Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for May 1, 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.
Nausea on long rides
Elbow tendonitis and saddle sores
Set up tweaks
Upper hamstring soreness
Persistent bike fit issues
I'm a former category 3 racer returning to racing after 2 years (career comes
first). This season I put in what I thought was a great base. 220 to 300 miles
during the heavy weeks about 120 on my down weeks. I trained all I could.
My fear and my question is - in my desire to return to the volume that I once
had I left some of the intensity out. I did very few sprints and only a few
days of hill work. It is now May and I did my first crit and did horribly -
the two previous road races where fine, however. My main question is if I didn't
have a well rounded regime as far as intensity goes, how would I go about gaining
that, or do I have to suffer like Jan? Thanks. By the way, Cyclingnews is the
best site on the net. No joke.
Dave Palese replies
Welcome back to the sport.
It's not too surprising that your had a better experience in you road race
versus your crit. If you haven't done any high intensity (Threshold and above)
and no power work (sprints, hill reps and the like--short very hard efforts)
then crits are going to be difficult for a while, and you will always be playing
I suggest 3-4 weeks where you include at least 1 power session, two if you
aren't racing. I wouldn't boycott the races either though. Use them to work
on, and get back to the basics that will bring consistency to your performances.
1.) Get a good start. And 2.) hold position and re-establish position after
losing it. This in itself will be a workout and a half. Put the final result
out of your mind for the time being. If you can't acheive the above goals
with some consistency, then results will be hard to come by.
Backing-up, before you start your 3-4 week power block, I would so some solid
Threshold and Submax (VO2 Max) work. This will help prime the high aerobic
engine for the power sessions. For 2 weeks, include one session of Threshold
intervals where, after a good warm-up, you ride for 6-8 minutes at 5 beats
below to 3 beats above you Threshold heart rate. Rest for 3-4 minutes, and
repeat 4-5 times. Get a nice cooldown. Unless you have very flat or steadt
terrain, I suggest doing this session on the trainer.
During this two week period, also include a session that has you doing, also
after a good warm-up, 4-5 efforts of 3 minutes each, building to your threshold,
plus 6-7 beats for the last 90 seconds - rest for 5 minutes between efforts.
Separate the two workouts above with at least one day of easy spinning for
30-45 minutes. And I mean easy. Threshold minus 20 beats max!
Now it is time for the hard work. For the next 3-4 weeks, in addition to
racing, include on session a week (usually Wednesday is a good day for this)
of crit sprints, on the road or trainer. Warm-up well. After the warm-up,
do 3 sets of short (8-10 second) sprints. Each set contains 5 sprints separated
by 30 seconds. Ride easy between sets for at least 5 minutes. Use a BIG gear
(53 x 15-12) for sprints at 100+ rpm with max effort for each sprint.
I would take a week easy after following the plan above and then you should
see you crit performance improve.
I encourage you to put just as much thought and effort into how you race
strategically and tactically as you do developing the physical engine. Cycling
is all about saving energy. Get a good start so you aren't chasing for position
the first three laps, and once you get good position in the group, hold it.
What is good position? A good rule of thumb is, if you have to use your brakes
in the corners, you are too far back. Have fun and good luck!
Nausea on long rides
I have a problem with pronounced nausea on rides longer than 70 or 80 miles.
On a century ride yesterday, I couldn't force myself to take in anything but
water for the last 25 miles because of stomach upset. On rides of shorter duration,
I can eat the usual energy sources (Clif Bars, bagels, bananas, fig bars, Gatorade,
etc.) with no particular problem, but couldn't tolerate the same things toward
the end of the longer rides I've done lately.
I don't think I ate too much (two bananas, a bagel and one Clif bar, a bit
at a time). I stayed well hydrated and didn't have trouble finishing the ride,
but I am training for a century with 12,000 feet of climbing, most of it near
the end, and I am concerned that I will need energy I can't take in for the
later stages. Any advice about nutrition choices less likely to cause nausea,
or specific remedies for the symptoms themselves, would be much appreciated.
Pam Hinton replies
It sounds like you are vigilant in your efforts to stay fuelled and hydrated
during your long rides. Honestly, you may be doing too good a job at eating
on the bike. I know that's probably a surprise to you, since sports nutritionists
are constantly harping on the importance of carbs and fluid during endurance
events. However, your gastrointestinal tract has limits on how much it can
digest and absorb. During exercise, your stomach and gut can handle much less
food than when you are at rest.
