Fitness questions and answers for August 1, 2005

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Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at fitness@cyclingnews.com. Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.

Carrie Cheadle, MA (www.carriecheadle.com) is a Sports Psychology consultant who has dedicated her career to helping athletes of all ages and abilities perform to their potential. Carrie specialises in working with cyclists, in disciplines ranging from track racing to mountain biking. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University as well as a masters degree in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University.

Dave Palese (www.davepalese.com) is a USA Cycling licensed coach and masters' class road racer with 16 years' race experience. He coaches racers and riders of all abilities from his home in southern Maine, USA, where he lives with his wife Sheryl, daughter Molly, and two cats, Miranda and Mu-Mu.

Kelby Bethards, MD received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University (1994) before obtaining an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2000. Has been a racing cyclist 'on and off' for 20 years, and when time allows, he races Cat 3 and 35+. He is a team physician for two local Ft Collins, CO, teams, and currently works Family Practice in multiple settings: rural, urgent care, inpatient and the like.

Fiona Lockhart (www.trainright.com) is a USA Cycling Expert Coach, and holds certifications from USA Weightlifting (Sports Performance Coach), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach), and the National Academy for Sports Nutrition (Primary Sports Nutritionist). She is the Sports Science Editor for Carmichael Training Systems, and has been working in the strength and conditioning and endurance sports fields for over 10 years; she's also a competitive mountain biker.

Eddie Monnier (www.velo-fit.com) is a USA Cycling certified Elite Coach and a Category II racer. He holds undergraduate degrees in anthropology (with departmental honors) and philosophy from Emory University and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.

Eddie is a proponent of training with power. He coaches cyclists (track, road and mountain bike) of all abilities and with wide ranging goals (with and without power meters). He uses internet tools to coach riders from any geography.

David Fleckenstein, MPT (www.physiopt.com) is a physical therapist practicing in Boise, ID. His clients have included World and U.S. champions, Olympic athletes and numerous professional athletes. He received his B.S. in Biology/Genetics from Penn State and his Master's degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University. He specializes in manual medicine treatment and specific retraining of spine and joint stabilization musculature. He is a former Cat I road racer and Expert mountain biker.

Since 1986 Steve Hogg (www.cyclefitcentre.com) has owned and operated Pedal Pushers, a cycle shop specialising in rider positioning and custom bicycles. In that time he has positioned riders from all cycling disciplines and of all levels of ability with every concievable cycling problem.They include World and National champions at one end of the performance spectrum to amputees and people with disabilities at the other end.

Current riders that Steve has positioned include Davitamon-Lotto's Nick Gates, Discovery's Hayden Roulston, National Road Series champion, Jessica Ridder and National and State Time Trial champion, Peter Milostic.

Pamela Hinton has a bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology and a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did postdoctoral training at Cornell University and is now an assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of iron deficiency on adaptations to endurance training and the consequences of exercise-associated changes in menstrual function on bone health.

Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling competitively in 2003 and is the defending Missouri State Road Champion. Pam writes a nutrition column for Giana Roberge's Team Speed Queen Newsletter.

Dario Fredrick (www.wholeathlete.com) is an exercise physiologist and head coach for Whole Athlete™. He is a former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.

Scott Saifer (www.wenzelcoaching.com) has a Masters Degree in exercise physiology and sports psychology and has personally coached over 300 athletes of all levels in his 10 years of coaching with Wenzel Coaching.

Kendra Wenzel (www.wenzelcoaching.com) is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.

Steve Owens (www.coloradopremiertraining.com) is a USA Cycling certified coach, exercise physiologist and owner of Colorado Premier Training. Steve has worked with both the United States Olympic Committee and Guatemalan Olympic Committee as an Exercise Physiologist. He holds a B.S. in Exercise & Sports Science and currently works with multiple national champions, professionals and World Cup level cyclists.

