Fitness questions and answers for October 24, 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.

Piriformis syndrome Antibiotic side effects Leg length discrepancy EPO and drug use Narcolepsy, modofinil, and racing Saddle fore/aft and stem length Winter recovery Boil washing shorts Max HR Saddle fit Stationary riding Custom orthotics

Piriformis syndrome

In response to Andy Bloomer's reply regarding piriformis syndrome, does he notice any difference in leg strength related to the numbness? I self-diagnosed myself with piriformis syndrome about 18 months ago, and notice that my left leg (affected leg) is significantly weaker than the right. My physio thinks that the numbness could be causing disruptions in the firing of the hamstring muscle.

Does he have any suggestions on convincing my physio on my condition? I'm currently being treated for numbness radiating from my left gluteus down the back/side of my leg, usually stopping at the knee. My physio is currently convinced that the numbness is caused by a disc issue in my back and is treating me accordingly. Any help is much appreciated.

Darik Russell

Andy Bloomer replies


Dave Fleckenstein replies


Antibiotic side effects


Thanks for all the informative articles in the past. If you haven't covered this topic, I have a question regarding possible side effects of this "nuke and pave" antibiotic my doctor prescribed. When he gave me Avelox (Moxifloxacin), he warned me not to exercise. At all. Walking, yes. Hiking, no. No riding, no lifting, no yoga or pilates. (No drinking, thanks to another drug he assigned me - great, now how am I going to spend these two weeks?) However, I found this in the drug literature:

"Fluoroquinolones [Avelox's classification] may rarely cause inflammation or even tearing of a tendon (the cord that attaches muscles to bones). If you get sudden pain in a tendon after exercise (for example, in your ankle, back of the knee or leg, shoulder, elbow, or wrist), stop taking the fluoroquinolone and check with your doctor . Rest and do not exercise until the doctor has made sure that you have not injured or torn the tendon."

Now I'm confused. Can I do some easy spins on the trainer, as long as they don't stress a tendon? Could I easily do yoga or pilates?


D Turner
San Francisco, CA

Kelby Bethards replies


Leg length discrepancy

Thanks for taking the time to answer my question (in detail, I might add). I know how hard it is to answer these kinds of questions without having all the information, but I figured I would see what you thought about possibility of the shorter side pelvis being anterior rotated. I truly enjoy reading your column and respect your opinion. The largest leg length issue I've had to deal with is a rider who had one side 4.0cm shorter than the other from a bad fracture (the result of being hit by a car). I corrected for half the discrepancy but he was still experiencing ITB and knee pain on the shorter side. Perhaps I would have had more success with your 5mm:1mm suggestion. Thanks again.

Adam Baskin

Steve Hogg replies


Adam Baskin then responded:

I'm just wondering; how do you know that the leg length discrepancy isn't being caused by a greater anterior pelvic tilt on the shorter side? That would sort of throw a wrench in your entire compensation theory.

Adam Baskin

Steve Hogg replies


Dave Fleckenstein replies


EPO and drug use

I was just wondering what EPO does that helps the body so much and consequently means it is a banned substance. Also what are the side effects? I've heard that it can cause blood clots. I'd appreciate your view, thanks.

Chris Bowie,


Pam Hinton replies

Hi Chris,

Andy Bloomer replies


Narcolepsy, modofinil, and racing

I've been reading about other issues related to training and optimal performance [quite a nice section, by the way], but I have not seen my medical condition addressed for some time.

Unable to race the past few years because of a nagging back injury that seems to be improved, I am now facing a return to the sport I have loved for decades. But my narcolepsy is making a return to fitness a daunting task. Where I would expect to be tired because of the ever-increasing demands placed on my system, the normal overnight recovery after a long training day takes longer [I suspect] because I am just plain tired, and give in to the sleep that is all-too-common with narcoleptics.

But the one medication that actually HELPS me without elevating my heart rate to unnaturally high levels - modofinil [brand name PROVIGIL] - is, as I understand it - a prohibited substance. What can I do? Will a doctor's prescription suffice? The last time I raced, I was taking provigil under my doctor's supervision, and my sleep and workouts were at a wonderful equilibrium. Have things [rules and such] changed since 2002?

The mostly reverend Mr. Grandpa Kim,

The orphanage, capitol city, Iowa

Kelby Bethards replies

The mostly revered Mr Grandpa Kim,

Saddle fore/aft and stem length

Hello Cyclingnews.

Many thanks for this column. Most useful.

I have followed Steve Hogg advice of "hands let go off the drops and try to support the torso" method to help me to find a good saddle fore/aft position in relation to the B/B. I moved my saddle back a total of about 15mm (gradually) and now I can almost pass the no-hands test. My on-bike (avg speed) performance has improved. Thank you Steve!

I say almost pass the test because in order to pass the test fully I had to move the saddle further back about 5mm and my pedalling performance (and average speed) actually decreased. So I moved it forward again by about 5mm but now it is harder for me to pass the no-hands test even though my performance (average speed) is better.

