Boost Your Cycling Power With These Supplements

January 24, 2019

Every hour of cycling adds an hour to your life, according to a study at Cambridge University. The benefits of cycling are indisputable; cycling can protect you from heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers, and even depression. The next question is how to make the most of your cycling experience. Many people use nutrition and supplements to give their bodies extra power to muscle up a hill or go that extra mile. Supplements infuse the body with vitamins, minerals, proteins, and phytochemicals that help support cellular repairs and upkeep. Supplements are a great way to give your body a boost both before and after cycling. However, all supplements are not created equal.

Increase Your Endurance
Cycling takes a lot of endurance from the body. While cycling, you breathe more deeply and the heart and blood vessels work overtime to perform an aerobic activity. You perspire, and your body temperature increases. Luckily, there are certain supplements that can help a cycler perform at their best. One such supplement is Beta Alanine. This supplement is good for a strong burst of energy, needed by track cyclists for a jolt of energy on the road or while riding a mountain bike. Make sure to take it in smaller doses of 0.8 grams for a total of 3 grams a day to start. Larger doses may result in the unwanted side effect of paraesthesia – tingling of the skin. Creatine can also help to build strength, as it increases levels of phosphocreatine, which is used by the muscles during high-intensity activity. Hydration is another important component of cycling that shouldn’t be overlooked. Minerals and carbohydrates in hydration and energy drinks help to balance out electrolytes lost in sweat and give energy for athletic performance.

Recovery Routine
After cycling, the fibers in the muscles have been broken down and need to recover to become stronger. Whey protein contains all nine amino acids that exist outside the body. It is absorbed very quickly into the body to help muscles rebuild. Whey protein is a byproduct of milk and can be consumed in a smoothie or even in a bowl of oatmeal. To prevent delayed onset muscle soreness, a vitamin C supplement can help. A study from the University of North Carolina Greensboro states that 3 grams of vitamin C per day drastically reduces post-workout soreness. The supplement L-carnitine L-tartrate can also help. It transports fatty acids into the mitochondria of the cells. These fatty acids are a fuel source for the cells. It cleans the blood of lactic acid, which produces the soreness that can be experienced post-workout. 

Be Aware of What You Buy
Just because a supplement says it is for a cyclist or for post-workout recovery, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s full of beneficial ingredients. Watch for these ingredients in your supplements to make sure that you’re doing right for your body. Hydrogenated oils are sometimes used as a cheap filler in vitamins. These oils contain harmful trans fat that can prevent the beneficial chemicals from working to reduce inflammation. Sodium benzoate is a preservative that can cause allergic reactions, and is particularly harmful to blood health when taken in conjunction with vitamin C. Sibutramine is another chemical sometimes used in supplements to increase energy. However, it has been known to increase the chances of heart attack and stroke.

Supplements are a great way to make the most of your cycling experience. They can help with energy, endurance, and recovery. However, it’s important to read all the labels thoroughly to make sure that anything you put in your body is truly beneficial to your health.  

Liked reading this post? Enjoy more posts on the subject of nutrition and recovery in these Peak Cycles / BikeParts.com posts: 


Overtraining? How Nutrition and Sleep Play a Role in Recovery 

July 14, 2016

PhysioPhyx LPR available at BikeParts.comWith the great weather we’ve been having in Golden, Colorado, it’s hard to keep yourself off the bike!  Do you find yourself overtraining? Riding too many long miles? Or simply,  skimping on your regular self care? How do you know if you’re pushing the limits too far? 

First off, it’s important to note that during the summer months it is easy to get swept away in the joys of riding. The temps are great – the trails are great- riding a new mountain bike or road bike is great! All in all, riding in general is just plain amazing.  But, with all the bike riding accompanies fatigue and over doing it.  In fact, there are three stages of overtraining.  Each stage is defined by certain levels of fatigue and recovery time.  But in a nutshell, there are common symptoms cyclists can experience when they overtrain.

