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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 April 8, 2003

Asthma and cycling
Training for hills
Climbing hills
Group rides
Shoulder Injuries
Heart Zones for base
Keeping down in base
Resting heart rate
Preparing for altitude

Asthma and cycling

I am a 38 year old male. I raced seriously in my 20's but hung up the gloves due to work commitments. About two years back I was asked to join in on a double century ride, and from then on in have found a renewed interest in cycling. My weight had climbed from a 65kg max race weight to well over 100kg in the 14 years I was off my bike. To top it all I had developed adult onset asthma. My height is 1,87m.

I trained for roughly three months prior to doing the double and currently have managed to get my weight down to 82kg. I wish to race seriously at the start of our summer season and want to use spinning classes in my local gym to shed extra kilos during the coming winter months to around 75 kg. The asthma is a major drawback to being able to compete as I used to be able to 20 years back. Guys who I raced with twenty years back and are once again getting back into the sport are able to perform better than me with less training. We all used to be at similar levels of racing.

I have found that the weight loss of 20kg has made a difference to being able to breathe easier on the bike, but the problems start when I ride over my 80 percent of max pulse. I start eating into the Glycogen stores and two hours of riding sees me off the back of the bunch with cramps etc. Most days, even though just training, I am up and over the 80 percent, with little or no effort.

Two questions are as follows. I suspect that the elevated pulse is to make up for lack of lung capacity? (Currently about 80 percent of what it should be, but better than the 55 percent I had two years back when I started riding again!) How can I improve this state of affairs? Secondly, will the cycling eventually be able to reduce the intensity of the bronchial spasm, even though the lung spasm is sometimes caused by exercise? I currently use a pump during and before racing to open my lungs. I hope to eventually be able to rid myself of having to rely on a pump and get lung capacity up to 100 percent again and beyond.

Current resting pulse around 55bpm.

I trust you can help this old roadie beat some old rivals again

Mike Leppan
Cape Town, South Africa

Brett Aitken replies:

I can certainly relate to your asthma problems as I have been an asthmatic all my life as well. Although suffering from sports induced asthma I would be the first to admit that cycling has been my cure which has come from an increased lung capacity over years of cycling.

In regards to your questions, your pulse is directly related with your current fitness and exertion level. You said that when you get over 80 percent of what I presume is your maximum heartrate then you start to develop bronchial problems. I say that's great because this means you can safely ride at 55 to 75 percent which is a good intensity to build a strong aerobic base of fitness. At this stage I think this should be the focus of your training and gradually build on it by slowly introducing small amounts of time above 80 percent into your training on a weekly basis so that your cardiovascular system can adapt. This means that your training at this stage should be very structured and you may have to face the fact that you might not be ready for racing or group rides until you've built a stronger base.

In answer to your second question, yes I am (as mentioned before) a strong believer that cycling will help reduce the intensity of bronchial spasms over time.

Happy cycling and breathe easy.

Training for hills

I am in need of some advice as to what type of wind trainer sessions produce the best improvements in the area of attacking small sharp hills. I find it difficult to go over in a heavy gear, but changing to a smaller gear only makes me go slower. How do I train, on my wind trainer, to ride at a high cadence over these type of hills?

Paul Freeman

Dave Palese replies:

To improve your performance when making these types of efforts, I would start with some strength training to develop explosive power. These efforts would be designed into a program to help the rider develop the cycling-specific strength required to create separation during the attack. The ability to create separation is a key component as it put your opponents at a disadvantage.

Try doing some Standing Starts. These sprint efforts are done in a very large gear, say 53x14-11, depending on your level of development. You start from a standstill, with your dominant leg in about the two or ten o'clock position. Jump hard out of the saddle to get on top of the gear, trying to get up to your maximum cadence, then sit and maintain the cadence for the length of the effort.

Start with five or six sprints, lasting eight seconds each. Rest for three to five minutes between sprints. Over 8-12 weeks, build up to doing something like two sets of five to eight sprints lasting eight seconds each, resting two minutes between sprints, and ten minutes between sets.

The next ability to address is sustaining a high power output at a high cadence.

You describe the hills in question as small and sharp. So I'll assume that these are hills that would be climbed in the range of two to three minutes.

After you have a solid base of aerobic training in place, you may want to add VO2 Max intervals into your training. These are high intensity, high output, submaximal intervals. One of the keys to doing these interval effectively is keep your cadence high, 90-110 rpm. For your specific situation, a cadence of 90-95 would be appropriate for use on a hill.

VO2 Max intervals can last anywhere from three to eight minutes depending on your level of development.

