How Can Music Get Cyclists into The Zone?

December 27, 2018

Music (like sport) helps people fight depression, lifts the mood, and makes us feel more energetic but did you know that it can also inspire you to perform better as a cyclist? More and more cyclists are making musical gear an important part of their essential gear list when they take to the wheel, largely because of recent scientific findings which show that music can do much more than keep us cycling to a specific rhythm. One study by scientists at Brunel University found that music boosts exercise endurance by 15%. This is great news at times when you feel less-than-energetic and you need extra motivation to work up a sweat on your bike.

Music and Cardiovascular Performance

The above-mentioned study, published in the Journal of Sports and Exercise Physiology, found that when music was selected to sync perfectly with the type of exercise being performed, endurance was significantly increase. Athletes also stated they derived significantly more enjoyment from their workouts, and had a more positive view of exercise – even when their routine was intense. The researchers concluded that music has great possibilities when it comes to motivating people to get out and about. It can be used with any sport – including cycling. Currently, cyclists can instantly access interesting playlists for their sport or download playlists for spin sessions if they are cycling indoors. Bluetooth headphones easily hook up to playlists you can previously download onto your smartphone, making sure to pick music with the right beats for your workout. You can also place speakers on your handlebars so everyone riding with you can pedal to the same rhythm.

Music and Mood

When it comes to cycling, music can keep you on your bike for longer, thanks to its powerful effect on mood. A 2018 study undertaken at the American College of Cardiology found that people undertaking a cardiac test remained longer on their bike when music was played to them. In the study, those who had listened to music on a headset lasted around 51 seconds longer on the stress test than those who had no music. Researchers noted this time extension is significant, because stress tests are so difficult. In the typical stress test, intensity/difficulty is increased every three minutes. Most people last on the test for around seven minutes so tacking on an extra minute is a big accomplishment.

What Music Should You Select for Cycling?

There are dedicated playlists online and you can even check out your favorite cyclists’ playlists. However, because cycling performance is so closely dependent on motivation, creating a bespoke list with music you personally find inspirational, can be more beneficial. Aim to choose songs with between 120 and 140bpm (beats per minute). Go a little faster if you want an easier workout. For a higher intensity experience, 135 to 140bpm should do the trick. If you want a little inspiration, songs at around 140bpm or lower include Britney Spears’ Womanizer, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, and Michael Jackson’s Beat It. Both R ‘n B and pop tunes that are upbeat but not too fast are ideal to to keep your heart at a consistently high rate. To warm up, choose pop hits like Kelly Clarkson’s What Doesn’t Kill You, Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack, or Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk. These pop songs run at 115 BPM. To cool down after a cycle, just put on your favorite slow music and stretch for around 10 to 15 minutes if possible.

Music can inspire and motivate you to last longer and give it your all. It makes you a more efficient cyclist, so you can utilize less oxygen to perform the same workout. For inspiration, have a listen to what others find motivating, but take the time to create your own playlist, filled with tracks that lift your spirits and boost your energy level.


5 Motivational Strategies to Keep You Riding in the New Year

January 11, 2018

Motivation  is the foundation all athletic effort and accomplishment. Without your desire and determination to improve your sports performances, all of the other mental factors, confidence, intensity, focus, and emotions, are meaningless. To become the best athlete you can be, you must be motivated to do what it takes to maximize your ability and achieve your goals.

But when the weather is poor, sunlight is at a minimum, and riding conditions are less than ideal, what do you do? 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. Following are 5 different strategies to help you stay motivated to ride.

Set your goals. This seems obvious but ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish in 2018? And 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.

Make the most of your time. It all begins with time management. Scheduling your workouts in your calendar; shifting meetings and family obligations to early morning, late afternoon and early evening; and optimizing your lunch hour as ride time, are three areas that can assist in getting your scheduled training in during the daylight hours. Again, the idea here is to create a plan and stick to it. If you plan a ride during the daylight hours and miss it, then it creates stress on how to make that ride up. So, if you do, then night riding or riding on the trainer becomes your options. Be prepared in advance with a light system to ride at night and a trainer setup that works for you. If you are prepared, you are more likely to get your workout in rather than pass on it.

Dial in your bike. Consider getting a bike fit. Yes, a bike fit. We’ve heard about them, talked about them, but somehow, most of us don’t get one. And why not? They say the quickest way to get faster on the bike is with a bike fit. Sure, fit impacts comfort but it also impacts technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries and how you ride. Meaning it directly affects how much power you can efficiently deliver to the pedals. Dialing in your body and your bike parts will keep you motivated as you discover how the new changes positively affect your time on the bike.

