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Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for March 21, 2005
The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel
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
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
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.
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.
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
a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around
the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find
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.
Bunions and cycling
Upper calf pain
High heart rate while riding in tropical countries
AT LT VT clarification
Estimating power output
The age old Crank length issue
I am a 55 male who has cycled for pleasure for about the last 25 years or so.
Nothing competitive, just organised rides 3-4 times per year (50-75 miles) plus
regular riding during Spring, Summer and Fall, mostly on weekends, but a little
during the week as well when time permits. In Feb 2004 I came down with adhesive
capsulitis ("frozen shoulder") in my right shoulder. I had the same thing in
2000 in my left shoulder which I was able to overcome with physical therapy.
However, physical therapy did not work in 2004 and I finally had to have surgery
(subacromial decompression) in June 2004. Healing took a long time such that
I did not cycle at all that year. After my surgery, the surgeon said that I
had arthritis and some loss of cartilege in the shoulder. My shoulder has regained
about 75% of its range of motion but still hurts to a small extent all the time
and is "not right" when I have tried to cycle a few times in 2005 - short distances
- but it causes enough discomfort that it basically prohibits me from riding.
I have two questions for any doctors or trainers with any knowledge of adhesive
capsulitis, subacromial decompression (and post-surgery prognosis):
1) Could the years of cycling have caused the arthritis and/or cartilage loss
in the shoulder (from the constant leaning over)?
2) Will I ever be able to cycle again? I love no other sport like cycling but
I think I have lost it forever.
Moorestown, NJ, USA
Steve Hogg Replies
There are a number of measures necessary to varying degrees to resolve your
problem; i.e. being able to cycle more or less pain free. Firstly there is
the need to position your seat far enough back so that you are bearing the
majority of your weight on your sit bones and consequently unloading the upper
body. There are a large number of posts regarding the general approach to
this in the archives over the last eight months or so and it would potentially
be of benefit for you to have a look.
Next, there is the issue of bar height. You sound like you are never going
to be 'as new' in the shoulder department again. Don't be scared to have your
bars higher than some of your competitive friends. You are the one with the
damaged shoulder and the first priority is to set yourself in a position that
allows this. If this means high bars in the short or even long term, it is
better than not riding at all or doing further damage.
Lastly, there is the asymmetry issue. Given that the affected shoulder has
a lesser range of movement than the good one, you are likely to not be able
to reach as far out or far down to the bars on that side. Find yourself an
electrical supplies type business and buy yourself a metre or so of flexible
plastic conduit about 20 mm in diameter. Also source some heat shrink tape.
Once you feel like you have your seat and bars in more or less the right relative
placement, but perhaps still have discomfort on the bad shoulder side, remove
your bartape on that side and move your brake lever high enough to be a comfortable
reach. Then tape the conduit on the inner surface of the drop portion of the
bar on that side and also on the upper rear surface of the bar between brake
lever and stem. Wrap the conduit securely with the shrink wrap tape and apply
heat via a heat gun. This will make the conduit secure on the handle bar.
Once done, retape that side of the bars and you will have to reach approximately
22 - 25mm less on that side to the bars which will take further pressure off
the limited range of movement of the sore shoulder.
I have seen a few people similarly afflicted and there is always a way. I
hope this info helps.
Bunions and cycling
Firstly, some background on me - I'm a 41 year old male, 6 feet tall and weigh
about 165lbs. I've been road racing/riding for about 10 years now. No chronic
pains, just some typical on and off stuff. Only issue that I really have are
numb toes some times. I have really bad knees from years of soccer and general
youth sports. I use Look pedals with Sidi shoes (with sole inserts in them).
About a year ago I had a bike fitting and they suggested that I widen my Q
factor due to my bow legs. I am quite bow legged…I got a pair of the Look CX6
pedal so that I could play around with my Q-factor as suggested. In general
I've been pretty happy with the wider Q suggested - I'm getting a little more
power and in general feel stronger in TT type efforts. I think it's helped me
get a little more out of each pedal stroke.
