Effective Training Techniques for Cycling in the Heat

June 22, 2017

Peak Cycles/ BikeParts.com Team Rider cooling off after a ride

Heat is the ultimate enemy for a cyclist, because after a point, the hotter you get, the slower you’ll go.  Unfortunately, to generate pedal power means your body exerts itself and generates heat. With the temperatures climbing, is there a way to beat the heat and still make gains with effective training? You bet! Read on for our strategies to beat the heat.

Exposure: According to the post, 4 Keys to Effective Training in Hot Weather, states that exposing yourself to warmer temperatures on a consistent basis is key to acclimating to hot temperatures.  Also, “Acclimating typically takes two weeks of consistent heat riding. While you don’t need to ride every day in high temperatures, when you’re trying to acclimate, don’t go more than two or three days between hot training sessions.”

Hydration: This is obvious, but an often overlooked component. Hydrate. Water is 60% of your body weight and the number one concern on any athlete’s intake list. For both performance and health, the importance of your water intake exceeds that of your vitamin, calorie, and electrolyte consumption. For your road racing needs, be sure to carry the water bottles and containers that you need on your bike but have extras available for bottles that are tossed and extras for immediate refueling post race. If you’re a mountain bike rider, you know tricky descents can bump a bottle right out of its cage.  This time of year, it’s best to wear a full camelback as well as have extra bottles on hand.

Recover: After a long day in the saddle and the heat. Cool off. Get your legs up. Stay in the shade or AC. It is important to get your core body temperature down so you can recover. We all know that recovery is a critical element of preparing for the next bout of exercise.  One of our favorite recovery products at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop is PhysioPhyx.  PhysioPhyx LPR takes recovery nutrition to a new level of support and performance by delivering a powerful, evidence-based blend of Carbohydrates + Protein + Leucine. This potent combination of nutrients has been precisely formulated to help ensure you rapidly and effectively restore muscle energy (glycogen), minimize muscle soreness, stimulate muscle repair ands peed training adaptations after moderate, intense and exhaustive exercise or competition. In fact, recent studies have shown the nutrient trio of Carbs +Protein + Leucine taken after exercise creates an absolute ideal environment for your body to quickly go into recovery overdrive. 

With that said, training in the heat doesn’t have to be so bad.  Wear cooling cycling apparel.  Ride a bike with proper functioning bike parts to avoid over excretion. Stay hydrated and recover. Ride on friends! 


Our First Hot Weekend of Racing! Managing the Heat and Optimizing Performance

June 1, 2017

Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop / BikeParts.com Team Racer

Bye bye snow and rainy days. Hello blue skies and warm temps!  Finally, we’re getting some rideable weather here along the Front Range in Colorado.  Great timing too!  This weekend, June 3-4th, marks the beginning of June racing and there are quite a few mountain bike and road bike events taking place: 

Not too long ago, we shared in our Peak Cycles blog post 5 race day strategies to prepare for the Spring races in Colorado highlighting the importance of setting goals, knowing the race route, establishing race day rituals and getting into the proper mental state for racing.  The post, 5 Steps to Being Race Ready, reinforces the need for mental and physical preparation, as well as nutrition and bike parts checks, but part of racing is using your energy effectively – especially during the summer heat.

Since it’s early season and most of us have been accustomed to the cooler temperatures, it’s important to take note and prepare accordingly for the warm weather this weekend.  Managing the heat while riding and racing is critical not only to comfort, but also performance.  Many cyclist, whether recreational or competitive, find dealing with the heat an issue.  Suffering from some degree of cramps at one time or another or heat related stomach issues, the heat brings on specific challenges to overcome in the summer months.  What, if anything, be done to help you train and race best in the heat?

When it is hot, especially when temps are in the 90-100F (36-40C) range, your body needs to work harder to keep your core temperatures in a safe range to allow the organs to function normally.  There are numerous heat–coping strategies to consider when planning a high-intensity workout or doing a race, like those mentioned above, in hot weather.

If you can, acclimate.  It takes about 10 to 14 days of frequent exposure to heat for your body to adapt. During this period of time workout daily in hot conditions at a lower-than-normal intensity. After a couple of weeks of near-daily exposure to hot conditions you will begin perform better in the heat than prior although performance will still likely be diminished from what you might have done in cooler conditions.