  • get a washed-out feeling
  • feel tired
  • get grumpy and experience sudden mood swings
  • become irrational
  • feel a lack of energy for other activities
  • suffer from depression
  • have a decreased appetite
  • get headaches
  • get an increased incidence of injuries
  • have trouble sleeping
  • feel a loss of enthusiasm for the sport
  • experience a sudden drop in performance

Yikes! That doesn’t sound fun – especially when the mountain bike trails and fun adventure road rides are beckoning.  What can you do about it? Consider the tools at your disposal to aid in recovery.

Nutrition Options: A favorite nutritional product available post ride 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”?!  Speaking of overdrive – you may enjoy reading more on the subject of nutrition and recovery in these post: 

Sleep: Included in the recovery process is quality sleep.  According to the post, This Is Your Body On Sleep, reduced sleep negatively impacts your HGH production, and your body’s ability to restore its muscle glycogen supply.  Ensure you are going quality of sleep by using the Sleep Cycle App.  This cool app analyzing users’ sleep patterns and displays data showing how well (or poorly) you slept during the night.  You might also add rolling or massage, stretching, compression, and low intensity activity to aid in getting a better night’s sleep. Many cyclist sleep in compression garments because they claim that it lowers perceived muscle soreness the day after a big day on the bike and they can reduce the swelling of legs after prolonged sitting. 

Ultimately, the best way to identify if you are over training is by listening to your body. If you can’t keep yourself from riding, then maybe try the distraction technique! Distract yourself from the trails and road rides with some bike bling!  Swap a training ride for a visit to Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop.  Check out the new bike parts we have in stock. Try on some of the new Specialized  Merino wool jerseys  that offer evaporative  cooling. Explore new tire or wheel options.  The possibilities are limitless.  And, once you have that spark back in your legs, you’ll enjoy your riding even more!


Ride Hard – Recovery Harder: Ways to Speed Up Recovery

June 23, 2016

Recovery Tricks To Get You Back on the Bike At the end of a strenuous training ride or race, cyclist quickly reach for their recovery drink with the intention of refueling their body to prepare for the next round of hard cycling efforts.  But what exactly is the goal of “recovery”?  What are the best ways to recover in the training cycle? And, is there a way to accelerate recovery?  Here’s a hint: recovery is not just drinking a carb loaded fluid after a hard effort.   

Think of it this way, according to Rowe and King, “all effective training plans are structured and involve carefully placed recovery phases. A recovery phase can be a single day in the middle of a training block, or up to a week to really recovery and peak before a specific event.  However, a common mistake made by cyclists is to repeat the same training, week after week, all season or all year round. It is the progression and overload, paired with recovery that leads to improvement.  Without allowing yourself to recover, you will stop making progress, increase the risk of injury and illness, run the risk of overtraining.”

Here’s what’s happening when you train – you stress your body and break down your muscles. According to Joe Friel, endurance coach and author, “recovery days come in two forms: days of complete rest (“passive” recovery) and days with light exercise (“active” recovery). Passive recovery is generally best for novices. If they take the day off from exercise the day after a workout they will improve greatly. For the pure novice any form of training may very well be too stressful. As fitness improves, the recovery days are better spent doing some very light exercise. For the novice this could be light cross training in a sport such as swimming or cycling. Novice runners should never run on a recovery day. It’s simply too stressful even for somewhat advanced novices.  The advanced, experienced athlete is best advised to train lightly on a recovery day as this maintains some of the most basic gains made in previous, harder sessions, especially economy of movement and aerobic endurance. Given the advanced athlete’s high level of fitness, such a light training session is not stressful. But it must be easy. Making these sessions too hard is the most common mistake in training at this level. Regardless of one’s level of experience or fitness, the harder the hard workouts, the easier one’s recovery days should be.”