This is because blood flow is diverted away from the gastrointestinal tract
and digestive organs to the working muscles, heart, lungs, and brain. As a
result, the rate of digestion and absorption is slowed way down. Food takes
longer to be digested and emptied from the stomach. Absorption of glucose,
amino acids, electrolytes and fluid from the intestine into the blood stream
also slows down. It's the food in your stomach and the nutrients that stay
in the intestine that cause nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhoea. The
upper limit to how much carbohydrate you can absorb during exercise is 60
grams per hour.
Sodium intake should not exceed 7 g/litre/hour. I am assuming that you were
drinking Gatorade or a similar sports drink during your ride, up until the
last 25 miles, because you seem like the conscientious type. My answer is
based on that assumption. Estimating your carbohydrate intake over the century
ride, which probably took 6 hours to complete, gives 60 g (2 bananas), 40
g (1 bagel), 45 g (Clif Bar), and 360 g (Gatorade, 1 litre per hour). That's
a total of 505 g or 84 g per hour, which well above the recommended intake
of 30-60 grams per hour. Again, this based on the assumption that you are
drinking one litre of Gatorade per hour.
If this is the case, I suggest drinking plain water with the food sources
of carbohydrate. If my assumption is incorrect, it is possible that your symptoms
simply are due to exertion. The diverted blood flow, if prolonged, can cause
a series of events in your gut that result in nasty symptoms. Inadequate oxygen
and nutrient delivery to the gut for a prolonged period of time can damage
the intestinal cells. Disruption of the cell membrane sets off a series of
biochemical and immune reactions that cause gut cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting,
and gastrointestinal bleeding. Damaged cell membranes are "leaky" and there
is a net flux of calcium into the injured cells.
The increase in intracellular calcium concentration activates phospholipase
A2, the enzyme responsible for cleaving arachidonic acid (AA) from the membrane
phospholipids. Free AA is metabolized by cyclo-oxygenase and lipoxygenase
to prostaglandins, thromboxanes, and leukotrienes. Prostaglandins cause fluid
and electrolytes to accumulate in the intestine, leading to diarrhoea, cramps,
and vomiting. Heartburn also can be attributed to prostaglandins because of
decreased oesophageal motility and relaxing of the sphincter between the stomach
The smooth muscles of gastrointestinal tract contract in response to prostaglandins,
causing cramps. Both prostaglandins and leukotrienes cause the blood vessels
that feed the gut to become more permeable to fluids and to red blood cells.
As a result there is less blood flow to the intestine and an increase risk
of gastrointestinal bleeding. Leukotrienes attract immune cells to the damaged
cells. In the process of engulfing and destroying the injured tissue, the
immune cells generate unstable free radicals that cause additional damage
to cell membranes.
Hopefully, over-fuelling is the cause of your problem. If not, there's not
a whole lot you can do. Be sure to start your rides well hydrated and replace
fluids during the ride. Dehydration causes a reduction in blood volume that
will exacerbate the reduced gastrointestinal blood flow during exercise. Drinking
a Coke or other carbonated beverage may help. The gas that gives soda pop
its fizz can form a barrier between the acid in the stomach and the esophageus
and reduce the nausea and heartburn.
Elbow tendonitis and saddle sores
Thanks for the great column. I read it regularly but have never seen a problem
quite like mine. I am a 44 year old recreational road cyclist and rode about
3,500 miles/year, often for 3-4 hours at a time. I've been cycling for about
three years. I have two distinct problems and wonder whether they might be related
and what you would recommend.
First, I have a recurrent saddle sore issue, always in the exact same spot,
on my left side, basically at the point where my leg ends and my glut begins.
I religiously use chamois cream, keep the area clean, wear good quality shorts,
etc. My doctor gave me a prescription for bactroban, which I apply to the area
2X/day. This regimen keeps the situation tolerable, but the sore never goes
Second, and more concerning to me, is tendonitis in my left elbow. (I am a
righty, by the way). It was diagnosed last summer as tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
after I let it get so severe that I could barely pick anything up with my left
hand. I can't think of any activity that I participate in other than cycling
that could have caused this. I have lifted weights regularly for years without
any problems, but the problem never surfaced until I started putting in some
serious miles last summer. The doctor had me wear a wrist brace for several
weeks and the rest eventually caused the pain to subside completely over the
winter. As the weather has warmed up this spring and I've been getting out on
my bike more often, I am starting to feel some tightness in my elbow and fear
I am heading for a recurring bout.