Train your brain. We think of discipline as a form of training or exercising the brain but why not use the power of visualization to motivate yourself and accomplish you 2018 season goals? The post, The Power of Mental Suffering, offers key insights as to how thought creates a powerful reality.

Commit to consistently cross training. Trade saddle time for gym time to gain core strength. The primary focus when it comes to strength exercises for cyclists is to train in a similar motion to cycling with lower and upper body, while increasing overall core strength and muscular endurance. Check out The Best Strength Exercises for Cyclists to get you started and also – to keep you motivated through the winter months.

If after reading these suggestions you still find yourself unmotivated to ride during the Winter months, then consider doing a cycling year end review. How you reflect upon the past year has some bearing as to how you plan for the coming year. A cycling year end review offers insights to truly optimize your training and racing regimen. Some of those insights might spark a new level of motivation with you. Here’s to a rewarding cycling year in 2018!


How To Stay Motivated to Ride After Daylight Savings Time

November 9, 2017

At the beginning of the race season, enthusiasm and energy is high!  About the mid-season point, accumulated season fatigue catches up with most racers. Recovery rate from workouts and from races slows down and finally, by the end of the season, some find their motivation waning.

And motivation is important!  After all, motivation is the foundation all athletic effort and accomplishment. Without your desire and determination to improve your sports performances, all of the other mental factors, confidence, intensity, focus, and emotions, are meaningless. To become the best athlete you can be, you must be motivated to do what it takes to maximize your ability and achieve your goals.

But now with the end of Daylight Savings time and riding conditions are less than ideal, what do you do?  How do you maintain motivation to train through the rest of the year?

Have a goal. The goal can be big, small or in between but having something to shoot for between now and the New Year can inspire you to ride.  Goals can be off the bike or on.  Meaning, setting nutrition or weight goals can support your motivation to ride.  Or, having a goal to ride a certain number of times a week can get you off the sofa and on to the bike.  Pick a goal that inspires you and is manageable.

Fine tune your fitness.  Use a heart rate monitor or power meter to benchmark your efforts. Sure, heart rate monitors and power meters have been around for a while now, but how effectively are you using them?  Learning what what you need to know about the nuances, ranges, and data interpretation can make a difference in just getting a workout in versus targeting a specific workout in which you hit numbers and are motivated to get after it again the next day. 

Make friends with the trainer.  Nobody likes riding the trainer much less riding it for consecutive days in a row, but there are ways to overcome trainer woes  to eliminate boredom and support your training.  Try different approaches, times of day, and lengths of workouts to keep your trainer workouts fresh.

Dial it in!  Your body and your bike – that is! Get a bike fit.  We’ve heard about them, talked about them, but somehow, most of us don’t get one.  And why not?  They say the quickest way to get faster on the bike is with a bike fit.  Sure, fit impacts comfort but it also impacts technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries and how you ride. Meaning it directly affects how much power you can efficiently deliver to the pedals. Dialing  in your body and your bike parts will keep you motivated as you discover how the new changes positively affect your time on the bike.

Ultimately, motivation 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 to keep riding through the year end.


A Different Take On the Benefits of Training Indoors

February 26, 2015

2014 Giant Trance Adv. 1 27.5-1It’s winter. It’s cold. There’s snow on the ground.  And, when the snow melts, it’s still cold – and wet. Many brave winter cycling and enjoy it with layering and a designated winter bike to ride. But, most of us suffer inside.  The first few weeks of indoor training seems to be bearable; however, as the weeks continue without any hopes of prolonged outdoor riding in sight, the indoor workouts get shorter.  Or, they don’t happen at all.  The problem is, consistency in training is critical to prepare your body for the physical stresses of the season ahead.

How do you make peace with indoor training?  How can indoor training actually support consistency in training?

It may seem obvious, but scheduling workouts on the same day every week will help with consistency.  By creating a repeating schedule that you know works for you you minimize the chances to missing a workout. The post, 4 Habits to Increase Your Consistency, offers more suggestions on increasing consistency, such as, being purposeful, following your plan as best as possible, and getting in shorter rides when you have less time to train.

