Fitness questions and answers for October 25, 2004

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.

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.

Off-season and depression
Head colds and training
Numb hands
Pulling in a paceline
Flat feet

Off-season and depression

I'm a recently upgraded Cat III cyclist that put in a fair share of training this past season (15-20 hr/week). In addition to numerious road races, I took my racing off-road and did a number of endurance mountain biking events (24 solos, 50+ mile races, etc...) with lots of success.

Now that the winter is arriving and I have been giving my body a break from the bike, I'm having little to no motivation to do anything (at home, work, fitness) and I'm feeling down/depressed the majority of the time. Is this a common thing most cyclists undergo when they take a pause in their training during the off-season? Or could it be something else?


Scott Saifer replies:

First off, good for you for being smart enough to take the break. Depression during a break is definitely not a universal experience. It is however common enough that it has been studied and published on. There are several possible reasons for depression during a break discussed in the literature. Let's see if any of them might apply to you.


Sorry to do this to you again, but I am going to bring up the creatine questions again.

After having read the response you have provided to other questions regarding creatine I still have a question for you. I am a 30 year-old cat 1 cyclist (primarily a sprinter) I weigh in at 73kg at 5'10" with body fat at around 7-10%(at the moment) I am looking for a way to improve and have tossed the idea of creatine use around for sometime, but people around me have suggested not to use it. I know creatine causes water retention in muscle but with high intensity training and just general hard work can this water retention be dramatically reduced by sweating it out and working hard on the bike therefore keeping the weight gained by water retention to a minimum and muscle growth to a maximum? We all know that we loose a lot of fluids on the bike compared to someone who lifts weights, so to me this makes sense.

Luke Butler

Pam Hinton replies:

It sounds like you want to have your cake and eat it, too. You want all of the potential benefits of creatine, but none of the negative side effects. Let me ask you this, would you take a drug if you knew it was going to make you gain five pounds of water, increase your risk of dehydration, and place unnecessary stress on your kidneys? I doubt it. But that's what taking creatine may do to you.

Head colds and training

I have asked a number of doctors, cyclists, coaches etc about this, and I have not been satisfied with any of the answers I have received. Having come through winter (in the Southern Hemisphere) relatively unscathed by illness, colds, flu etc, I picked up a cold quite unexpectedly as we entered summer. My question is 3 fold:

1) Can you, or should you, carry on training when you have a head cold. i.e post-nasal drip, sore throat, stuffy nose etc? If you can continue to ride, at what intensity and for what duration? Some cyclists I have spoken to believe in riding out the cold. Is it better to rather take 5 days off and get over the cold, and then resume training?

2) When a rider picks up a head cold, and lays off for a week, how much "capacity" (for lack of a better term) do they lose, in terms of cardiovascular functioning, overall strength and endurance, this being for a rider who is well conditioned prior to getting sick?

3) What do European pros tend to do when they get sick?

Gary Rabie
South Africa

Scott Saifer replies:

I can't answer the question about the European professionals. (They issue a press release about it - Cyclingnews editors). I hope the following handout helps with the first question. I have a few times measured riders with ventilatory thresholds depressed by 5-10 beats per minute for 2-3 weeks after a head cold, with corresponding decreases of power at threshold. Unless you are riding away from the pack with ease when healthy, you'll probably suffer in your first few weeks back to racing.

Numb hands

My problem is that my hands go numb when riding. This begins to occur after 10 or 15km distance into a ride. I'm am not doing large distances - 40 km three times a week. I change hand position on the bars frequently and usually have to remove my hands and shake them to restore circulation. I've been riding for about two years. I've recenty changed gloves but the numbness still occurs. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks for your assistance.

David Prete

Steve Hogg replies:

Numb hands on a bike after a such short periods are usually caused by any combination of a number of things. In no particular order they are:

Pulling in a paceline

I am a 43 year Cat 4 (soon to be a Cat 3) masters road racer. My question involves speed and how long to pull during our hard Tuesday night training rides. Our rides usually starts out with about 15-20 riders, after a few miles it ends up with about the same 8-10 riders. One of our goals is to see how fast we can do a rolling hills loop of 12.5 miles. We ride between 1 and 3 loops on this same route on Tuesdays. Within this group of there is a wide range of abilities and current fitness levels and fitness goals. We all seem to understand that it's better to have a few more riders in the group for rotation, while keeping the pace high. Usually when I get to the front I bring up the pace anywhere from 3-5+ mph (without jumping). My thought is that I want to pull faster and then rotate as oppose to a longer and slower pull. Occasionally I'll pull so hard that when I get to the back I can barley hang on if the pace is still super fast. My question is how hard and how long should I pull? I'm mainly concerned with my fitness but we are always trying for a new lap record.

Randy Lewandowski

Scott Saifer replies:

If the lap time is the bigger goal and you are really pulling 3-5 miles per hour faster than than some of the other riders in the group, you will do more for the group by pulling slower and for a longer time. Perhaps you could pull for a mile or more at a speed 2 mph faster than the rider before you instead of a short while 5 mph faster. If some of the riders are so slow that you can pull faster than them without making a particular effort, they should not be allowed to pull at all, or should be encouraged to pull harder even if they blow up and get dropped.

Kim Morrow replies:

There are a number of ways to work a rotating paceline during a group ride. If your group is trying to set a new lap speed record (on your 12.5 mile loop) then one of the most important points is to make sure that each rider is on the same page regarding how you are attempting to accomplish this objective. For example, each rider could take a 15 second, 30 second or 1 minute pull. The key would be to maintain a high speed, but not accelerate so quickly that gaps begin to form in the paceline. If the pace is increased too quickly for the riders behind, then the smoothness of the rotation will diminish, hence causing the overall speed to decline.

Flat feet

I am a 29 yr old, Cat. 2 racer who is trying to fine tune his position, in part to help alleviate lower back pain, but mainly to increase efficiency. I have a slight leg length discrepancy and very flat feet. I have never seen anybody address the issue of flat feet in relationship with performance cycling and was curious if the panel had any insight into this problem. I have never really pain in my feet from cycling the way I do when I run, but I feel that it plays into my back pain. I currently don't use orthodics. Any help would be appreciated.

Andy Weir

Steve Hogg replies:

Flat feet can cause issues with regard to bike position but generally it is in an indirect manner. With true flat feet the most common compensation the body makes can load the lower back unnecessarily. As the feet roll in because the arch hasn't developed, the hips have to internally rotate to a greater or lesser degree to accommodate that. This in turn often means that the pelvis has to tip forward at the top and concurrently hollow the lower back more in allowing that to happen. Flat feet don't necessarily mean back pain follows but they certainly increase the likelihood of back pain.

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