Through his highly customized online training format, Steve and his handpicked team of coaches at Colorado Premier Training work with cyclists and multisport athletes around the world.

Brett Aitken (www.cycle2max.com) is a Sydney Olympic gold medalist. Born in Adelaide, Australia in 1971, Brett got into cycling through the cult sport of cycle speedway before crossing over into road and track racing. Since winning Olympic gold in the Madison with Scott McGrory, Brett has been working on his coaching business and his www.cycle2max.com website.

Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com) is Head Coach of Richard Stern Training, a Level 3 Coach with the Association of British Cycling Coaches, a Sports Scientist, and a writer. He has been professionally coaching cyclists and triathletes since 1998 at all levels from professional to recreational. He is a leading expert in coaching with power output and all power meters. Richard has been a competitive cyclist for 20 years

Andy Bloomer (www.cyclecoach.com) is an Associate Coach and sport scientist with Richard Stern Training. He is a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) and a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES). In his role as Exercise Physiologist at Staffordshire University Sports Performance Centre, he has conducted physiological testing and offered training and coaching advice to athletes from all sports for the past 4 years. Andy has been a competitive cyclist for many years.

Michael Smartt (www.cyclecoach.com) is an Associate Coach with Richard Stern Training. He holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology and is USA Cycling Expert Coach. Michael has been a competitive cyclist for over 10 years and has experience coaching road and off-road cyclists, triathletes and Paralympians.

Kim Morrow (www.elitefitcoach.com) has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion, and a Fitness Professional.

Her coaching group, eliteFITcoach, is based out of the Southeastern United States, although they coach athletes across North America. Kim also owns MyEnduranceCoach.com, a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find a coach.

Advice presented in Cyclingnews' fitness pages is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for individual athletes. If you follow the educational information found on Cyclingnews, you do so at your own risk. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Chainring side
Right leg problems
Longer leg
Bike fit and back pain
Nerve damage
Leg length discrepancy
Crotch pain
Time off the bike
Positioning on MTB

Chainring side

Steve,

I've noticed in many of your helpful answers lately, you've mentioned if distance between the inner thighs at the seat post is different on one side or the other it may cause problems. But, isn't it natural for the gap to be bigger on the right because of the chainrings? Thanks.

Jason Warner

Belleville, IL, USA

Steve Hogg replies

Jason,

The short answer is no. All modern road cranks that I am aware of, place the outermost surface of each crank arm where the pedal screws in, equidistant from the centre line of the frame, the dimension known as 'Q' factor.

There are occasional exceptions but usually the difference is a mm or two.

Most MTB cranks are the same though the distance is greater. The reason I mentioned inner thigh to seat post distance is that most riders favour one side in the sense of hanging or rotating forward or both to one side, usually the right side, but not always. Unless someone has large thighs that brush the seat post, it is easier for people to determine to which side they hang by looking between their legs on a bike at the inner thigh to seat post gap, than it is for them to enlist an observer to watch what happens to them pelvically from behind.

To recap, if the inner thigh to seat post gap is greater on one side, the rider will be hanging to the other side. To give an example; greater gap on left side means that rider is hanging towards the right. There are a host of reasons that this may be so, but it is common, though the degree varies enormously.

Right leg problems

Hi Steve,

In a recent Cyclingnews post when a reader asked about IT band/hip tightness you mentioned several explanations. I was curious about "left brain hemisphere being so dominant to the right" and how one would know that. Anyway, let me describe to you my situation and if you can help me I promise to mail you at least a $100 check, really.

I too come forward with my right hip and my right leg comes further inward. Nearly two years ago I got a very professional bike fit (from one of the top places in the US) and they put two 1mm wedges on my right cleat (keeping my foot from pronating). It helped, but I still have the following problems:

-numbness in my right foot bottom/toes
-right hip hiking (which I've gotten considerable physical therapy for including psoas work, pelvic stabilization, hip flexion, and quadratis lumborum stretching)
-over development of my right leg (at least that's how it looks in comparison to my left); my left leg just doesn't seem to hit the pedals as hard

I tend to always feel I favour my right side, even given the pain in my right hip, numbness in my right toes, etc. I have also had an x-ray leg length test that showed no discrepancies.