Now to the issue that has recently popped up. I have bunions on both feet.
It runs in my family, and most of my brothers and sisters have the same thing.
They never used to really bother me, but lately I've found it somewhat painful.
I was curious to know your thoughts are about bunions and cycling. Could the
recent wider Q factor have something to do with it? It seems like it might if
my foot was now at an angle to the pedal which is causing more pressure on the
inside of my foot versus across the whole ball of my foot. I wouldn't swear
to it, but I think while my left bunion is getting worse while my right one
seems to be getting better. So maybe the Q factor helped on one side but caused
a problem on the other. Would the Lemond wedges be worth a try to correct the
foot pedal angle? I've tried to adjust the cleat forwards and backwards using
the tips you've posted here in the past to address my numb toes and it didn't
seem to make much difference in the bunion pain, but like I said it is a recent
thing and I've not tired to much to address it. Just looking for some things
to try in bike set up, equipment changes or preventive off the bike work - thanks.
Steve Hogg Replies
This is a cute one. The increased severity of bunion pain on one side and
the lessening of it on the other side after moving your feet further apart
means that it is likely that the combination of wider pedal 'stance' for want
of a better term is the problem. Here are a couple of suggestions:
1. On the side that is more painful, move the pedal of your CX-6's back halfway
from where they are now to where they came out of the box; i.e. as far in
as possible. This is likely to have a positive effect. If so, great, and you
can work on fine tuning the exact distance out from minimum that the pedal
needs to be. If doing this makes the problem worse, which is not likely but
possible, then the foot needs to move further out. If there is no more adjustment
left, this can be done by fitting a 2-3 mm washer on the pedal axle between
it and the crank arm.
2. The next thing that occurs is that the combination of wider 'stance' and
shoe inserts may not be ideal. This is particularly likely if you are using
a generic orthotic type insole rather than prescribed ones. Get some Lemond
wedges and starting with one fit it thick side to the outside of the shoe.
This is contrary to the advice generally given, but my guess is that your
forefoot wants to roll in more than it currently can and this will help. If
this helps but not enough, try another and so on. Now while I think that this
is the most likely occurence, I am happy to be wrong. So if fitting the wedge
as described makes the situation worse, reverse it so the thick side is to
the inside of the shoe and near the crank arm.
Yours is an interesting and uncommon problem. I would be happy to hear how
you get on.
Upper calf pain
My problem is I cannot raise my seat to the height that it should be. Every
bike fitter I've ever seen instantly wants to raise my seat 30-40mm.
The higher position "feels right" and results in a measured 15-20Watt increase
in power. The problem is my right calve rejects the higher position. The dull
pain/strain is located about 70mm below my knee, at about the top of the muscle
belly. If you were to sight down my lower leg and consider my foot to be at
12 o'clock, the pain is at the 7 to 8 o'clock position (right calf).
The pain is worse when seated and/or pedaling heel-down. The pain is not felt
when out of the saddle and much less if I consciously pedal toe-down. I must
also mention, my right foot naturally wants to rotate outward (by 10mm measured
at the heel.) I compensate by rotating my Look cleat inward.
After my bike fitting, it was discovered my right leg is 6mm longer than the
left. A shim was added to the left shoe to compensate. I had custom footbeds
made. I am told I pedal toe down on the left, and heel down on the right. Years
of compensating for the longer right leg I'm sure.
