. Is there a way to make it work?  Yes!  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.  

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.  

If you find yourself really averse from riding the trainer.  Break your workout in half.  Spend half as much time on the trainer and the other half running, hiking, or doing another sport. One way to do this is to avoid long rides on the trainer all together. Year round strength training for cyclists matters and substituting your indoor rides with strength training will do more for your cycling later on in the season than doing another trainer session.  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 your time on the trainer accordingly.

Indoor rides are not a replacement for outdoor rides but with the right bike parts, cycling apparel, and equipment, indoor rides can be fun and beneficial.