Any ideas on what could be happening? It continues to be a very frustrating matter for me. I would like to feel more equally balanced. Thank you.

John Parker

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Steve Hogg replies

John,

While I know a few party tricks and have learnt to pick the gross signs, I am no expert at all on hemispheric dominance. I stumbled over this phenomenon. The single largest problem to solve when positioning a rider, is when there are pronounced functional asymmetries of the pelvis and related musculature. If a rider doesn't sit squarely on a bike seat, the effects of this flow outwards, affecting the symmetry of leg function on the pedals, and in the case of the upper body, of loading up one arm more than the other to hold the handle bars. There are plenty of ways to reduce the severity of the effects of this, but the only 100% solution is fix the root cause; i.e, the pelvis asymmetries of function. There are a number of reasons that cause people to not sit squarely. Over the years I have encountered any number of people who exhibit obvious asymmetries off and on the bike. Sometimes they are squarer on bike than off bike, sometimes the converse is true.

Sometimes this sort of stuff can be fixed easily on a bike, sometimes not. I encourage everyone who I see to improve the way they function, whether it be by stretching, Pilates, yoga or whatever. Many of those people return at some later date displaying greater flexibility and symmetry off the bike and are much better on the bike too. There is though, a minority who demonstrate improved function and symmetry off bike, but with zero improvement on the bike. There is a lesser number again who show no improvement on or off bike, even though they have applied themselves conscientiously, to the task of structural self improvement.

I started pondering about why this could be and came up with the assumption that there was likely to be a neurological basis for this. Over time, and after talking to a wide variety of health professionals, I tripped over a Functional Neurologist trained by the Carrick Institute [www.carrickinstitute.com]. A lot of other health professionals I know think this stuff is mumbo jumbo, but I have seen enough before and after cases to know that it works, at least in my experience of plenty of bike riders that I have sent down this route.

Some of the sceptical health pros have been convinced too.
A short case study: Bike rider seeks me out because he experiences severe low back and shoulder pain when training hard. Structurally, he is not flash at all. He has a measurable leg length discrepancy, pelvic obliquity and asymmetric function of the hips and the muscular development of the lower back and glutes. I do what I can and alert him to a few hard facts of life regarding his situation. Over the next 12 months he stretches like a man posessed with professional guidance, sees a good physio and a good chiropractor repeatedly, and a lot of other people as well. Best of all, he took responsibility for his condition and spent a lot of time [and money] trying to fix himself.
During this process, he would intermittently come back in to have his position tweaked. At the end of 12 months, he was better for the experience of seeing all of these people but all that had happened on bike was that it took longer before he hurt. By any measure he was not perfect but he was more flexible and symmetrical off the bike but not really any better on bike. I sent him to a Carrick trained neurologist, and within two months and with no other treatment, he was sitting dead square on the bike and has had no further problems, providing he performs a maintenance regime of the stuff he was taught. He still stretches a lot too.

Whether you fit this picture, I don't know, but you could do worse than contact the Carrick Institute and see if they have trained anyone near you. We live in a society that rewards left brain people, those who are organised and methodical. All of us have a dominant brain hemisphere, usually the left but if this dominance is too pronounced, then postural and functional problems can be the fallout.

I do not think for a moment that all structural problems flow from this, often the causes are far more mundane; sedentary working environment, poor posture and little or zero core strength account for a lot. From what you have told me you have problems that you have tried to address without improvement. Do you stretch regularly, have you addressed any core strength issues, do you work actively to educate yourself about your problems and resolve them? If the answer to all of those things is yes, and you are still the way you are, contact the Carrick people.