I'm getting frustrated because I know there's a lot more power to be had. What
do you suggest? I have good flexibility and stretch after every ride. The only
thing I really haven't played with is pedal Q-factor. If my foot externally
rotates by 10mm, it would seem to me I would want to move the pedal away from
the crank by 10mm. But that's making the assumption the pedal is at the correct
location for a neutral foot rotation in the first place. Any advice would be
of help -
Steve Hogg Replies
Good question, and thankyou for including all the relevant info. Bear with
me while I give you some background. What is likely to be happening is this
- a long right leg typically leads to an externally rotated right hip. Years
of walking/running while exerting more leverage on the long legged side [longer
lever] causes the right ilium [side of the pelvis] to tip forward at the iliac
crest [top of the ilium]. This movement pivots on the sacro-iliac joint. For
every 5mm the iliac crest moves forward in relation to the left side, the
right hip will move up and back approximately 3mm as the hip joint is below
the centre of the ilium.
This leaves you with a right hip that is behind the left and a right sit
bone that is behind the left. The only way you will feel even standing up
or sitting on a bike seat is to rotate to the right to square up your hips
and equalise the pressure on your sitbones. The natural compensation for this
to maintain balance walking or pedalling is to externally rotate the hip.
This is what causes your right foot to move in at the heel and splay outward
at the fore foot on the pedal.
What has this got to do with your problem?
A lot - I will bet that your right side is tighter in the hamstrings and
hip flexors and calves. This is a consequence of the partial or total inhibition
of your glute that often happens on the externally rotated side. All of the
postural muscles on that side from the hip downwards have to work harder as
a compensatory measure for the asymmetry of posture. Now you mention an asymmetrical
pedalling style with the right leg being the heel dropping side and the left
leg being the toe dipping side. The heel dropping technique on the right side
causes the gastrocnemius and soleus [major calf muscles] to work hard as not
only are they plantar flexing the foot at some point towards the bottom of
the stroke but in concert with the hammies are working eccentrically to help
extend the knee. In contrast, on the other side your toe dipping technique
places less pressure on the calf in general.
So I think the root cause of your problem is a tighter right leg working
harder in a particular way. The higher your seat height, the greater the strain
placed on tight muscles already working too hard. As an aside you may need
to consider a right shoe cleat placement slightly further back relative to
foot in shoe than on the left because of your habitually asymmetric foot angle
when pedalling under load.
The other thing that is likely is that your custom footbeds may, and I say
may be overprescribed on the right side. This is likely because of the lateral
location of the pain but I cannot be sure of this. It would be worth getting
some Lemond wedges and stacking two underneath your right cleat with the thick
edge to the outside of the shoe sole. This will have the effect of lessening
the amount of eversion in your footbeds. Try this, you will notice a difference
quickly. If it is less pain then you are on the right track. If, and it is
possible, this makes the problem worse then reverse the wedges and place the
thick edge to the inside.
In your shoes I would make stretching my other sport. You don't need to spend
as much time stretching as you do riding but it should have a higher priority
than riding. By this I mean that if because of time pressures you are faced
with the choice from time to time between stretching and riding, miss the
ride and do the stretching. Get hold of a copy of 'Stretching and Flexibility'
by Kit Laughlin. It is as good a self help manual as you will find.
Once you start to improve your flexibility, symmetry and function, by all
means start to creep the seat up. Don't think that there is any goal to achieve
in the sense of a measurement that you must achieve. The ideal seat height
is the one where you can function efficiently while remaining pain and injury
free. Best of luck.
I am a relative newcomer to cycling, and I have a pedal stroke question. When
I watch racing on TV, it appears as if there is an inward slant to the racers'
knees towards the middle of the bike when they pedal. When I am on my bike,
my knees seem to be exactly perpendicular to the ground and my pedal stroke
seems to be exactly up and down. Is there something with the fit of my bike
that is wrong, or perhaps a problem with my pedaling stroke? Thanks for any
information you can offer.
Steve Hogg Replies
Keep pedaling, and don't worry about it as you don't have a problem. If your
knees track straight up and down without deviation, many
people who enquire about knee problems with this forum would be envious of
you. Don't emulate the pros, be MC.