Is there a way to accelerate recovery?  Whether recovering from a hard training effort or as part of your training cycle, there are quite a few actions you can take to facilitate quicker adaptations beginning with your ride style.  At the completion of your ride, be mindful to cool down appropriately. Spin your legs out and get your heart rate down. Immediately following your ride, Carrie McCusker, an endurance coach, recommends to “restore fluid and electrolyte balance, to replenish muscle and liver glycogen stores, and to stimulate protein synthesis. You can accomplish this by consuming carbohydrates, protein and fluids within thirty to sixty minutes of finishing your workout. Based on research data, athletes are encouraged to utilize this “glycogen window” to restore the muscles. It is particularly important for glycogen-depleting workouts, those that are longer than two hours or those with high intensity efforts, or if the day involves two or three workouts.”

Included in the recovery process is ongoing proper nutrition, sleep, rolling or massage, stretching, compression, and low intensity activity. Compression gear has risen to new heights in recent years.  Medical compression stockings have been used to treat poor blood flow for many years.  Recently, the technology has been made available to cyclist of all levels.  While the many claim it is difficult to prove that an immediate performance gain from wearing compression garments, many do claim that it lowers perceived muscle soreness the day after a big day on the bike and they can reduce the swelling of legs after prolonged sitting.

There are lots of resources online for you to learn about recovery best-practices and get the fuel and equipment you need for adequate recovery. Bikeparts.com has lots of different types of nutritional supplements all in one place as well as bikesbike partscycling accessories, and cycling apparel that can help you with your recovery training. And if you just want to talk to an expert, stop into Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado to talk to one of our competitive cyclists. Have fun with your summer training!


How to Use Spring Training Tools – The Importance of Not Going Out Too Hard Too Fast

April 9, 2015

Bike Fits at Peak Cycles Bicycle ShopAs the temperature gets warmer, the days grow longer, and the weather improves, cyclists everywhere are beckoned to ride their bikes.  While some may have trained through the winter months, many have not.  And the alluring call of gorgeous spring days lures many unprepared cyclist to ride too hard, too fast which can lead to injuries or a set back in the 2015 cycling season.

Whether you are planning to ride a century, multi-day rides, race or aspire to longer or more frequent rides in 2015, monitoring your early season training sets the stage for a successful year ahead.

Key points to keep in mind include training intensity, duration, and frequency.  There are coaches and coaching plans to assist with specific and customized training.  Or, you can create your own training program.

Regardless of your approach, for precise bio feedback to align your training plan, you’ll need to use cycling accessories available to you – as in power meters and /or heart rate monitors.  Early season training lends itself to “false” feedback.  Meaning, because you may be fresh, your perceived effort on the bike may be low causing you to push too hard, too soon, and then training suffers later due to increased recovery time or even injury.  By monitoring your efforts with specific data, you objectively know when you are pushing beyond your targeted indictors, as well as, when you aren’t pushing hard enough.  This allows your body to adjust to increased training load over time and in a manner that meets your 2015 cycling season goals.

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.

An often overlooked, yet incredibly powerful tool for improved cycling is a bike fit.   If you haven’t ridden much through the winter, 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.  Think of it this way – leg strength, endurance, and fitness are at the heart of cycling speed, but without a proper bike fit, you are sabotaging your training efforts.  In a sport based on such a highly repetitive action, like pedaling, the first line of defense against injury is a proper bike fit.  And, a bike fit goes beyond just setting saddle height and bar reach. To get the most enjoyment and reward from your training programs it’s critical to dial in the fit and confirm you have the right bike parts for optimal performance.

There are countless more ways training tools can aid in your spring cycling training.  We’ve mentioned power training and heart rate training, but also consider the importance of nutrition and recovery.  The main goal of them all is to assist you in dialing in your training to optimize your performance as it relates to your goals and objectives.

Do you need help figuring out which one is best for you?  Visit us at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado or ask us on Twitter.


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!


Yoga and Cycling: What’s In It For You?