Longer leg

I'm dropping or favouring my left hip when going through the pedalling stroke. After various medical checks and so forth the hips, pelvis and back are correct. However my right leg is fractionally longer, by approximately 5mm. Would my left hip drop due to my right leg being slightly longer? If so, what do I do? Drop my saddle height or an extra inner sole for my shoe? It's starting to really tighten me up and getting frustrated because I'm really uncomfortable on the bike.

Ben Gloede

Steve Hogg replies

Ben,

I need more info. During these checks, did any one check to see whether you had a restricted or jammed left sacro - iliac joint or whether your left side hip flexors were appreciably tighter than the right side? Did anyone check to see whether your left forefoot is noticeably more varus than your right forefoot?

Regarding the leg length - is 5mm the measurable difference in bone length as shown on an X-ray, or is it someones' best guess?
Alternately, is the leg length difference a functional difference rather than a measurable one?

Until you give those answers, try this: Drop the seat 5mm. Does this make a difference to how the left hip operates?
If not, then either you are sitting way too high, or the leg length difference [if it is measurable] is not likely to be the reason for the hip drop. It is likely to be because you are tighter on the left side. Typically, the long legged side is the hip dropping side. Your case is atypical but far from unknown.

Bike fit and back pain

I'm a 31-year old male triathlete, 6'0", 210lbs. I typically ride relatively short distances, maybe three rides of 20-30 miles a week, and one longer one of 40 or more. When I started pushing the distance of the rides earlier this year, I started getting some pain in my lower back. My legs would feel fine, but I was extremely uncomfortable for anything longer than 25 miles. Being in the aerobars was worse than sitting up. The pain is entirely muscular - I have no history of disc issues, and no sciatica or shooting pains down the leg. I should also say that when both running and swimming, I have no discomfort. In fact, running seems to loosen it up a bit.

I made an appointment with a reputable bike fitter about a month ago, and they made it clear that my 60cm Kestrel Talon was too big. Even with the shortest stem possible, I was reaching too far. So I got a new, smaller frame (a Cyfac) which they fit me to, and that seems to be much more comfortable, but I'm still having the pains. I took Steve Hogg's advice, and got the Kit Laughlin books from the library. While I have a lot of work to do to get as flexible as the author, I don't seem too inflexible.

So, without actually evaluating me in person, my question is this: what are the key things I can do to make this pain go away? Are there specific muscles that I should stretch/strengthen? Is there an aspect to my bike fit that may alleviate the pain? Thanks.

Rick Carragher

Burlington, NJ

Steve Hogg replies

Rick,

Answer some questions for me and I will try to help.

1. Are you tight in the hip flexors?
2. Are you tight in the glutes and hammies?
3. Do you have low arch feet or feet that pronate to any pronounced degree?
4. How far below your seat is the top of your handlebars?
5. How long does the pain take to come on while riding?
6. Are you using road bars or bullhorns?
7. If using road bars, how far beyond the brake levers do the aero bars extend
8. What brand and model of aero bars do you have?
9. What type of seat do you have?
10. Is it level, nose up or nose down and how far?
11. How far behind the bottom bracket is your seat and what is your seat height?

Rick Carragher responds:

1. Not sure how to guage this, but I don't think it's a problem. I stretch hip flexors regularly.
2. Same answer here. I have no problem touching the ground with straight legs.
3. I've been told that I am a heavy pronator, but I have normal arches.
4. About 6.5cm, the bottom of the cups of the aero bars are about 3.75 cm above the handle bars.
5. Depends on intensity, but after about 60 minutes. Quicker if I'm going hard
6. Road bars with clip-on aerobars.
7. 7.5cm
8. Profile Design - Carbon Stryke.
9. Fizik Arione Tri
10. It was a little nose up (very slight). On my last long ride (about 70 miles) I made it level. Made no difference in the back, I don't think.
11. I hope I did this right, but the nose of the seat is about 7cm behind. From the top of the nose of the saddle to the ground is 103.5 cm.