My question therefore is: could it be that my stem is a bit too short to pass the test? I ride with a 100mm stem right now. Perhaps if I got a 10mm longer (i.e. 110mm) stem I would be able to "pass the no hands test" in current saddle fore/aft position?

And what are the tell-tale signs of a stem being 10mm-20mm too short? I know about guides like "wheel hub obscured by handle bar" etc. Are they good and valid?

Thank you in advance!

Yuri Budilov,

Melbourne, Australia

Steve Hogg replies


Winter recovery

I have started my winter recovery phase. Is it possible to recover on the bike? I don't like running or other high impact sports as they hurt my ankles and knees. Though I live at the base of the Sierra mountains, I also avoid skiing for the same reason (some say I'm crazy)…

Thus, I'd like to have an "on the bike" recovery program. My plan is to do no stress spinning rides for 60 to 90 minutes at my warm-up HR (120-130 bpm) five or six times per week through the end of December. A good portion of it will be on a mag trainer due to weather. How does such a plan strike you?

My stats: male, 39 years old, 5' 11" (1.8 m), 167 lbs (75.9 kg), 72 VO2 Max, RHR: 38, MaxHR: 193, no power stats, not a fast twitch fibre to be seen, climber, can climb at 160-170 bpm for a long time. I'm a non-competitive endurance rider.


Jim Strange

Scott Saifer replies


Boil washing shorts


Unfortunately I had to go to the doctor the other week due to an incredibly itchy groin. It turned out to be a fungal infection, (a result of sweaty cycling shorts) which he has given me some antifungal cream and wash for, which seems to be working nicely. However he told me to wash all my underwear in a boil wash, to reduce the chance of reinfecting myself. Cycling shorts usually say wash at 30 or 40 degrees centigrade; surely it will ruin them if I do them at 60? Is there another way to clean them to make sure there is no risk of re-infection? Thanks.

Matthew Eastwood

Scott Saifer replies

Hi Matthew,

Max HR

I am a 21 yr old cat.3 cyclist. For the past two months (Aug/Sept) I had been doing some serious training directed by an ex-pro as my coach. (LT intervals, motor pacing, power intervals, etc.) I started using my HR monitor again (I had stopped because I was using a power meter to gauge my efforts instead). One day while in a race I was curious to see how high I could get my HR. So after the race was done, I looked at the watch, and it said that my max was 237. I immediately thought this to be absurd and figured since a lot of people were wearing their HR monitors, that I was getting interference from other riders. But then another day when I was doing motor pacing I came home looked and it said 217. This time I was really puzzled, since it was only me and the car I was riding behind. Now, I've been training with the thought that my max HR was somewhere near 200-205, but now I am not so sure. Should I change my HR training zones to reflect the 230 max? Or is something else going on here?

Giancarlo Bianchi

Scott Saifer replies


Saddle fit

I have a question regarding the fit of a saddle in relation to the sit bones. I have been riding for about a year and a half, and originally started on a thickly padded saddle because I couldn't stand to ride on a racing saddle for more than a few minutes. As I progressively added miles, and improved my equipment, I became more comfortable. I now ride a Selle San Marco SKN that is 140mm wide. My sit bones are approx. 105 to 110 mm apart at the points, and I find that on longer rides (35 miles +) that I end up "eating the saddle", and numbness sets in. I am 37 years old, 5'11", 200 lb (I know, I know...but I'm big-boned!) and I ride a 55 cm Litespeed Tuscany about 100 miles per week.

The SKN saddle has a decent cutout, so it seems more to be that the saddle is too narrow. My question is how much wider should the saddle be than the sit bones in order to position them in the location that would provide the best support? I know that saddle comfort is highly suggestive, and that if possible I should try a saddle out before purchasing it, but that is often difficult. I have been looking at the Strike Pro Plus saddle, as it has a larger width (159 mm) and an incredible cutout, but could it be too wide for me? Or perhaps not wide enough? I am loath to spend $250 for another saddle if the one I have is sufficient and I just need to do something different, or should really look for something wider. Thanks in advance for your help.

Joshua Neel

Reno, Nevada

Scott Saifer replies


Stationary riding

I just set up an old bike on my stationary trainer. But after a hard 45-minute ride I have little flakes of rubber all over the floor, and my rear tire is completely bald. I didn't even have it set particularly hard. Is this just a fact of life, or am I doing something wrong? Thanks.

Thai Jones

Albany, NY

Scott Saifer replies


Custom orthotics

I need to get a new pair of orthotics and I was looking for a recommendation if you have any for me. I live in Palo Alto, CA (Northern California, close to San Francisco) I have just moved from Philly and don't know anyone good yet.

Thank you for any recommendations and keep up the good work, I start and end every day with you.

K. Rennie

Fiona Flockhart replies

Phil Astrachan is a physical therapist and cycling coach in San Francisco who does custom orthotics. His contact information is:

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