Don’t Be a Hater! Overcoming Trainer Woes

December 12, 2013

Peak Cycles Race TeamAs a cyclist, you can either hate the winter, or make the best of it. Some bundle up and dress to embrace the winter chill while others opt for the dreaded trainer. Yet, why do so many cyclist dread the trainer?

Maybe it’s not having the right equipment. Could it be boredom? Or, perhaps it is a lack of discipline.   There are ways to combat all three and make the trainer work for you. Here’s how!

Equipment
Having the right equipment can make your indoor workouts less boring and more effective. When we’re talking about equipment, sure, we mean having your road bike on the trainer, but we’re also talking about having a fan, a trainer tire, a riser block, a sweat towel, a trainer mat, indoor riding clothes, a cadence sensor, a power meter, and a heart rate monitor.  You might not think all of these cycling accessories  add up to a great trainer workout, but according to the post, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Trainer, it can make all the difference in the world.

Boredom
Sometimes seeing is believing!  Visual effects can have a powerful role in motivation.  Pop in a DVD training video or select a few YouTube clips to get your mind in the game.  Posters, a vision board, books, maps, or pictures of upcoming races can trigger your motivation to not only get on the bike, but maybe even dig a little deeper than you would have otherwise.

A growing and popular option is Cadence TV. It offers the flexibility to log on at any time from any computer that is connected to the internet. You can choose from hundreds of workouts in all different categories. Up pops the workout with your specific Power, HR and PE zones listed. You can see what interval you are doing now, how much time is left in the interval and what is coming up. Using Cadence TV makes it easy because you can just follow what’s on the screen.  The best part?  At $4/month you can’t beat the price.

Discipline
Create a supportive environment that supports your goals.  Is there a time of day that works best for you?  Then, schedule your trainer training time then.  Your primary objective in creating a support structure is to foster an environment in which you are supported and held accountable.

One way to do this is to avoid long rides on the trainer all together. Year round strength training for cyclists matters and substituting your indoor rides with strength training will do more for your cycling later on in the season than doing another trainer session.  In fact, a one hour hard trainer workout will do more to improve your cycling and race fitness than 2 to 4 hours easy on the trainer. So, plan your time on the trainer accordingly.

Indoor rides are not a replacement for outdoor rides but with the right equipment and a little planning, indoor rides can be fun and beneficial.

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White Ranch Trail: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

March 7, 2013

White Ranch Trail, Golden, CO

If grueling climbs, steep and narrow descents and tight switch-backs are your thing, then White Ranch may be the trail for you.  White Ranch Trail, located in Golden, Colorado near the Peak Cycles bicycle shop, offers an extensive trail system of 20 miles of multi-use trails over both gentle and rugged terrain.  Here’s our take on this popular trail.

The Good:

With steep grades, loose rock, and fast descents along sloping terrain, this trail is a favorite for advanced mountain bike riding on the Front Range.  Rugged and rocky steep climbs challenge even the best of riders while smooth and gentle meadow shots offer a release from the death grip on the brakes.  Your hard climbing efforts are rewarded with sweeping views of the Great Plains and the Denver skyline.

The Bad:

It all depends on what you call “bad.”  Starting at Belcher Hill with an extended, technical climb up can be a challenge.  If you aren’t up for that,  you might consider that a negative. Also, with two foot + drop offs, you need to be ready for technical sections and not a walk in the park type of ride.  Take note: hissing isn’t just for aggravated riders or flat tires.  There are plenty of snakes on this trail.

The Ugly:

Not having the right bike parts  or gear.  A full suspension mountain bike  is recommended to easily navigate  rocky sections, water bars, steps and drop offs.  Also, because of a majority of the park is exposed, the sun exposure in the summer months can be brutal.  A hydration pack is recommended not only to carry plenty of fluids but also for easier drinking riding over technical terrain.

There are 2 possible starts.  Opt of the East Access: 5611 Glencoe Valley Road, Golden for an easier ride.  Or, take the West Access: 25303 Belcher Hill Road, Golden for the long climb up to the top.

Either way, White Ranch offers cyclist living close to Golden, Boulder, and Denver a more advanced area to mountain bike and better yet – it offers a great escape from city riding.


Crash Test

February 5, 2013

Early season crashes – not fun!  Get your gear updated now!  Checklist:

What other bike parts do you need?  Stop by the shop to see the new 2013 bikes and get ready for the Spring cycling season.


Can the Right Bike Parts Make a Difference in Injury Prevention?

January 31, 2013

bike parts for injury preventionEnthusiastic 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. What are suggestions for avoiding injury during early season training?

In a sport based on such a highly repetitive action, like pedaling, the first line of defense against injury is a proper bike fit. Whether you’re just starting to ride or you’ve been cycling for a long time, consider the benefits of a professional bike fit.  Fit impacts comfort but also technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries.

What to 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.  Handlebars, stems, and bike position all contribute to a rider’s stability, endurance, and safety.

Also, keep in mind to pace yourself. Be mindful of your current activity level and build upon your program gradually.  During the winter months, it is tempting to opt for longer or high intensity rides when the weather is good.  However, compressing your physical activity for the week into a few days can lead to an overuse injury. Instead, keep to your ride schedule and spread out the workouts over a longer time frame.

Training is all about stressing your body with hard workouts, and then letting your body adapt to that load. If you do not allow your body to recover and adapt to the training load you’ve imposed on it, you simply will not be able to train and stress your body as hard the next workout.  While many riders understand that recovery between workouts is key to building fitness, recovery is also a commonly overlooked injury prevention tool. Recovery, defined as stretching, hydrating, and resting, are traditional tools used by athletes.  Some opt for compression gear, as in socks or tights, which are designed to improve recovery and aid in overall sports performance.