Steve Hogg replies

Rick,

Given that you don't have any obvious problems that you are aware of, try this. Go for a 60 minute ride in the drops at similar intensity that caused you problems before. Is the pain worse, less, or similar?
If worse, your bars are too low or too far away from the seat. You can experiment with raising your stem or shortening it or both.
If less, then your aero bars are too extended or the cups are not high enough. I can't see you, but operating on the assumption [maybe flawed] that your position on the road bars is good, the 75mm that your Carbon Strykes extend beyond your brake levers is much more than is typical. Move the cups as far to the rear of their adjustment as you can, and using some mirrors while riding your trainer, adjust the aero extensions so that you upper body is in the same position when on the aero bars as it is on the road bars. Typically, and you may not be typical, the extensions should be somewhere from slightly behind the brake levers but more commonly slightly in front of them. Make sure that the forearms run slightly down from elbow to wrist and that you can see where you are going with ease from the aero position. It is probably worth having a look at the posts about aero bars and TT position on November 8 2004.

If the pain is similar on drops and aero bars, then again, either the stem is too long or too low.

Rick Carragher responds:

Steve,

Thanks so much for the advice. I've read your posts on CN over the last couple years, and have really come to respect that you are the authority on bike fit. As an aside, it really makes me crazy that all bike shops do not strive to learn how to fit people better.

I rode in the drops last night, and the pain certainly wasn't any worse. I pulled the Carbon Strykes in by about two inches. What a difference! I had someone look at my position before and after. She said that in the old aerobar position, my butt rotated forward and an arch appeared in my lower back. In the new aerobar position, my hips and butt did not change. I'm quite certain this will make a huge difference.

Steve Hogg replies

Rick,

Thanks for the positive thoughts. The key for most people when using aero bars is to stick to the same position that they already have [assuming that it is ok] and adjust the aero bars to conform with that. The Carbon Strykes you have will allow that because of their huge range of adjustment, most other aero bars will not. I also think that many people, in an effort to go fast, mistakenly think of aerodynamics as an end in itself rather than a means to an end. We can only perform well what we can do comfortably.

When you spend substantial time training in a certain position to ride fast, it makes no sense to change that position merely to add aero bars. I am glad that you got a result. Best of luck!

Nerve damage

Hello,

I am a 29 year old serious racing licensed cyclist from South Africa. I am 1m 73cm and weigh 65kg.I have recently picked up a serious problem with a damaged nerve in my right leg, The spot is on the right hand side of the top part of the calf muscle(about 2 cm under the middle part of the knee,towarts the right side).This started about 8 weeks ago and since then I have not been able to sort out the problem, the pain gets so bad that I sometimes just have to stop and get of the bike it becomes impossible to pedal at all with that side. I have now stopped training for 3 weeks and would like to start training next week. I have been seeing a lot of people about this in the last couple of weeks from trainers to biocinetics to sports doctors. The problem is that I get mixed information from everybody, as to how this started.

The following is what I can tell you about changes that I have made:

1. I got a new bike about three months ago; a Cervelo Soloist, but I was very careful with making sure that the setup was done exactly the same as on my previous bike.
2. During this time I also got new pedals, the new Look Keo cromos (my old pedals were look pp 357 with black cleats, I have always used black cleats) on the new pedals I started using red cleats. The problem is that on my right leg I tend to pedal with my heal towards the frame (inwards) and that's why I used to use the black cleats - less float. I also have a tendency to pedal more toe down on my right leg and heal down on my left, why this is I don't know, but it has always been this way. At the end of last year I started to pick up problems with my left legs tendons at the back of the leg so my coach advised me to start trying to pedal more heel down with my right leg, but this is very difficult in race situations. The pain in my left leg did go away. I also went trough a very tough training schedule before this started.

