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!


Don’t Compromise Your Spring Training Recovery Rides! Here’s How…

April 7, 2016
Joshua Murdock climbing Old Three Mile Highway in Linnville, North Carolina.

Joshua Murdock (Peak Cycles/bikeparts.com team cyclist) climbing Old Three Mile Highway in Linnville, North Carolina.

When spring comes around every year, the temptation for many cyclists is 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. One of the key stages of training where this takes places is cycling recovery.

While it may not always seem like it, a recovery ride is just as important to a cyclist’s race training as a workout. Together, recovery and workouts are the ‘yin and yang’ that balances a riders preparation and optimizes performance. Three key areas of recovery to pay attention to include post-workout recovery, post-race recovery, and balanced nutrition.

Post-Workout Recovery

One of the easiest ways to undermine training is to ride too hard during a recovery ride. The article, “7 Ways to Nail Your Recovery Rides” from Bicycling Magazine explains this well –

When you train hard you do damage—that’s part of the plan. Your workout breaks down your muscle, empties out your fuel stores, and generally taxes your metabolism above and beyond its status quo. When you recover, your body repairs the damage so you can come back stronger and ready for more. If you skip the recovery part, you’re cheating yourself out of the maximum return on your hard work.

Even though it seems counter intuitive, recovery rides should feel easy! Here are some ways to ensure that you are getting a proper recovery:

  • Ride by yourself. You won’t be tempted to keep up with anyone else.
  • Pull out the beater bike. If you have an older bike, you can spin easy and not be tempted to go faster.
  • Get casual. Wear cloths that will make you feel like you’re just out for a cycling stroll
  • Use a bike computer. Let your gadgets tell you if you are going too fast

Post-Race Recovery

Races are often the hardest workout cyclists will do. They redline for longer periods of time than their training workouts and expend more energy. As a result, the mind sends signals to the body  that aren’t always what the body needs – such as exclusively eating junk food and sitting on the sofa for the rest of the day. The article, “Maximize Your Post Race Recovery from Training Peaks offers some ways that you can recover more quickly from a race:

  • Right after the race, eat simple carbohydrates. Go for that orange slice, banana, and slice of pizza offered at the race.
  • Supplement your post-race pizza and beer with other nutritional and caloric dense foods. Getting some protein will help your muscles recover (high protein intake is not good post-race, however) and caloric-dense foods restore glycogen levels in your liver and muscles.
  • Stay away from really fatty foods and foods that are high in protein.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Get your feet up after the race. Yes, we’re giving you permission to chill and get off of your feet. This is best if done right after you are off the bike.
  • Take a walk later that day. Getting up on your feet and moving around a while after the race helps speed the recovery process.

There are lots of resources online for you to learn about recovery best-practices and get the fuel and equipment you need for adequate recovery. bikeparts.com has lots of different types of nutritional supplements all in one place as well as bikesbike partscycling accessories, and cycling apparel that can help you with your recovery training. And if you just want to talk to an expert, stop into Peak Cycles in Golden, CO to talk to one of our competitive cyclists. Have fun with your Spring Training!


Can the Right Bike Parts Make a Difference in Injury Prevention?

January 31, 2013

bike parts for injury preventionEnthusiastic recreational riders and competitive 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.  Understanding how to pace yourself while getting fit is crucial. What are suggestions for avoiding injury during early season training?

In a sport based on such a highly repetitive action, like pedaling, the first line of defense against injury is a proper bike fit. Whether you’re just starting to ride or you’ve been cycling for a long time, consider the benefits of a professional bike fit.  Fit impacts comfort but also technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries.

What to 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.  Handlebars, stems, and bike position all contribute to a rider’s stability, endurance, and safety.

Also, keep in mind to pace yourself. Be mindful of your current activity level and build upon your program gradually.  During the winter months, it is tempting to opt for longer or high intensity rides when the weather is good.  However, compressing your physical activity for the week into a few days can lead to an overuse injury. Instead, keep to your ride schedule and spread out the workouts over a longer time frame.

Training is all about stressing your body with hard workouts, and then letting your body adapt to that load. If you do not allow your body to recover and adapt to the training load you’ve imposed on it, you simply will not be able to train and stress your body as hard the next workout.  While many riders understand that recovery between workouts is key to building fitness, recovery is also a commonly overlooked injury prevention tool. Recovery, defined as stretching, hydrating, and resting, are traditional tools used by athletes.  Some opt for compression gear, as in socks or tights, which are designed to improve recovery and aid in overall sports performance.

Plan for a successful cycling season by training right early season.  A good bike fit, steady riding, and active recovery paves the way for a healthy, injury free 2013.