I have just purchased a new bike with standard geometry, which I was professionally
fitted for. Previously I rode a compact geometry frame for a number of years,
and have been riding 300 a week for a while with no issues at all. I have had
the bike for 2 weeks and have done about 500k's. However, ever since the first
ride, I have experienced achilles pain on my right leg. Hills and high cadence
seem to worsen the situation. By way of history, I broke the tibia on this leg
5 years ago. It doesn't have the same range of movement, and my wife (a physio)
measured it and reckons it's a little shorter than my left leg. I am training
for the L'etape du tour in July and cannot afford to blow my achilles up (and
end up with crepitis). I have had the following recommended by the Bike Physio
(in the absence of a full bike position and fit assessment): a) Lower the seat
1mm and b) get some extra insole material and insert it under the insole in
the right shoe (to lengthen the leg etc). Do you have any other suggestions
that may help in the very short term.
Glen Waverley, Victoria, Australia
Steve Hogg Replies
It appears that your problem dates immediately from your using your new bike
in what you infer was a new position. What changed?
Seat height, shoes or cleat position?
I would lower your seat 5 mm as an interim measure and position your cleat
as suggested in the July 26
posting and the October
11 posting on the subject. Let me know whether this has a positive effect
and we can go from there.
High heart rate while riding in tropical countries
I am a 32 year old male, riding about 8,000 - 10,000 km/year, sometimes 15,000
such as during the year of PBP.
I have been cycling since about 16 years of age, and have always experienced
higher heart rates readings than all my mates, at all levels and intensity of
riding . For instance, when just doing long rides at medium intensity, all my
friends are at 120-130, while I will be at 145-165. When hills come, I will
be able to maintain for hours 185-190 while my friends will be only at 170-175.
During the alpine classic ride (held in Bright, Australia) my reading averaged
176 for 10 hours!
I have a Max heart rate of 204, recorded in a lab, and a max power of 420 kw.
I also noticed that when riding in cold and mildly cold weather, my heart rate
was much lower than in South east Asia (Singapore, for instance), by at least
My question is:
I have been riding in Singapore for about two years, with hot humid weather.
When real speed in the bunch comes, my heart rate goes too high, and I can't
follow properly, since I reach my max when I should be only at 185-190 - and
when the sprints arrive, I have nothing left. How can I train better for speed?
For endurance, I can ride miles and miles at medium - low intensity, but when
speed comes, I'm finished! Please advise of any problems - thanks!
Michael Smartt Replies
Your experiences with heart rate and its inherent variability are not uncommon.
You've brought up a few issues on why this is, so let's break it down a bit
and run through them one at a time.
You've pointed out how your heart rate is always much higher than some of
your mates. Just to be clear, there is nothing good or bad about this observation,
nor does it have any relation to fitness/performance. The ranges of heart
rates that are appropriate for training are essentially unique to each individual
and are determined by your genetics. Having a higher or lower absolute number
at a give speed/workload doesn't tell us anything; the percentage of your
max heart rate you are working at does, however, say a lot and is something
you could compare between individuals.
Performing a quality test in a lab is always a good way of getting some information
about your fitness, aerobic capacity, etc. However, one can not truly average
86% of their max heart rate for 10hrs; in your case, this tells me that the
conditions of your lab test (e.g.: temperature) were likely quite different,
you were probably somewhat dehydrated during your event and you were much
more psychologically stimulated during your event.
All of these things work together to elevate your heart rate as compared
with the lab test. If this is something you experience on a regular basis,
I suggest you discuss the matter with the lab that tested you or perform a
field test to determine max heart rate (or TT heart rate) for training outdoors.
As I mentioned, temperature can greatly effect heart rate for a given workload/power
output. And this works both ways: when your body temperature rises, your cardiovascular
system has to work harder to dissipate the excess heat, increasing the heart
rate you see; when your body temperature is lower, the cardiovascular system
adjusts by minimizing blood flow to certain areas of the body, which reduces
the heart rate that you see. From your descriptions of how your heart rate
responds to different climactic conditions, you appear to be very sensitive
to temperature. This is something that anyone will adapt to over time, but
there is a genetic component to this as well. Some of us are just much better
at dissipating heat than others and you may always experience significantly
elevated heart rate numbers when you are cycling in hot and humid conditions.