Over the winter I had my bike fitted, which resulted in slightly raising the
saddle, increasing the rise and decreasing the length of the stem, and rotating
the bars back a bit. Although I definitely feel more comfortable on the bike
now, this doesn't seem to have helped with the aforementioned problems. Since
both the arm and saddle so problems are on my left side, I am speculating that
they might be related, but am at a loss as to how, or what might correct these
situations. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated - thanks again
for a fine column.
Steve Hogg replies
I will almost guarantee you are not sitting squarely on the seat and are
favouring one side. If your legs are the same length more or less, then it
is likely that you are hanging and twisting forward to the right to some degree
which would have the effect of making your left arm reach further to the bars
(elbow pain?) and differentially loading each side of the seat (saddle sores?).
Conceivably too, you could have a measurably or functionally shorter left
leg which would reverse the scenario above. If that is the case, then the
saddle sores are because you load the left side more heavily and the elbow
problem is because of the bracing needed (without any conscious thought involved)
against the hip drop and consequent challenge to pelvic stability on seat
that would accompany a hang to the left pedalling technique.
Mount your bike on an indoor trainer, level the bike and pedal under load
with your shirt off. You need an observer standing above and behind you to
determine which hip is dropping and /or rotating forward.
Get that info back to me and we will proceed.
Steve then responded:
Thanks for the response. I do have a leg length discrepancy which the person
who fit me attempted to address by altering the cleat position on my left shoe.
I will try the trainer exercise and get back to you.
Steve Hogg replies
Having a different cleat position relative to foot in shoe to accommodate
a leg length discrepancy is about the worst way I can think of to tackle that
issue. The only qualifier I would put on that is unless there is a massive
difference in size between each foot. You are far better off with a shim under
your cleat and for every 5mm that you have to shim the cleat, move the cleat
1mm further back relative to foot in shoe to help negate rocking torque.
Which leg is short?
What is the difference?
Where is the difference; upper leg, lower leg or a combination of both?
Set up tweaks
I'm a 30 year old male recreational rider. I am 6 feet tall and weigh 158 lbs.
Over the course of the past couple weeks I have been playing with the cleat
position on my Carnac shoes because after about 30 minutes I get numbness between
my big and middle toe.
During this period, I have been more conscious of my foot position and my overall
position on my bike. One thing I have noticed is that I tend to pedal with my
toes down. During my custom fit session for my bike, I remember the fitter pushing
my heals down at the 6 o'clock position.
This is where I should add that my flexibility is poor, which I believe is
the reason I'm not getting my heals in the proper position. My solution to this
problem was to lower my seat (Selle Italia SLR) by 2mm, which has seemed to
helped. I've actually increased my speed by about 1.5mph since lowering my seat.
I feel like I am spinning better with the seat at its new position. In addition
the numbness in my toes seems to be getting better.
The problem now is that I seem to be a little less stable on my bike. Should
I move my seat back since I lowered the seatpost? If so, how much? Or, should
I just stick with the original set-up and work on my flexibility?
Steve Hogg replies
Dropping your seat 2mm has the effect of also moving it forward 0.7mm give
or take a fraction - in other words, next to nothing. What do you mean by
less stable on the bike?
John then responded
Thanks for responding to my email. When I say I feel less stable on my bike,
I mean that when I pedal at a higher cadence the bike feels more twitchy in
the front wheel. It's harder to ride along a straight line. I remember having
a similar feeling when I was riding a bike that I wasn't fitted for and it ended
up being too small of a frame for me.
The position I was in was more over the cranks, and as a result, I think I
was putting too much upper body weight on the handle bars. Since I am having
a similar feeling on my current bike, I thought maybe I should move the seat
back slightly to "stretch" me out over the bike more. Let me know what you think.
Steve Hogg replies
From what you say, rearward seat movement may be the answer or at least partly
so. One other thing though. There is nothing wrong at all with pedalling toe
down if that is your natural technique so don't worry about pushing your heels
down at the 6 o'clock position as you were advised. I would like to see anyone
do something that was contrary to their natural technique under racing loads
and heart rates.
Like all people, increased load will make you drop your heel more relative
to your natural technique so as to allow you to get your foot over and behind
the pedal axle as soon as possible after top dead centre (TDC) in the pedal
stroke. Equally as the rpm rise and the requirement for high torque per revolution
pedalling diminishes with increased cadence, you will point your toes more.
One thing to consider is that if your natural technique tends towards what
I call toe dipping then you will need to have your seat further back to comfortably
bear your weight and unload the handlebars. A toe down pedalling style means
that the major vector (direction of force) on the pedals is to the rear. "For
every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" as I'm sure you remember
from high school science.
