April 21 - 27, 2014
It's spring, which means it's cycling camp season. For some, camp is a perfect opportunity to dust off the bike, pump up the tires and find their cycling kit in the box shoved in the dark corner of the basement. For others, it's a chance to add to your fitness base, hone your skills and get direction from some great former professional-cyclists-turned-coaches. For me camp was a great opportunity to go ride somewhere really cool, meet some great people and spread a little PowerTap love in the form of a free Joule GPS computer for each camper. Whatever the reason, a cycling camp can be a great way to spend a week on your bike away from home and get treated like a pro while doing it.
The camp I attended was the second of Peaks Coaching Groups' one week camps in Bedford, VA. I'd never been to Virginia before so I jumped at the chance to check out a new place on my bike, which in my humble opinion is the best way to see any place new or old. My colleague, Mr. PowerTap, Jesse Bartholomew attended the first camp and was greeted with a mix of wintry cold and spring rain while I enjoyed nothing but sunshine and rainbows (sorry Jesse).
For those unfamiliar the Peaks Coaching Group, it is run by Hunter Allen, co-author of “Training and Racing with a Power Meter”, creator of WKO analysis software and as you might expect an expert in the field of coaching with power. Hunter is also a very accomplished former professional cyclist and all-around great guy, as is the entire staff at Peaks.
Each day started with a short meeting that covered the overall ride plan and timeline for the day. Each camper had the opportunity to mingle with fellow campers and get their nutrition ready for the first part of the ride (sag was available, so there was no need to overload the bike and pockets--thanks Peaks). The morning meeting was followed by some form of skills training on the bike. These drills area great early season drill since most of us are transitioning from the trainer to the road and have lost the feel of our bikes, the wind and how to handle ourselves in group situations.
Following the skills training was the day's main ride, which varied in distance from around 25 miles to over 70. Peaks camps are perfectly suited to power meter owners, or someone interested in becoming one, as each day incorporated a timed test. Then as the week went on, each rider's mean maximal power curve was established. This included the assault on Thunder Ridge, a 12 mile ascent perfectly suited to a functional threshold power (FTP) type test with a steady 5-6% gradient and a beautifully paved surface.
After each day's ride campers were treated to yoga and lunch before downloading the Joule GPS computers to analyze a file or two. Hunter does a great job explaining power to the campers—a topic that can feel complicated to new power meter users. By the second or third day of analysis I could tell the group was really starting to understand based on the level of questions that were being asked. It was really great to see the light turning on in people's heads.
When the analysis sessions were over I would head down to the mechanics area where each bike was being cleaned and dialed in for the next day—a pro-level perk of the camp. Once in the mechanic's area, I would check to see which bikes would be sporting the demo PowerTap wheels and would help switch them over as needed. Campers were able to demo any of our PowerTap wheels for a day or two, or until someone else wanted to try them, which was usually not very long as the wheels were in high demand.
If you're considering attending a camp this year, or are thinking ahead to next season, and want to learn more about training with a power meter you would be hard pressed to find a better camp than at Peaks Coaching Group. Hats off to Hunter and his entire crew for creating a memorable first Virginian experience for me. I had a great time at camp and have no doubt that anyone who loves riding a bike with a great group of people, in an amazing part of the world with top notch coaches would share my sentiments.
For more info on Peaks Coaching Group camps go to: www.peakscoachinggroup.com
-Justin Henkel, PowerTap Product Manager