This is fine, just be mindful of hydrating (water/sports drink and a little
sodium) before, during and after working out.
If indeed your cardiovascular system is working overtime to deal with the
high temperatures and humidity, your ability to work at very high intensities
will be reduced. Since more of your blood flow will be dedicated to removing
heat, there will be less to deliver oxygen and remove/metabolize the by-products
of energy production. In other words, your aerobic capacity is always being
used for several different physiological operations, and it's my guess that
a large enough amount is going towards dissipating heat to effect your performance.
AT LT VT clarification
I was rereading the fitness question from February 7 today as it got referenced
regarding AT LT and VT. In it, Dario Fredrick lays out zones based on %MSS.
I was looking over the numbers and noticed they were continuous; that is to
say no percentile blocks were left out. As I'm sure you're aware, there is a
school of people who believe there is a no man's land between z3 and z4, when
calculated from max hr - it usually ends up being between 80 and 85% - z4 starts
at 85% and this is where power/lactate/speed intervals should begin. Am I to
interpret Dario's zone table as saying that such a no man's land does not exist?
Is it different for max hr vs. mss-based training? More information would be
appreciated, thanks very much.
Dario Fredrick Replies
You touched on a common misconception. Indeed, there is no existance of a
"no-man's land" per se, but rather it is an issue of proper timing. We
addressed a similar question a few weeks back
Regarding Max Heart Rate vs. Maximal Steady State Heart Rate (MSS HR), at
Whole Athlete, we prefer to base training zones on MSS HR (30 min performance
threshold) rather than Maximum HR. First of all, Max HR is difficult to pinpoint
as it can be highly variable with one's rested or trained state, difficult
to attain, and it can change with age. More important however, MSS HR and
thus training zones are not fixed percentages of Max HR, and their values
relative to Max HR can change with training.
For example, assuming we are able to accurately determine your Max HR, let's
say hypothetically that you and your training partner both have a Max HR of
190 bpm. You might estimate your MSS HR as ~90% of your Max HR, or 171 bpm.
Your actual MSS HR could actually be ~180 bpm, while your training partner's
MSS HR could be ~165 bpm. So in this example of using a fixed percentage of
Max HR, you could both under and over-estimate MSS HR for each of you respectively
and misjudge your training zones.
Estimating power output
Is there a simple formula to estimate power output for when I am climbing/doing
intervals? I was recently doing some big ring strength intervals and reckon
that these should be useable as approximations for power output. I have a Polar
710i HRM which gives me a good approximation for gradient.
Let's say I am approx 74kg, and my training bike is around 12kg loaded up. If
I go up a 1.24 mile hill with a 3.7% gradient at 13.5mph surely all the inputs
are there to approximate the power output. I am sure I read a piece on here
about some time ago and would appreciate some help. Thanks
Dario Fredrick Replies
While it may not be simple, the formula to estimate climbing power is:
W = krMs + kaAsv2 + giMs
Here are the symbols defined:
W = power in watts
kr = rolling resistance
M = total mass of the cyclist and bicycle
s = speed on the road
ka = air resistance
A = frontal area (cyclist and bicycle)
v = road speed plus head wind speed
g = gravitational acceleration constant
i = road incline or approximately, grade
Since we don't have all the values to solve the equation for your climbing
power, you can plug in the values you have into a
simplified calculator here: http://www.exploratorium.edu/cycling/aerodynamics1.html,
which should give you a reasonable estimate for power. Enjoy.
The age old Crank length issue
Yes, I'm going to bring it up again - the age old issue of crank length. But
rather than going into the scientific nature of the whole topic, I guess I just
want a simple answer with a bit of advice thrown in.
