gravel bike camp

Joseph’s First Gravel Camp

Texan Joseph Nguyen attends his first PCG Gravel Camp. Here is what he has to say!

This time last Tuesday morning I was driving to Peaks Coaching Group Gravel Camp in Bedford Virginia.

I have been coaching with my PCG coach, Rickey Wray Wilson, for over a year and he recommended that I attend the camp to better my bike skills on gravel. Who better to learn from than the cyclist master himself, Hunter Allen, and Selene Yeager, fit chick and cool chick. 😉

Crick Swimming in Arcadia on Long Day.

I arrived on Wednesday afternoon after stopping and resting in Franklin TN on Tuesday. That afternoon, Hunter took the campers and PCG coaches to a park nearby to work on cornering and bunny hop. Important bike skills to know whether you’re on the road or gravel or trail.

On Thursday morning, we completed a 1-minute test followed by three climbs of 10, 20, and 40 minutes. OMG!!!! I have never climbed that long living in Texas. It hurt so bad that I cramped on both quads. I only stopped once to catch my breath but I was determined to finish each climb. Hunter helped me with my breathing technique which helped out for the rest of the week. So glad for the wonderful recovery drink that Hunter’s wife made for all of us and the massage I got at the end of each ride. I felt like a pro. 😜 According to Strava, I climbed 4,501 ft of elevation for 34.24 miles.

On Friday, Hunter took it easy on us and I climbed 3,573 ft of elevation for 37.22 miles. We climbed up the famous Thunder Ridge and again I cramped toward the end. Selene waited for me near the top of the climb to ride up together and kept speaking words of encouragement. She said to me, “You don’t have to talk. Just keep pedaling.” Even though I was cramping real bad and I was in no mood to speak with anyone, I just wanted to complete the 40+ minutes climb. Let me say this, climbing is not my strength but I completed each climb each day. Again, massage at the end of the day helped me recover for the next day.

Selene Yeager being her bad-ass self

On Saturday, I was nervous at the start of the ride knowing that we would be climbing over 6,500 ft. But I kept telling myself to enjoy the day and keep pedaling when it got hard. We completed two climbs before we stopped at a creek for a dip to cool off our core and have lunch. I changed into a fresh cycling kit and took off early on the 12 miles climb knowing that the rest of the campers will catch me. I completed the grueling 12 miles climb in 1 hour and 46 minutes while Jill Patterson completed in 59 minutes with some change and QOM and KOM. WOW!!!! She can climb. Again Selene came down looking for me to encourage me to finish the climb. She is SO AWESOME!!!

Not all rides started from the facility, so we loaded them into the Peaks Trailer

After resting at the top, we started on a long descent to the bottom through the winding trail with one stretch of about 100 yards that was so steep and filled with big chunky rocks that I was so terrified. I was on the brakes the whole time and slipped and slid while descending that steep part of the trail. I thought I was going to go over the handlebar but luckily I didn’t.

Hunter gave campers tons to think about in terms of gravel watts

Thank you God for a nice recovery ride on Sunday. Hunter took it easy on us with only 2,930 ft of elevation. 😬

Overall, it was worth the drive of 17 hours to be at the gravel camp for 5 days. I learned how to corner from PCG coach, Bart Lipinski. He took the time on Friday morning before the ride to teach me the 1-2-3 cornering technique. I learned from Selene to be relaxed on the bike. The bike will go straight as long as I am relaxed and let the bike bounced off the gravel and rocks. I learned from Paul Ozier about the bike’s mechanics. I learned from Jill Patterson to enjoy the climb. She is the QUEEN of hills. And I learned so much from the cyclist master himself, Hunter Allen. He truly knows the ins and outs of cycling.

Joseph between gravel roads looking at the Blue Ridge Mountains

And lastly, I made 5 new friends: Joel Denny, Andrew Simpson, Simon Holland, Jim Fingers, and Matt Sodikoff. I definitely will visit them soon.

I want to thank Hunter and his family (Kate, Jack, Susannah, and Thomas), Lee Sandstead, Mr. Hunter Allen Jr, PCG coaches Bart Lipinski, Paul Ozier, and Jill Patterson for putting together a 1st class gravel camp. I look forward to putting everything I learned from last week to become a better cyclist.

Look forward to 2021 PCG Spring Camp. 🚴‍♂️