How to Interpret Power Data and What to Do With It

A power meter is an incredible tool and one of the most important purchases a cyclist or triathlete can make. But it won't do you any good unless you know how to use the information it gathers.

Variations on a Theme: Threshold Work for Cyclocross

If you've been racing all summer, your power at threshold has declined as you focus on racing and recovering. Click through to read Coach Christian's suggestions to increase your FTP for the CX season.

Bills, Bacon, and Beer: Mastering the Extracurricular Skills of Cyclocross

Cyclocross racing is different. And we don't mean just the dismounts, carries, and bunny hopping.

Using a Power Meter in Cyclocross

Cyclocross has a unique set of demands, and it's almost impossible to hold a steady power during a race, but your power meter is still an invaluable asset this season.

Three Common Racing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

It's hard to win. And in all our efforts to win, we make mistakes. Read about three of the common errors made in racing, plus tips on how to avoid them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Off-Season Homework for Triathletes

by Hunter Allen, PCG Founder/CEO and master coach
Peaks Coaching Group Off-Season Homework for Triathletes
Photo credit:
So racing season is coming to a close. You can finally kick off those running shoes, fold that lycra, and stash that bike for a few months, right? Wrong! The off season is the crucial time to fit in your “homework” for the upcoming season, especially if you want to move up to the next level or take on a new challenge.

What do I mean by homework? For starters, you should work on the weaknesses that held you back this season, which means you should make a significant enough change to your daily training to allow you to improve your results. Secondly, you should consider increasing the amount of work you do in one of the three sports so you can make a big improvement that will translate to the greatest reduction in your overall finishing time. Lastly, try focusing some of your effort on improving your economy on the bike. All three sports are great places to improve your economy, but many times improving your economy on the bike is the best place to do so, because it often results in the greatest increase in speed while saving you a proportionally larger amount of energy, which can then be used on your run.

Let’s take a look at how you can tackle these three areas of homework.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Recipe: Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins

from the kitchen of Anne Guzman, PCG nutritionist
Peaks Coaching Group Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins Recipe
Photo credit: Just Some Salt and Pepper

These are amazing! Their perfect spice and warm flavor makes them the ideal complement for your tea or coffee as an afternoon snack. Plus they're vegan! These would also be a great option for your last pre-workout snack, giving you just the right type of energy to get your legs moving!

Makes 12 190-calorie muffins.


  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or 2 eggs, making it non vegan)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (if you use gluten-free, just add 1 teaspoon xanthum gum if it's not already in the gluten-free powder mix)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cups pure maple syrup plus 1 tablespoon to brush muffin tops
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese five spice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • *Optional: You can add 1 tablespoon chia seeds to the wet mixture and let it sit for five minutes to let them expand while you combine the dry mixture.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pierce the sweet potato several times with a fork and bake until soft all the way through. Remove from oven and, when cool enough to handle, remove the skin. Mash the sweet potato in a mixing bowl until smooth.

Add the milk, vanilla, oil, maple syrup, and applesauce (plus chia seeds, if using) to the mashed sweet potato. Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then fold into wet ingredients until well mixed.

Line a muffin tray with muffin liners or tear bits of parchment paper (they don't have to be perfect circles) and place one in each muffin cup. Pour the muffin butter evenly into twelve muffin cups.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. At the 20-minute mark, take the muffins out of the oven and brush the top of each with a bit of maple syrup. Bake another five minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven, cool, and enjoy!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 190
Carbohydrates: 32.5g
Protein: 3g
Fats: 5g
Fiber: 3g

Anne Guzman is a nutritionist with Peaks Coaching Group. She is a certified kinesiologist, a registered holistic nutritionist, an AFPA-certified sports nutrition consultant, and a former professional cyclist. Anne can be reached directly through or, and you can find more nutrition tips on her blog at

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chocolate Milk and Recovery

By Jen Sommer, PCG nutritionist
Peaks Coaching Group Nutrition Chocolate Milk and Recovery

Most of us endurance athletes of any kind have heard long ago about the use of chocolate milk as a post-workout recovery beverage. It started with a study that compared chocolate milk to typical sports drinks such as Gatorade and found that chocolate milk was superior for recovery. Ever since, many cyclists have touted it as the “perfect” post-workout beverage, and magazine ads and commercials promoting chocolate milk are everywhere.

