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.

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Winning Racing and Training Secrets from Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop Sponsored Cycling Teams

June 11, 2015
BikeParts.com Team Rider Kyle Crawley on his way to finishing in 4th Place at the Gunnison Growler 32

BikeParts.com Team Rider Kyle Crawley on his way to finishing in 4th Place at the Gunnison Growler 32

Guess who is rocking the coolest bikes, the best bike parts, and crushing it in Colorado’s toughest road and mountain bike races?

You guessed it – Peak Cycles Racers!  We’re super proud of Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop Sponsored Cycling Teams including Peak Cycles XC, Gravity and BMX teams, Colorado School of MinesThe Golden High School mountain bike team, Tough Girl Cycling, Twin Peaks Racing, and The Colorado Collective.  Early season success has come easily to these athletes.  Countless podium finishes and successful racing has caused many followers of the teams to wonder what are the secrets to combining racing and training for a successful summer cycling season?  What are these athletes doing that we all can do to improve our cycling performance?

For starters, there are many different approaches to training and racing.  Typical training weeks may vary in distance, intensity, and training hours. Some athletes prefer a structured approach to their racing season; whereas others prefer to keep it casual by mixing in shop rides and even front range bucket list rides to test fitness and keep training fresh.

But at a minimum, there are the basics which pretty much everyone follows.  This includes ongoing bike maintenance, repairing and/ or replacing bike parts, continued bike nutrition while riding, and a strong focus on hydration on and off the bike.  It sounds simple enough but a properly fit bike – that is ready to ride –  makes cycling fun, easy, and keeps you riding!

Regardless of your approach, one of the winning secrets for training and racing is using tools for bio feedback. Cycling accessories, as in power meters and /or heart rate monitors offers bio feedback monitoring of your efforts with specific data so that you objectively know when you are pushing beyond your targeted indictors, as well as, when you aren’t pushing hard enough.

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.  You can also learn steps in discovering your “threshold” heart rate range, setting up heart rate training zones, and identifying the daily variables that affect heart rate.

While it’s not a secret, and we hinted at it earlier, an often overlooked component of successful racing and training is a bike fit.   If you haven’t ridden much this Spring, 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.

There are countless suggestions that we can offer for training and racing tips but nothing can replace the passion, discipline, and love of the sport that our staff and team riders embrace.  For more winning race and training secrets, stop by the Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop and ask our staff for ideas and suggestions.  Also, keep current by following our Facebook page for updates.  Happy riding!


Solving the Bike Nutrition Mystery

March 5, 2015

Nutrition matters.  We all know it – but that doesn’t mean we eat and drink what we know we should.  And as athletes, we suffer from these choices too.  The symptoms of poor nutrition rears its ugly head in many ways: via muscle cramping, struggling to complete workouts, unsuccessful race efforts, and that nagging few pounds that doesn’t seem to drop off no matter what you do.  As the Spring cycling season is right around the corner, now is the time to dial in your nutrition – on and off the bike.  Here’s how.

As the weather improves, it makes it easier to increase your mileage and saddle time.  Which also helps to slim down.  The post,10 Ways to Manage Offseason Weight Control, offers easy options to keep the pounds off, as in, writing your food down in a food journal; consider the timing of your meals and intake; and limiting calories on easier exercise days.  As we’ve written previously, there are also apps for cyclist to manage off-season gains.  Another option is to opt for a different meal plan all together.  Have you considered getting started with the Paleo diet?  A quick approach is to add more vegetables and good fats to your diet.

Now, hydration. It seems it’s an overused word, but a post about nutrition would be incomplete without the discussion of hydration.  For obvious reasons hydration is a huge topic in the summer months, but it’s also critical in the winter months as the post, Hydrating for Winter Training points out.  Hydration planning is important prior to, during, and post workouts. Even more important, is dialing in your race nutrition.  Early season is the time to experiment with your nutritional needs leading up the season.

As you approach your first race of the season, you may want to read the post, A Guide to Race Day Nutrition.  While riding, many cyclist have different preferences as to how they prefer to get their fuel – whether that is in nutrition bars, gels, and liquids. However, oftentimes, a course may dictate other options.  As in, for mountain bike riders, a technical course may present obstacles in taking solid food while riding versus taking fluids.  Furthermore, as the post suggest, “having all of these different (nutrition) options can tend to create confusion and challenges for athletes as to which is ideal and which is best for them. In addition, choosing the right type of fuel depends on many factors such as duration, intensity and what type of activities such as cycling, running or multisport.” The end result: experimentation during training and early season will aid in dialing in proper race day nutrition for your “A” races and events.

But what happens when all the nutrition planning goes wrong? What if you have stomach issues while training and racing?  How do you know what the cause is and what to do about it? As noted in, Stomach Issues while racing – Possible causes and solutions, poor pacing can easily lead to stomach issues, ingesting too many carbohydrates and or too much protein can be another possible cause for stomach issues, as well as too many surges within a long duration race can lead to a shutdown or at the least a slowdown of digestive ability.

