Fitness questions and answers for April 26, 2004

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.

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.

Testicular pain
Heart rate
Warm ups
Too much high intensity

Testicular pain

Last fall my riding was going well but I developed severe pain in one testicle and throughout my lower abdomen. Over several weeks I had an X-ray, ultrasound and saw a urologist. During this time I also did some of my own research and found a scientific article that summarizes scrotal abnormalities in mountain bikers (Radiology, Frauscher et al. 219(2): p427, There findings were that 94% of mountain bikers had abnormal lumps and bumps, though most were benign. My case was a bruised and swollen epididymis. The urologist said liked the article and said that I could ride after the pain and swelling subsided. Unfortunately this took several months to return to normal with little to no riding and only infrequent riding (1-2 per week) over the last couple of months.

I am now starting to ride regularly again. I am 40 and I would like to get back on track to my pace from previous years of 3000 off road miles a year plus a couple of road days a week. I have changed out my saddles to anatomically friendly versions and purchased good riding shorts. Any other advice that you can provide would be appreciated.

Duncan Maitland
Pleasant Hill, CA

Scott Saifer replies:

You're not going to like my advice, but here it is: Use the bike on the road for the longer fitness development rides. You can use the MTB with slicks (with knobbies if you are a masochist) or a road bike. Get out on dirt once or twice per week for technical skill development/maintenance or a group ride. I coach several successful MTB racers (see for some of their recent accomplishments). They train on the road and only ride dirt to preride courses and to race.

Heart rate

I consider myself to be fairly cycle fit (I do a 15 mile commute each way every day) I am 35 years old, 90kg, I am trying to ride at a lower intensity to burn fat on my commute at a heart rate of approx 155bpm, but I find it very difficult to go that slow (approx 15mph) or stay at that rate. Is it possible to have fairly high heart rate or am I just not as fit as I think I am.

Scott Saifer replies:

How did you settle on 155 as the appropriate limit? I generally recommend training zones based on a combination of maximum and anaerobic threshold heart rates. Maximum heart rates vary quite a bit from person to person, even among people of similar age and fitness (I have one client whose maximum heart rate was over 190 when he was in his fifties, and I haven't seen my own heart rate over 176 since I was in my late twenties). If you are basing your zone on maximum heart rate, you really need to determine your own personal maximum.

Cyclingnews editor John Stevenson adds:

On the subject of 'fat-burning' heart rates, you might also find this previous answer to a similar question useful. To summarise: There's a heart rate at which fat use reaches a maximum, but if you exercise above that level you can still burn more calories than you take in, which will result in weight loss. If losing weight is a goal, then there's no need to limit yourself to low-intensity riding.

Warm ups

In your April 19 response to the mountain bike racer who was having trouble with starts you talk about training lactate threshold before answering what I see as the obvious threshold issue: is the racer doing a proper warm up?

Eric Larsson

Dario Fredrick replies:

Thanks for raising a valid point that was not addressed in the first response to Michael's question. Indeed, insufficient warm up, especially for fast start events, can lead to premature glycogen depletion and fatigue. Literally 'warming up' the blood can help release oxygen more effectively to working muscles since the oxygen-hemoglobin bond is affected by temperature. At cooler temperatures, the bond is tighter, forcing a greater reliance on anaerobic metabolism to fuel moderate to high workloads.

Too much high intensity, part 2

I am 26 yrs old, 6ft 3in and 175 lbs (more or less). I enjoy fast rides with friends and I've just started racing Cat. 5 this year. My teammates and I participated in a strength training program this winter and I concentrated on getting a good base - as much as is possible living in Utah (lots of time on the trainer)! I already feel stronger than last year, but I'm concerned about my training regimen.

I used the Training Bible to plan out my season and I intended to stick with the workouts out of the book. The problem is that now the fast, weekly training rides have started and the weekly time-trial series will start soon. I want to participate, but I want to make sure I'm not leaving out something important in my training. By doing both rides each week and racing on the weekend, I've used up all of my hard riding days and I don't have time or energy to do specific intervals or force work (hills).

Should I not worry too much about being specific and just go hard on these rides, as one of my teammates suggests, or should I focus on being specific and doing intervals by myself and forget about these rides? The Tuesday night training ride is usually VERY fast with more experienced elite riders giving us all a workout. Thanks for any help!

Justin Griffeth
Logan, UT

Eddie Monnier replies:

As you are relatively new to competitive riding, it is likely that you will improve with just about any high intensity riding. A common mistake newcomers make is jump from this program to that program without ever seeing on all the way through. As one who advocates a periodized approach to training, it is my opinion that structured workouts will ultimately help you realize your full potential more effectively than doing what many people do -- routinely doing the hard club rides and racing every weekend. But structured training doesn't have to mean riding by yourself all the time. Group rides should and do play an important role in training. In some cases you can make a group ride fit your ride objective. What you don't want to do is forego structure all together and just do the unstructured hammerfests. My recommendation to you would be to stick with the plan you've already developed. Simply work in periodic group rides where feasible without jeopardizing your overall plan.

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