But motivation is key to maintaining consistency.  When lack of training motivation rears its ugly head, you don’t have to be a victim to it, take action.  The post, Surviving the Winter as a Cyclist, shares some great “fortune cookie wisdom” in that the hardest part is just getting started.  “Whether it’s starting your workout for the day, or jumping back into training after you’ve been “off the wagon” for a while, getting going is tough. That’s the law of inertia. An object at rest wants to stay at rest. But on the flip side, once an object is in motion, it wants to stay in motion.  The key here – start pedaling.  Make a time commitment to stay on the bike for 30 minutes to see how you feel.  By then, most likely you’ll be into the ride and lack of motivation is disappearing.

If cycling indoors just isn’t your thing, accept it.  But don’t give up! Trade saddle time for gym time to gain core strength.  The primary focus when it comes to strength exercises for cyclists is to train in a similar motion to cycling with lower and upper body, while increasing overall core strength and muscular endurance. Check out The Best Strength Exercises for Cyclists or 7 Hip and Core Exercises for Endurance Athletes to get you started and also, to keep you motivated through the winter months.

You may also consider doing yoga.  In cycling, the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hips never rest. As a result, riders often have overdeveloped quadriceps and tight hamstrings, which can pull the hips out of alignment. Also, a cyclist’s spine is constantly flexed forward. If proper form isn’t maintained, it can result in muscle pain and strain in the back and shoulders. Yoga helps ease the tightness, creating core strength, and aligning the spine.  Even if you aren’t into yoga, there are 3 poses you should practice.

When you think about it, indoor training doesn’t have to be as bad as you think.  Options are available.  And, you may just give winter riding another chance too!  Winter riding can be equally as fun as Summer riding given you have the right cycling apparel, you know how to dress for winter riding, and you have the right bike parts in your winter toolkit.


How to Make the Most of Late Season Races

August 28, 2014
Sarah Shull racing in the 2013 Winter Park Gravity Series.  Trail: Cruel and Unusual.

Sarah Shull racing in the 2013 Winter Park Gravity Series. Trail: Cruel and Unusual.

At the beginning of the race season, enthusiasm and energy is high!  About the mid-season point, accumulated season fatigue catches up with most racers. Recovery rate from workouts and from races slows down and finally, by the end of the season, some find their motivation waning.  As the racing season seems to be getting longer and longer, what are the ways to maintain motivation and also – capture added gains towards next year’s goals?

Fortunately, there a variety of options at your disposal!  The post, How to Use a Late Season Race for Motivation, suggest selecting late season races that are fun and also promote fitness.  By keeping it fresh, trying something new, and also, targeting some fitness goals, it can inspire you to lay down some of your best training in your season.

What about adding some skill training?  During peak training periods, bike skills and technique is often overlooked.  Why not consider improving your skills?  The video: Five key skills to improve your bike handling offers great visuals and the post, Body Position on the MTB, dials in where you need to be on the bike to ride your best.  Experimenting late season avoids the risk of injury during peak races but also can offer a new challenge – like learning how to do a track stand.

Finally, show some bike love!  That’s right! Your bike has been training and racing with you all season long! Give your bike a break – replace worn out bike parts.  Maybe even experiment with different or new cycling accessories. Try out a new wheelset or reward yourself with new bike parts and components.  After all, your bike has helped you reach your goals all season long.

Ultimately, late season races should be fun. If you love what you are doing and are having fun with it, then you are setting yourself up for more good stuff to come in the following season!


Injury? Winter Blues? Weather? How to Stay on Track When Missing Training

February 20, 2014

BikeParts.comKeeping up the motivation to exercise on a cold winter day instead of curling up under a warm blanket on the sofa can be difficult, not to mention the allure of keeping comfortable if you are fighting an injury.  Sometimes lack of motivation rears its ugly head during these challenging times despite our best efforts to press on.  Yet, this time of year, many cyclists – competitive and recreational – are fighting regular demons whether that is general fatigue, lack of time, or seasonal illness.

Granted, it is widely accepted in the health and fitness community that exercise has a positive effect on our mind body and spirit.  But how do you make these gains and keep your cycling training on track when you are missing workouts?  Let’s look at some practical steps to fight off those winter blues, manage time better, and overcome injuries so you are in your best form for the 2014 cycling season.

For starters, general fatigue, lack of time, and life in general will always play a role in preventing training and missing training days. So what do you do?  The post, Missing training – Adjusting the plan,  suggest a few options for recalibrating your weekly training schedule.  The big take away is the mindset.

