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Fitness questions and answers for June 5

Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at fitness@cyclingnews.com. 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.

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.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 (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.cyclecoach.com) 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 (www.elitefitcoach.com) 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 MyEnduranceCoach.com, 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.

Fibre before a race Pedal wear Knee/ankle pain Upper right back pain Foot pain while road riding Crank length Numb hands Wedges verse orthotics Increasing power output uphill Cleat position and shoe brands Cycling position and injury Bike positioning for climbing Knee pain Larger crank length Building power Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

Fibre before a race

I am a 22 year old first cat racer from the UK.

I always eat Bran flakes for breakfast, including before races (usually between two and four hours before). Yesterday I read in one of E. Burkes' books that you should not eat food high in fibre as pre race food, but he didn't explain why. I have always eaten it, but have in the past considered reverting to something higher in carbohydrate and lower in fibre (Bran flakes are pretty high in carb anyway) but decided against it. I always figured that bran flakes digest slower and as a result are better for long distance racing; is there any truth in this?

An unrelated question: Why do I always feel terrible after a cafe stop with my local club riders? It feels as bad as blowing up and I never recover from it during the ride home.

David Mclean

Pam Hinton replies

David,

Pedal wear

Thank you for the service which you offer via e-mail. This is exceptional in this day. I would be very happy to pay for your advice if required. I have followed your advice for a while now, on Cyclingnews, and as a guy involved with healthcare, it is good to see things approached from a physiological angle rather than "it has always been done this way" approach.

I have two problems which are possibly related.

1. I ride Speedplay pedals. Love them. I have been reasonably heavy on the cleats - problem is that I wear an ever-increasing dent/divot in the outer (lateral) aspect of the aluminium baseplate, bilaterally, within the socket, and due to pressure from the pedal which then proceeds to "rocking".

I do not get any knee pain early on, but do develop it later when the rocking occurs. The pedal spindle is 11 mm behind ball of foot as per your recommendations (cured my lower quads pain, thanks) . I do pedal very slightly knee out and do prefer a bit of float. Is this just normal attrition of the cleat assembly or a fault in my pedal action? I have thought of wedges as an answer.

2. I come from a long running background - marathons and ultramarathons over 14 years-, but I'm a big guy and it is now too hard to run. I never had any biomechanical problems during running, and got to the State triathlete level for a brief period.

Now I just ride, but over about the past six months I have been getting calf cramp, usually bilateral but worse on the right. Always medial gastrocnemius muscle. These cramps usually come on during hard training to racing efforts - we may only have done 20 km - and hit me suddenly and virtually simultaneously on each side. If I slack off they go away, but the most recent, at the end of a race of 45km, put me off the bike for two days.

I have not encountered these before. There has been no sudden increase in training, and I am doing nothing different to what I am accustomed over the past 20 years. I am not exhausted when they occur - as I say, it may be as soon as within 20km. Vitamin/mineral (especially Ca/Mg) have predictably made no difference. I have tried just resting (one week) without avail.

Quick personal statistics: 51 years old, 183cm 87kg, very heavy muscled thighs and calves. I did running/triathlon for 14 years then just cycling for four years. I train 5-6 days, 250 - 500 km per week and race during the winter. I'm very competitive without the engine to suit the driver.

Current bikes - Colnago C40 and Scott CR1 - love them both. Setup was done using a proprietary Bikefit-type programme run by Bicycle Entrepreneur, amongst others, in Perth. I am pretty flexible for my age/size - easily put flat hands on floor when standing - and I have no discomfort on the bike except for a bit of neck stiffness when I ride for a long time on the drops. No other injuries to speak of.

My thoughts on the second - more aggravating - problem run along these lines:
(a) Cleats - I'm not sure if the position is now too far back or not enough back, or if they're too worn. This results in an increased transfer of force to calves
(b) Compartment type syndrome in medial gastroc - always there, never anywhere else. I have not done an ultrasound on the calf after a cramp - I should actually measure the resistive indices of the vessels in and out of the involved muscle - but have not been able to get that done

I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and advice. I live in a small city in W.A. and sports medicine advice unfortunately often revolves around me!

Paul Salmon

Steve Hogg replies

Paul,

Knee/ankle pain

Hi,

I've recently started to get a mild pain around my achilles tendon, near my left ankle.