January 30, 2014

shutterstock_139589627Cycling has many healthful benefits.  Yet, it’s not a complete exercise in itself.  Meaning,  regular stretching is needed to lengthen and stretch the muscles to keep them optimum for prolonged riding.  Have you ever wondered if yoga is for you?  According to the post, Yoga for Cyclist, cyclists need to focus on leg strength, which many poses in yoga target, but they also need to focus on flexibility and lower back strength.

You might wonder why to do yoga over a quick stretch here or there? Where yoga excels over the usual stretch-it-out routine is thoroughness. A simple yoga routine can warm up, strengthen and stretch all the major muscles groups before you’ve even started targeting anything specific.

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.

The next question – how to get started?  Consider first where you are in your training and racing season.  In the offseason yoga can be used as a workout to build strength, whereas during the peak season it should be used as a recovery tool.

Next, if you are new to yoga, you may want to experiment with different types of yoga to see which works best for you. Yoga offers many varieties and styles from the slow pace of Hatha yoga, to the fast vigorous pace of Ashtanga yoga. All styles can be beneficial but the most applicable for cyclists are styles that focus on continuous movement. Styles such as Ashtanga, Power, and Kundalini are steady flowing, work through a full range of movements and build great muscle endurance.

Another option to consider is whether or not you want to take a class, opt for an online course, or just follow along with pictures in a blog post like this one.  There are tons of videos available to purchase too.

Many cyclist struggle with having enough time to ride their road bike  much less make time for yoga.  Yet, online yoga classrooms are starting to cater specifically to the athlete-turned-yogi making it easier to fit yoga into the day. One in particular, YogaGlo, has an entire section dedicated to yoga for cyclists with classes ranging from 5 minutes up to a full 60 minute class and targeting everything from shortening recovery time to supporting your knees. They also offer a 15-day free trial for new members, so you’ve nothing to lose.  A nice option considering you can check the program out without compromising the purchase of upcoming bike parts  for the new season.

Some other great yoga resources include:

  • My Yoga Online – yoga video classes offering a huge range of styles and classes for working specific areas or issues.
  • Yoga Journal – online yoga magazine with a comprehensive index of yoga poses, including correct alignment, how to safely perform the pose and benefits.
  • Google – find out where your nearest yoga studio is, and get signed up!

If you are a cyclist and haven’t started doing yoga than what are you waiting for? Yoga could just be the missing piece in your daily routine.


Do You Know the Right Way to Train?

January 23, 2014
Charlie Knoll racing the 2012 Teva Games, Pro category

Charlie Knoll racing the 2012 Teva Games, Pro category

Your heart is pumping, your legs are burning, and you’re dripping enough sweat to put out a small forest fire.

You are suffering.

But is your suffering worthwhile?  Are you “just riding” every day without a strategic approach to your training?  Are your efforts hard enough to force physical adaptations? Do you take easy days for recovery so you can repeat your critical workouts?

Having a strategic approach and structured training means every workout has a purpose.  Every step, pedal and stroke is being performed with the confidence it’s the right thing to do and performed the right way.  The post, The Right Way to Train, shares four essential components of deliberate practice, and based on these four components, there is a 4-step process that embodies the right way to train:

  1. Set a specific goal
  2. Get expert instruction
  3. Perform structured training
  4. Get immediate feedback

Having a strategic approach includes not only having the tools needed, but also, including a comprehensive plan.  Meaning, a plan that includes training on the bike and off the bike.  Daily nutrition and sleep habits play a vital role in training properly.  Managing your overall stress levels, including time management, ensures  proper recovery.

As you prepare for your 2014 season as an athlete, make sure you have all of the components to training “the right way” to achieve your goal.

Having ambition goals for the season is great.  Discover what you need to support your training in reaching those goals.  Do you need a cycling coach? Maybe you need a bike fit or training software? Having the right tools, systems, habits, and overall strategy in place can make the difference between suffering through your season with disappointment or making big gains in reward and satisfaction.