My Questions are the following:

1. Could the fact that I pedalled inwards with my right leg with the red cleats be part of the problem on the outside of my leg? I have been advised to try and move the cleats a bid so that I pedal more heal outwards, would this not put more stress on the outside part of my calf?

2. The doctor said that part of the problem is that I pedal more toe down on this side and I should try and pedal more heel down, but it seams to me that when I do this the pain comes back more easily (I might be over extending when I force the heal down).When I ride in the drops I can also feel my right leg on my chest coming up more than the left.

3. Should I try and do something about the fact that I have a different riding style with my right leg? Could it only be the cleat position inwards or outwards that caused this or the toe down as well?

The description they used for the nerve is the peroneale nerve. I would appreciate if you could give me some advice on these questions as I am not sure what to do with this and do not want to cause any further damage. Thanks.

Willem Bezuidenhout

Steve Hogg replies

Willem,

When you changed pedals, did you drop the seat somewhat?
If not, this probably plays a part as Keos have a lesser axle to sole distance than 357's. I have never measured it but would guess it to be 5-7mm. If you didn't lower your seat, drop it 5mm and see if that makes a positive difference.
From what you describe, the balance of probabilities is one of the following:

1. You are dropping the left hip when you pedal. This causes you to reach further with the right leg and pedalling toe down is your compensatory mechanism that allows you to do this.
2. You have an externally rotated right hip for any one of a variety of reasons. This will restrict the range of motion and leave you noticeably tighter on the right side causing you to overextend on that side.
3. How did you duplicate the position?

I don't want to suggest anything here, but I have had any number of people who over the years have told me that they duplicated a position only to have problems on the other bike. Invariably, they THOUGHT they had duplicated the position rather than actually having done it. The only way to repeatedly replicate this is to lock the bike up in an indoor trainer and using a four foot level, make sure that it is level between axle centres. Once this is done, measure the seat height any way you choose providing it is repeatable, and measure the seat set back using the four foot level. It is also a good idea to measure the tilt of the seat using a dial protractor on a steel rule laid along the seat. This will tell you whether the nose is up or down and to what degree. DON'T use a plumb line as they are inaccurate on a bike. This is because as the plumb line falls, it will contact the chainstay which is angling in as it gets towards the bottom bracket shell. It is easy to make a 10mm error, so use the level set vertically and a steel rule to measure set back. Once done then using the level and rule, measure the drop from the top of the seat to the top of the bars. Lastly, measure the distance from the nose of the seat to the back of the bars adjacent to the stem. Of course all of this will work only if using the same shape of seat, bar and type of pedals.

Given you have changed pedals, you know to drop the seat and bars by 5-7 mm. If you have not done something very similar to this, your problems may stem from an unintentional position change.
Rest assured; it is unlikely that the freeplay cleats are the problem. If you have used fixed cleats to solve an apparent problem with differences in foot alignment in the past you have taken a risk. The idea behind freeplay cleats is that the foot finds where it wants to be. If this causes a problem, it is not the cleats but rather the mechanics of the rider.

The best advice I can give you if the seat drop doesn't work is to have a good structural health professional assess you and get back to me with answers to the following:

1. Is your pelvis level? If not, which side is high?
2. Is this caused by a measurable leg length discrepancy? You will need a waist down x ray in a standing position to tell.
3. Is the right hip externally?
4. Are there significant differences in flexibility between left and right hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, quads etc? What is tighter and on which side?
5. Is either forefoot significantly more varus or valgus than the other and if so, which one?
Let me know the answers and I will try to help.

Leg length discrepancy

Help!

Have I gone mad? Or is it possible that every third time I go to ride, the leg I thought was longer becomes short and vice versa? Seriously, since having a wreck seven years ago I have been trying to isolate the sensation I described above. I sustained injury to my left knee and ankle and put in some decent physical threrapy to get back to the point where I can put about 200 miles in a week. However, when I try to go beyond this mileage the sensation becomes increasingly obvious.

