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Fitness questions and answers for September 6, 2004

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.

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.

Power output
Erectile dysfunction
Lactic acid
Chronic fatigue
Supplements
Pedal width too narrow
Calf cramps at maximal efforts
Stretching as prevention
Creatine
Glycogen loading
IT band fix
Lower back pain
Post-ride knee pain
Seat height formulas
Weight loss and riding
Setback seat posts
Fear

Power output

I am a thirty year old road racer. An earlier answer detailed a rough idea of power at threshold for women, i.e. how much power the average female pro, cat. 1, etc, puts out at threshold. Could you give a similar breakdown for men?

Rob Mitchell
Slover City, New Jersey

Steve Owens replies:

Take a look at this spreadsheet that a fellow coach, Andy Coggan, came up with. It allows you to compare relative power (watts/kg) relatively well to American racing categories.

Eddie Monnier replies:

Please note that category comparisons were not the original intent of Dr. Coggan's work here. The sheet was originally designed to help athletes and coaches develop an understanding of a rider's "power profile"; namely, whether or not they have relative strengths or weaknesses in max effort power at certain durations relative to others. This can help identify areas to address in training as well as provide data that may be helpful in choosing certain racing tactics. In fact, in the latest incarnation of the spreadsheet, Dr. Coggan has removed the category brackets because people were focusing on them rather than the intended purpose. Additionally, he has replaced the 20-min power numbers with "FT" or Functional Threshold, which is the average power one can sustain in a max effort of about 40 - 60 minutes.

Dario Fredrick replies:

This may seem like a long answer to a simple question, but I think clarification of the numbers and their application is worthwhile. Here's the short answer to your request.

Erectile dysfunction

My question relates to a very serious problem I have developed, I ride about 700 km a week on average, sometimes more.. I have been experiencing penile dysfunction and battle to maintain an erection. Swallowing a Viagra sorts me out but surely there is another solution. Please help

Kind Regards

Limp
South Africa

Scott Saifer replies:

Most likely you are compressing the relevant nerve when you ride. The most likely solution involves changing how you sit on the bike or perhaps the saddle itself. If you have not had a professional fitting by a competent specialist, start with that. If you have a position with which you are generally happy, the simplest solution is to lower the nose of the saddle just a couple of degrees. If that takes the pressure off the nerve and does not increase weight on your hands much, you're done. If you can't tilt the saddle far enough to remove the pressure without throwing weight onto your hands, you may be able to rotate your whole body position backwards: seat back and down, bars up, keep saddle level. If this does not solve the problem, try a different saddle, perhaps one with a soft or cutout nose. If you are currently using a particularly narrow saddle, try a slightly wider one. Good luck.

Lactic acid

I'm 19 years old, my weight is about 61kg, and my height is about 1,70cm. I've been riding bikes since I was kid, more frequently since 14 years old and more seriously since 18 years old. I started training with the help of a coach this year and I have already seen good improvement. I ride at about 31km/h at endurance intensity (140-150bpm). But my greatest weakness is when I have to keep a very high intensity for a short time, like when I do interval training (For example, 6 x 2km at max intensity). When I do such a thing, after less than 1 minute my legs start to burn a lot, a lot of acid and a lot of suffering. The same thing happens during criterium races where at the start, the pace of the peloton is very high, and I never can keep with it. I don't have such a difficulty when I need to keep a high intensity pace for long times (30 minutes or more).

I was wondering if is there any way to avoid acid lactic from raising so fast in the muscles, like specific diet or training. Or I just have bad genetics and my muscles easily produces acid, and it's time to stop dreaming of cycling racing. Another observation is that I have I little more fat in the legs than the other parts of the body, is there any relation with that and the lactic acid problem?

My training program has a total mileage of 370km per week in 6 days of riding.

Rodolfo Martin

Dario Fredrick replies:

The problem really isn't lactic acid. Have a read of this article.

Chronic fatigue

I am 44, male and have been wrestling with chronic fatigue for 2.5 years.

I have shown a huge improvement in the condition this year and resumed training (previously doing 300km per week average and racing A grade).

Over the last month my max heart rate has again begun to decline (typical of CFS and fatigue) and I have reduced my training to help my recovery (down to 200km per week and only 1 hard session).