So what’s the big deal? First of all, it’s important to understand the concept of a recovery beverage and why and when it is necessary. Here’s the simple version.

When we exercise we burn a mix of fat and carbohydrate. Lower intensity exercise burns mostly fat, and even the leanest athlete has plenty of that stored up. Higher intensity exercise burns mostly carbohydrates, which the body can only store so much of (in the form of glycogen). On average, a person will burn through all of their body’s glycogen stores during two to three hours of exercise. That’s why we endurance athletes have to consume a carbohydrate source of some kind to keep going during activities of that duration or longer. That is also why it is important to consume carbohydrates as soon as possible (ideally within thirty minutes) after strenuous exercise in order to replenish our bodies’ glycogen stores. It is also recommended to consume some protein post workout to aid in muscle recovery. Fail to do so, and your next workout will probably suck.

So why would chocolate milk be superior? First of all, it’s a good source of carbohydrates. It is also a good source of protein, and it specifically contains a good amount of the branch chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine), which are particularly important for recovery from exercise. Another benefit of chocolate milk is that it’s a liquid. A lot of athletes suffer from GI distress or suppressed appetite after workouts and have a hard time eating solid foods during that all-important recovery window thirty to sixty minutes after exercise. Liquids are often more easily tolerated by these athletes. And a bonus: it’s super affordable.  Sports nutrition supplements can get pricey, but a whole gallon of chocolate milk will set you back only about four bucks.

That being said, not everyone needs to be concerned about a post-workout recovery beverage (or meal). If your workout is one hour or less and at a moderate intensity, you don’t need to worry much about post workout recovery nutrition. Your next meal or snack, as long as it’s well balanced, should provide adequate carbohydrate and protein for your body to recover. Be particularly careful if your workout is less than one hour and your goal is weight loss, as an 8-ounce serving of low-fat chocolate milk still packs in 200 calories. This is why it annoys me to see personal trainers at the gym pushing hefty protein shakes on overweight women who are likely doing less than an hour of exercise; they don’t need it, and it might actually contribute to weight gain, probably in direct opposition to why these women are at the gym!

So what’s my final verdict? Although I don’t personally use it, I think chocolate milk is a quality post workout beverage for those who actually need it. It’s a good source of the nutrients you need, it’s easy to digest, it’s cost effective, and it tastes pretty good (in my opinion). I’m actually not sure why I don’t use it! Maybe I’ll start. However, chocolate milk is by no means the only good post-workout beverage, and I don’t believe that it is necessarily superior to some of the other options out there. If you dislike the flavor, there’s no need to choke it down. There are plenty of other ways to get in the nutrients you need after a workout. If you don’t know what those are, speak to a sports registered dietitian like me!

Before we go, how exactly does chocolate milk stack up?

Here are some good post-exercise nutrition recommendations:
  • Carbs: 1-1.5 grams per kg body weight
  • Protein: 10-20 grams
  • Electrolytes, particularly sodium (1 pound of sweat loss contains about 100 mg potassium and 400-700 mg sodium)
  • Fluids: 16-24 fluid ounces for every pound lost
And here’s how an 8-ounce glass of low-fat chocolate milk measures up, though numbers will vary slightly by brand:

Carbs: 28 grams
Protein: 9 grams
Electrolytes: 154 mg sodium, 422 mg potassium
Fluid: 8 ounces (duh!)

Jen is a registered dietitian, a certified specialist in sports dietetics, a former NASM certified personal trainer, and a self-appointed mountain girl. As a cyclist, skier, hiker, and runner (among other things), she knows firsthand the importance of proper nutrition and training. She offers nutrition coaching and consulting through Peaks Coaching Group. Find more great tips, recipes, and articles at Jen's blog, Mountain Girl Nutrition and Fitness.