The intervals are in a moderate gear, 53x17-14. Build over the first minute of the interval to your target output and then try to sustain that output for the remainder of the effort. These intervals are very taxing, and should only be attempted after establishing a solid base fitness in the Endurance, Tempo and Threshold zones (commonly referred to as zones 2, 3, and 4).

Start by including two sets of four intervals, each interval lasting three minutes, with four minutes rest between intervals and 10 minutes rest between sets. Over time you might work up to doing two sets of three intervals, each interval lasting six minutes, with five minutes rest between efforts and 10 minutes rest between sets.

Climbing hills

I am looking to get some tips on hill climbing technique. I am 83kg, 28 yrs old and have been riding crits and time trials for a little while now - approx six months.

I am happy with the way my cycling is progressing with the exception of my ability to climb hills. I understand that different riders are better suited to certain aspects of cycling and that some riders are "hill climbers" - but I am looking for some technical and/or fitness tips to improve this aspect of my riding.

Is there anything you can suggest?

James Dalton

Dave Palese replies:

Improving one's climbing takes practice and patience.

The prerequisites for improved climbing are: strength (trained with a combination of on-the-bike and off-the-bike (gym) strength training); endurance; and muscular endurance. It is important, to make long-term improvements in your climbing, that you spend a good chunk of time training these abilities and the systems that support them, the aerobic and lactic acid systems. Long easy miles on flat to rolling courses, that include Tempo training, and later Threshold training, will help to make your climbing specific workouts much more effective and of a higher quality.

"Climbing" is a pretty broad term, but there generally are two types of hills:

1) The short "sprinter", or "power" hill, usually taking less than three minutes to climb. The keys to success on these hills are explosive strength and submaximal endurance.

2) long climbs, lasting five or more minutes.

For the "sprinter's" hill, try adding some Hill Repeats to your training week.

These efforts should be done on a hill that takes about 90 seconds to three minutes to climb. Keep your cadence high, 85-100 rpm, to keep the intensity high. Reduce gearing to manage the intensity. Do not reduce cadence. Climb at an aggressive pace for the first two-thirds of the climb after coming into the hill at a good speed. Then shift up a cog or two harder, stand up, and sprint for the last third to the climb. You may want to do these efforts on the same hill, doing the effort, turning around and recovering rolling back down. Recovery between repeats is easy spinning, for five minutes.

You may start by doing 90 second repeats on a hill that is longer, using only a portion of the climb. I suggest starting with a conservative length repeat, like 90 seconds. If you can complete three to five repeats in a session that are of consistent quality, then increase the length of the repeats to 105-120 seconds, and so on.

To train for longer climbs, find a climb that will take 10 minutes or more to climb. Start by doing intervals of seven to ten minutes at your climbing pace. For your first session, start with 21-30 minutes of total climbing done as 3x7-10 minute climbing intervals, with 10 minutes of easy spinning between intervals. Work up to 45-60 minutes of total climbing, maybe done as 3x15-20, or 4x12-15 minutes as examples.

For an added twist, include some short accelerations in the longer intervals. Climb for at least five minutes at your climbing pace. Then shift one or two cogs harder, stand up and accelerate for 30 seconds to a minute. Shift back down and return to your normal climbing pace. Repeat the accelerations every two to three minutes. These accelerations are not sprints, just a lifting of the pace to simulate surges and race situations. Include these only after you have completed four or five regular climbing sessions as described above.

Tactics are also an important part of improving your climbing. Here are a few tips:

1) Position yourself towards the front. As you approach the climbs, move towards the front of the group. When you come into the bottom of the climb, you should be in the top five or six riders if you can manage it. This saves you having to dodge and maneuver around slower riders and possible crashes. Being first in the bunch at the start of a hard hill or climb is always a good thing. It gives you an opportunity to control the pace and stay safe. This is especially good on the shorter, sprinter's hills, where the action at the start of the climb tends to be a bit chaotic and sketchy.

2) Always be on, or around, a good wheel. Most of us know who the good climbers are in the groups we ride with. When you are getting close to a climb, find the wheel of a consistently good climber. When you do, you have a better chance of being in the right place at the right time, and if you pay attention, you might learn something.

Group rides

I'm a 28 year old age group tri-athlete, with a question about bike training.

I'm about to begin the preparation phase for my 2003/4 season, I plan for this to last around five to six weeks before I move into base 1. I usually average 10-14 hours a week of training including 200-300km on the bike. One of the major things I want to do this year is plan my training a bit more scientifically (I am using Friel's book). Last year I trained without any real periodisation - just whatever I felt like at the time - and the results were less than optimal.