Question - what is the most effective way(s) to remove/reduce lactic acid post ride.

Also any vitamins/minerals you suggest will help with recovery in general as this is the hardest thing to get right.

Alan Nelson
Australia

Dario Fredrick replies:

Chronic fatigue can be challenging to deal with, but there are ways to reduce its prevalence or its reoccurance in your case. Minimize the stress response in your nervous system and maximize the quality of your recovery.

Supplements #1

I am 32, 5'10 and weight 155 lbs. I did my first triathlon a few weeks ago and will do a 1/2 Ironman in a few weeks. My question revolves around supplements. Does taking creatine, glutamine, etc help your body repair and recover from endurance training? Since, I am new to Triathlons I am spending a lot of time doing bricks to get my body used to transitions and just to get used to the amount of energy that will have to be expended over a 1/2 Ironman. What supplements, activities, or anything aids your body in recovery and repair?

Scott Evans
USA

Pam Hinton replies:

Two sure-fire keys to optimal recovery are an adequate diet and enough rest between hard workouts. I'll stick to my area of expertise and address the diet-related issues. After training for 2 hours, your glycogen stores will be running low. You need to replenish the carbohydrate you used to fuel your workout. The optimal way to do this is to consume 1.5 g carbohydrate per kg of body weight within 30 minutes after exercise and again every two hours for 4-6 hours. Exercise increases the rate of protein breakdown and synthesis in skeletal muscle and, with adequate nutrition, it will have an anabolic effect on skeletal muscle, i.e., it will result in a net increase in protein synthesis. Carbohydrate consumed post-exercise is beneficial because it reduces the rate of protein degradation. However, to increase protein synthesis and achieve a net increase in muscle mass, it is important to consume protein after exercise. Studies have shown that consuming about 0.2 g of amino acids per kg of body weight per hour during the first 2-3 hours post exercise results in net protein synthesis.

Supplements #2

I read this forum regularly and appreciate the wealth of information provided here; you have helped me improve my athletic performance over the last few years. My question is regarding a couple of supplements I have heard of lately that sound applicable to cyclists, are available off the shelf, yet don't seem to garner much attention.

I'm a 26y/o amateur cross-country and road racer. I don't really use any supplements other than commercial carb-drinks, rather I generally take the perspective of good general nutrition and improved focus/volume of work combined with adequate rest as the method to achieving the goals I set for myself. At my level of development I still see vast improvement potential with this methodology. My mind derives great satisfaction from hard work, I haven't yet hit performance walls where I feel the need to buy products to get me to the next stage, even if I lose a race by 5 seconds. I enjoy reading about the science and/or pseudo-science behind many of these products, especially lately with the media focus surrounding pre-Olympic disqualifications for banned substances.

My intrigue stems from conversations with one of my muscular friends who seems to use any/every product available. Lately I've heard ravings about nitric oxide and "his best workouts ever" (meaning weightlifting). His product selection is designed to bulk people up and usually falls on my deaf ears, as I maintain a typical cyclist physique. However, from reading the product package and articles on the internet, it seems to function by boosting bloodflow to muscles. This would seem to have obvious benefits to endurance athletes yet I've never seen this product mentioned in the endurance sport context. Second product that has come onto my radar screen is cordyceps. My understanding is that this is a natural, legal plant product that, improves VO2 and lactate thresholds, and led to success for Chinese swimmers in the early 90's. High and/or improving VO2 and lactate thresholds are obvious goals for endurance athletes, yet I haven't heard much about this substance although it appears to have been around in sport supplement context for about a decade.

Can you offer any cycling related commentary on either of these?

Erik B. Bakke

Pam Hinton replies:

Your perspective on the potential benefits of supplements is a realistic one. Most of us would perform better by improving our diets, training to correct our weaknesses, and getting adequate rest. Many athletes, however, are more like your muscular friend-they've tried supplements and will continue to experiment with each new product that hits the market.