It generally starts pretty much as soon as I ride and can last for a few hours or up to a day or so after riding. It's not really painful, but is uncomfortable and niggles the whole time I ride, I'm concerned it will turn into a more serious injury if I leave it.

It seems worse after hard or hilly rides. I see a chiropractor regularly and she suggested it could be a weakness in my ankle that is struggling to stabilise itself under cycling loads.

I also have a couple of theories myself. My left shoe feels like it is not really cupping my heel properly, the only way my left foot feels really secure in the shoe is to ratchet them up as tight as i can bear, which makes my feet pretty sore, but seems to slightly help with the heel pain.

I'm thinking I could either pack out the heel counter in my shoe to make it fit more snugly or try the specialized body geometry shoes as I hear good things about them. I'm doing exercises to try and strengthen my ankle, but it seems to be having little effect.

I'm using Sidi genius shoes, which are in excellent condition and Speedplay Zero pedals. I'm confident my position on the bike is spot on as it is set up by Bio-Racer.

I used to have a mild niggle in my left knee, which seems to have gone, but now my ankle is a problem. The knee problem was also thought to be related to a weakness in the muscle at the side of the knee, which is usually well developed in cyclists, but nearly non-existent on both my legs.

Matt Eastwood

Steve Hogg replies

Matt,

Upper right back pain

I am 41 years of age, 6'3 tall and 14.5 stones in weight. I have been cycling for fitness for the last four years, 25 miles or 1.5 hours at a time about four times a week. Until the last three months I had been riding a hybrid bicycle. I then purchased a Trek 1200 racing bicycle as I felt that my fitness levels had improved to the extent that I could go a bit further and faster. I thoroughly enjoy my new bicycle, however over the past two weeks I have developed a pain in my right upper back which I am most aware of when I am not cycling.

I am concerned that this back pain may be connected to me using the lowest position on my drop handlebars more often. I am aware that my arms can be very straight and possibly not flexed enough in this position, however I don't really want to move my saddle forward in case that leads to knee problems (the reason I started cycling in the first place). I have previously raised my saddle height slightly to alleviate a pain in my right ankle. I am going faster and for longer but I am concerned that I may have to return to my hybrid bicycle if my back pain persists.

I appreciate that I may have answered my query myself but I would appreciate any suggestion s which may keep me on my racing bike.

John Clyde

Steve Hogg replies

John,

Foot pain while road riding

I use Nike cycle shoes and have Shimano Dura Ace pedals. I have low arches. I have a Trek Madone 5.9SL. While riding I get severe pain in the outside of my feet. I recently had a CTS bike fit. I put the Superfeet insert in the shoes but this had no benefit. I changed to a specialized bike shoe…still the same pain.

The pain is primarily on the area of the outside edge of my left foot and to a lesser degree the same area on my right foot (the outer edge muscle area). I have the Shimano Durace PD7800, and the centre of the ball of my foot is approximately 7mm behind the centre of pedal axle (I do not get pain in the heels or the ball of my foot).

Could the LeMond LeWedge be of any help in my case?

Peter Hoban

Steve Hogg replies

Peter,

Crank length

Hi

I am currently riding a 165 crank on the left, and 175 crank on the right due to a leg length difference. This has taken away much of my left knee pain and I feel a lot more stable on the saddle. I am unable to simply build up the left side in the shoe or under the cleat as I am a mountain biker and have to get off and run in races. My question is - does the shorter crank on the left side mean I am getting less power from the left leg and my right leg is therefore taking a lot of the load? Do you see any problems in this method?

Jen

Steve Hogg replies

Jen,

Numb hands

I have read your posts about bike set up and am reasonably sure I have a pretty good set up.

However I am still having problems with my hands and fingers going numb. Is it possible that a specific handlebar would cause this? I think the numbness is caused by the pressure on the nerve that runs along the outside fatty part of the palm.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Jeff Robertson

Steve Hogg replies

Jeff,

I need more info.

