Fitness questions and answers for February 20, 2005

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.

Cross-training and foundation Training for a 40k ITT 650c versus 700c wheels Climbing improvements Lower back Knee pain Small hemipelvis Sore hamstrings Uneven on bike

Cross-training and foundation


Great Q&A! I am a 32 year old male and have been road riding (non-competitive) for about 2-3 years. With potential thoughts of entering a few races this summer, I'm trying to stick with a "block" training plan as outlined by Carmichael. My question relates to balancing winter cycling workouts with other aerobic activities.

The trainer is tedious at best and it is very hard to ride for much beyond an hour or so. When the weather is nice, I can get in 1-1.5 hours outdoors during lunch. Combined with a couple of trainer rides I might get 3 to 4 hours on the bike each week. Each ride includes Carmichael Stomps and Powerstarts (i.e. strength/power) according to the foundation block prescription.

When weekends come I head for the mountains. I generally ski tour (backcountry ski) 2 days per week. A typical ski tour ranges from 3-7 hours of aerobic activity and might involve 3000 to 7000 ft of climbing per day. Due to the wide variety of terrain travelled through my heart rate can range from aerobic level to something near my cycling LT.

Ski touring is not cycling specific but how does this activity fit into a foundation block that requires 9 to 10 hours of cycling per week? How will this affect my foundation block training and cycling specific aerobic gains? Thanks for you insight.

Tyler Cruikshank

Salt Lake City, Utah

Andrew Bloomer replies


Training for a 40k ITT


I intend to participate in a 40k ITT and want to place better, if not win it. What training would you recommend to achieve this goal? I am an intermediate rider. Thanks for your help!

Roland Villaluz


Scott Saifer replies


650c versus 700c wheels

I am entertaining the idea of purchasing a tri-specific bike this season. A local bike shop was very keen on selling me a bike with 650 wheels. They maintained that this was the only way to go; however, I don't see many of these machines at local races.

I'm not a physics/engineering type, but wouldn't a bike with 650 wheels require a higher cadence to move the same distance in the same amount of time as one with 700 wheels given the same gear ratios? I also have noticed, via the internet, that some bikes with 650 wheels come with bigger chain rings. Is this to make up for the smaller wheels?

It seems that using 650s would require more effort at a higher pace to keep up with those rolling on 700s.

What's the deal with these wheels? Is there less rolling resistance?

Daniel Linck

St. Louis

Steve Hogg replies


Climbing improvements


A couple of my guy friends are cyclists, and they do quite a bit of long distance and two spinning classes during the week. They are in their 40's and are complaining come race day that they are fine to keep up with the groups on the flats and downhills but are battling to stay with them on the long hills. What would you recommend to help them get up those monster hills?

Monique Morris

Scott Saifer replies


Lower back

This letter is a continuation from last week's Form & Fitness


Before I start I would like to thank you for your response. I cannot express in words the gratitude I feel. Thank you. Here are the answers to the questions you requested:

1. It is just general lower back pain, but I feel as though whatever causes the pain also causes strain to other parts. I sometimes get pain in my traps and neck.

2. For a long time I thought of the pain as just general low back pain, but after really concentrating on the location of the pain, I would say I am 80% sure it (pain) starts on the right side of my lower back. I feel as though this is fooling me to think there is pain on both sides. So yes, I would say it does start on the right side and the pain is more severe on the right side also.

3. My observer saw that my right side does drop down more. He felt as though I was hanging to the right.

3a. They looked pretty much equal to my observer. Personally I feel as though my right side rotates foreword in the down stroke.

4. My back does look like a single curve.

5. My left elbow locks more than my right. This was very noticeable to my observer. On a side note, this has been something I have noticed in the past. I have noticed it when on the hoods. My left hand tends to rest on the hood, while my right is not quite on the hood, as though my right arm were shorter and my left longer.

6. My upper back does seem to run down and forward to my neck.

7. My right knee has always been very sloppy. A bike fitter once asked me 2 years ago if I ever had any injuries to that leg (Which I have not). My right knee tends to want to move outwards. This is most noticeable when my right leg is at the top of the stroke. When I lean down lower than my normal position on the hoods, my right knee seems to want to move outwards more, and at the same time my hip flexor will feel tight and restricted. Again, this is when I am in the upstroke. On the down stroke on the other had, my heal on my right foot will move inwards towards the bike, and my toes pointing away from the bike. With every pedal system I have owned, I have had problems with this. I feel the need to want to move my right cleat so that there is enough outward play so that I do not feel constricted while pedaling. Meanwhile, my left foot is perfect and not nearly as finicky.

8. I own a Trek 5500 carbon in a 56cm, which I have had for 2 years. I have been hoping to get a LeMond Zurich Steel/Carbon frame for this year, just to have something with different geometry. My saddle for a while was a Selle Italia Flite but I have recently (within the past three weeks) changed to a Fizik Arione but have not noticed any changes/improvements in any of my issues. My current shoes are Northwaves and I believe they are size 43 or 44 (sorry, the size is worn off and I can't remember), in the past I used Answer and Diadora, they were both either size 43 or 44 as well. My current pedals are Ultegra PD-6610 (6 degrees float). I have just gotten these pedals a few days ago. Up in till then, I used LOOK Keo carbons (9 degree of float). Before that I used campy Daytona pedals.