Pedal width too narrow

I am a little over 6'3" 215 pounds with size 14 feet. I have had some knee and lower back issues. I have been riding 21 years some of it competitively. I currently ride (road) 100-120 mikes /week at a fairly rapid pace. My feet just barely clear my chain stays with my cleats positioned as far out as possible and I feel as if I am pushing toward the outside of my shoes. It is as if my pedals are not far enough out but I am not aware the availability of variable widths of cranks/bottom brackets. In fact my little toes often hurt after a ride. Recently I became aware of a product called Kneesavers (http://www.bikescor.com/product/knee.htm) and I was wondering if anyone there has any experience with them or if you can tell me how other tall big footed riders deal with what seems to be narrow pedal width? It is my sense that a wider pedal width would provide a better power transfer and might alleviate some of the issues I have had with at least the little toe pain.

Brian Marron

Steve Hogg replies:

There are a couple of other possible explanations for what you are feeling that may be worth checking out before you fit Kneesavers. Firstly the little toe pain may because of a shoe that is too narrow across the forefoot, or your foot may need everting in the shoe to better spread the load across the whole of the forefoot. Any competent, and I say competent bike positioning person should be able to determine if either of these are indeed your issues.

Calf cramps at maximal efforts

I greatly appreciate the global discussions Steve Hogg is leading regarding bike fit: I've heard more fresh ideas well conveyed in the last 6 weeks than in the last 6 years!

I am writing about a particular problem I encounter at very hard race efforts (the last 5 minutes of a crit or the key hill or false flat in a road race): calf cramps (right in the "belly" of both muscles) that cause me to pedal squares. Initially I had thought these were symptomatic of a mineral imbalance, and so I have been liberally salting my sports drink. But based on Steve's recent posts, I wonder if the issue might be one of positioning, such as at very high effort levels having a tendency to drop my heel at the bottom of the pedal stroke, loading and stretching out the calf muscle more than it is prepared for.

Other data points:

I ride a fixed gear in the off season (and tend to note that going downhill at high cadences -- >130 -- I have a tendency to lock my ankle a little to allow other muscles to fire at that speed).

I ride at a relatively high cadence relative to my competitors at most times (though perhaps not during these problematic, near-maximal efforts).

This cramping is not accompanied by any fatigue or discomfort in the other muscles around the ankle.

It's hard to replicate this cramping problem in anything other than the most intense training.

Thanks in advance for any remedies you can provide!

Nathan Drake
Denver, CO

P.S. Your philosophy on fitting seems very similar to a critique of KOPS by Keith Bontrager:

Steve Hogg replies:

First let's eliminate a few possible causes. Are you tight in the calves in general? If so, an appropriate stretching regime should solve the problem. If you are not sure, find out. Next, read the cleat positioning posts for July 26. If your cleats are noticeably too far forward, calf problems can be one kind of fallout. Now let's assume that none of the above are the problem and that what you suspect is the problem is indeed so, that is, if I understand you correctly, that you are quite a pedaller but the problem occurs under severe load at lower cadences than typical [ for you] You describe fixed wheel training at high cadences and having a higher than average cadence generally. The typical response with this style of pedalling is to point the toes as the revs rise. This is an unconscious attempt to reduce the range of movement that the knee works through so as to fit more revs into a given period. There is nothing wrong with that and it is entirely natural, but the calves tend to be contracted with this style of riding, often not with any great force. What I'm guessing is the issue, is that when you drop your heels more during the severe efforts, the calf is being stretched forcefully and is probably eccentrically contracted forcefully. None of which your high cadence training prepares you for. The solution may be as simple as some uphill strength/endurance efforts in training to accustom you to the same type of loading, ie, dropped heel, high load.

Stretching as prevention

Recently I submitted a question on finger numbness and was very pleased at your response. Thank you. I also noticed a related question this week about hip rotation. I did not mention this in my letter, but I also have significant left leg/foot numbness (same side as the problem hand) sometimes.

I believe I may have found a significant source of this problem, and the simplest of solutions: stretching my hamstrings and lower back before riding. The numbness in my leg is similar to the symptoms of sciatica, and I usually have lower back pain/tightness on my left side that accompanies the leg numbness. (this is all part of my feeling of being "crooked") The stretching has helped a lot. So it may just be a matter of being too stiff, and aggravating the sciatic nerve or similar.

