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Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for April 8, 2008
The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Subcutaneous nodules in cyclist
Which frame to choose?
Hyperglycemia insulin and riding
Subcutaneous nodules in cyclist
I am a male, 25, I race expert MTB and have developed what seems to be a subcutaneous
nodule at the base of my sit bone and saddle contact point. I was riding a lot
of 3 hour days in the saddle ignoring any discomfort. It is a small nodule,
the size of an almond, and I can still ride but I think it will make it worse.
Seeing that the season is about to start I have decided to cut back on the long
miles and do short interval sessions, until I can get a doctor to cut it out.
I have heard that this "accessory testicle" is common in professional cyclist
and more in Europe than the states. What do the pros do when this happens? Should
I ride on, and just have it cut out or stop riding? The doctors always tell
you to stop riding, but they're not competitive cyclists. It is not threatening
but needs to be removed. I was just wondering if there was a common treatment
among the pros that you might know of?
Scott Saifer replies:
It sounds like you have a cyst, a hard, contained infection. They rarely
clear up on their own, especially if you keep riding on it. I've heard of
pro getting through races by cutting out chunks of padding on their saddles,
but that doesn't mean they don't go for medical treatment shortly after. Home
treatment with "drawing salve" has saved more than a few butts from pea-sized
bumps, so that's worth trying, but I've not heard of it working for bumps
the size of an almond.
I'd suggest a visit to the doctor if drawing salve doesn't fix the problem
in a couple of days. The treatment will be lancing (popping the cyst) and
draining, not actually cutting anything out if you have what I think you have.
Which frame to choose?
Hello and thank you for everything I've read.
I am a 60 yr old coming back to cycling after 45 yrs. After about a year of
riding a folder and working out at the gym, I'm looking at buying a real bike.
The Cervelo R3 or RS would be my poison of choice. I'm an ex-racer (45 yrs ago)
and have an affinity for the R3 but I'm getting mixed signals. How do I determine
which frame? If, in fact, I'm flexible enough for the R3, how do I determine
that? And then the question becomes can I expect to be flexible enough for it
for the next 5 years or better?
I'm not looking to race on this bike; more to train and take centuries and
so on. If I were to race, it would be time trials and I'd assume another bike
would be in order for that.
One other really dumb question....why do I need rim tape for clinchers? I know
nothing of clinchers, as in my day we only rode sew-ups or what you guys call
tubulars (which I have to tell you, I find hysterical).
Dave Fleckenstein replies:
I have been waiting for this question as it brings up a concern that bicycle
manufacturers are trying to address - the aggressive positions applied to
many in the pro peloton cannot be generically applied to all riders.
The simple act of reaching forward to the handlebars involves two actions
occurring through the spine and pelvis. First, the pelvis must rotate forward
and secondly, the lumbar vertebrae flex forward. For those who have restricted
hip girdle musculature (hamstrings, hip external rotators, etc), the pelvis
won't rotate forward and the lumbar vertebrae are forced into early and excessive
flexion. Excessive lumbar flexion (both in duration and magnitude) results
in breakdown of the posterior support elements of the spine - the disc and
For younger riders, the disc and posterior ligaments are more elastic and
they are less prone to suffer these problems. However as we age and accumulate
microtrauma and age-related disc changes, the ability of the disc to tolerate
prolonged end range flexion is much less. This is where bikes like the RS
become valuable - they reduce the amount of lumbar flexion needed to reach
Signs that riders may have a position forcing excessive lumbar flexion include
lumbar or buttock pain onset 30-45 minutes into a ride, excessive rounding
of the spine, the inability to rotate your pelvis forward on the saddle, and
the inability to use your drops (I know of many high level riders who use
their hoods as their drops - a sign that I will always be in business!).
So, if the R3 allows you to maintain your current position with no symptoms,
go for it. If there are concerns as listed above, or if you need to have your
steerer tube cut extra long, opt for the RS.
Finally, flexibility is certainly something that can be gained and maintained
at any age. I have written past posts on hip girdle mobility, why the ability
to touch your toes doesn't guarantee normal flexibility, and how a combination
of lumbar stability and hip girdle mobility are optimal for correct position
and performance - check them out.
Hyperglycemia insulin and riding
I'm a 28 year old on again off again road racer. I have long suspected that
I have some trouble regulating blood glucose. I frequently urinate, constantly
feel dehydrated, and have periods of low blood sugar induced stupor. My fasting
blood sugar is normal, around 90mg/dl as measured along with a CBC panel. I
bought a glucose test kit and measured myself and normally I'm around 130 but
have seen spikes over 200 from drinking a fruit smoothie. About 45 minutes after
taking that measurement I was back within a normal range.
On the bike I feel as if I frequently have to take in calories to have any
endurance. I probably do 400 calories an hour from gels and sports drinks. What
I'm wondering is, could I have trained my body to have a slower insulin response
by feeding it these high glycemic index products on a regular basis where my
muscles would burn it off rather than storing it? Does the body adapt in this
I feel as if it has gotten worse over time. I'm going to an endocrinologist
soon but I'd like to hear specifically how sports and sports nutrition will
affect insulin response over time.
Kelby Bethards replies:
I'm not entirely certain what is going on with you blood glucose levels,
but I know it doesn't seem right. I think going to the endocrinologist is
a prudent choice and make sure you explain to her / him that you are an athlete.
In this day and age, it'll be a treat for them to see somebody athletic and
The thing that concerns me is that when you randomly check yourself you are
around 130, which is too high but explainable. But, spiking to 200 is a bit
too high. Make sure, if you haven't already had one, to have a Hemoglobin
A1C done. It is a 3 month blood glucose "average" marker.