Question: Last year I trained with a group of roadies two mornings a week - the group mainly does intensive interval training or hill work - either sprints or big gear stuff. The group never does any "base" work. the advantages of the group are the emphasis on cadence and pedaling style, and the motivational factor, the downside is it's way out of whack with the training I need to do. Should I abandon the group and train alone or just do the group periodically, say, once every two weeks?

Rob Allen

Brett Aitken replies:

If your goal is to train more scientifically then this involves having a very well designed training plan from which you then structure into it specific sessions to develop certain energy systems.

I would therefore suggest that you have two options. One is to design your training plan to fit in around the group rides and the other option is to cut the group rides from your training as this may be severely affecting your recovery for the other two disciplines.

The option you take might also depend on what type of person you are. If you are a highly self motivated person as many tri-athletes are then the second option shouldn't be a problem. If you have troubles getting motivated then obviously the group rides may be very beneficial to you.

Either way, scientific training is about having a very good balance between training and recovery and being specific about what energy systems your training. So if it doesn't fit in and you want results then sometimes you have to take the harder option.

Kim Morrow replies:

Brett gave you some great advice in his response. Let me also add a few comments.

While setting up a periodized training plan is important, remember to allow a bit of flexibility in your schedule in order to keep the training process enjoyable. How MUCH flexibility you allow really depends upon your goals, your available training hours and your motivation. Training a total of 10-14 hours a week, for three different sports, will require a certain amount of focus in order to optimize your time.

You mentioned that you are beginning a five to six week preparation period which is to be followed by Base 1. I would suggest that you avoid the intervals and aggressive hill work with your roadie friends for now. In my opinion, developing a solid aerobic base is essential for endurance athletes wishing to reach their potential. Stick to your plan. Try to find a few other training partners, with similar training objectives, who might be able to ride with you now. Another option might be to meet your roadie friends for the start of their ride, complete the warm-up with them, and then peel off to do your own thing when they start going hard. This will require a bit of self-control on your part, but it also will provide the motivation to get you out the door for those base miles rides. In a few months, however, joining your roadie friends in their interval sessions might be quite beneficial for you. In the meantime, try to be patient and keep your training objectives in mind.

Enjoy your season.


I am a 42 year old rider who these days tends to concentrate on longer Mountain Bike events such as 24 hour races and Polaris type events. I am reasonably competitive in these events with top 10 finishes in the Polaris.

One thing I have always found is that I have very tight muscles (this is invariably commented on when I have a massage) and hence I have recently started doing some additional stretches as part of my program. So far I would say I feel a bit better but my sit and reach has not really changed. My questions are:

- what are the best stretches to do for cycling?
- how long should I hold each stretch for?
- I have heard a bit about AI stretches, what are these?
- how long should it take to get noticeable results?

David Hatley
Sydney Australia

Brett Aitken replies:

Stretching should play a very important part in any cyclists program for the prevention of injuries and to help aid recovery from muscle fatigue.

I will attempt to answer your questions one at a time.

What are the best stretches to do for cycling?

With cycling being such a time consuming sport, cyclists are forced into sitting in abnormal positions for a very long time. It would be very difficult to go into detail of how to do each stretch but the most common areas of tightness usually develop in the thoracic area of the back, the trapezius and neck muscles, the lower back, the gluteus muscles, the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Therefore I suggest starting from the bottom and working your way up. Start with a calf stretch then hamstrings, quads, glutes, lower back, thoracic and finish off with some stretches for the neck. There are plenty of good book stores that stock excellent books that will show you in full detail with pictures on how to stretch these areas.

How long should I hold each stretch for?

Normally about 15 to 20 seconds with no bouncing and increasing the intensity of the stretch as the muscle relaxes after the first few seconds. You could also try doing some shorter length stretches but with a few repeats with a short rest between each stretch.

I have heard a bit about AI stretches, what are these?

This is known as active-isolated stretching and involves a contraction of the opposing muscle group just prior to the stretching of a muscle. For example, if you are doing an AI stretch for the hamstrings then it would involve you contracting the quadriceps just prior to stretching the hamstrings.

How long should it take to get noticeable results?

Most people will feel a fairly good improvement within a couple of weeks if the are consistently doing a stretching program every day for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Probably the most important thing David which hasn't been mentioned here is that a stretching program is best done when you are already warm. Your muscles can be up to 20 percent more elastic when they are warm. If you are trying to do stretches when you are cold then this may explain why your not getting any improvements. Therefore always warm-up (exercise, warm bath etc.) before stretching.