Your toe down pedalling style tends to shift your body weight forward and
increase the load on the upper body. This is particularly likely if you were
set up 'by the numbers"; i.e. ball of the foot centred over the pedal axle
centre, tibial tuberosity over the pedal axle (KOPS) etc. So if that is the
case, almost certainly your seat needs to move back until you can pedal in
a hardish gear with hands in the drops and the ability to remove them for
short periods without collapsing forward.
If your seat is too far back you will be able to do this with ease which
is not what we want. You need to use some effort but be able to teeter on
the point of balance for a period and only need your arms to lightly support
your upper body and to steer with. From what you have said, this doesn't sound
like your current situation.
Another matter is your cleat position. If your cleats are in the commonly
recommended centre of ball of foot over pedal axle centre, this won't do much
for your on bike stability either. Have a look at this
post and this post and
set your cleats up accordingly which should make a positive difference to
your toe numbness.
One potential problem with that advice is your choice of shoes. Carnacs for
years have had their cleat mounting holes in different places proportionally
speaking relative to shoe size. Basically the smaller the shoe the further
forward in a proportional sense the 3 hole Look compatible holes were. Size
42 or less it is rare for me to be able to get a cleat where I would put it
on a Carnac shoe. Size 43 - 45 the likelihood was somewhat below 50% and above
size 45 it was rarely a problem. That said, I don't know the state of play
with their current range as I haven't seen a Carnac shoe in 12 months or so.
If you do need to change your shoes to gain the cleat position I am recommending
then Sidi, Shimano, Nike, DMT, the current Time (relabelled DMTs) Specialized,
Gaerne, Diadora shouldn't be a problem in the sense of fore and aft cleat
position. Of those, Nike and DMT have the most rearward cleat mounting hole
I was wondering if there was any formula or way to determine how much water
to consume during a bike ride. I don't want to carry extra water/fluids if I
don't have to, for weight reasons, but I also don't want to be dehydrated. Where
I'm riding now, do to the number of steep hills, I can get a pretty good work-out
in an hour or so. What is your recommendation on the amount of water to be drinking?
Ric Stern replies
Indeed there is a way of calculating your fluid losses and requirements.
This can be achieved by subtracting your post exercise mass from your pre
exercise mass. Approximately, each kg deficit is equal to about 1 litre of
fluid. For example;
Pre exercise mass = 70 kg
Post exercise mass = 68 kg
Cycling for 2.5 hours
Total fluids consumed during cycling = 1.5 litres
Pre exercise (70 kg) - post exercise (68 kg) = 2 kg fluid deficit. Total
sweat loss = fluid deficit (2 kg) + fluids consumed (1.5 litres) = 3.5 litres
Sweat rate = total sweat loss (3.5 L) / cycling duration (2.5 hrs) = 1.4
litres per hour (in this example)
Sweat rates vary tremendously depending on gender, exercise intensity, environmental
conditions, etc., so you'd need to carry out these calculations on a regular
basis to establish your fluids needs. Note, that it may not always be possible
to replace your fluids at the correct rate (as you may not physically be able
to drink enough).
Also, rather than using plain water, a commercial sports drink, consisting
of carbohydrates (in a 4 - 8% solution) with electrolytes would be the best
Upper hamstring soreness
I recently went on a group ride which turned into more of a race. Afterward,
my left upper hamstring felt pretty sore. It hurt to walk up stairs that night
but the next day, it felt much better.
I never had this soreness before with my current bike setup and have been pretty
happy with my setup. I followed Mr. Hogg's advice, got information from the
body scan and listened to my legs to get to my current setup.
My question is: should I change my bike setup to alleviate stress on the hamstring?
Or put it off to too much too soon and avoid the group ride trap until I'm fitter.
I don't want to adjust the position and get into trouble somewhere else. For
example, moving my seat too far forward to fix the hamstring issue and then
running into knee problems.
Here are my details:
Bike: Cannondale R600, 54cm
Cranks: Shimano Compact, 170mm
Saddle Height: 73cm
Saddle setback: about 8cm, accounting for unused portion of the narrow part
of the seat (Fizik Arione)
Handlebar drop: about 6cm
Stem: 80mm, 100deg facing up
Pedal setup: big toe metatarsal little less than 1cm behind spindle.
Cycling goals: 23 mph on the local 10mile TTT, then get into racing at Cat 5
Current Training: 5 days per week, 1 long ride ~ 2 hours, 1 speed work out,
2 one hour aerobic rides in zones 1-2 (Joe Friel's definitions), 1 threshold
I like to ride in a group for the experience but I am debating if I would be
better off just doing a controlled threshold work out on my own. Currently I
do about 100 miles per week.