Also, I would like to mention something I noticed recently. When I walk my right leg seems to be turned outwards more than the left. If I were to walk, then stop and look at the position of my feet, my right foot is pointing outwards, just the same as when I am on the bike as I mentioned in question 7 when I am in the down stroke. Also around this time last year I had tendonitis in my right knee, I believe that this happened because of my imbalances in my right side. Another note, before I started cycling (about 4 or 5 years ago) I did weight lifting at my house for about 1 year. I was lifting very regularly, usually 3 days per week. I was unsupervised. Maybe this has some to do with my imbalances. My workouts included upper and lower body stuff. Thank you very much!

Timothy Gresh

Lancaster, PA

Steve Hogg replies


Knee pain


I am a 34-year-old category 2 road racer with a history of knee problems. To give you some background, I have scoliosis and my right leg is 1.1 cm shorter than my left (confirmed by CT scan). I started racing approximately 12 years ago, when I made the switch from avid mountain biker to roadie. I never had knee pain prior to making the switch to clipless pedals, but the very first ride I went on with clipless pedals caused really severe knee pain. I recovered from that pain, and then had someone look at my fit, but I was not able to resolve the issue. I was just about to give up road biking and go back to toe straps, when I got a really excellent fit. This took care of some, but not all, of my knee pain, which was essentially limited to my left knee.

The knee pain is hard to describe, but it feels as though my knee is "crunchy," and when I get done with a hard ride it feels as though my knee needs to pop back into place (like the patella is too far to the outside of my knee and needs to slide back to the middle). Once my knee pops, the tension in my knee is relieved. I just joined a new team, which is sponsored in large part by a well known sports medicine center in Pittsburgh (UPMC sports medicine). They offered to look at the problem. They said that my left knee is making a huge loop at the top of the stroke, to the outside and then to the inside. It stays to the inside through the stroke.

Surprisingly, they also said that my seat was approximately 3.5 cm too far back using the KOPS method (they measured from the bony protrusion below my patella). This was surprising because I am 6'1" with an inseam of approximately 33 inches and my seat tube angle is 73.5. My seat isn't pushed that far back, and my femur is long in comparison to my lower leg. I remembered that during the fit that set my old position, the guy doing the fit slid my seat forward but didn't want to go any further, even though he though he could/should have, because he didn't want to alter my position so drastically.

Anyway, what I'm now trying is about .5cm of spacers under my cleat for my right (short) leg, and with my left leg I placed 4 LeMond wedges to tilt my foot to the outside (with the thick part of the wedge toward the frame). This seems to cause my left leg to track...if not straight then a little straighter. But the wedges on my left at least partially offset those on the right. According to this new position I would need a frame with 75 degree seat tube angle to get in the appropriate KOPS position, and a long top tube since I have a long torso. Also, there still seems to be tension in my left knee, but there is definitely less. My knee has been "popping" more easily now, however, which leads me to believe either that a) the position is closer to what it should be, and therefore there is less tension and so it pops back into place more easily, or b) my knee is getting worse, as evidenced by the popping. Any advice you might have, on the physical condition, the KOPS position, etc., would be really, really appreciated.

Jake Lifson

Steve Hogg replies


Small hemipelvis

I'm a 49 year old male, ex-semi-competitive cyclist. I really haven't been able to ride much in the last two years due to a pain that develops in my right lower leg in the peroneal nerve after I've been cycling. The cause of this pain is believed to originate in my lower back. They have found that I have a small hemipelvis on the left side that causes a 6mm tilt to the left. I use a hip pad of 6-7mm on the left side now, when I'm sitting for any period of time.

My question is what is the correct way to level my hips for cycling? Is the correction made by shimming under the cleat on the left shoe or should the left side of my seat saddle be built up? I would love to be able to cycle again pain free and would really appreciate any advice on this subject.

Paul Clark

Steve Hogg replies


Sore hamstrings


I am a 45 year old male rider who has recently taken up track cycling. I normally ride a mountain bike to and from work each day, and would ride average around 200km a week.

Over the last few months I am finding that I experience a lot of tightness in my hamstrings when I have been track cycling, particularly if the races (in C grade anyway!) are of a longer distance i.e. over 15 laps. The tightness, in the inside hamstring on both legs, gets to the point where it limits my ability to maintain power to the pedals. I have sought advice on bike set up from a number of people at the club I ride with (and have also had physio and have been stretching daily) but the problem is not going away. I don't have any problems on the mountain bike. Are you able to provide me with any possible solutions?

Daryl Snibson

Steve Hogg replies


Uneven on bike


I enjoyed reading your fit article regarding knee pain and leg length difference. I don't know if I have a difference but your questions did interest me.

I have ongoing crotch discomfort on long rides after trying many solutions. Here are some things I have noticed:

-My right knee buckles inward and comes much closer to the top tube than the left. Under heavy load it may brush the top tube.
-The left knee wavers in and out a little.
-I sometimes get pain in the medial arch and side of my right foot just in front of the ankle.
-My hips are tight - my right is worse.
-I am noticeably tighter in my left lower back.
-I have tight hip flexors and I have difficulty with good back extension. I recently began to see a structural specialist and started a stretching program.
-My left hamstring is tighter than the right and my structural specialist said that I stand with slight hyperextension at my right knee.
-My right leg/foot is a little externally rotated.
-I suspect that my left leg carries more of the pedaling load.

I was hoping you might be able to make sense of some of this as well as recommend a fit specialist in the USA. I am a triathlete who struggled to a 14:56 finish at IMAZ and I hope to ride stronger at Ironman Wisconsin in September.

Rhad Hayden

Baton Rouge, LA

Steve Hogg replies


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