Fitness questions and answers for February 5, 2008

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.

Jon Heidemann ( 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 ( 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. 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 ( 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 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.

Bike fit
Hill training
Training optimisation
Spring training
Saddle life expectancy

Bike fit

I started getting spasms and recurring strains in my left calf while riding 4 years ago (I always hung off the left side of my saddle). At this time, I had been riding seriously for 3 years and was a strong age group triathlete. The calf spasms/strains were followed shortly by random pain in my right foot (navicular area) while running. Later that summer, I ran a half marathon and severely strained my left calf and right hamstring. After getting over the hamstring injury, I tried to get back into riding but kept getting left calf spasms.

The spasms finally subsided after I gave the leg rest. This took me a year to get over. As I was getting back into riding, I strained the outer attachment of my left hamstring at the knee while doing some jumps. This pain has really never left (2 years). No matter how long I take off of riding, the pain still comes back. It is especially intense when I ride with hard efforts.

In a setup where the bike is set up symmetrically (pedals, seat, etc), my right knee is closer to the bars than my left knee. My left leg also tends to externally rotate. In fact, when I got a fit from my LBS, they instructed me to keep the heel "out". I did it for two rides and this resulted in severe pain in my hamstring/knee attachment, which took weeks to get over.

I've tried lots of different strategies to fix the pain (wedges, cycling orthotics, speedplay adapters to bring the cleats further back, lowering my seat, etc), but can't seem to figure it out. I had a fit by John Cobb recently, who noticed right away when I walked bare-footed that my hips were "twisted" so that my left hip stuck forward and my right leg had a longer swing phase. He tilted my saddle slightly to the right (it's an ISM saddle, which feels good) and adjusted my cleats so that my left cleat is forward (closer to my toe) and my right cleat is back (closer to my heel) as far as each can go. I ride speedplay pedals.

At the time of the fit, I could not tell if it felt better or not. But after doing a ride later that week, the attachment pain came back. Now, I'm getting that same left hamstring/knee attachment pain even when I run (once a week, 20 minutes) - which has never happened.

Eric Johnson

Steve Hogg replies:

G'day Eric,

Hill training

My name is Alex and I am 30 years old. I am 6 feet tall and weigh 200lbs. I am an avid road rider and I live in Miami Florida. I am having a problem with the hills and bridges. I ride three times a week but not including a long ride with the group on Sunday morning. We start off great and I can lead the pack great but when we approach bridges or some small hill my heart climbs to high and I run out of breathe that make me fall back. Sometimes I can recover by falling back in the pack if I'm up front and sitting back in the pack being pulled and them getting in the hunt for the front again.

There are times that I am sitting too far back in the pack and them I get drop from the pack. I have great speed on the bike and great leg strength to catch the group after some miles. I am training with high rpm's on two of the three training days that I ride and the third day is for speed training. I usually find some trucks to draft or some cars. I don't know what else to do for training. My max heart is 185bpm and my normal ride heart rate is between 149 - 155bpm. Thank you for your time and patience's with my letter.

Alex Bucci

Dave Palese replies:

Hey Alex,

Training optimisation

I was wondering if you could help me with a question. I have a 20km commute to work each way. If I do my commute in around 35 minutes each way (power zone endurance or quality endurance using Rich Sterns zones) and then later in the evening do another hour or two (with specific tempo or sub threshold work) on the trainer does my body know that I didn't do 2 and half hours in a row?

What I am wondering is if I do this most days of the week do I really need to worry about getting a 3 or 4 hour session on the weekend (usually on the trainer due to weather)?

I mostly race mountain and crits in the summer so no nasty 200 k road races usually.

Kingston, Ontario

Dave Palese replies:

Hey Steven,

Spring training

I'm a 54 year old Canadian going south to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina in March to do a bit of early season riding. I've been pretty good about getting on my trainer and snowshoeing this winter but since I live in the Snow Belt road riding is not practical for me. For many of my riding buddies the mountain bike or cyclo-cross are options but I am a cabinet maker and a bad fall would put me out of work. I'll arrive in Ashville and be on the road for the first time this year, and I'm wondering if you have any advice regarding the way to build the mileage and how to handle rest and recovery? In the past the excitement of warm weather gets the rides off to a fast start especially on the first day, and no one want to take a day off. Typically I let the group go and try to spin for the first morning just to prevent injury and keep the climbing nice and easy for the first day or two, but after that I just can't help trying, however unsuccessfully to stay with the younger and faster riders. The two questions I have are; is there a pattern for 1 or 2 week early season training blocks, obviously the power or heart zones would be based on each rider but I'm just looking for how you would approach this? The second question is if I go too hard despite your advice can I do anything to minimize the damage?

Henry Levy

Dave Palese replies:

Hey Henry,

Saddle life expectancy

This is not really a fitness question, but I have been experiencing saddle soreness which has become noticeable in the last month or two.

I have not changed the amount of kilometres I do, or my position. But I did notice the padding on my saddle seems softer than it used to be.

How much life is expected out of a saddle? For information mine is a Fizik Pave which has seen less than 9000 km's of wear.

Perth, WA, Australia

Scott Saifer replies:

The expected life of a saddle varies a lot with how it is used. Heavier riders, riders who sweat more, riding in the rain and other sorts of abuse shorten the life. A light rider who waxes the saddle every time it gets wet will have it last a lot longer. That being said, 9000 km would be enough to do in some of the lighter saddles in use today. The key observation though is that you have more soreness and the saddle is different than it used to be. Try a new one and see if you feel better. If not, save the old one for a back-up.

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