I'm riding a 56cm frame with full Dura Ace components, but the crank arms are
175s. I'm 5'9" and a bit and weigh 68kgs, (not a lot of fat!) Also, inside leg
measurement is the bog standard 32" (going on my Levi Jeans!). I ride several
times a week and mainly train for triathlon disciplines from sprint distance
to half ironman and with the eventual goal (two years) of a full Ironman. I
do enjoy riding with the cycle club on a Sunday too, and hope to do more training
in winter and join in some cycle races. There you go - your typical nine to
fiver who after work is out there trying to get fitter.
Looking at the problem, are the crank arms too long? If so, (which they probably
are) should I change to 172.5s? But the more important question is - if I stuck
with 175's (cause a new crank ain't cheap) am I losing power, speed or efficiency
with what I have at the moment? Is it worth forking out the dosh for a new crankset?
Have you any recommendations? I guess what I want to know is am I going to notice
an increase in power output?
Dario Fredrick Replies
The short answer to your question is that you could probably go either way
(172.5 or 175 mm), and given that you have been training and racing on your
175's and that you didn't mention any imbalance or injury, I see no compelling
reason to change.
On the other hand, the long answer begins with the common "It depends..."
Since you are basically riding time trials in your multi-sport events, the
goal is to minimize aerodynamic drag (air resistance) in your position (and
equipment) while maximizing efficiency/sustainable power. Depending on your
pedaling style, flexibilty and position on the bike, it is possible that switching
to slightly shorter cranks may improve your aerodynamics, efficiency and power.
The difference between 172.5 and 175 mm cranks in the diameter of a pedal
revolution is 5 mm. Comparing your TT position between these two crank lengths,
your saddle position with the 175's would be lower, or closer to the bottom
bracket to accomodate the appropriate extension of your knee at the bottom
of the pedal stroke. 175 mm cranks also bring your knees higher than 172.5's
at the top of the pedal stroke. The higher the pedal position at the top of
the stroke, the more closed the hip angle becomes (especially in an aero TT
position), making it more difficult to apply force over the top of the pedal
stroke with a deeply flexed hip.
Therefore, the shorter cranks may help you to improve the mechanical efficiency
of your pedal stroke (avoiding a "dead spot" over the top). Improving your
efficiency can translate to improved power with appropriate training. You
might otherwise be able to achieve a lower, more aerodynamic position with
the shorter cranks, enabling you to bring your torso lower relative to the
highest point of your knee/thigh in the pedal stroke. Keep in mind that lower
is not necessarily better if it compromises power and efficiency.
As there are multiple variables to consider, such as your flexibility, pedaling
style and position on the bike, the best bet would be to have an experienced
bike fitting specialist work with you on this issue in person.
Hi - can you please tell me if there is anything on the market that helps clear
up saddle boils? I occasionally suffer from these and they are extremely painful.
Your advice would be welcome, thanks!
Scott Saifer Replies
My preferred treatment for saddle boils is "drawing salve". Drawing salves
are mixtures of a steroid to take down inflammation with an antibiotic to
kill off the infecting bacteria. For saddle boils you put the drawing salve
on a bandage to keep the boil covered and in contact with the salve. Drawing
salves are available at pharmacies and drug stores. One brand name product
is Boil-Ease. I don't know that it is better than other brands, but I do know
that the generics work fine.
Despite good diet and a lot of exercise I still have high cholesterol,
would lowering my cholesterol with medication help my blood function better
in respect to cycling performance? Thanks,
Scott Saifer Replies
The short answer is probably not. It is unlikely that lowering your cholesterol
levels will in itself improve your cycling performance. In the mid-90s
I knew two bike racers who trained together: One an accomplished cat 2
with very high cholesterol, the other a mediocre three who trained as
much or more but had very low cholesterol. This doesn't mean that I counsel
you against taking the cholesterol lowering drugs. If your doctor thinks
they are right for you, take them.
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