Greg Kirkos
Boston

Steve Hogg replies:

I am happy that you got a result. You have realised a basic truth of cycling, indeed of all sports and that is 'function first'. Our prime interest should be in maintaining and improving structural fitness. Once we have achieved a reasonable level, then cycling is what we choose to do with it. What you have likely been feeling is the compressing of the sciatic nerve where it passes over, under or through the piriformis which is an external rotator of the hip that lies under the glute. Why only on the left side?

Creatine

I'm a 40 year old road rider who is doing 8 to 14 hours a week on the bike and 2 hours a week in the gym. Will creatine help me recover or is it just crap?

Martin Keane
Australia

Scott Saifer replies:

You don't leave us much choice here. Creatine has advantages and disadvantages for participants in strength training and competitive cycling. The advantages have nothing that I've heard to do with recovery, so I guess creatine would be crap for you.

Glycogen loading

There are a number of regimes for loading glycogen before long races. One issue seems a bit confusing. Much advice would recommend low fibre foods the day before race -good advice. Advice is also given that (unless you are recovering from a workout) low GI food should be consumed so that your muscles can constantly load from blood supply. From my limited knowledge few foods meet these two criteria. My short list is Low GI yoghurt and apple juice. Has this been talked about within sports nutritionists?

Andrew Gannon
Australia

Pam Hinton replies:

It seems that you have the high-low GI pattern down pretty well. High GI foods and beverages are the best choices when you need a readily available glucose supply, during exercise and immediately afterwards, for example. Low GI foods are better choices the rest of the time because they cause a more moderate elevation in blood glucose levels and, thus, blood insulin levels. There are lists of GIs for foods and beverages available. A comprehensive list was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 76:5-56, 2002 (http://www.ajcn.org).

Cyclingnews editor Jeff Jones adds:

From my own experience of being a subject in GI experiments, I'd add that different people have different insulin responses to the same food. I found that my personal GI's were generally lower than the norm, perhaps to do with the fact that I was relatively fitter.

IT band fix

I've started reading your column and see a number of complaints re: IT band syndrome. I'd just like to share my experience.

My IT band was snapping across the outside bone on my left knee when I extended my leg while pedaling. I've had my left IT band operated on (cut) twice. I was advised both times that it would eventually grow back together, but hopefully in a manner that would not cause my symptoms. For the second operation, I stayed conscious so I could duplicate the symptom on the operating table and the surgeon could make an accurate cut.

About 2 years after the second surgery, the symptoms recurred. This time, I tried lowering my seat just about 1/8-1/4 of an inch and the symptoms disappeared. This was probably because now I wasn't extending my leg far enough during the pedal stroke to straighten the IT band. The risk in doing this is that with a lower seat height, I may be stressing the knee more. It's a compromise, I know. To offset this, I've consciously changed my pedal style to spin faster using a lower gear. So far, my cycling hasn't suffered and I'm pain free.

I just thought I would pass this on as it may help someone with similar symptoms.

Mark Falleroni
Ogden, Utah, USA

Steve Hogg replies:

Yours is an interesting story and without trying to criticise or rebuke you in anyway I would suggest that your ITB problem was probably a consequence rather than the root cause. Which is why it returned to haunt you post op. Given that you make no mention of a similar problem on the right side, an interesting test would be to raise your seat back to your old height but fit a spacer equivalent to the amount of seat height change under your left cleat. If you ever choose to try this I would be interested to know what happens.

Lower back pain

I am a 46 year old male veteran recreational rider/racer who also spends a little time at the gym. I have always been very active and have always noted that at times my lower back aches, especially after prolonged exercise. This scenario is no different with cycling, which I have only been doing seriously for the past 5 years. I am reasonably sure the pain is biomechanical - there is no history of trauma, etc and medical test of various sorts, physiotherapists, etc, have found no abnormality. I am in the process of having a local expert perform a proper setup for my bike, but my question is as follows: given that most people neglect the need for stretching for whatever reason, can you help me with a useful series of stretches for my lower back? In fact because the back is related to pelvis, hamstrings. etc, what about recommended stretches for all areas. Should I spend some/more time developing "core" strength? Magical answers would be appreciated.