Plan for a successful cycling season by training right early season.  A good bike fit, steady riding, and active recovery paves the way for a healthy, injury free 2013.


Train the Brain: The Power of Mental Suffering

January 24, 2013

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. And while we aspire to be our better selves and pull out the magic in a moment of victory, the magic won’t be there if we don’t train it to be there.  Sure, we know how to train the body for suffering on the bike.  But the real master to train is the brain.

How are you training your brain?  Daily workouts offer opportunities to dig deeper.  Extended minutes at threshold heart rate or within specific power zones offer challenges.  Conquering a hill climb or masterfully navigating technical sections on the mountain bike  build confidence.  While these rides garner motivation to go beyond our limits, bigger challenges garner insights to training your brain for mental suffering.  Take these early season races and rides as an example.

Compare your mental attitude, preparation, and willingness to “get after it” when considering a race like the Triple Bypass  or the Copper Triangle versus a training ride with a group of spirited athletes.  The level of digging deep and mental suffering for a race exceeds that of a fast paced training ride.

Bigger challenges help to prepare for the mental suffering athletes are bound to encounter during the season.  They also help build mental fitness and confidence.  On the other hand, it is true, some athletes and recreational enthusiast focus on the bike itself.  As in, “Is it light enough?”   “Does it have the latest and greatest bike parts?”  Granted, having the right bike components and bike accessories makes a difference but to perform your best, you have to train your brain.


4 Pre Season Game Changers for Your Best Season Ever

January 17, 2013

Faster! Better! Stronger!

Spring is just around the corner and athletes everywhere are starting to think about key races to do well at and secondary races to use for training and motivation. Lower priority races are commonly used earlier in the season, but these races can also be used throughout the year for training and more.   Which races are you considering for 2013? Some of our favorite Colorado races include:

All races provide experience, training benefits, and as a stage to assess your  form. So, targeting a handful of races throughout the year to use as a learning experience, in addition to training, is a good idea.  But to properly prepare for the cycling season, athletes need to roll out their pre season training plan to reach their full capacity. Do you want to get faster in 2013? Here’s how!

  1. Build Your Base – Base training is fundamental to any cyclist’s training plan. Base training improves cardiovascular systems and helps you become a more efficient rider.  When we say base miles, we’re talking steady mileage of low-intensity rides with low-heart-rate.  We’re also talking about having the right base clothing  to keep you out for longer rides in cooler temps.
  2. Build Your Core – Recent studies indicate that cycling mechanics are affected by core stability. Core exercises can be done at home on a yoga mat or at a gym.  Certain types of yoga offer good core training as well.  Regardless of where or how you do it, building core workouts into your pre season training will provide lasting benefits well into the season.
  3. Build Balance – A balanced pre season program should contain resistance training (core) as well as time for other cross training aerobic sports such as swimming or x-country skiing.  Along with it’s cardiovascular benefits, cross training helps maintain balance skills, muscle strength, hand to eye coordination, and improved range of motion.
  4. Build Your Bike – Last but not least, get your bike in order.  If you are thinking about purchasing a new bike, now is the time.  2013 models are rolling out for both road bikes and mountain bikes.  If a new bike isn’t in your future, figure out which bike components need replacing and get your order in before everybody else.

Pre season planning and training paves the way for a long, healthy, and enjoyable cycling season.


4 Ways to Pedal the Winter Blues Away

January 10, 2013

For those who think they don’t have time to get into shape and start moving, now is the time to take action.  The 2013 ride and race season planning in Colorado is well underway.  Sure, the motivation to train in the winter months can be taxing.  Staleness or burnout from the previous season may linger, or maybe just the colder temps and shorter days weaken our resolve to get on the bike.  Yet, there are ways to combat the winter blues.  Here’s how!

1. Support Structure
Create a supportive environment that supports your goals.  Is there a time of day that works best for you?  Then, schedule your training time.  Do you train better with a partner?  Then, enlist the help of your family and friends.  Is your bike riding properly?  Check out your bike components, determine which bike parts you need, and get your bike in proper riding condition.  Your primary objective in creating a support structure is to foster an environment in which you are supported and held accountable.

2. Atmosphere
Does it matter where you ride?  Winter months create weather and lighting challenges.  Yet, there are definite options.  Inside riding on a trainer or rollers  can offer consistent pedal time and the ability to focus on heart rate and power easier than riding outside.  If you enjoy listening to music, don’t just play the hard stuff.  Consider modulating your listening to slower and medium tempo tunes that simulate heart rate goals and tempo riding.  Also, visual cues offer stimulation. A well lit room can create inviting energy and a unique atmosphere to train in.

3. Visual Effects
Sometimes seeing is believing!  Pop in a DVD training video or select a few YouTube clips to get your mind in the game.  Posters, a vision board, books, maps , or pictures of upcoming races can trigger your motivation to not only get on the bike, but maybe even dig a little deeper than you would have otherwise.

4. Competition Sparks Motivation
One way to stay motivated during longs stretches of training with little competition is to set small training goals. Working to achieve small training goals will make every training session meaningful. It will also provide small successes offering a sense of accomplishment while training for future competitions.  In fact, have you scheduled your 2013 races yet?  Here are a few worth checking out:

An essential element to being a successful athlete is staying motivated throughout the year.  Remember, cycling is supposed to be fun.  Set small goals, create a supportive structure and atmosphere for your training environment, and you’ll be amazed at what you can do in 2013!