I am 29, stand 5ft 10.5 with a 34 inch inseem. I am 155 lbs. and ride a 57cm Cannondale. I have tried the following things with some positive effect:

1. Following the injury I returned to riding with clips and straps for three years as the clipless system of the era did not allow comfortable float.

2. Returned to clipless using Time ATAC pedals for road and MTB use. This helped return me to a smooth and more circular pedal stroke.

3. Recently switched to Specialized Body Geometry shoes. The canted footbeds have helped a lot.

4. Off to get custom orthotic inserts in three weeks.

5. Recently switched from 172.5 to 175 cranks, now riding Time RXS pedal and this combo seems ok to me.

I guess that leave the reamaining sensation and the obvious strength and muscle mass discrepancy. What can I do to balance this out? I have tried weight training in winter but still wind up about the same. I have seen an orthopedic surgeon as well...he doesnt see anything there, where do I go next?

James Shepperd

Steve Hogg replies

James,

This is a guess. Get in touch with www.carrickinstitute.com and see if they have any Functional Neurologists that they have trained anywhere near you. This sounds like their kind of stuff.

Crotch pain

Hello, I am 20 yrs old, cat3 road racer and have been riding for about five years now. I recently decided to take a rest from racing and training hard considering that there aren't any good races right now and because I've been racing since February. So in doing so I would just find myself doing really easy rides on my trainer. One day I realized that the bike I use on the trainer (my track bike) feels really comfortable, more so than that of my road bike. So like any curious person would, I pulled out the measuring tape and found out that the seat on my track bike was over 4cm shorter than that of my road bike. Alarmed I quickly changed that I lowered my seat so that they were the same length. Now, I feel better, yet strange on my road bike. Obviously I am not used to it, but I already have put in some long rides (5hrs) in the new position and havent experienced any knee problems. So then I decided that I would do the local group ride with the new position to see how my legs would feel. I did, and although I was dehydrated, I rode really well except for this really agonizing pain in that area between my scrotum and my anus. It only happened though, when, after standing on the pedals, I would come back to sit and BOOM! the sharpest pain sensation ran through my body like a blood curl. Was this pain associated to the new position? Is it just my body's way of telling me that I should do some more slow rides in this position before I do any of the hard stuff? Or should I just move my saddle back to where it was? Thanks in advance for you reply.

Giancarlo Bianchi

Steve Hogg replies

Giancarlo,

Firstly, let us eliminate variables. Do you have the same model of seat on both bikes?

Next, when you dropped the road bike seat 40mm you are moving it forward approximately 13mm by doing so as well. Did you alter the position of the seat in the seat post fore and aft when you dropped it?

Lastly, what is the gap between the top of the seat post and the underside of the seat? Could the pain be because the seat is bottoming out on the seat post when you drop back onto it after riding off the saddle?

The other thing is that I would tell you that there should be differences in seat height and set back for the same rider using a track bike and road bike. There certainly shouldn't be differences of 40mm though. What size road frame are you riding? Let me know the answers to these questions and we will proceed further.

Giancarlo Bianchi then responded:

Firstly I would like to thank you for your speedy reply, now I will try to answer your questions as best that I can. No I do not have the same model seats on my track bike as I do my road bike. My road bike has a Fizik Aliante, and my track bike appears to have Logic(?) branded onto it (the name is really faded, but it says Logic. It looks really similar to Lance's saddle...really big and goofy looking, but confortable as hell). I moved my saddle forward like you said (is there a formula for that, because you were right on the money with that 13mm), but have yet to ride it, I will tomorrow though, and see how that feels. The gap between the top of the seat post (measured from the middle of the rails) ranges from 1mm to 3mm depending where you measure it from. (the Aliante has a carbon base and its very curvy, so that measurement is not constant). And lastly, I ride a 54 cm (medium) Blue RC4. (http://www.rideblue.com/rc4.html).