Jeff then responded:

Here are the answers to each of your questions, numbered accordingly

1. Kestrel EMS Pro - Standard curve
2. Racing crits its the drops, this is when things really get numb
3. Yes
4. It's pretty even
5. No
6. It's the drops that cause the problem
7. About even or just slightly ahead of the axle
8. Maybe just slightly

Steve Hogg replies

Jeff,

Wedges verse orthotics

Hi,

My right foot tends to pronate. So I get all the mumbo jumbo that goes along with that...ie, increased varus foot, heel rotation toward the frame, vulgas knee, and knee pain under the kneecap. Can angled pedal wedges actually correct a pronating foot? My current experience suggest otherwise. I shimmed shoes about a year ago thinking it would stabilize the foot but my foot doesn't seem to care. The pronating foot seems to have an increased mobility which allows the heel to keep rolling thereby circumventing the forefoot support. Are orthotics able to stabilize the foot better? If so, this also brings up the question, what is the point of angled wedges if they are unable to correct a pronating/varus foot?

Also, can pedals contribute to how bad a foot pronates? I ride with a pair of Speedplays which allows my heel to rotate toward the bike as my foot pronates. Would using pedals with less float limit the effects of a pronating foot? Or would preventing the heel from rotating toward the bike without properly stabilising the foot put more pressure on the knee? Oh yeah, and does spandex make my butt look big?

Mike Kemp
East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Steve Hogg replies

Mike,

Increasing power output uphill

Hello,

I've been following your articles on seat positioning and have been trying to apply what I have read to my optimal seat position. I have one question that I am unable to answer. All things being equal, I find that I can increase my overall speed by .5 to 1.5 mph when I take my hands off the handlebars and raise my upper body to an almost vertical position.

This speed increase is most notable when going up hill from slight to steep incline. Obviously I don't practice this riding technique all the time, but if I can understand why power increases when I raise my upper body I may be able to use the knowledge to determine my optimal seat/body position. My seat angle is neutral i.e., set to 0 on a standard set back seat post, I am very flexible and my top handlebar is at approx 3.5" - 4" drop from the top of my seat. Thank you.

Robert Duran

Steve Hogg replies

Robert,

Robert then responded:

Steve,

Thank you for you reply. Alluding to my original email and your initial response, I don't suspect it is my breathing as when I sit upright and take my hands off the bar the speed gain is instantaneous and pedalling seems much easier. In this position, I'm not sure how long I can keep up the increased speed as different muscle groups are involved in this position and I obviously don't train/ride in an upright position with hands off the bars. So I suspect my positioning is limiting my ability to apply force to the pedals given my current positioning.

As per your testing protocol, I was able to remove my hands from the drops and position them just to the sides. I was able to sustain the position for approximately 7 - 12 seconds before I had to grab the drops again as I was unable to sustain the body position without my hands in the drops. To keep from having to grab the drops immediately after taking my hands off the bars, I had to increase my speed and power to the pedals. Eventually, I would have to grab the drops again. I performed the test twice. The first test was performed on a flat road between 23 - 26 mph during a spirited group ride (while off the back). The second test was performed on a very slight incline, where the results were the same, but this time I noticed I was slipping forward on the seat while my hands were removed from the drops (though that could be because my seat was misadjusted and tilted down slightly 1/8" or approx 3mm). Again, if I kept on accelerating, I would think I would be able to sustain the no hands position, until I would eventually tire or couldn't apply increasing power. Gearing for both tests was 53 x 16.

My seat angle is 73.5 degrees and I'm sitting on a Fizik Airone with the seat clamp centred between the rails. The top tube is 56.1 cm, and stem length is 120mm. The top of my handlebar is approximately 7.5cm below my seat. My seat height is set where my bike shoe heels are just barely touching the top of my cleat when my legs are fully dropped hanging freely and the crank is at the 6:00pm position (bottom dead centre). My cleat position is positioned a few mm in front of the pedal when a plum bob is drop from the inner indentation if my knee when legs touching the top tube and the crank in the forward 3pm position.

Please let me know if you need further information and I'm looking forward to your response. Thanks again.

Steve Hogg replies

Robert,

Robert then responded:

That is exactly what happens. I have to tense and hunch my back to keep from falling forward.

Steve Hogg replies

Robert,

Cleat position and shoe brands

I am another avid reader of the cleat position threads and have had trouble positioning my cleats since I bought a new shoe/pedal combination following a bike fitting. I am 6ft tall, 170lbs, 36 years old. I race on the road, do crits and Ironman triathlon.

