Motivation and Planning – The Key to Making Cycling Resolutions Stick 

January 7, 2016

Make it Happen in 2016It’s tough being a bike rider from January through late March. The holidays are over, the winter weather is in full swing and the idea of keeping up the motivation to exercise on a cold winter day instead of curling up under a warm blanket on the sofa can be difficult. Sometimes lack of motivation rears its ugly head during these challenging times despite our best efforts to press on.  Yet many cyclists, both competitive and recreational, have committed to New Year resolutions but are battling regular demons whether that is general fatigue, lack of time, seasonal illness or just plain boredom.  What can a cyclist do?

Granted, the amount of downtime you can afford to take in winter depends on your goals for the coming year. If you have a century ride, a bike trip, or a hard race scheduled for June or July, you can probably get away with a layoff.  On the other hand, if an athlete wants to maintain fitness over the winter it it’s important to you get your motivation in gear now to make these gains and keep your cycling training on track.  Here’s how.

Define your goals.  What do you want to accomplish in 2016?  When? How do you know you’ve reached your goals?  Making SMART  (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound) goals not only boosts your chances of attaining your goals, but you also become a better cyclist in the process.  The trick is to really dial those goals in. As in, a goal to consistently hitting heart rate zones or power zones for specific workout.  Use cycling accessories that are available to you – as in power meters and /or heart rate monitors to provide objective feedback.  Our post, The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling, dives into the benefits of training with power. You may also want to check out our post, Heart Rate Training – What You Need to Know for our staff picks at Peak Cycles Bike Shop. Based on your goals, you can then get an action plan together by defining your training objectives.

Define your training objectives.  Now that you have your sights set for some events in 2016, it’s time to take inventory of your abilities to meet your goals for these events. What are your strengths?  What are your weaknesses?  For every area of improvement, decide what activity is needed to improve that.  If you have poor bike handling skills, then schedule time each week for bike drills.  If your core is week, schedule time for yoga or strength training. And, if you are like most cyclist, you could use a little stretching. Make time for stretching to improve your flexibility.

Define your approach.  Get a game plan together of how you plan to train and race.  Again, taking stock of last year’s performances, where can you improve?  Some cyclist focus exclusively on race day performance and evaluate results on a single day. However, take a look at how the days leading up to your event impacted the result.  How was you bike nutrition? How was your sleep? Did you have a race strategy in place? Were you familiar with the logistics of the event, as well as, the course profile itself?  All of these factors impact day of results.  Take time now to review and plan ahead.  Experiment with new ideas, products, and approaches. As in, maybe try a new on bike nutrition product. Experiment with different bike parts and bike components.  Consider designing and refining a pre-event routine, like a race day ritual.  This thoughtful process brings a fresh approach to 2016 and keeps you motivated through the winter months.

Ultimately, motivation for keeping your resolutions is not something that can be given to you. Rather, motivation must ultimately come from within.  Just like the passion you have for cycling.  Dig deep, find what inspires you, connect with that and pedal your way to a successful 2016 cycling season.  Happy New Year friends!

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The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling 

April 2, 2015

The main idea behind using cycling training tools is to dial in your training to optimize your performance as it relates to your goals and objectives.  Easy enough, right?  Yet, the market is saturated with countless training aids including trainers, cycling software, DVD’s, CompuTrainers, nutrition, supplements, compression, and the list goes on.  Which ones do you need?  Which ones will deliver the biggest bang for the buck?  While each cyclist has their personal preference, following are the top 3 training aids we find most helpful.

Power
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!  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.

Heart Rate Training
Heart rate training has been viewed in many ways over the years, from very precise to not so precise. Now, a growing number of coaches and exercise physiologists support the use of heart rates as an important part of biological feedback, as heart rates are a direct reflection of what is happening internally.  The post, The Variables and Trends of Heart Rate Training,  walks you through the steps of learning your “threshold” heart rate range, setting up heart rate training zones, and identifying the daily variables that affect heart rate.  A heart rate monitor can be a great bio feedback tool and also help you to monitor your fitness, prevent overtraining, and take your performance to the next level.

Nutrition
Many cyclist have different preferences as to how they prefer to get their fuel – whether that is in nutrition bars, gels, and liquids. The main thing about nutrition is that regardless of how you get your calories in on the bike is one thing, but making sure you actually do it –  is critical!  No one wishes for a bonk!  Read up on some recent posts we’ve shared on nutrition to see which options are best for you.

Last but not least, do you need help figuring out which training aid is best for you? We’re happy to help! Visit us at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado or ask us on Twitter.


How Fast Are You?  Your Best Suffer Face Tells All

April 3, 2014
Team Bikeparts.com racer, Jason Kompf, climbing the first of many hills in the Gold Rush Run

Team Bikeparts.com racer, Jason Kompf, climbing the first of many hills in the Gold Rush Run

We’ve all had those moments when you swear you’re cranking it out on the bike, giving it all you’ve got, leaving it all on the table –  and then – you finish the ride and think to yourself, I’ve got more in the tank! I didn’t leave it all out there.  So, how can you tell that you’re working hard enough?  New technological developments may surprise you!

Traditional methods to help you gauge your efforts include heart rate training. There have been many myths  surrounding heart rate training.  For starters, you can only compare heart rate values with your own previous benchmarks. Meaning, comparing your heart rate  with your your friend or your teammate is irrelevant. The reason for this is that we all have a different anatomy of our cardiovascular system.  Also, not being aware of the factors that affect heart rate can be a pitfall in effective application in heart rate monitor use for training.

But on the flip side, power training offers a different type of comparison. Power is power.  Aside from spending endless funds on bike parts, many wonder why they should even buy a power meter.  But aside from taking the guess work out of your workouts, power meters also provide highly accurate details about how your fitness is changing throughout the season.

Yet there’s a new technology to help you analyze your efforts.  A selfie! After years of research and working with top teams and athletes, TrainingPeaks is launching their newest feature that will revolutionize how training loads are measured and quantified: the quantified selfie.  Facial Awareness Strain Technology, or F.A.S.T, uses cutting edge facial recognition technology to help you determine the stress of your training. Simply take a selfie with your phone during a workout and load it into the new app. Within seconds the technology will analyze your photo, determine your effort and give you a F.A.S.T. score.

So now, you have three ways to determine your personal suffer score!  If you do not have a trainer or coach to keep you disciplined during your workout, a heart rate monitor, power meter,  or a quick selfie can be a great substitute. It can tell you when your exercise is falling below your ideal intensity so you can instantly improve your performance.  It can be a great bio feedback tool and also help you to monitor your fitness, prevent overtraining, and take your performance to the next level. Bring on your best selfie!