Steve Hogg replies

Giancarlo,

Your problem is likely to one of three things. Either you are bouncing off the top of the seat post as you drop back onto the seat OR by moving the seat forward as you have, you are bearing more weight on your perineum and irritating various nerves and soft tissues which are further irritated by the impact when dropping onto the seat as you describe. OR because the Aliante has a pronounced dip in the middle as viewed from the side, when you drop back onto the seat, you are contacting the upward forward slope from the dip in the middle to the nose with soft tissue. Aliante's have a quite rigid shell with not a lot of padding. This is in contrast to your description of the seat on your track bike.

It is really hard to maintain the same body position on two bikes with different seats. If you want the same position on both, use the same type of seat on both, it makes setting them up much easier.
Regarding the formula; with typical seat tube angles it is always 1 in 3 give or take a fraction. For example, if the seat is moved forward, it will get 1mm closer to the pedals for every 3mm it is moved forward. If moved backwards, it will be 1mm further from the pedals for every 3mm back.

Time off the bike

Hello Ric,

Great articles throughout the Tour - thanks.

I just read your comments on what it takes to ride the Tour, funnily enough I was just thinking about that myself.

I thought I read somewhere that Floyd Landis had power to weight numbers somewhere close to or even better than Lance (being that he's a bit lighter I guess) and there are probably other guys too - climbers etc. All these guys finish behind the leaders, why is that? Aside from their time trialing losses they also lose in the mountains.

To me it seems that it must be something to do with recovery? As far as I know though, we don't have any way to measure that, except sending the boys out on their bikes for three weeks and then seeing who is still putting out the power. Should be interesting when you guys get your hands on the data from all those power meters they were draggin around!

Now a 'quick' question for you - would it be possible to train to race at a first cat level if your job involved working overseas for a month then having one month completely off. I would bring a bike and trainer (computrainer or something) and would assume that I could get a couple hours a day to ride while overseas but I don't think riding on the road would be an option. I was thinking the first and last weeks overseas would be recovery weeks so that would leave two weeks to try to maintain fitness with the appropriate training - would it work? Thanks.

Duncan Clarke

Ric Stern replies

Hi Duncan,

Many thanks for contacting me about the articles during the Tour. It's been a great pleasure to write them, and I've thoroughly enjoyed trying to convey certain information about the riders in the Tour to the readers.

It's unlikely that Floyd Landis has the same power to mass ratio numbers as Lance Armstrong and/or some of the other riders who were higher placed than him on the final general classification. Looking at the way that the Tour ran out, it's certainly likely that Lance had the greatest power to mass ratio and the greatest power to aero position.

If a rider is losing time in the mountains to another rider, then their current power to mass ratio is simply lower than the person(s) who are currently dropping them.

As regards your question if you're able to take your bike and it's trainer with you then I see no reason whatsoever why you couldn't maintain and/or increase your fitness (power output). I'm not sure why you would require a recovery week for the first and last week of your trip away, especially if you are then going to have another month off. In fact, rather than having a week(s) off prior to your month off, I'd train as much as possible, increasing your regular workload as much as is possible.

Obviously, if you do have a month off after being away (or after regular training) then you will lose fitness. I'm not sure why you are having a whole month off, but you could lose significant amounts of fitness. If for example, you are going on a family holiday and have been forbidden to do any exercise, then there's not really a lot you can do. If, however, you are going away but can't take your bike then some other form of (aerobic) exercise would be a good replacement and would slow down the rate of loss of your fitness.

Positioning on MTB

I've read the posts covering road bike fore/aft position and the use of the no hands in the drops technique. Can the same approach be used for mountain bike positioning but just keeping the hands on the grips?

Michael White,

Logan, UT

Steve Hogg replies

Michael,

The short answer is yes, but don't lock your suspension out. Do it with the suspension free to sag whether you have a hard tail or soft tail.

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