Form & Fitness Q & A
Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Jon Heidemann (www.peaktopeaktraining.com) is a USAC Elite Certified cycling coach with a BA in Health Sciences from the University of Wyoming. The 2001 Masters National Road Champion has competed at the Elite level nationally and internationally for over 14 years. As co-owner of Peak to Peak Training Systems, Jon has helped athletes of all ages earn over 84 podium medals at National & World Championship events during the past 8 years.
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. Clients range from recreational riders and riders with disabilities to World and National champions.
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.wholeathlete.com) is an Associate Coach with Whole Athlete. He holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology, is a USA Cycling Level I (Elite) Coach and is certified by the NSCA (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). Michael has more than 10 years competitive experience, primarily on the road, but also in cross and mountain biking. He is currently focused on coaching road cyclists from Jr. to elite levels, but also advises triathletes and Paralympians. Michael is a strong advocate of training with power and has over 5 years experience with the use and analysis of power meters. Michael also spent the 2007 season as the Team Coach for the Value Act Capital Women's Cycling Team.
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.
I am male, 26 years old and have been racing on the road for about 10 years and cross for 2. I broke my fibula on August 28th riding my cross bike and as a result had surgery to repair the fracture (7 screws and a plate) on September 7th. I am just over 4 weeks in a cast and am headed back for more x-rays on October 15th. My question is: what type of recovery can I expect? Everything feels fine right now but I am aching to get back on the bike and spin just to maintain some fitness. I realize my cross race season was over before it started, but is it reasonable to think that getting back on the bike for very light easy riding is within reach over the next 3-4 weeks?
Kelby Bethards replies:
Obviously your surgeon will be the best qualified to speak to your recovery potential. However, I work and a ski resort on occasion, and see this injury frequently.
The "nice" thing about the bone you broke is that is not a load bearing bone. The plating and screws look good and if you allow it to heal completely and MOST IMPORTANTLY, do your physical therapy as directed, you will likely recover well.
Please realize without actually seeing you its hard to guesstimate this. Your physical therapist can address the question of riding in the next 3-4 weeks.
Good performance prior to onset of a cold
I'm curious if there has ever been a study relating to endurance prior to the onset of symptoms of a cold or other illness. Several times this year, I have had a very strong ride that was immediately followed by the early symptoms of a minor cold. This isn't the first time I've noticed this but for example: at a hill climb on Sunday I finished over 10 minutes faster than my previous best time - My fitness and effort at this race is improved over previous editions, but it was an unexpectedly good result and I really was never in difficulty holding that pace. Later Sunday evening, I started to get a sore throat and other early symptoms of a head cold. This isn't after an especially hard block of training. I could understand that an especially hard effort would fatigue the immune system and potentially accelerate the progress of an illness, but anecdotally, it feels like I have had unusually strong rides when the illness has taken hold but the symptoms haven't set in.
Scott Safier replies:
I'm not aware of any research on this subject, but many of my clients have reported similar experiences. I don't know what causes it but the experience is common.
Shimano pedals; moving the cleat back
Just like the Speedplay pedals have that part 13330 that moves the cleat back farther towards the heel, does shimano have one? Is there any way to move the cleat farther back? I have shimano shoes and pedals with the cleats. I had the Speedplay's but the increased play gave me knee pain. The shimano pedals stopped the knee pain, but the hot foot kills (only in one foot) and I've tried the specialized insoles without help.
Steve Hogg replies:
The straight answer is no. If you had the Speedplay X pedals (float non adjustable) and you had issues; then there is something awry with your hips or feet or both that needs addressing. If you don't want to go that route and need your cleats back further, get hold of the Speedplay Zeros in conjunction with the 13330 adaptor. The Zeros have adjustable float that can be all but locked out if necessary.
It is likely that your hot foot is caused by an existing issue with that foot, but more likely because you are overextending the leg of the affected foot.