The body is a very adaptable machine, but I don't think you could train it
so much to be "used" to only high glycemic index foods that you couldn't re-adapt
to normal foods.
I am writing with some confusion regarding junior gear restrictions. I have
an 11 year old son who races and his gearing is allowed to be the same as a
17 year old rider. I noticed that many of the European cycling federations limits
junior gearing based on age with the younger age's restricted to smaller gear
I am under the impression that these gear restrictions are in place to protect
the health and development of younger riders, so why can young children be allowed
to push the same gears that older kids use? There seems to be a disconnect here?
I also notice that on the track there are different gear restrictions based
on age. Could you shed some light on this situation for me?
Scott Saifer replies:
Here's my answer, "The rules are stupid and have no basis in science but
you still have to follow them." Most juniors train in adult gears anyway and
put their racing gears on for races only. Many elite juniors train with elite
seniors. Yes, the concept is to protect the developing knees of young riders,
but climbing a hill in a gear that brings the cadence to 50 or 60 rpm puts
far more stress on the knees than spinning a 53x12. The rules are similar
to the rules that until recently made women's tennis matches shorter than
That rule arose because back around 1900 women were collapsing on the tennis
court during long matches on hot days. Of course they were also required to
play in "modest" attire that covered them from wrist to neck to ankle while
men competed in shorts.
I know I will get responses from people concerned about Osgood-Schlatter,
but as I noted, climbing in low but not low enough gears causes more stress
than pushing a big gear on a flat or in a sprint so I'm not convinced that
the junior gear rules protect anything expect perhaps the egos of the less
developed kids since they are at less of a disadvantage if the other riders
can't use their superior strength to great effect.
Hello - I'm a 38 year old, Cat 5 racer from CA. I have been riding consistently
for the past few years (1-2k miles/year), and previously focused on triathlons.
I have noticed throughout this time, and especially now that I'm doing short,
focused criteriums, that I tend to get cramping in my upper calf during protracted
hard efforts. It can be debilitating, both during and after a race!
My previous bike was professionally fit, but my current one was not, although
I took the measurements from that fitting to set it up. I am concerned that
my saddle is too high - is it possible that this could be affecting my pedal
stroke and stressing this part of my calf? I have my Speedplay cleats moved
pretty far back (as far as possible I think, but it doesn't seem very far) on
my Sidi Genius 4's.
Scott Saifer replies:
A saddle to high could well be causing you to use your calf muscles in a
way that causes them to cramp during and after a race, though there are many
other causes of cramps as well, and the bike change may be a mere coincidence.
Setting a second bike to have its saddle at the same height as a first bike
often doesn't really mean duplicating the range of motion you had on the first
bike. If the cranks lengths are different, one saddle is set farther behind
the bottom bracket or even if the saddles are shaped differently so that you
sit farther forward or back, the "same" height saddle won't lead to the same
leg extension. Even a large difference in the thickness of padding can have
The easy answer for you is to drop the saddle three millimetres or so and
see if it makes a difference. If not, drop it three more. I'm operating here
on the assumption that if the new saddle had you more than five millimetres
higher than the old saddle, you'd know. If dropping the saddle those six millimetres
doesn't fix your problem, the bike fit is not the problem.
Did you change cleats, shoes or pedals before you started to have the cramps?
If so, cleat adjustment could well be your answer.
Two weeks ago I was involved in a crash which left me with slight swelling
on my palm between the thumb and index finger, and a small amount of wrist pain.
A back slab was immediately fitted and subsequent MRI revealed a non-displaced
scaphoid fracture across the distal pole. The wrist was immobilised in a short
thumb spica fibreglass cast within 3 days of the fracture occurrence. I am attempting
to maintain aerobic fitness by using the trainer/spin bike and strength by core
and leg training at the gym.
I understand scaphoid fractures are not uncommon in our sport and yet I hear
of professional riders resuming training within 2 weeks of similar, or more
severe, scaphoid fractures. Unfortunately it is difficult to find a specialist
who can empathise with our desire to resume training (and in my case also work)
as soon as possible. Given the present 6 week immobilisation prognosis, I would
be grateful if you could suggest other treatment options that may be available
which may accelerate the treatment of this type of fracture, or, at the very
least allow training back on the road.
Jon Heidemann replies:
First off, I'm sorry to hear about your crash.
I can understand your urge to get back on the road and resume training. However,
I urge caution to do so before getting a second opinion from another qualified
specialist. I would like to be able to offer advice that would get you back
on the road sooner, but unfortunately, I can not do that.
My experience with working with several athletes who have broken their scaphoid
bone (in similar places and varying levels - small fractures to complete breaks)
has not been good. All had issues with the bone mending and healing in a time
line that their specialist would have normally expected. One specialist noted
that, generally speaking, this area of the scaphoid bone usually has relatively
little blood flow associated with it and this will affect the healing process.
He went on to add that it is possible that the vibration coming from riding
on the road (through the bars) might be fracturing any new bone growth, regardless
of immobilization technique used. Yes, this is speculation on the part of
one specialist, but educated speculation with a cyclist who was having issues
Of those athletes who tried to keep training, half healed fine, but it generally
took longer than 6 weeks. The other half wound up having at least one bone
graph, and one had 3 bone graphs over a 2.5 year period (and this started
out as a minor fracture).
I'm not trying to scare you with this response, but I want to emphasize that
getting a second opinion is very important. Base your decision to "get back
on the road" with as much information as you can get.
Best wishes on the recovery process and try to be patient through it all.
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