5 Tips to Transition Toward Spring Cycling Races

April 6, 2017

Spring riding and racing is just around the corner and athletes everywhere are starting to think about their “A” races as well as secondary races to use for training and motivation.  A given rule of thumb is that all races and events provide experience, training benefits, and act as a stage to assess your form.  

However, while some may have trained through the winter months, many have not.  And the alluring call of gorgeous spring days lures many unprepared cyclist to ride too hard, too fast which can lead to injuries or a set back in the 2017 cycling season. To avoid injury or setback, follow these tips to help transition into a healthy and rewarding Spring cycling season.  

Tip #1
Whether you plan to ride a century, multi-day rides, race or aspire to longer or more frequent rides in 2017, monitoring your early season training and racing sets the stage for a successful year ahead.  Key points to keep in mind include training intensity, duration, and frequency.  Our tip to do this? Use power meters and heart rate monitors to guide you. Given that 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 2015 cycling season goals.  Check out our post, The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling, to dial in which training aid is best for you. 

Tip #2
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.

Tip #3
Get your bike race ready – It’s obvious, but often overlooked with the excitement of the season – but that is getting your bike ready to race. Our post, Spring Cleaning! 4 Essential Bike Maintenance Tips to Get Your Bike on the Road, walks you through all the bike maintenance and safety checks needed before embarking on epic training rides.  Fortunately, all the bikesbike parts cycling accessories, and cycling apparel you’ll need can be found on our website – bikeparts.com.  And, if you aren’t into doing bike maintenance yourself, Call or stop in to Peak Cycles in Golden, CO to schedule your bike for a full tune-up. 

Tip #4
Be prepared.  April kicks off the season in Colorado with the Boulder-RoubaixFront Range ClassicFruita Fat Tire Festival, and Koppenberg Road Race.  Not only are you testing your fitness in these early season races, but you’re also testing your memory!  Don’t forget necessary event and race itms. We’ve prepared a handy, comprehensive checklist for Spring racing.   

Tip #5
Early season cycling tempts cyclists  to jump into race training with all the intensity, determination, and vigor they can muster. While these are positive mentalities to have, its important that competitive bicyclists not let their excitement for spring training cause them to overwork themselves.  Recovery is critical.  Our post, Don’t Compromise Your Spring Training Recovery Rides! Here’s How… offers resources for you to learn about recovery best-practices and get the fuel and equipment you need for adequate recovery.

Finally, have fun! Enjoy the launch of the cycling season!  

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The 2015 Traveler’s Guide to Success at Colorado July Races

July 2, 2015

The beautiful scenery and challenging terrain of Colorado’s cycling scene beckons riders from all over the world to ride along the backdrop of blue skies and snow capped mountains.  In fact, Colorado has some of the greatest road bike rides and mountain bike trails in the country.   And, it’s host to one of the world’s favorite bike races – the US ProCycling Challenge.  However, one of the toughest challenges a cyclist can face is how to prepare for a tour or race when traveling from out of state.

A first step in preparation is selecting the road rides, mountain bike trails, and or road and mountain bike races you want to do.  July is packed with events including some of our top favorites:

  • Firecracker 50
  • Tour de Ladies
  • Clasica de Rio Grande
  • Big Mountain Enduro Keystone
  • Triple Bypass
  • Longmont Criterium
  • SOS Outreach Colorado-Eagle River Ride
  • Tour de Steamboat
  • Breckenridge 100
  • Salida Classic
  • Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb
  • Leadville Stage Race
  • Colorado Freeride Festival

Next, you’ll want to gather event intelligence.  As in, what are key elements you should know about the event for planning, preparation, etc. You’ll want to know the course profile.  If you are a flatlander, most likely, you’ll be interested in knowing how much climbing and descending to expect. Obviously, a no brainer is to have your bike and the correct bike parts in order!  If you are accustomed to riding on flat terrain, you’ll also want to have the appropriate gearing for your event. Your legs will thank you for this!

As the event gets closer, you will want to be aware of the weather conditions before, during, and soon after you expect to ride.  Colorado weather changes quickly and sometimes, radically.  It’s critical to prepared.  With that in mind, it is important to know which cycling apparel to pack and have available during your stay.

More importantly, travelers coming from sea level to higher altitudes will want to plan their trip accordingly to allow for acclimation.  Specific to altitude acclimations, there is definitely science and research behind acclimating for cycling performance but without getting too technical, following are some of most common approaches.  You may consider spending time at higher elevations prior to your event which enables the body to adapt and increase the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. This improves your ability to deliver oxygen to the brain and working muscles at all levels of activity, including high-intensity exercise. The longer you can acclimatize – the better.  Keep in mind, true acclimation can take three weeks or more.

Another option and an important one is to hydrate and drink plenty of liquids. High elevations can cause fluid loss, so it’s important to stay well hydrated. Your best course of action is to stick with water or liquids that replace electrolytes and avoid sugary or caffeinated beverages. These liquids act as diuretics and can dehydrate you.

Finally, during training and racing, use your training tools for biofeedback.  It’s important to know your limits going into an event and modify your strategy if necessary. This includes dialing in your race day nutrition requirements, heart rate limits, and using your power meter for feedback. Power meters are especially useful because they help riders to gauge their efforts.

Colorado tours and races in July can be rewarding experiences.  Part of what makes them fun is the scenery and the great Colorado experience. However, to make the even more memorable, it’s important to evaluate your results based on your goals.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What can you do for the next race or tour to get a better result?  Be objective and explore how your mental and physical training helped prepare you for this event.

It might seem unimportant to evaluate the experience, but post event evaluation is an important element in deciding if you want to do that event again the following year.  If you do, it’s helpful to make note of your bike and cycling accessory selections.  What would you change or do differently next time?  As in, you might wonder, did you race the right bike?  Would a different wheel set make a difference?  Build on this foundation to create success in planning and preparing going into next year’s event.

If you are coming in from out of state to participate in one of Colorado’s July cycling events and need help making bike part selections or deciding on the right gear for an event, give us a call at Peak Cycles Bicycle shop. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter and happy to help!  Happy riding!