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. 

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Mental Skill Drills to Bring Your A Game to the Spring Cycling Season

April 23, 2015
John Luif of BikeParts.com racing in Winter Park

John Luif racing in Winter Park

When we catch ourselves visualizing or fantasying about racing, winning or accomplishing something big in our race dreams, rarely do we visualize ourselves falling apart.  On the contrary, we view the victory as coming rather easily.  Even if the scene involves us digging to the depths of our inner being to pull something out of nothing, that agonizing pull from our inner selves is viewed in fantasy world as masterfully manifested.  In real life, we all know it doesn’t actually work like that.  Many of us can suffer but there are breaking points and limitations to the line we cross.  The mechanism that enables us to reach deeper within ourselves is 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.”

The Spring Racing Season in Colorado is here! With upcoming events like the Karen Hornbostel Memorial Time Trial Series, Rocky Mountain Endurance Series, and Fruita Fat Tire Festival, road and mountain bike racers are ready to ride.  But, don’t think that just showing up on the line is enough.  Preparing mentally, physically, and being bike ready will ensure a successful start to the season.  Following are 4 mental skill drills to bring your a game to the spring cycling season.

Set Goals – For some, early season races are just about getting harder efforts in and saddle time.  However, having defined goals 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.  Bio feedback is important in early season races.  Why?  Think about it.  We’ve all had those moments when we swear we’re cranking it out on the bike, giving it all we’ve got, leaving it all on the table –  and then – we finish the ride and think, 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?   Use cycling accessories that are available to you – as in power meters and /or heart rate monitors.  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.

Set Your Nutrition – As you approach your first race of the season, you may want to read the post, A Guide to Race Day Nutrition.  Many cyclist have different preferences as to how they prefer to get their fuel – whether that nutrition is in bars, gels, and liquids. However, oftentimes, the 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, selecting the right type of fuel depends on many factors such as duration, intensity and what type of activities such as cycling, running or multi sport.” The end result: experimentation during training and early season races will aid in dialing in proper race day nutrition for your “A” races and events.

Get Race Ready – 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 – on and off the bike.  Balancing work, family responsibilities, training and racing is a key component to being mentally and physically ready to tackle the demands of early season races.  As you transition from winter training to spring racing, your mental and physical demands will change.  You need to have a transition plan in place to find balance in your life as the cycling season demands more and more of your time.

Get Your Bike Race Ready – It’s obvious, but often overlooked with the excitement of a race – but that is getting your bike ready to race. 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.  Handlebarsstems, and bike position all contribute to a rider’s stability, endurance, and safety. Make sure all is well before embarking on longer rides and races which could lead to lasting discomfort.

How important are brakes?  Obviously, a lot!  When you don’t have them, or they aren’t working properly, then you know the importance of well maintained brakes for your road or mountain bike.  Sure, brakes help stop your bike but they also aid in redirecting the bike, navigating technical terrain, cornering, and overall balance.  As the cycling season starts up, bike maintenance is essential.  We’re happy to help you at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop so bring your bike in for a spring tune up, or you can do bike maintenance at home.  Demonstrated by our staff, at Peak Cycles Bike Shop, using the Avid Professional Bleed Kit are step by step instructions on how to bleed your mountain bike brakes for strong and reliable stopping power: Our Tips on Bleeding Brakes.

Another important component to spring riding is checking out your wheels.  Unquestionably, wheels matter!  They impact ride quality, ease of pedaling, reliability, and functionality.  Spring is a great time to upgrade bicycle components.  The question is, once you’ve decided it’s time for a wheel upgrade, how do you know how to select the best ones? Check our our video, Wheelset Buyer Guide: What You Need to Know.

As for mountain bike riders, you may be thinking about going tubeless. For anyone who wants higher performance and less flats but doesn’t mind a little extra installation time and maintenance, going tubeless is the best choice.  The trick is having the right set up and knowing which bike parts or products to use.  Again, stop by the shop to ask any questions or watch our video for help. GoingTubeless? How to use Stans NoTubes by BikeParts.com

With a little preparation and planning, bringing your A Game to you early season racing can pave the way for a long, healthy, and enjoyable 2015 cycling season.  Stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop to pick up the bike parts you need to launch your best cycling season ever!