Club foot bike fit correction
As a 48 year old ex-bike racer and currently someone putting in 6-7000 miles in a year just 'fun stay-in-shape' riding I was wondering about the positional adjustments one can make for the effects of club foot on a person. I personally have a right club foot which was corrected at birth. The resulting effects are limited range of dorsal flexion and my foot wanting to turn inwards when going through the cycling rotation on the pedal and my foot size being about 1 size smaller than the left foot - all these are regular issues with people born with defect. These results compound the asymmetry problem when riding a bike for many miles. I have perceived lack of power on the one side and just an uncomfortable feel. I have been fit to my bike and all things feel well when based on my good left side. Most times I feel the left leg is doing all the work due to this perceived imbalance but measurements I had done once proved I had good power symmetry.
Also, due to the lack of dorsal flexion and foot size difference I tend to play with my seat height quite a bit - up and down in small increments trying to find a 'sweet' spot that feels good for both legs and ankle motion. With this disability I can not spin the cranks like a lot of people and tend to be a gear masher, both climbing and on the flats. My question is have you ever dealt with this type of bike fit and if so what needs to be done?
Scott Safier replies:
I have not worked with anyone with a corrected club foot before, but my inclination if working with you would be to set the saddle height and set back to make your left foot feel right, and then use cleat adjustment and shims or wedges to get the right foot as good as possible.
I don't know if you've been following the forum discussions recently on the new and apparently effective "arch cleat" position. It sounds like you might be the perfect candidate for this adjustment.
I'm a 43 year old male, 6ft 200lbs down from 250 this year. I've ridden for about 20 years now off an on. I ride a 55cm Kestrel and have a 32 inch inseam. Over the years I've ridden everything from a 52cm to a 56cm frame. With the 52cm Trek 2000 I was pretty compact and had to raise the saddle pretty high but I felt pretty good. I put a Selle Italia Gel Flow on my 55cm Kestrel Talon a few years ago.
It does definitely feel better but I still have sit bone pain. As a result I have a few questions.
1. I noticed you recommended the SLR Gel Flow. Is it similarly shaped and padded as my Flite Gel or does it have more padding.
2. If my position is off and I'm leaning to far forward, can this cause the sit bone pain because of the angle that pressure is being applied.
3. Finally, when I was fit to my bike after a third party purchase (instead of getting measured first) the LBS said I could use a shorter frame but dialled me in as much as possible. My bars are 8mm lower than my saddle and my flexibility is good. I have a 110mm TTT stem that has been flipped for more height. The LBS didn't want to go shorter in fear of control problems. I still feel pretty stretched out and it seems like I have more weight than I should have on my hands. Would an 80mm or 90mm stem with more rise cause much of a control problem and would it put me upright enough to alleviate the pain?
Las Vegas, Nevada
Steve Hogg replies:
Re 1. The SLR Gelflow is not as wide as a Flite Gel. If you are a big guy, it may be that the wider seat is the best option. You would have to be the judge of that.
Re 2. Is the pain on both sitbones or more on one than the other?
Re 3. Go back to the bike fitter, tell them you feel too stretched out and have them fit a shorter stem. Better to have a bike that doesn't steer brilliantly but can be ridden comfortably than one that can't be ridden comfortably because the reach to the bars is too great.
The "more weight than I should have on my hands" maybe because you are too stretched out and are having to lock elbows and tense shoulders to reach the bars as well as stabilising yourself OR it could be any of, or any combination of the following -
a. Seat too far forward which will transfer your weight forward which then has to be supported.
b. Bars too low
c. Bars too far away.
d. Cleats too far forward
e. Measurable or functional asymmetries that place a premium on bike stability and have you enlist whatever you have to hold a position.
If you look in the archives for the second half of '04, there is a lot of stuff about how to arrive at a good seat height and setback. Once you feel you have that, and then you need to have stable feet on the pedals. Again, plenty of archived stuff in second half of '04. Once you get those two things right, then the bars need to be placed where you can reach them and exercise all your hand placement options comfortably.
Get it right and you can devote your efforts to riding the bike rather than on maintaining a position on it.