I use Shimano SPD-SL pedals with a Carnac shoe. The shoe is size 48 although I have size 45 feet. The size discrepancy is to accommodate orthotics as I am an excessive pronator on both feet. I also ride with 3 Le wedges under each shoe. My legs now track straight; before the orthotic adjustments both knees were prone to bending in and brushing the top tube. So far so good. Except that with the cleats as far back as the shoe will allow my first metatarsal joint is directly over the pedal axle. I therefore can't get the amount of foot over the pedal as I would like.

I feel I am pushing my feet forward in the shoe in order to get the right contact point but am unable to make it. I also feel I am dropping my heels more than I used to from the top of the pedal stroke which leads me to conclude that I am losing power. At the end of long races I suffer from toe numbness and I am finding it harder to run off the bike than before.

I don't want to lose the orthotic so I wanted to know if there was a larger sized shoe that would allow me to move the cleats further back than on the Carnac?

Jason Gatenby

Steve Hogg replies

Jason,

Jason then responded:

Steve,

You've got me thinking. The orthotics are cycling specific (ie I don't use them for running) but not tailored - they are "Superfeet" inserts. I wonder if the tracking of my knees has been straightened by the wedges and the insert is perhaps only for comfort or having a minor mechanical impact. I am tempted to experiment with a smaller off the shelf shoe, no insert, and, if necessary, further wedges. What do you think? Otherwise I'd like to know more about Option b. I like the SPD SL pedal - I used to ride the SPD-R and find the SL is a good, stable platform. I am open minded about a change though so would have no problem with another system if it was the answer to getting the right foot position.

With regard to the place that set me up in this way I went back to them prior to contacting you and they tinkered with one of my cleats but offered no real solution. I don't have confidence in them finding the answer.

Steve Hogg replies

Jason,

Cycling position and injury

Good afternoon,

I am having problems with my ankles. My biking buddy doesn't think it has much to with my pedalling style. Last year I had problems at the beginning of the season with my knees hurting. I had trouble extending them at times too.

After several weeks off the bike the problem went away. This year starting in January I noticed my heels were dry and peeling. It hurt to walk on them barefoot. The area around my tendons would always be a mild red. Towards the end of February I had mild pain and could produce no power. One of my other biking buddies said achilles tendonitis. The doctor concurred. He couldn't understand how I could do it biking. I didn't bike for three weeks. I still had pain.

I sold my Motobecane 59cm and bought a Specialized Allez Elite 62cm with a sloping top tube. My biking buddy always though that I looked funny on the old bike. I had decent leg extension but I laid down pretty low and straight with a drop of 4". I'm 6'2" 200lb My true inseam is somewhere about 34-35"

I tried to resume riding on the Allez. I incurred pain in the tendon and hot spots under the ball of my right foot and other toes. I had retained the same keo cleats and pedals. I have been using Lake CX100 shoes.

I decided to move the cleats in a sort of desperation. I moved the cleats all the way backwards. I had them previously in middle. This puts my ball of the foot very close to the centre of pedal axis. I did not experience any pain in my ankle after riding some short trips. I noticed a slight sensation after the group ride on Sunday of 50 miles. I rode in the small chainring with various gears and I went a little nutty once in the 14.

My ankle on the left side is now hurting. I went to shoe and discovered that cleat had slid forward towards its original position. I am wondering where my cleats should be and my seat. I currently have the top of the seat at 32" from the BB. The bottom part of the rails are 3 1/2" and the seat clamp is in approximately the center of these rails.

I do not think that I get maximum power from my current seat position in the drops, but I haven't really tried to judge it. I also want to have a good position to avoid pain and damage. I've attached my training log for the past three years. I did not have any goals other than riding around for the past few years. I was considering of trying a local criterium or two, but I don't know if I can do it at my current state.

Bill O'Hara

Steve Hogg replies

If moving the cleats all the way back resolved your problem, which doesn't surprise me, have a look at this post and this post for cleat positioning. As to seat height and set back, there is a search function in the archives and a lot of posts which touch on those subjects.

Bill then responded:

Thanks for the reply. I haven't been able to figure out anything. I'm totally clueless about changing it around now. I personally think that I have something wrong with my ankles. The current position seems to be good for balance. I walked on concrete for five minutes the other day and I felt my whole body tense up.