John Zoanetti

Steve Hogg replies:

There are others on this forum better equipped to answer you in specific terms but here is my two bob's worth. Buy three books: 'Overcome Neck and Back Pain' by Kit Laughlin; 'Stretching and Flexibility' also by Kit Laughlin; and 'Pilates For Dummies' by Ellie Herman. Read those three excellent publications, put what you learn in them into practice and I would be surprised if you still have a problem in 12 months time.

Post-ride knee pain

I'm a 34 year-old female road cyclist, 5'7", 134 lbs. I ride most days, usually about 200 total miles a week. I have for a couple years now experienced knee pain after riding, but only when going up or down stairs. The pain sets in about 10 minutes after the ride, and lasts most of the rest of the day. Both knees hurt, underneath my kneecap, as I put weight on a bent leg going up or down stairs.

I don't have knee pain while riding, and my bike has been fitted correctly (I think!). Interestingly, I have sometimes have this same post-activity knee pain after snowboarding, XC skiing, and hiking in mountains, which makes me suspect it may relate to loading weight on bent knees---the one thing I can think of that these all have on common.

Do you have any idea what this could be from? I have never heard anyone complain of this before. It is not a debilitating pain, but I ride almost daily, and it is annoying to have it every day!

Jody Schmidt
Ashland, OR

Steve Hogg replies:

Your problem could be as simple as having your seat too low and/or too far forward. Many women pedal in a more toe down fashion than is generally the rule for men. If this sounds like you, and if whoever positioned you used a mathematical basis for setting seat height, you are probably too low and this is the source of your problem. Set your bike on an indoor trainer, warm up thoroughly, and then while riding in a gear that is reasonably hard [ requires effort but does not cause you to sacrifice technique] raise your seat in increments of 3mm till you are obviously too high. This will be when your pedalling starts to feel a little jerky. Once this happens, drop your seat height 5mm from that point and you should be pretty close.

Seat height formulas

I know -- and fully agree with -- Steve Hogg's stance that bike fit should be based on your position while riding, not stationary. BUT . . . just wondering, based upon your experiences in fitting customers for bikes, if either of the 2 common formulas for seat height tends to be more "accurate:" the Hinault method (.885 X inseam, BB to seat), or 1.09 X inseam = pedal to seat. I ask, because I tried both, and ended up with nearly a 4 CM difference between the two. Should there be such a large discrepency, or did I calculate and/or measure incorrectly? (I also heard of the method whereby the cyclist streightens his leg, locking his knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke, which should result in the foot being parallel to the ground if height is correct . . . is this anymore "accurate?")

Paul A Kossa

Steve Hogg replies:

Interesting question. Essentially you are saying that you agree that seat height is not based on a formula but you want one anyway. I don't think that I can oblige, but here is an answer of sorts. I suspect that you have made a mistake with your calculations to have such a marked discrepancy in results. By way of example, I'll use myself as a guinea pig as I know my own proportions well.

Weight loss and riding

I weigh 100kg and am 183cm tall and 32 years old. Yes I know I'm at least 15-20kg overweight although I do have a large frame. Riding is my exercise of choice and I am interested in slowly training up enough to be able to at least go on shop rides if not compete. At the moment I'd be lucky to maintain 26km/h for an hour. 2-3 times a week. Although a few years ago I was doing 29km/h for an hour 4-5 times a week. I'm fairly dedicated so riding more and for longer is not a problem. I should be able to ride for 60-90minutes 4 times a week and a 2-3 hour on the weekend. (yes I know this isn't much compared to 350miles a week etc.)

I've read a lot on your site about the 6-10g/kg/day of carbs etc and to drink carbs while riding and before and after etc. If my initial goal is weight loss and I'm riding first thing in the morning (5am) should I have breakfast first or after. ( I know you have said to eat before to carb load but I don't think this was in the context of weight loss) Surely if I'm trying to loose weight I should deplete myself of carbs to make my body burn fat. If I eat carbs first won't I just be burning those and no fat.

When I go on a longer ride (over an hour) I - what do you call it - Bonk, and feel really tired. Is this because I only drink water and no carb supplements and have run out of carbs? Does this mean I'm then burning fat or am I just doing damage if I push through this

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