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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.

The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel

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.

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.

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.

Fitness questions and answers for October 18, 2004

Recovery after illness
Grapefruit consumption
Winter training
Positioning, pedals and the taller rider
Increased HR

Recovery after illness

I am 25 year old Cat 3 racer, 6'1'' and 175lbs race weight. I would like to think that I am a classic rouleur. I can sprint with the best but I am certainly not the best. I can climb but I am no goat and I can time trial within the top ten of any race. That being said I was having a great year and was in the hunt for the statewide points race along with a couple of victories. Approximately one month before our state championship and two weeks before our last major stage race, over the course of a week I came down with a bad cold then worse nausea then absolutely horrible back pain. After two doctor's visits, I decided to go to the ER for fear of a kidney stone. My back pain wouldn't let me walk more than 5 consecutive steps.

They took me in, performed a battery of tests and decided to check me in. While they didn't find any stones, the urinalysis showed extremely elevated levels of protein (25X normal range) and creatinine (6X normal levels). I had acute renal failure/ acute tubular necrosis. They got me on saline to re-hydrate me and waited for various other test to come in. On the third day in the hospital, my chest x-ray showed a gathering of bi-lateral infiltrates/pneumonia. My O2 saturation levels were at 62 percent (Normal is 95-99 percent). Immediately I was taken to the ICU where I stayed for 5 days. Two different antibiotics were administered and after some time I began to feel better. I was released the following Sunday with strict orders of no activity for 6-8 weeks. All of my tests came back negative and the only presumption the doctors could think of is Legionnaires Disease.

My question stems from the thought of 'What might be good for the 80 year old gander might not be right for the 25 year old goose'. Is there any form of exercise that I can do that could expedite the effects of three weeks of pure hospital bedrest. Are there heartrate limitation workouts or anaerobic/aerobic exercises I can do?

I feel well with respect to my lung and kidneys. I am just very fatigued from the nearly three weeks of hospital bedrest and long to return some semblance of where I was.

Trent Brookshire

Dave Palese replies:

I suggest following any and all advice from your doctors. Take the full time off to be sure you let your body recover and finish ridding itself of your illness.

When your sentence is up, I suggest starting back into a periodized training plan initially focused on aerobic fitness and strength.

You can also do some retesting (ramp test and others) and compare those results to others you have done previously. This will give you some indication of the affects your illness has had on your systems, and will help you design your training to best spend you time where it is needed most.

Grapefruit consumption

I have just read your article on grapefruit and am a little concerned. I take 4mg of candesartan cilexetil each day, an ACE II inhibitor I believe. I also consume 1 pink grapefruit each day. Are you saying that the grapefruit is interfering with my medication and what do you mean by drug toxicity? Also are you recommending not consuming any citrus fruits for someone such as myself?

Gary Charnock

Pam Hinton replies:

Grapefruit interferes with the metabolism of many, but not all, prescription drugs. Whether grapefruit affects the metabolism of a particular medication depends on how the drug is broken down in the liver. The metabolism of some drugs is not inhibited by grapefruit because they are broken down by enzymes that are unaffected by grapefruit. The metabolism of the medication that you take, candesartan cilexetil, is not inhibited by grapefruit. If you should avoid consuming grapefruit juice with a particular drug, it will be indicated on the medication. Drug toxicity means that the medication is accumulating in your body, which may result in negative side effects.

Winter training

I am a 32 year old Cat 4 cyclist (I used to be a Cat 3 but downgraded) who is looking to upgrade to a Cat 3. I will train about 500 hours this year. I live in Montana and 2 years ago I started Nordic skiing. I plan on doing about 8 Nordic races this year starting in December with the most important race happening on March 12th. I would like to dedicate as much time as possible to Nordic skiing (training 10-15 hrs/week) from Thanksgiving to that last race. My question and problem is that my most important bike race is on Memorial Day, so how do I maintain bike fitness without decreasing ski fitness? How do I accomplish the most with the least amount of time? My plan is to train 2-3 times a week on my trainer for 20-30 minutes each and do high cadence/sprint work along with some specific bike strength intervals like 4-5 minutes at low cadences of 60-70 rpm. My goal is to maintain as much muscle memory as possible. What do you think? Carl Swenson can do it so...

Rick Finley

Dave Palese replies:

I don't know everything about your situation, but I have enough to give you this advice.

1.) You should go ahead and plan for a full-on Nordic training plan, and not make any adjustment with concern to cycling fitness. (The specifics of Nordic training are up to you. I have some thoughts if you would like to contact me offline.) Your Nordic training will do a fine job of maintaining your aerobic base. And actually the mid-March end date fit nicely into a cycling training program pointed towards Memorial Day.

2.) You should try to ride your bike once a week just for muscle memory sake. This can take the form of a long easy ride, and fits well as a recovery day in your Nordic week.

3.) When you finish with your target Nordic event, you should take about two weeks to enjoy some R+R before getting into focused bike training.