Focus on nutrition. You want to eat “quality” carbs leading up to, and including, a hard effort or race day.  That includes eating plenty of fruits, veggies, etc.  Watermelon is a great fruit (carb) to consume even during race day.  Also, remember to stay away from the simple carbs. i.e. sugars, sweets, prior to the race or training in hot conditions.

This is obvious, but an often overlooked component. Hydrate. Water is 60% of your body weight and the number one concern on any athlete’s intake list. For both performance and health, the importance of your water intake exceeds that of your vitamin, calorie, and electrolyte consumption. For your road racing needs, be sure to carry the water bottles and containers that you need on your bike but have extras available for bottles that are tossed and extras for immediate refueling post race. If you’re a mountain bike rider, you know tricky descents can bump a bottle right out of its cage.  This time of year, it’s best to wear a full camelback as well as have extra bottles on hand.

To train and compete at your best during this upcoming events, it is important to understand how your body copes with heat, and what you can do to keep cool.  Everyone adapts differently to heat stress.  

Need more tips?  Stop by the Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado to chat with our racers, mechanics, and other cyclist to see what works for them. Maybe you’ll learn some new heat-coping strategies that will keep you cool when the racing and riding gets hot!


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 Master Race Day Jitters  

July 28, 2016
BikeParts.com team rider Joshua Vogt mastered the jitters! #1 at the Rattler Series #3

BikeParts.com team rider Joshua Vogt mastered the jitters! #1 at the Rattler Series #3

Before a race or a big event, do you ever feel overwhelmed? Nervous? Anxious?

For the most part, experiencing those sensations is normal. Yet, oftentimes, negative self talk can exasperate the problem.

Thoughts like, “I haven’t trained enough” or you find yourself caring too much about what other people think.  Maybe looking around the start of an event you take a mental inventory and think other cyclist look more fit or have better bikes. Worst case scenario, you notice the weather and assign its condition as to how you think you will perform. Whatever the case may be, managing your thoughts and creating successful race day routines is well within your scope of control.

At Peak Cycles Bicycle shop, we’ve found that a little preparation can aid in reducing race day jitters.  Here’s what works!

Register for an Event – In order to experience race day jitters, you actually have to be registered for an event!  If you don’t have anything planned, select a road race and / or  MTB race for the upcoming month. Here’s what we have on tap for Colorado racing

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 this event –  whether it be a targeted heart rate or power zone, a solid nutrition plan, or attacking certain areas on the race course.

Race Route – Know the course and the conditions.  Weather can alter race course conditions considerably.  Take into consideration the bike parts you’ll be racing and confirm you have the bike components and gear needed to successfully race the course.  For mountain bike components – consider tire selection carefully when riding wet and muddy trails.  Familiarity with the race course and weather conditions aids in having confidence to tackle anything that comes at you during your big event. 

Race Day Rituals – 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. This way, you won’t forget anything as you prepare for your start.  Maybe visualization, mantras, and breathing exercises are your thing.  Regardless, each event offers you a chance 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.  Here is where having your race plan and goals specific to this event comes in handy. 

Success Parameters – 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.  Remember to evaluate your bike and cycling accessory selections.  Did you race the right bike?  Would a different wheel set make a difference?  Did you suffer from mechanicals?  Now is the time to dial in, replace, and buy the bike parts that you need going into your next event.

Whether you’re entering your first event or you’re a seasoned racer, you’re always likely to suffer from some race day nerves. However, with a little planning you can gain confidence.  No matter what your training has been like up until this point, having successful race day strategies in place puts you way ahead of a lot of other people on race day. 


Our Favorite Nutritional Products to Avoid Muscle Cramps

July 30, 2015
PhysioPhyx LPR available at BikeParts.com

PhysioPhyx LPR available at BikeParts.com

There are a lot of opinions about why muscle cramping occurs and everyone has their own advice when the topic comes up. Many sports drinks tell you that they key to preventing cramps is magnesium, bike fitters will tell you your saddle is too high or you have incorrect bike parts, and there are also dozens of different home remedies.

