The 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. In fact, Colorado has some of the greatest road bike rides and mountain bike trails in the country. And, it’s host to one of the world’s favorite bike races – the US ProCycling Challenge. However, one of the toughest challenges a cyclist can face is how to prepare for a tour or race when traveling from out of state.
A first step in preparation is selecting the road rides, mountain bike trails, and or road and mountain bike races you want to do. July is packed with events including some of our top favorites:
- Firecracker 50
- Tour de Ladies
- Clasica de Rio Grande
- Big Mountain Enduro Keystone
- Triple Bypass
- Longmont Criterium
- SOS Outreach Colorado-Eagle River Ride
- Tour de Steamboat
- Breckenridge 100
- Salida Classic
- Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb
- Leadville Stage Race
- Colorado Freeride Festival
Next, you’ll want to gather event intelligence. As in, what are key elements you should know about the event for planning, preparation, etc. You’ll want to know the course profile. If you are a flatlander, most likely, you’ll be interested in knowing how much climbing and descending to expect. 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 also want to have the appropriate gearing for your event. Your legs will thank you for this!
As the event gets closer, you will want to be aware of the weather conditions before, during, and soon after you expect to ride. Colorado weather changes quickly and sometimes, radically. It’s critical to prepared. With that in mind, it is important to know which cycling apparel to pack and have available during your stay.
More importantly, travelers coming from sea level to higher altitudes will want to plan their trip accordingly to allow for acclimation. 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. You may consider spending time at higher elevations prior to your event which 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.
Another option and an important one is to hydrate and 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.
Finally, during training and racing, 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.
Colorado tours and races in July can be rewarding experiences. Part of what makes them fun is the scenery and the great Colorado experience. However, to make the even more memorable, it’s important to evaluate your results based on your goals. What worked? What didn’t? What can you do for the next race or tour to get a better result? Be objective and explore how your mental and physical training helped prepare you for this event.
It might seem unimportant to evaluate the experience, but post event evaluation is an important element in deciding if you want to do that event again the following year. If you do, it’s helpful to make note of your bike and cycling accessory selections. What would you change or do differently next time? As in, you might wonder, did you race the right bike? Would a different wheel set make a difference? Build on this foundation to create success in planning and preparing going into next year’s event.
If you are coming in from out of state to participate in one of Colorado’s July cycling events and need help making bike part selections or deciding on the right gear for an event, give us a call at Peak Cycles Bicycle shop. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter and happy to help! Happy riding!