4.) Then plan on about 8 weeks of focused bike training designed around the requirements of your target event on Memorial Day. During these eight weeks you should race events that are similar to your target event. These events serve as practice and will help you sharpen your bike skills.

Positioning, pedals and the taller rider

I have loved the series on positioning and cleat adjustments. I am a taller rider - riding a frame that is 58cm (top tube and down tube). I put my saddle way back and found that I was ending up sitting on the nose (with consequent problems) and started overreaching on a 12cm stem, so have moved it back to something less extreme and am happy. However I have found much joy in moving my cleats back a few mils. This has all made me consider the science of bike position and I have a few remaining questions.

I was wondering if there might be a case that many riders nowadays are under pressure to buy undersized frames or are riding them (indeed a Trek 58cm frame is nowhere near big enough for me - I ride a Viner and the geometry is more suited to my body shape). There is a myth in cycling that you don't want to ride anything that resembles a garden gate.

You would think that with average height continuing to increase, that riders would need progressively larger frames. I get the feeling that for a tall rider on a frame that is too small for them, they would definitely need to push the seat way back and maybe even extend the stem to fit onto the bike. Many riders seems to ride medium or small compacts, or 54cm (or smaller) road bikes.

Could there be a connection and does the article not really just argue for riders to buy bikes that are the correct geometries for their shape?

Also you do not mention much about the effects of different pedals/systems on position. I have just switched to Look Keo which put me 6 mm closer to the axle and have allowed me to lower my saddle, reduce the height difference between stem and saddle (which I think is key to comfort and power output on a larger rider who may not be as flexible as someone like Petacchi who has a really extreme difference) and consequently get more comfortable on the bike. It must also have an effect on the way my legs work as effectively I have shortened the calf/lower leg length have I not ?

Ian Jackson

Steve Hogg replies:

You are right, a frame should fit the rider. Mass production frames are designed primarily to keep unit costs low rather than address a mid point in the range of needs out there. The biggest compromises are made in small frames in so far as there are too many compromises often made to fit 700c wheels into a small frame and use the same fork offset as the rest of a range of sizes. The major compromise made in larger frames is that chainstay length is the same as on smaller frames, even though that the higher seat height [ and often more relaxed seat tube angle] means that the larger riders often greater weight is positioned further over the rear wheel to the detriment of weight distribution over the wheels and handling qualities to varying degrees.

I think you make a lot of sense when you say that the range of frame sizes should be increasing as the population increases in height. 30 years ago when I was at school the average male adult height in this country was supposed to be 1760 or 1770 mm [ 5' 9 1/2"]. I read somewhere recently [ I don't know how authoritative] that it is now 50 mm or 2 inches more.

I don't know whether taller riders are under pressure to buy frames that are too small but a lot of shops need to give more thought to who they put on which bike. Additionally a lot of bike buyers need to educate themselves a bit so as to make more informed choices.

Re various pedals; there is a variety of platform to axle centre distances across the various systems but while theoretically I can only agree that less is better, none of the systems with a greater distance create problems because of this. Shoe design in the sense of the amount of heel lift and toe lift in the last and the relative position of the cleat mounting holes, has much more significance. The improvement in comfort you feel by switching to Keos could have been effected just as easily by raising your stem 6mm as well.

Re extravagant seat height/ stem height differences. No problem if the rider can do it with ease. The message is if a rider wants to conform to an aesthetic ideal then the bottom line is they need to conform to the functional ideal that allows it.

Increased HR

I am a 45 Cat 3 cyclist and have noticed a fairly obvious trend in my HR toward the end of the season.

For the past month I have been doing fewer miles and my training has been at a much lower intensity than in the peak of the season. What I have noticed though is that given the same level of perceived intensity my HR is much higher. Climbing up familiar hills at the same level of perceived intensity, my HR is 10 to 15 percent higher than normal. Said another way, If am in a zone 4 but don't feel the normal stress associated with that intensity. I don't feel as though I have lost much fitness. Any input into solving this mystery would be appreciated.

Taylor Hogan

Dario Fredrick replies:

There are a few reasons why you might experience the rise in your heart rate. One of the most common reasons is that with significantly reduced intensity or with multiple recovery days, the sensitivity of the stress response to moderate to intense exercise in the body increases. HR thus responds to stress hormones in a more acute fashion (i.e. raising HR for a given effort). HR is also affected by temperature, so hotter weather will initially tend to boost HR for a given effort until you adapt to it. This occurs because the body works to maintain core temperature within a narrow range. Athough your are not necessarily working harder in your pedaling, the heart has to send out more blood so that it can circulate to the skin's surface to be cooled via the evaporation of sweat. Hydration can also play a role in increased HR. If you are less hydrated, total blood volume is reduced. This reduction means that less blood is ejected with each heart beat, and since blood demands in the body remain, HR increases to compensate for the required cardiac output. Finally, stimulants such as caffeine can be both dehydrating and increase stress hormone production, both effects boosting HR. I hope this helps clarify your situation.

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