Unfortunately, muscle cramping is something cyclists deal with at all levels of the sport.  The big question is what to do about muscle cramping, and what can you do to avoid them in the first place.
Interestingly enough, new insights as to what causes cramps is available.  The post, The Real Cause of Muscle Cramps, offers insights into root causes of muscle cramps.  And it’s not what you think! Muscle cramps aren’t the muscle; it’s the nerve.  While this research continues to evolve to learning more about the root cause of cramps, we can at least use tried and true methods to prevent them. Here’s what we have found works.
Avoid muscle cramps in the first place by hydrating properly before and during your ride.   If you’re a female cyclist, you may want to try out Osmo nutrition.  There are three options:
  • active hydration
  • acute recovery
  • preload hydration
What we like about this product is that it is nutrition “based on peer-reviewed science. The science is simple. Hydration, which refers to the maintenance of water in your blood, is critical to maximizing power, endurance and reducing fatigue. When you’re thirsty, you’ve already lost two percent of your body water—and 11 percent of your power.”
For all riders, another option is Skratch Labs.  Again there are several options to sleet including:
  • All day – daily electrolyte mix
  • Single workout – exercise hydration mix
  • Hyper nutrition – hyper hydration mix
  • Rescue hydration – for dehydration
Finally, an all time favorite!  Honey Stinger products – tasty edibles on the ride.
  • waffles
  • gels
  • energy bars
  • organic chews
All of those are great nutritional products while riding, but what products are available post ride?  As we all know, recovery is a critical element of preparing for the next bout of exercise.  New in our Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop is PhysioPhyx.  Here’s what we like about this product.  PhysioPhyx LPR takes recovery nutrition to a new level of support and performance by delivering a powerful, evidence-based blend of Carbohydrates + Protein + Leucine. This potent combination of nutrients has been precisely formulated to help ensure you rapidly and effectively restore muscle energy (glycogen), minimize muscle soreness, stimulate muscle repair and speed training adaptations after moderate, intense and exhaustive exercise or competition. In fact, recent studies have shown the nutrient trio of Carbs + Protein + Leucine taken after exercise creates an absolute ideal environment for your body to quickly go into recovery overdrive.  Who doesn’t like “overdrive”?!
Overall, preventing muscle cramps in the first place is the ideal solution. Stop by the shop in Golden, Colorado or chat with us on Twitter or Facebook about your nutritional needs.  We’re happy to share our tried and true methods for avoiding muscle cramping while riding!

How to Stop Sabotaging Your Race Day Efforts

July 23, 2015
Racing at Peak Cycles / BikeParts.com

Racing at Peak Cycles / BikeParts.com

Before a race or a big event, do you ever feel overwhelmed? Nervous? Anxious? For the most part, experiencing those sensations is normal. Yet, oftentimes, negative self talk can exasperate the problem.

Thoughts like, “I haven’t trained enough” or you find yourself caring too much about what other people think.  Maybe looking around the start of an event you take a mental inventory and think other cyclist look more fit or have better bikes. Worst case scenario, you notice the weather and assign its condition as to how you think you will perform.

Whatever the case may be, managing self sabotaging thoughts and behavior is well within your scope of control.  Being mindful of your pre- event thoughts allows you to fully maximize your training efforts while reaching your race day or event goals.  Granted, pretty much everyone that enters an event suffers from nerves of some sort. However, the post, 5 Simple Strategies for Overcoming Race Day Nerves, guides us through easy ways to shift the perspective of nervousness to be an enabler of positive sports performance. And there are other ideas for managing self defeating behaviors too.

Develop race day strategies that work for you.  Preparing mentally, physically, and being bike ready will instill confidence leading up to the event.  When your mind drifts to negative self talk, re- direct it to the strategies you’ve set for yourself.  As an example, develop personal race day rituals.  Crafting a pre-event routine is an important part of building a successful race experience.  Consider having a checklist of race day activities to help structure your preparation to the start line.  Include items such as nutrition, hydration, clothes, gear, extra bike parts and basic bike tools. This way, you won’t be forgetting anything as you prepare for your start.  You will show up on the line having confidence in your bike, your bike parts, and nutrition so that you can solely focus on the event ahead of you and not what other cyclist are doing or riding.