Friday, September 5, 2014

How to Interpret Power Data and What to Do With It

by Hunter Allen and Russell Stevenson
Peaks Coaching Group How to Interpret Power Data
PCG Director of Engineering Kevin Williams

“I just bought a $2,000 power meter, and I'm faster.”

Are you?

One of the single most important purchases for any cyclist who wants to be faster is a power meter. Just as important, however, is knowing how to use it. A power meter can't do you any good if you don’t know how to interpret the information.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hunter Allen Reviews the Pinarello Dogma Think 2

Peaks Coaching Group Pinarello Dogma Review Hunter Allen

A bike should go fast, handle great, and keep you comfortable throughout the ride. The Pinarello Dogma Think 2 does just that! When I first built up my frameset and got it all together, I was impressed by the incredible attention to detail on the Dogma. She is a real beauty, inside and out! Outfitted with the MOST handlebars (which I love and have put on all my bikes for the last eight years), my Dogma Think 2 has an incredible combination of good looks and functionality. I’ve admired and ogled the Pinarello for years; to me they are the epitome of Italian style and raciness, and they remind me of the sleek, curvaceous, sexy, super-fast cars that also come out of Italy, of which I am also a big fan!


I said it once and I’ll say it again: this thing is a “velvet hammer.” I’ve been fortunate over the years to ride many high-end bicycles and can detect slight differences in geometry, stiffness/flexibility, and handling. When I pushed the Dogma to its limits, I learned one key thing: no matter how smooth it made things feel, it was faster! To be honest, this surprised me. My immediate impression was a super-smooth, rock-solid bike that was comfortable right out of the build, but this can sometimes come with a slight penalty in handling and acceleration. Not with the Dogma. I am a decent sprinter, so I want a bike that will accelerate instantly and give me the feeling of instant speed, as well, and the Dogma does that perfectly. The more miles I put on it, the more I was able to push this bike. As I rode all my local favorite fast spots and big downhills, it was confirmed that I was faster, often 1-2 mph faster.


The Dogma handling is pure smooth, with some unique handling properties. For descending and hard corning, the Dogma is highly predictable. My standard test of a new bike is to climb up my local 25-minute climb and then descend back down it. Now, I have probably descended the mountain over 500 times in the past 30 years, so I know every divot and bump in the road, along with the perfect line. This makes me a bit demanding with a bike’s cornering ability; when I want that thing to carve, I want it to carve THEN! I don’t believe in taking a casual “run” down the mountain, so the first time down on a new bike, I just make sure the brakes are working and the skewers are tight, and then I go for it. I pushed the Dogma down the mountain, pushing the handling to the limit, and this thing just sticks the turns and glues you to your lines. Most importantly, it turned exactly when I wanted it to! The feeling of this is highly confidence-building, and when I compare the data, I am always faster on the Dogma than on my other bikes.


Here is another major plus for the Dogma. The long-term comfort of the bike is excellent, and knocking out four hours or more of a training ride is a breeze (from the comfort aspect, anyway). The solid feeling and road-absorbing quality carbon does a lot to smooth the ride. I’ve ridden a lot of pro-level bikes that can beat you up over time, but not the Dogma.

Power Testing

Stiff! The dogma performs as well as any pro-level bike I have ridden or tested, with the addition of the smooth, controlled feeling I mentioned above. Combined with the MOST handlebars (which I highly recommend), I cracked the elusive 1500-watt barrier for a peak one second, and I did it three more times to make sure it wasn’t a recording anomaly with my power meter. The bike is not an insane quick-handling, darty bike (which I neither want nor like) as some bikes can be, which is great, and it contains the perfect combination of handling for cornering and descending, along with the power numbers that tell me the feeling of smoothness isn’t also a flexing that causes a loss of power.

Riding the amazing Pinarello Dogma has been a pleasure. It is easily one of the most enjoyable bikes I have owned that delivers on the promise!