Also - the terrain around here is hilly and there really is no finding a truly
flat ride. A "flat" 20 mile ride would include about 500 feet of climbing overall.
Please let me know if you need more information and thanks in advance!
Steve Hogg replies
Pain where you describe it is almost always caused by slight overextension
of the leg and there are a number of potential reasons for that. Given that
it is only happening in one leg those reasons are:
1. Seat 3 - 5mm too high. Most people will tend to favour one side more than
normal in the sense of hanging towards that side if the seat is slightly too
high. The great majority hang to the right which means that the left leg has
to reach further than the right. Intensity of effort exaggerates this effect.
Solution - drop the seat by 3 - 5mm.
2. You may have a small measurable or functional (tighter left hamstring?)
difference between legs. Solution - as above or possibly a 3 mm shim under
the left cleat if there is a measurable difference. Basically, the simple
solution is to drop your seat a bit, do a similar ride and reassess.
One other thing; you say "Peddle setup: big toe metatarsal little less than
1cm behind spindle". I hope that isn't a typo as is should be centre of first
metatarsal joint a little less than 1cm IN FRONT of the pedal axle. If it
is not a typo you should move your cleats back a long way. If so, this will
cause greater extension of the leg and you may need to drop your seat another
5mm to accommodate that 18mm or so rearward cleat movement. Let me know how
you get on.
Persistent bike fit issues
I have bee reading Steve's responses and recommendations regarding many bike
fit questions for months now. Here is some background and my situation.
HT/WT: 70 inches/155lbs Pedals/Cleats: Dura-Ace 2005/Full float Cleats with
1 set of Lemond wedges set as you noted in previous posts for size 43. Crank:
I'm a Cat 1 Road, MTB and Cyclocross racer with the latter one being my most
successful; competing in World Cup events this last season. I've been tested
with Lactate and Vo2 semi-annual basis for the past 3-4 years. My training volume
is about 17 hours of training per week, not including competitions.
My problem is that when doing seated efforts my left leg starts to loose power
and I have to stop the effort or get out of the saddle to continue on. Once
I feel this coming on the damage is already done making the "out of the saddle"
move that last futile resort. The location of the pain is the left inside quad/hip.
The inside side of the left knee quad head area or medial side and behind the
knee with an accompanied small amount of outer left hip pain.
This pain/problem appears only when I'm seated. When I do off road anything
I'm off and on the saddle enabling me to not fatigue my left leg. This is the
reason why I'm able to do much better in cyclocross then in a TT. I can compete
against the same people on the road and I'll be minutes back, but when the cycling
turns off road the tables are turned. Frustrating!
What I have done: No x-ray or MRI Computrainer spin scan: 60-55 left leg, 40-45
right leg under hard, normal and minimum effort. I completed this test for the
first time last week. I stretch and perform core exercises 3-5 times a week
depending on my training intensity. I've rode Power Cranks for a year now with
excellent results. I'm now able to produce more power because of this training.
I fear that I have strengthened both legs in their current state. One the days
I ride the PC's I still feel the symptoms after the training regardless of which
crank I use.
I've performed the trainer test with a spotter looking at my pedalling as your
have requested in previous posts. Findings: my right hip rotates down/drops
and my left heel drops lower on the down stroke than my right foot. I lowered
my saddle height 3mm and I put a 3 mm shim under the right clear and moved it
rearward 2mm. I've had this set for about 3 weeks now with no real reduction
I hope that this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have any
further questions or tests you need me to do - thank you.
Steve Hogg replies
Well, we can't allow that to continue! What you are saying in effect is that
under load while pedalling with bum on seat, you hang to the right which increases
the distance the left leg needs to reach. This lack of leverage/control is
autonomically accommodated by dropping the left heel more which further increases
the extension of the left leg. Yet you still put out more power with the left
I'm impressed but the only way you can be doing this is if your left leg
pedalling technique involves an explosive effort for the top half or so of
the pedal stroke and more or less coasting through the bottom of the stroke.
This would explain the symptoms you have and why they disappear when off
the seat because then the seat isn't locating you and you are free to move
to the centreline which would even out the distance that either leg extends.
Getting your backside to move towards the centreline (that is, to the left)
is all or a large part of the solution.
A plan of action:
1. Get an X-ray or scan and determine whether there is a leg length discrepancy
and whether it is lower leg, upper leg or a combination.
2. Find a bike shop or podiatrist who can determine forefoot varus/valgus
and find out what degree and on which side(s)
Get back to me with the answers to 1 and 2 and we will go from there.
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