“Often remind yourself of the big picture. It’s easy to beat yourself up over missed training, but if you have been steady with training, give yourself a break. Gaining fitness doesn’t happen in one or two days and losing fitness doesn’t happen in one or two days. It takes months of steady training to gain good fitness. A few days missed or logging a fewer less hours than planned for a week is a small blip on the radar.”

But that isn’t an excuse to curl up on that couch!  Motivation is key and weather variances can prevent steady outdoor training.  The post, Surviving the Winter as a Cyclist, shares some great “fortune cookie wisdom” in that the hardest part is just getting started.  “Whether it’s starting your workout for the day, or jumping back into training after you’ve been “off the wagon” for a while, getting going is tough. That’s the law of inertia. An object at rest wants to stay at rest. But on the flip side, once an object is in motion, it wants to stay in motion.

The key here – start pedaling.  Make a time commitment to stay on the bike for 30 minutes to see how you feel.  By then, most likely you’ll be into the ride and lack of motivation is disappearing.

And finally, if injury is preventing you from sticking to your cycling training plan, consider watching what you eat!  Not to avoid gaining weight, but to improve your recovery time.  The post, What Can I Eat to Recover from Injury?  illustrates the role of omega-3 fats, protein, glucose, and herbal supplements in injury prevention and recovery. What you eat can affect your mindset, motivation, and outlook.

If all else fails, remember, Spring is right around the corner!  Get a bike fit! Purchase new bike parts, and get ready!


Post Holiday Blues? What To Do When You Are Lacking Cycling Motivation

January 2, 2014

Motivation is the foundation all athletic effort and accomplishment. Without your desire and determination to improve your sports performances, all of the other mental factors, confidence, intensity, focus, and emotions, are meaningless. To become the best athlete you can be, you must be motivated to do what it takes to maximize your ability and achieve your goals.

But when the weather is poor, sunlight is at a minimum, and riding conditions are less than ideal, what do you do?  Add to the fact that the holidays are now over with not much to look forward to between now and Spring and race season, many find the added holiday weight gain and winter conditions to be a downer on motivation. How do you stay motivated to ride?

The reason motivation is so important is that it is the only contributor to sports performance over which you have control. Much like training your physical body for the challenges of cycling, motivation is built too – it is not stumbled upon.  Following are 5 ways to build your motivation muscle:

Have a goal.  As you are considering your new goals for 2014, it’s important to evaluate the previous season with an objective, yet critical eye.  Too loft of a goal may be intimidating and back fire on you.  The post, Make Proper Goal Setting a Priority for Your 2014 Cycling Season offers 10 key questions for evaluation and proper goal setting for your 2014 season.  Make intermediate and long term goals to keep you inspired to do your daily workouts. 

Fine tune your fitness – use a heart rate monitor or power meter. Sure, heart rate monitors and power meters have been around for a while now, but how effectively are you using them?  Learning what what you need to know about the nuances, ranges, and data interpretation can make a difference in just getting a workout in versus targeting a specific workout in which you hit numbers and are motivated to get after it again the next day. 

Make friends with the trainer.  Nobody likes riding the trainer much less riding it for consecutive days in a row, but there are ways to overcome trainer woes  to eliminate boredom and support your training.  Read the post here for ideas on the best equipment to use and tips for trainer workouts.  Try different approaches, times of day, and lengths of workouts to keep your trainer workouts fresh.

Dial it in!  Your body and your bike – that is!  Have you gained weight during the holiday season?  Check out Top 5 Apps for Cyclists for Off-Season Fitness Gains –   for easy ways to drop the pounds.  And, consider getting a bike fit.  Yes, a bike fit.  We’ve heard about them, talked about them, but somehow, most of us don’t get one.  And why not?  They say the quickest way to get faster on the bike is with a bike fit.  Sure, fit impacts comfort but it also impacts technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries and how you ride. Meaning it directly affects how much power you can efficiently deliver to the pedals. Dialing  in your body and your bike parts will keep you motivated as you discover how the new changes positively affect your time on the bike.

Train your brain.  How are you training your brain? We think of discipline as a form of training or exercising the brain but use the power of visualization to motivate yourself and accomplish you 2014 season goals. The post, The Power of Mental Suffering offers key insights as to how thought creates a powerful reality.

Ultimately, motivation 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 2014 cycling season.  Happy New Year friends!