The 2015 Training Guide for Cyclist

March 12, 2015
BikeParts.com Gearing Up for 2015 Cycling Season

BikeParts.com Gearing Up for 2015 Cycling Season

March 20th at 4:45 PM MDT marks the beginning of spring.  While  we have a few days to go and the warmer temps may not quite be here yet, cyclist are getting ready for the 2015 season.  

You can feel it – enthusiasm is high!  But, enthusiastic 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.

Yet, having the right bike setup, cycling accessories and gear makes all the difference too.  Especially so if you have taken it easier over the winter months. Transitioning to more time in the saddle and longer rides on the bike can be either a pleasurable experience or a painful one!  Here’s your guide to getting your bike and training in order for spring cycling.

Bike Inspections:
Does your bike have cobwebs on it from non use during the winter months?  Now’s the time to dust it off, put some air in those tires and do a thorough bike inspection.  It seems simple enough but there are some critical areas to pay attention.

What do you 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.  Handlebarsstems, and bike position all contribute to a rider’s stability, endurance, and safety. Make sure all is well before embarking on longer rides which could lead to lasting discomfort.

How important are brakes?  Obviously, a lot!  When you don’t have them, or they aren’t working properly, then you know the importance of well maintained brakes for your road or mountain bike.  Sure, brakes help stop your bike but they also aid in redirecting the bike, navigating technical terrain, cornering, and overall balance.  As the cycling season starts up, bike maintenance is essential.  We’re happy to help you at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop so bring your bike in for a spring tune up, or you can do bike maintenance at home.  Demonstrated by our staff, at Peak Cycles Bike Shop, using the Avid Professional Bleed Kit are step by step instructions on how to bleed your mountain bike brakes for strong and reliable stopping power: Our Tips on Bleeding Brakes

Another important component to spring riding is checking out your wheels.  Unquestionably, wheels matter!  They impact ride quality, ease of pedaling, reliability, and functionality.  Spring is a great time to upgrade bicycle components.  The question is, once you’ve decided it’s time for a wheel upgrade, how do you know how to select the best ones? Check our our video, Wheelset Buyer Guide: What You Need to Know.  

As for mountain bike riders, you may be thinking about going tubeless. For anyone who wants higher performance and less flats but doesn’t mind a little extra installation time and maintenance, going tubeless is the best choice.  The trick is having the right set up and knowing which bike parts or products to use.  Again, stop by the shop to ask any questions or watch our video for help. GoingTubeless? How to use Stans NoTubes by BikeParts.com  

Training and Racing:
Now that you have your bike dialed in, the next part of the equation is training.  Do you have your 2015 goals in mind?  Aside from the traditional goals to ride more, to lose weight, and to explore new rides, consider being a little more ambitious!  Stretch yourself to reach new heights!  Maybe create your own Spring training camp with friends or challenge yourself to 20 Colorado Front Range Bucket List Rides.  

If you are a competitive cyclist, determine if you are race ready.  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 – on and off the bike.  Preparing mentally, physically, and being bike ready will ensure a successful start to the season.  Our post, 5 Race Day Strategies for Spring Races in Colorado walks you step by step through the process of race preparation. 

Nutrition:
As you approach your first race or long ride 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.   Our post, Solving the Bike Nutrition Mystery and Training Peak’s post, Strategies For Optimum Recovery offer great suggestions to getting you on track for the nutritional demands of training and racing.

With a little preparation and planning, your pre season bike maintenance and training can pave the way for a long, healthy, and enjoyable 2015 cycling season.

Stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop to pick up the bike parts you need to launch your best cycling season ever!


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.


Racing at Altitude. What You Need to Know.

June 19, 2014

trail aThe beautiful scenery and challenging terrain of Colorado’s cycling scene beckons riders from all over the world to ride along the backdrop of blue skies and snow capped mountains.