I had a discussion with two masters racers and they claimed that my pedalling stroke was an issue. One asked me if it started with my right ankle, which it did. I've been working for two years to get my pedal stroke down right. These two have always told me that I pedal too fast. I've gotten my stroke to produce power to follow them at 20mph while doing 90-100 rpm. I've managed to do 80 rpm as well. I really can't fathom why they say that I'm doing 120 from visual observation, but they insist it is my problem.

I had shooting pain through my left ankle several times after walking, yesterday. I'm looking for a sale on Adidas shoes. I'm going to give them a try. I am wondering if the Lake shoes really don't have the cleat holes in a good spot and better shoes would help my feet. I've been getting hot spots at times for very short durations around the ball of my foot.

Steve Hogg replies

Bill,

Bike positioning for climbing

I am a recreational rider usually riding a hybrid flatbar bike. I mostly ride uphill on long (10 km) climbs (6%) and therefore my bike is basically dedicated only to climbing. I have been reading with interest the many posts regarding seat positioning (fore-aft, seat height, etc.) and I was wondering whether the 'balance approach' of having the seat best positioned when you can take your hands off the bar without falling over should be applied in a 'climbing' position rather than in a neutral, horizontal position.

Should I put the bike on a stationary trainer with the front wheel higher than the rear one and do the test in this position or is it better anyway to have the test done traditionally on the flat, keeping in mind that this bike is being used only for climbing? Should I also tilt the saddle nose downward so that, with the bike in the climbing position, the saddle is parallel to the ground?

Mauro

Steve Hogg replies

Mauro,

Knee pain

I'm sure you get sick of this same question, but I've tried almost every combination of cleat position, saddle height, fore/aft, and I still have an excruciating pain in my itb and upper calf. I took two weeks off, started stretching before and after, icing and ibuprofen, and like clockwork an hour into a ride the numb tingle starts, then 15 minutes later I can barely make it home. I don't have anyone local that can assist me much, my local bike shop says pain is just normal when you ride a bike 150-200 miles a week, but this is debilitating.

I can ride for hours on the mtb. But I ride with platform pedals. I've been riding the road for three years and until this spring I've never had any problems. I was using a Nashbar mtb pedal on my old road bike last year and my left toe pointed way in. I bought a new carbon trek late last year and look pedals, which immediately turned my foot outward to normal(ish).

I rode the rest of the year with no problems on that setup, but this year has been miserable. The only thing I remember changing before this pain started was my stem! That must be irrelevant. Please offer any suggestions you can. I used to have the cleat on my left (problem side) as far forward as it would go. I've since tried every other position possible.

Matt Snell

Steve Hogg replies

Matt,

Matt then responded:

Hey Steve, thanks for the prompt response.

I wasn't clear enough on my old pedals. I ride platforms on my mtb, but I was using cheap clipless mtb pedals on my old road bike. The old bike was a 2005 trek 1000, but my new bike is a 2006 trek 5200. My right foot has always been straight ahead, but my left foot toed in considerably on the old clipless.

I rode about 8000 miles on those pedals pain free. Both my legs feel basically equal strength-wise, and my right thigh is closer to the seat post. I've read almost every thread about knee pain on this site, and it seems clear I have itb problems with the intense stinging or hot knife references, but it doesn't make sense that the top of my calf has a deep dull pain. Both pains are only from about 10 to 3 on the pedal stroke. It almost feels as if I'm using way too much knee/calf muscle and not nearly enough quads and glutes. From what I've read it seems raising the seat would help that, but the itb stuff suggests lowering the seat is in order. I'm confused! I've registered for the Livestrong ride in Philly and am nervous that I won't be able to make it.

Steve Hogg replies

Matt,

Larger crank length

I just bought a new bike and I am going in for the final fitting next week so I still have some time to make sure I get the right crank length. At 6'5" and 215lb, I am a good deal larger than normal humans and with a 93.5cm inseam the old formula of inseam x0.216 means I should spin a 200mm crank. I have never seen anything larger than a 180mm.

My old bike, which is my first bike, has 175mm cranks and I have always felt fine on it but at the same time, I never thought about crank length - I just rolled with what I had. Now that I have a new bike and a chance to do it right, I am concerned that I might be missing out on a lot of power because I am not using all the leverage my abnormally large body can handle.

Am I too big for a 175 crank? Does a 200mm crank exist? Should I not worry about this and maximize my speed on a crank I am comfortable with?

Bill Caplice

Scott Saifer replies

Bill,

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