Ultimately, solving the bike nutrition mystery is about using your early season training to dial in your bike, bike parts, and nutrition.  Preparing well and listening to your body is the key to minimizing physical issues and optimizing training efforts for success later in the year.


Can You Take the Heat? Heat Acclimation Tips for Cycling in the Summer Months

July 3, 2014

heatIt’s one thing to ride/train in the heat it’s another to RACE in the heat.  It’s that time of year, the summer heat has arrived and is making up for the lack of heat we had from the cooler temps to start off the cycling season.

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.   Specific to racing, many cyclist have encountered the negative effects of heat on race results. 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 in hot weather.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hydrate. This one is easy but also easy to forget! 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 consumptionFor 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. For longer rides, opt for the Deuter Bike One 20 Hydration Pack- 100oz.  You’ll have enough fluids to get your ride in and also soak up the views.
  • Stay cool. Think shade and proper clothing.  Stay in the shade, warm up in the shade and cool down in the shade.  While it may seem insignificant, every effort to keep your body temperature down is important.  This includes wearing your sunglasses, having a light-colored helmet, and opening your the zipper on your jersey.  For longer rides, draping an ice-filled container around your neck may improve endurance performance.

To train and compete at your best all summer, 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 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 work for you too.


How to Plan Your Cyclocross Training Week

November 21, 2013

What is the best way to get good at cyclocross and have fun at the same time?  Simple –  race cyclocross – a lot!   You’ll learn technique, skills and race strategy as you go.

But for those athletes who want to focus their efforts and manage their time, a good plan it to structure your cyclocross training week .  But what does that look like?  While training time, heart rate and power zones vary, a typical training week usually includes the following.

Monday – Off Recovery is equally as important as training. The recovery period is when fitness gains are made and you reap the benefits of the hard work you’ve done. Sleep, Stretching, Hydration, and Nutrition are the SSHNs of Recovery.

Tuesday – Hard Day with Efforts.  Cyclocross races are very high intensity and extremely demanding. The racer is at or above lactate threshold for the entire race.  As such, your training efforts need to prepare you for your cyclocross race, but not tax you either.

Wednesday – Tempo Ride.  Also, a great day midweek to check your bike and bike parts.  Replace broken bike parts and components and prep your bike for the race weekend ahead.

Thursday – Recovery or Skills day.  Efficiency is Paramount.  A great racer is not only fit, but also smooth and efficient. The energy saved through skilled bike handling and smooth transitions on and off the bike directly translates into a faster race pace. So, if you’re struggling with the technical aspects of ‘cross (barriers, runups, transitions on and off the bike, general bike handling), take the time each week to practice these skills until they become second nature during a race.

Friday – Travel Day and/ or Openers.  The goal of the day is to “prime the engine” for the weekend. Intervals are meant to sharpen, not fatigue.

Saturday/ Sunday – Game ON! Race day! Good reminders to keep in mind on race day.  Leading up to your race, it’s important to stay dry.  Yet, during your race, keeping your hands and feet warm are critical.  Opt for cold weather gloves and booties and shoe covers to keep your hands and feet warm.   If you tend to have cold feet, opting for warmer socks  may help too.  While hard core racers opt to keep their clothing to a minimum, others opt for a few extra comforts including knee warmersarm warmers, and hats.  Once you have finished your race, it’s important to get undressed and get warm.  You may consider bringing a few trash bags to stow your cycling kit, cycling shoeshelmet, gloves, socks, and anything else that is soaked and muddy. Also, it’s also a good idea to have on hand your favorite post race nutritional product.

Overall, have fun! Cyclocross is a sport meant to be fun, otherwise, there wouldn’t be beer handoffs, money pits, crowds heckling the pros, or pros heckling the crowd. Unless you’re aiming for World Cup titles, there’s no reason to take this sport too seriously. Train, race hard, but above all, remember that it’s supposed to be fun.


July Races are HOT and So Are the Temperatures

July 18, 2013

No doubt, the Colorado racing season is heating up and so are the temperatures.  Whether you are racing or casually riding, staying cool and hydrated is a must. We all know proper hydration is important for general well being, but as athletes wanting to perform our best, reaching and maintaining adequate hydration levels is a hands on management program!

Not only can dehydration impair daily life functions, but insufficient hydration fatigues your muscles, reduces your coordination and causes muscle cramps. This means, slower times on the bike!  We can’t have that!

Our fellow racers and cyclist have some hot events coming up: Tour de Steamboat, Courage Classic, Mt. Evans Hill Climb, Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb, Salida Classic, Winter Park Epic Singletrack Series, and the Colorado Freeride Festival.  Each event requires different hydration options and our staff at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop can tell you what works!

Keep your body strong this summer.  Quench your thirst with the right hydration options we offer at BikeParts.com.