Hunter Allen is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former professional cyclist. He is the coauthor of Training and Racing with a Power Meter and Cutting-Edge Cycling, co-developer of TrainingPeaks’ WKO software, and CEO and founder of Peaks Coaching Group. He and his coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes. Hunter can be contacted directly through

Monday, August 25, 2014

Carter Jones Takes USA Pro Challenge

by Stephen McGregor, Ph.D., PCG master coach and personal coach to Carter Jones
Peaks Coaching Group Carter Jones USA Pro Challenge
Vail TT.    Photo Credit: VeloNews
On the back of four impressive top-ten finishes, including a fourth and sixth on the first and third stages respectively, Optum pro Carter Jones cemented his place as the top American GC rider in the domestic peloton at the UCI 2.HC USA Pro Challenge. Were it not for a well-publicized neutralization on Stage 2, which resulted in a case of hypothermia for Jones that dropped him to twelfth overall, he likely would have finished in the top five on GC. Regardless, in the last weekend of racing he attacked the elite group of GC men at the top of Hoosier Pass on Stage 5, then improved eleven places on his 2013 performance in the Stage 6 Vail TT to finish tenth on the day. Then in the Stage 7 finale, he again made the final group of GC contenders and showed off his great form by coming out of the last turn first, leading out Optum sprinter Jesse Anthony and finishing tenth himself. 

This accomplishment comes only two weeks after Carter finished seventh on GC in the UCI 2.1 (and America’s toughest stage race) Tour of Utah and several months after his May finish of eleventh on GC in the UCI 2.HC Tour of California. These high placings in America’s three premier UCI stage races have garnered Jones much attention in the press and make a strong argument that he is ready for a shot at the World Tour.

Congratulations, Carter! We can't wait to see all the places you'll go from here!

Carter Jones Peaks Coaching Group USA Pro Challenge
Attack on Hoosier. Photo Credit: VeloNews

Carter Jones Peaks Coaching Group USA Pro Challenge
Final circuit in Denver. Photo Credit: VeloNews

Click below for additional information:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Variations on a Theme: Threshold Work for Cyclocross

By Christian Sheridan, PCG elite coach
Peaks Coaching Group Iain Banks Cyclocross Workouts Christian Sheridan
PCG elite coach Iain Banks powers over a cyclocross course
Original photo credit: Alex Pline
It’s the time of year when thoughts turn to cowbells, barriers, and mud. Yes, it is time for cyclocross. Rider approaches to cross vary widely; for some, cross is the focus of the season and they’re just ramping up their training, while others are winding down the road season and thinking about extending the racing with some cross. In both cases, there is a need to rebuild FTP (functional threshold power), but in a cross-focused way.

If you've been racing all summer, your power at threshold has declined as you focus on racing and recovering. Even if you haven’t spent the summer racing on the road and instead put in some long base rides to build aerobic fitness and endurance, you'll want to get a good block just topping off the tank, as it were. Nearly all riders know that riding in their sweet spot (88-93% of FTP) is one of the most time-efficient ways to increase FTP, but for cross there are some minor adjustments that can be made to make the workouts even more specific.

When it comes to specificity, let’s think about what makes a cross race different from other races. First, think about the start. The first half to full lap of a cross race is perhaps the hardest few minutes you can experience on a bike as everyone fights for position into the first technical sections. So the first recommendation I make is that EVERY workout begin with a five-minute blowout effort at VO2max intensity (zone 5 power).

The next thing about cross is that the effort is never steady; instead, there are lots and lots of jumps at near max intensity. In this way cross is like a technical crit, but with a key difference: in cross there is no pack and very little drafting. Yes, there are moments when you aren’t pedaling, but it’s not because you’re being swept along by the pack but because you’re setting up for a corner or obstacle. Besides those moments, you need to be on the gas, so we design workouts that mimic that kind of effort.