However, one of the toughest challenges a cyclist can face is completing all of their training at their low-elevation residences, and then traveling to ride or compete in a race at high altitude.  For events like the Leadville 100, The Breck Epic, and The Triple Bypass, many are left questioning what to expect when riding at elevation and what are the best ways to acclimate faster to ensure optimum performance.

For starters, it’s best to understand how the body responds to altitude. The post, Understanding the Challenges of High-Altitude Racing at the Leadville 100 and USA Pro Cycling Challenge, gives us a detailed understanding. “The basics of altitude work like this: as you go higher the air becomes less dense, which means the oxygen molecules are more spread out. As a result, when you breathe in and fill your lungs, there are fewer oxygen molecules in that volume of air.”  More so, as you increase in elevation, heart rate and breathing rates at rest will be increasing elevated as your body tries to pull more air through the lungs so it can grab the oxygen it wants.

While at rest at altitude, you might experience a combination of headache, poor sleep, fatigue, and dizziness. While training, racing, or participating in an event at altitude, most likely you’ll discover an elevated heart rate and reduced power. And, your recovery rate between hard efforts will be longer and maybe not even complete.  So, what can you do if you want to perform your best at altitude?

Obviously, a no brainer is to have your bike and the correct bike parts in order!  If you are accustomed to riding on flat terrain, you’ll want to have the appropriate gearing for your event.  Specific to altitude acclimations, there is definitely science and research behind acclimating for cycling performance but without getting too technical, following are some of most common approaches.

  • Acclimate   Spending time at higher elevations enables the body to adapt and increase the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. This improves your ability to deliver oxygen to the brain and working muscles at all levels of activity, including high-intensity exercise. The longer you can acclimatize – the better.  Keep in mind, true acclimation can take three weeks or more.
  • Hydrate Drink plenty of liquids. High elevations can cause fluid loss, so it’s important to stay well hydrated. Your best course of action is to stick with water or liquids that replace electrolytes and avoid sugary or caffeinated beverages. These liquids act as diuretics and can dehydrate you.
  • Tools – Use your training tools for biofeedback.  It’s important to know your limits going into an event and modify your strategy if necessary. This includes dialing in your race day nutrition requirements, heart rate limits, and using your power meter for feedback. Power meters are especially useful because they help riders to gauge their efforts.  To maximize your opportunity for best performance, consider running course intelligence and learn the course and the conditions due to time of day.  You’ll be better equipped to know when to attack and when to recover as it relates to time of day (heat), and course profile.

Overall, different people respond differently to attitude.  Experiment with what works for you.  And, while you might not get the same results racing at altitude as you do at sea level, the rewards of riding in beautiful Colorado is a reward in and of itself.


How to Dial in Your Race Day Nutrition Needs

April 24, 2014

Preparing for the upcoming Gran Fondo Moab, the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic Weekend, Ride the Rockies, Triple Bypass or Colorado’s Endurance Mountain bike series, takes methodical planning in terms of training, recovery, appropriate bike parts selection.  Yet, just as important as daily training is to get you to the start line, every day nutrition plays a critical role too.  The season is just beginning are you race ready?  Here’s what you need to know to dial in your daily, weekly, and race day nutrition for optimal performance.

You get a glimpse of the importance of monthly nutritional preparation in the post, Race Day Nutrition for Cyclist.  Overall it is a guide for monthly, weekly, and race week nutrition preparation with a focus on how viewing nutrition in terms of how it can support your physical training cycles rather than just eating for pleasure.  As many cyclist are already lining up on the start line, preparing nutritionally for weeks in advance isn’t an option.

As you approach your first race of the season, you may want to read the post, A Guide to Race Day Nutrition.  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, the 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 races will aid in dialing in proper race day nutrition for your “A” races and events.

But what happens when you have stomach issues while 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, it’s about utilizing the early season races to dial in your nutrition.  Preparing well and listening to your body is the key to preventing stomach issues during competition.

Next up?  Dial in your race day strategies!  Remember to set your goals, recon the route or course, practice race day rituals, and define your success parameters.