Fitness questions and answers for January 2, 2007

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at...

Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 website.

Richard Stern ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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, 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.

Power to weight ratio
Head injury
Comfort for long distance events

Power to weight ratio

I am an elite cyclist - 6ft 3" and 187 pounds in weight. I am taking my training to a higher technical level this year, I did a sub-maximal test over the weekend, 155 heat rate for five minutes producing an average power of 350 watts.

I would like to know what power an elite/pro road racer should produce per kg of body weight in general. You had a graph of weight versus height for top pro bike racers, have you one for power versus weight?

Richard Wilkinson

Richard Stern replies:

It would depend on what sort of test was done; there's little to no value in doing sub-maximal tests of such short duration, or comparing them to heart rate, as heart rate can vary significantly at a given power output, due to many factors. You'd be best either doing something such as maximal test over five minutes, or longer (e.g. 20 to 60 minutes) or via a MAP (maximal aerobic power) test.

In terms of elite performance over short time durations, a 70 kg elite male can produce 520 watts for a shade over 4 minutes (at least that's the power requirement for a world class performance over a 4km pursuit).

In terms of MAP (see my power zone training article) you can get an idea of elite (or other performance) at this page on my website.

The fourth table down details this.

Head injury

I am 52 years-old and have been cycling for 30 years. I compete to national level in road, mountain biking and cyclo-cross. I am in the middle of my ‘cross season and have got the national championships on January 6. But at the moment I am struggling to recover from an accident.

I was recently knocked off my bike by a car, two weeks ago. I was unconscious for about 10 minutes and don't really remember anything from the accident. I wasn't wearing a helmet and had a small cut on the back of my head, nothing serious just a large graze. Apart from being a bit sore on the side I landed on, I was fine. I got checked over in hospital and got told I would be fine in a few days - which I wasn't. I have since seen my doctor twice and been told it is nothing serious relating to the bang on my head so I did expect to recover fairly quickly.

However, I am still struggling with symptoms which include constant feeling of tiredness, short tempered, irritable, headaches and dizziness. I am getting a bit impatient as it's affecting my racing - at the moment I'm struggling with change of pace and anaerobic efforts, more than I should be. Does anyone have any advice on how long it would take me to recover or get rid of the symptoms? Or how a head injury would affect my performance? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

David Fleckenstein replies:

I would strongly recommend that you do not race at this point. I am surprised that, given your symptoms and a prolonged time with loss of consciousness, you have not had a CT scan, MRI, or further evaluation. You most definitely show the signs of post concussion syndrome and this can last for days or months.

Depending on the area where you live, I would highly recommend finding a qualified neurologist of physician who is well versed in diagnosis and treatment of concussion. I suffered a four-month bout after a crash myself and was amazed at how frequently the diagnosis is missed or brushed aside.

This link may be useful to you. Again, I would highly discourage you from riding as you can definitely do more damage to a potentially serious condition.

Finally, at the risk of repeating what should be common sense and reflexive for all of us: WEAR YOUR HELMET. I know of an individual (leader of a local cycling club) who died from a head injury in his driveway. When I hear people saying "well I like the freedom of riding without my helmet" I can only respond that those who find freedom in stupidity are not very free.

Comfort for long distance events

I read with great interest your articles and since I was not perfectly comfortable on my bike and I am planning to do next year's Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200km long distance cycling event, I followed your advice.

I am 190cm tall, reasonably flexible (I can touch the ground with my hands, keeping my legs straight) and ride a 59x58.5 frame with 72.5 degrees seat tube angle and 13cm stem.

Following your advice I moved back the cleats on my shoes 10mm (I have size 46 Sidi, unfortunately the shoe did not let me go the 11mm you recommended), lowered slightly and moved back my seat 15 mm and changed my stem - I now ride a 10cm stem mounted reversed which gives me a seat handlebar difference of 6cm.

My riding has improved dramatically; I feel I can pedal with much more power and I do not have any more discomfort in my neck, arms and shoulders. I feel much less weight on my hands and the bike handles much better. I pass the balance test with ease.

I have three questions:

1. When I get off the bike, and only in that moment, I feel a bit of pain in my lower back. Is this because I need to adapt to my new position or is it a sign that something is still wrong?

2. I am still not 100% comfortable when I am in the drops. How do I know if it is because the bar is too low or if is too far away?

3. For a long distance event such as the Paris-Brest-Paris where I will have to ride for many many hours, how should one adapt the position on the bike?

Thanks a lot for your help

Ranieri Casalini
Florence, Italy

Steve Hogg replies:

Re your question #1: If the back pain has only appeared since you moved your cleats, then you may have to drop the seat a few mm. When you moved your cleats further back on the shoe, did you drop the seat a few mm?

When you move the cleats further rearwards on the shoe, you are causing the leg to extend more. Most of the time, this means that seat height has to decrease. I say most of the time because sometimes, a substantial change in cleat position causes the rider to change their pedaling technique. This can mean on some occasions, seat height needs to rise even though the cleats have moved backwards. I have to say though, that in your case this is unlikely do drop the seat 3 mm as a starting point and reassess.

Re your question #2: Where is the discomfort and under what circumstances does it occur?

Re your question #3: Every fourth year, I position a lot of people for Paris-Brest-Paris and this is happening now. There is no common thread as to what is needed other than efficiency and above all comfort. If someone is going to ride a bike for 40-90 hours with only short breaks during that time, then comfort has to be the overriding concern. Discomfort is mentally wearing and can increase chances of injury. No one needs this when they have spent four years preparing for an event.

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