A little preparation can aid in reducing anxiety too!   Know the course and the conditions.  Check the weather ahead of time. Do a mental dress rehearsal of the event using this information. Visualization offers you the chance to “try things on” in a way so that you get more comfortable at adapting to the random things that occur during events.

Ultimately, the more at ease you are going into an event allows you to be more relaxed and focused on the start line  Limit any self sabotage you have by preparing in advance.  You’ll enjoy your event and it will also pave the way for a longer and enjoyable cycling career.


What Pro Riders Do That You Can Do Too

July 9, 2015
S-works bike at BikeParts.com

S-works bike at BikeParts.com

July – the best month of the year!

As cyclist, we all love July because the Tour de France is in full swing and so is the touring and racing season in Colorado.

With envy, many cyclist watch the pro riders and wonder how they can mimic the fitness and performance of such talented athletes.  In fact, it seems that pro cyclists are often all thought to be blessed with nature’s special gifts – a huge heart, enormous lungs and infinite leg power.  Yet, in reality this is hardly the case. The truth is that most of us have the physiology to be a decent racer – if we trained as much as they do.  Granted, most of us don’t have the time or the resources available to pro cyclists but we can all optimize the talents bestowed upon us by training properly.  Here’s what pro cyclist are doing that you can do too.

Cool things first.  If you noticed, pro riders are wearing the new GoPro Hero 4.  You might wonder how this could help your training? Considering that the winter months can be bleak, capture your favorite training rides on video and reply when riding the rollers or trainer during the winter months.  We at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop can order the GoPro Hero 4 if you like!

Pro rider ride really nice bikes!  That’s a given. Great road bicycles don’t have to come at a hefty price tag either.  Right now, in our Golden, Colorado shop we have a really nice S-works bike in the store with Shimano XTR components and 11-speed in back. Light and fast for racing.  If a new bike isn’t in your budget, then start with the basics.  Have good equipment.  Meaning, have a bike that fits, get the right bike parts, and wear the appropriate cycling accessories. It may seem obvious but the small things add up to bigger gains. 

Pro riders take nutrition seriously – on and off the bike.  Many cyclist have different preferences as to how they prefer to get their fuel while riding – whether that is in nutrition bars, gels, and liquids. However, oftentimes, the course may dictate other options. Regardless, proper on bike nutrition is critical.  Many of our customers ask us what are the best on-bike nutrition options available?  Following are our favorites at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop:

Osmo nutrition – This product is specific to women offering three options:

  • active hydration
  • acute recovery
  • preload hydration

What we like about this product is that it is nutrition “based on peer-reviewed science. The science is simple. Hydration, which refers to the maintenance of water in your blood, is critical to maximizing power, endurance and reducing fatigue. When you’re thirsty, you’ve already lost two percent of your body water—and 11 percent of your power.”  Stop by the shop in Golden, Colorado to learn more.

Another option is Skratch Labs.  Again there are several options to sleet including:

  • All day – daily electrolyte mix
  • Single workout – exercise hydration mix
  • Hyper nutrition – hyper hydration mix
  • Rescue hydration – for dehydration

Finally, an all time favorite!  Honey Stinger products – tasty edibles on the ride.

  • waffles
  • gels
  • energy bars
  • organic chews

Pro riders train with power and heart rate.  Some mistakingly think that technology takes away the “riding experience” or that it is too costly for their level of riding.  However, times have changed and power meters are much more affordable.  They offer objective bio feedback to help you perform your best.  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.

Last but not least, a little R&R or active recovery is good too.  Some of the most elite cyclists use yoga as part of a successful training program, including 2012 Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins’ benefits from the focus it brings to his cycling, while others, such as pro mountain biker and Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, use yoga to gain strength. From power to endurance, athletes at all levels are incorporating yoga to gain an edge over the competition, and prevent injury.

While you may not be a pro cyclist, you can certainly benefit from the training elements of a Tour rider lifestyle.  Stop by the Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop or connect with us on Twitter and Facebook for more training tips and cycling information to make the best of your summer cycling season.