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Fitness questions and answers for June 26, 2007

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.

Rice vs pasta
Mental or physical?
Getting faster
Heart rate concerns

Rice vs pasta

For some time now I have been comparing my performance after eating pasta vs rice the night before a race. For some reason I always feel like I have more power with pasta. After looking at different rices at the market, some claim to have more kJ or calories per 100 grams than others.

a) Are more kJ good or bad?
b) Is one variety of rice better than other i.e. basmati vs long grain vs arborio etc?

Thanks for your help.

Mark Richards

Scott Saifer replies:

More food energy (measured in kJ) is better, if it is available at race time. How many kJ of each food have you been eating? If you are eating more energy when you have pasta than rice, the total amount of energy may be your answer.

Mental or physical?

Whilst ownership of some power cranks would demonstrate my problem more fully I can hopefully explain it nonetheless. When it comes to races I seem unable to control my heart rate in the early stages. I reckon it runs about 20 beats higher than its corresponding power output (all other things being equal). My max is 184 and I often find myself, even at a slowish neutralised section, at the beginning of a race running at 176 bpm. It means I spend most races riding the first hour way over lactate threshold (162bpm) with a subsequent rapid drop in performance later in the race. This is usually mountain bike races as with road races there tends to be a bedding in period at the start of the race where it comes under control (although not always).

I am of the belief that this is a physiological response to nerves? Is there any method to control this phenomenon as I believe that I am under performing to an amazing degree? It also coincides with probably no change in my perceived rate of exertion (PRE) as even at 180-bpm I don't feel as though I am going hard, as opposed to in training where anything over 174 bites pretty hard i.e. my PRE stays at the 20 BPM lower level.

An example would be the World Cup MTB at Fort William where on the Saturday in the Men's XC I was way off the pace on the first climb and in a certain gear at 180bpm whereas when I rode the next day in the support race, I raced the same hill two sprockets down (i.e. a higher gear) and in the 160s in heart rate with a lower PRE i.e. I am going faster and it feels easier. Have you ever come across this before and are there any coping techniques that other riders have adopted or indeed do you even think it is race nerves?

Glasgow, UK

Carrie Cheadle replies:

Anxiety can definitely contribute to elevated heart rate. You're signaling your stress response which is designed to get you ready to respond to a perceived threat. One of the physiological things that occurs to help get your body ready to respond is an increased heart rate. This response "cools off" when you decide that there is no longer a threat.

Getting faster

I'm a 37 year-old male, 81kg (178lbs), 181cm tall, been cycling for about one and a half years. I am training to race mountain bikes and love riding, road and mountain. I am lucky enough to have some great competitive mates who love riding too but they are all a lot quicker than me.

I feel like I can do short sprints and keep with them but it's when the hammer goes down for a hill of about five minutes or more I drop off. I can keep with them on the flats, but when those hills come they get me. I am getting frustrated now after riding with them for about a year, as I feel I have been putting in the kilometres.

Should I be doing more hills or some interval training? I'm not sure how to go about catching them up. I feel like I have reach a plateau and can't figure out what to do to keep up with them, is it my engine, my TT, my weight? Do I up my hours in the saddle? Should I be patient and it will come?

I feel am carrying a bit of weight, so should I loose some weight, and how could I effectively do this without causing to many issues with power. My mates are about 2-3 minutes up on me on a general 5-10 minute road climb and 2-4 minutes up on me on a 20-minute mountain bike climb.

I generally do a 1.5 hour MTB race every two months and as it is the winter for us here in Australia I ride 2-3 hours on the weekends on my mountain bike and about 6- 10 hours Monday - Friday on my road bike.


Scott Saifer replies:

You keep up on the flats so your power and aerobic fitness are fine. You don't keep up on hills and you are far overweight for a bike racer your height, so almost certainly it is your power-to-weight ratio that is holding you back on the hills.

Heart rate concerns

I am 49 years old, 5'11" and 170 pounds. I have engaged in steady aerobic exercise since I was 15. I have been cycling for four years, train 100 miles a week, including fast group rides. I periodically race. My performance now is better than ever.

My resting heart rate is 68. During workouts I routinely see heart rates around 180, which feels like 80% effort. During intense sessions and at the end of races 190 is not uncommon. This feels like 100% effort, but I remain clear headed. In fact, I feel better than I felt in high school at the end of an 880.

The 220 less age chart and a maximum heart rate of 171 does not work for me. Am I on the verge of killing myself at these heart rate levels?

Richard G. De La Mora

Scott Saifer replies:

The 220-age chart is a poor approximation to the population average. 210 - age/2 is a better approximation with a standard deviation of about ten beats. What that means is that roughly 96% of the population will have a maximum heart rate within 20 beats of 210-age/2. Your maximum heart rate is above average but not abnormal.

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