There are two ways I address this with my athletes: intervals with jumps and intervals with bursts. Essentially you perform tempo or sweet spot interval (e.g. 45-60 at 80-85% FTP or 2 x 20 at 88-93%) and at set intervals you perform either a jump (a 10- to 12-second sprint) or a burst (30 seconds at 110%+ FTP). The jumps help with accelerating after a slow corner or a remount, the bursts with those times in a race when you want to respond to or initiate an attack. But the key is that after the intense effort you don't let power fall below the zone for the interval. This forces your body to make a hard effort without easing off to recover, just like the uneven efforts you find in cross races.

Below are two of my favorite variations on classic workouts aimed at cross. I usually start with the tempo-with-jumps workout and begin with 30-45 minutes (depending on the length of the race) and work up to an hour.

Cyclocross Workout 1: Tempo with Jumps

WU: 10-15 minutes working into zone 2, with 3 x 1-minute fast pedal/low power efforts with 1 minute recovery between.

MS1: 5-minute blowout VO2max effort. Do 5 minutes at 110% FTP or Zone 5. Think of this as the first few minutes of a cross race; even if you’re not going for the hole shot, you need to maintain or improve your position. Recover 3-5 minutes afterwards (as you get stronger, decrease the recovery interval).

MS2: Ride 60 minutes in Zone 3. Within this effort do 12-20 all-out jumps of 10-12 seconds. Recover immediately to Zone 3 after each jump. Start with 12 jumps (every 5 minutes) and add more each time you do the workout.

CD: 10-15 minutes in Zone 1.

Cyclocross Workout 2: Sweet Spot with Bursts

WU: 10-15 minutes working into zone 2, with 3 x 1-minute fast pedal/low power efforts with 1 minute recovery between.

MS1: 5-minute blowout VO2max effort. Do 5 minutes at 110% FTP or Zone 5. Think of this as the first few minutes of a cross race; even if you’re not going for the hole shot, you need to maintain or improve your position. Recover 3-5 minutes afterward (as you get stronger, decrease the recovery interval).

MS2: 2 x 20 minutes sweet spot, with watts 88-93% FTP. Within this effort, do 5 x 30-second efforts at 110% FTP. After the 30-minute effort, return immediately to sweet spot, never letting watts fall below 88% FTP. Recover 5 minutes between efforts.

CD: 10-15 minutes in Zone 1.

Christian is a Level 2 USAC cycling coach, an assistant professor at Bridgewater College, and a father of one living near Charlottesville, Virginia. He has coached athletes at all levels and has helped several athletes upgrade from Cat 5 to Cat 2. Christian can be contacted through or

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Peaks Coaching Group Continues to Expand Internationally

Peaks Coaching Group Hunter Allen International Expansion India Brazil Brasil

Peaks Coaching Group Expands in Brazil, Japan, and India
Bedford, VA, USA – August 6, 2014

Peaks Coaching Group is the leading international endurance-based power training company for cyclists and triathletes. The founder and CEO of Peaks Coaching Group, Hunter Allen, is widely known as one of the top experts in training with power and is the coauthor of the authoritative book Training and Racing with a Power Meter. Peaks Coaching Group has been growing rapidly in the last several years as power training has become the new norm for competitive cycling and endurance training. We are pleased to announce that PCG now has affiliate groups in two countries, Brazil and Japan. Both groups are owned and operated by PCG coaches who have been trained and mentored by Hunter Allen. In addition, PCG continues its international expansion through coaching two professional cycling teams in India, Trek Firefox and Specialized Kynkyny.

In Brazil, PCG elite coach Cris Solak owns and operates Peaks Brazil. Cris has been coaching for over fifteen years and is an accomplished pro triathlete himself and a Brazilian National Champion. Hunter Allen commented, “Cris has been part of the PCG team for over five years coaching PCG athletes as well as working at PCG training camps. Brazil has always been a hot spot for power training, and now we have Cris and his team to handle the needs of so many interested cyclists and triathletes in Brazil.” Cris is excited about bringing power training to Brazil. “As a coach,” he said, “I combine my extensive racing experience and years of athletic studies with Hunter’s proprietary power training education, and I can provide the ultimate coaching experience for my athletes.” You can read more about Cris and his coaching on his website:

In Japan, PCG elite coach Takashi Nakata owns and operates Peaks Coaching Group Japan. Takashi is an experienced coach and athlete with twenty-five years of road, track, and cyclocross racing at national and international events. “I have always wanted to pass on the cycling knowledge that I have obtained in the US while traveling in California, as well as Hunter Allen’s expertise of power training and education, to help Japanese riders achieve their potential,” said Takashi. “The scientific and quantified approach to training that Hunter and the PCG team bring to the table will be exciting to help advance the Japanese cycling culture to a more international level.” Hunter Allen, who has mentored Takashi, commented, “Takashi is a sponge for power knowledge. His analytical mind and background studies mixed with his racing background are perfect for really grasping the technical power concepts that are needed to run Peaks Coaching Group Japan.” Takashi has begun to translate the PCG blog into Japanese to bring Hunter’s power knowledge and articles to the Japanese cycling community: Takashi’s site already has over 1,300 reader hits a day, and as Hunter said, “Coach Takashi’s future with power training and Peaks Coaching Group in Japan has huge growth potential!”

In India, PCG president Tim Cusick has been working closely with renowned Indian coach Srinath Rajam to develop two pro teams. The response and growth from the Indian athletes has been tremendous. Tim developed a team coaching approach for the India teams that includes not just the pro team but over 100 competitive cyclists training and competing regionally and nationally. The PCG coaches have been teaching and training the athletes about power, as well as race tactics and strategy. “It has been an honor to work and coach with Sri and the Indian cyclists,” Tim said, “and it’s been exciting watching them grow and become strong international teams.” Srinath Rajam has coordinated and sponsored this aggressive cycling development in India and is looking forward to UCI pro status in 2015 for Team Trek Firefox and Team Specialized Kynkyny. Click here to find out more:

For more information, contact:
Kathy Watts

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos

from the kitchen of Jen Sommer, PCG nutritionist
Image Credit:
This simple recipe packs a bunch of flavor for its small ingredient list. It's vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free (if your tortillas are), and delicious!

1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 can black beans
1 small yellow onion
1 avocado, cut into bite-size pieces
½ bunch kale
8 6-inch tortillas (white corn/wheat mix works well)
Cumin or coriander
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Pre-cook sweet potato in microwave for three minutes, then cut into ½-inch cubes. Toss cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until tender and golden.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the beans over low heat, adding a pinch of cumin or coriander midway through.

Dice onion and sauté in olive oil until tender.  If you're feeling adventurous and have a dark beer around, cooking the onions in beer instead of olive oil yields a nice flavor.

Rip washed kale into bite-size pieces and sauté over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Divide sweet potato, beans, onion, kale, and avocado evenly among eight tacos, and enjoy!

Jen is a registered dietitian, a certified specialist in sports dietetics, a former NASM certified personal trainer, and a self-appointed mountain girl. As a cyclist, skier, hiker, and runner (among other things), she knows firsthand the importance of proper nutrition and training. She offers nutrition coaching and consulting through Peaks Coaching Group. Find more great tips, recipes, and articles at Jen's blog, Mountain Girl Nutrition and Fitness.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bills, Bacon, and Beer: Mastering the Extracurricular Skills of Cyclocross

By Gordon Paulson, PCG elite coach
Image Credit:
Cyclocross racing is different. Apart from the mount/dismount, suitcase carries, step-through dismounts, and bunny hopping, a CX race can present rare and mysterious challenges unlike those of a typical criterium. You’ll need to be prepared. Before you line up for your first CX race, make sure you’re ready for that ‘cross-distinguishing element: the hand-up.

Now if you want to get technical, there are most likely rules against accepting hand-ups in your ‘cross races, and there’s no feed zone. But it’s ‘cross; what’s a few rules to get in the way of general craziness? Hand-ups are as much a part of the culture as the dismount.

There are basically three types of hand-ups you should prepare for: bills, bacon, and beer.