I'd like to follow-up on your response to Mito's question about genital numbness, simply because of one thing Kelby said: "you should NOT HAVE ANY numbness at all". I get numbness occasionally "down there", usually after about 1.5 hours in the saddle. It doesn't happen every time I ride. I don't stand much when I ride in an effort to conserve energy (something I read somewhere).
Unlike Mito, my numbness is gone if I stand up a bit or just get off the bike for a few minutes. It' definitely is gone within minutes of completing a ride. The numbness certainly doesn't linger for days. But I just want to check on the NEVER have numbness part. Is my situation a potential problem? Should I have my set-up and saddle checked or is a bit of numbness somewhat common? I assure you I have shown no signs of impotence.
Kelby Bethards replies:
OK, OK you busted me. I even say there is no such thing as never or always.
That being said, I think, in your situation, you are not in danger. I know there are varying degrees of discomfort and the most ideal situation would be a numb free world. It is definitely a good idea to stand frequently and relieve the pressure.
And, impotence is the biggest worry with the associated numbness.
I'd say pay close attention, in your case, and if it worsens, lasts longer, etc, then consider a change.
I am 32, a Cat 2, race all the time and in the past couple of crits, I am experiencing indigestion bad after the race, really annoying. I went to the doctor and have received some preventive acid redux pills, but I would like to know what may be causing this. Is this common? I have noticed that the big "G" sports drink seems to do this to me even more than others. I was also wondering if that being ultra low on the bike could cause the stomach acid to come forward? That sounds far fetched. This usually hits me and then for the next day I feel like I have a lump in my throat. The previous time it got me worried, and that is when I went to the doctor, I thought my heart could be the culprit, but an EKG found my heart to be in tip top shape. Any help would be appreciated, because it really hampers the recover after the races. I have not experienced this in training, only in criterium racing.
Scott Safier replies:
Tell me a little more about the "indigestion". Where is it located? Do you mean stomach churning? Intestinal distress? Acid burps? Given your doctor's choice of treatment, it sounds like he has identified gastro-esophageal reflux, stomach contents coming back up into the throat.
It sounds like you could be pushing hard on your stomach when in your low, criterium riding position, sloshing your belly with your legs. That puts extra pressure on the valve between your oesophagus (food tube to stomach) and your stomach. That valve should be able to handle pretty good pressure, but there is a limit. Then if you are using an exercise drink that doesn't absorb quickly enough for you, the stomach is full and that is increasing pressure as well. I'd suggest trying different exercise drinks, different pre-race foods, and, if you are sloshing your stomach, a higher stem. Avoid the drinks with added amino-acids and with any other magic ingredients. Try diluting the drink a bit extra on hotter days.
I am a College student studying Exercise Science and have competed in various endurance sports (mostly running and road cycling). As a self proclaimed training geek, and like most racers, I am constantly looking for anything that could make me minutes (or even seconds) faster (LEGALLY OF COURSE...DOPERS SUCK). So my question is this, with all the nutrient possibilities and the many nutrition companies out there, all with their own recovery ideas. SOOO I was wondering, could you simplify and save money by ingesting some food with carb and a little protein plus a standard multivitamin (directly after workout or otherwise within the glycogen window) to make up for any lost nutrients in you're diet, or those nutrients that have been depleted by you're training? Would this make sense, or is it best to stick with a condensed formula, such as an energy bar or a recovery beverage. Thanks for you're help,
Scott Safier replies:
You are wise beyond your years, or you are an old college student. The preformulated energy and recovery products offer nothing that you can't get from intelligently chosen, "real" foods. That doesn't mean that these products are without value however. First off, if you don't have the knowledge needed to help you make those intelligent choices (a friend of mine thought that cheese was a carbohydrate-rich food, for instance) energy and recovery supplements let you choose well without thinking too much.
Energy and recovery supplements also provide convenience. If you will race far from home and don't have time to prepare real food, you can always toss a can of recovery powder in your kit bag along with your helmet and shoes. If the other option is driving around after a race looking for food while the glycogen window gradually closes, the supplement products are a far better choice. When you will finish a ride at home however, and if you are good at keeping your fridge and pantry full, I'd suggest eating real food.