It's important to realise that nerves can be stretched as well so although your muscles might be flexible, if your nerves are tight then you are still going to be restricted.

And finally, understand that every muscle is connected in some way so if your getting pain or tightness in one area, this doesn't mean you should stretch it out. It actually could be a result of tightness in a completely different muscle group which needs the stretching.

Shoulder Injuries

I'm a 57-year-old who has been competing for five years. I now race to national age-related standards.

For the past 20 months I've been suffering the after-effects of falling on my right shoulder. I've been down twice. The pain is intermittent in so far as I can train and race without pain (the good news), but it hits me at work when my arm is in position for writing notes by hand and when in position for typing on a keyboard. Also I get pain at night as something seems to get trapped in many sleeping positions.

Can you explain in non-technical language what are "the standard rotator cuff exercises" as my physio said this (initially) was part of my problem. It was indeed as turning my wrist was agony.

Currently I'm battling with part two of the on-going injuries.... ie to the superspinata (sorry if that's the wrong word, not sure what the physio called it). Any tips (layman's terms again) on how to work on improving that problem?

John Leitch

Erik Moen of Carmichael Training Systems replies:

Sounds like you could possibly have a substantial tear of your rotator cuff. In the case of substantial tear, your options are time or repair. In either case it may be helpful to have some imaging done of the shoulder, such as MRI with contrast media. If it is a bad tear and you decide to wait it out, one should be very careful with the incorporation of shoulder exercises, so as to not create further damage.

In your case where it seems like your pain/dysfunction is substantial, I would almost rather defer to your rehab team than to give you a bunch of exercises.

Standard rotator cuff exercises are well described by Codman. If you do a web search for Codman and shoulder, you will most likely find nice pictures and descriptions. Any exercise should be intentional and pain-free with regards to the shoulder musculature. Also, pay keen attention to strengthening your lower and middle trapezius.

Heart Zones for base

I'm confused with the differing opinions I read regarding heart zones.

I wish to build an endurance base, currently doing about 300-350km a week, want to get to around 450-500km. What heart zone should I be riding with the longer base rides?

I'm comfortable with my training for AT, SE, power climbs and intervals, yet something as simple as long steady kilometers confuses me. I ride with a bunch and sometimes feel as if I'm not training enough, for example last Sunday I did a 110km bunch ride I spent five seconds above 85 percent, 1:05:00 at 70-84 percent, 1:31:40 at 60-69 percent and 0:43:40 at 50-59 percent. To me I thought I should have more in the 70 percent-84 percent zone.

Mark Sam

Dave Palese replies:

You're right. It can be confusing. Six different sources will give you six different sets of heart rate zones.

Let me address a couple of your concerns.

You say "I thought I should have more in the 70-84 percent zone" during your 110km group ride.

Group riding can be great and, I think, should be a part of every rider's training plan with regards to addressing certain aspects of training. It is however important to realize, that when you go on a group ride, you are granting a certain amount of control over your training for that day to the other members of the group. In some cases, that may mean that the intensity of the ride may be too high or too low for your plan. I say this only to make the point that when you choose go on a group ride you need to be flexible about your training.

You say "I feel as if I'm not training enough". I'll interpret that to mean that you feel as if you aren't working hard enough during your Base rides.

Since you used the word "feel", I'll take that as an opportunity to speak to intensity zones and heart rate.

It is important to know that heart rate is not the end-all-be-all of zone training. Since heart rate monitors have become so affordable and so widely available, I have found that the importance of these numbers has gotten a bit over-blown.

For the type of training you are talking about, Endurance level training, you could easily just ignore heart rate altogether, and go by feel alone. The Endurance level intensity should "feel" easy, or fairly light. Almost a guilty pace. If you go for a ride and just ride at an easy pace, you are training in the Endurance zone (commonly referred to as Zone 2). Also, if you go on a group ride and the pace is such that you spend a good chunk of time at an intensity below easy, say very light, what might be called Recovery intensity (Zone 1), don't sweat it. The physiological benefits of training in Endurance (Zone 2) over training done in Recovery (Zone 1) is minimal.

Keeping down in base

I am a 41 year old who rides between 3000-4000 miles per year. I do a few local races and duathlon's and some touring. I bought a heart monitor this year to try and improve my early season fitness. I have read that you should build a base by riding at 65 percent of your target heart rate. So far this year I have struggled to keep my heart rate that low for the length's of my rides (1-2 hours rides) With wind, cold, and hills it is just about impossible to stay in that range. Any suggestions?

Daryl Miller

Dave Palese replies:

When you say 65 percent of your target heart rate, do you mean maximum working heart rate (MWHR)?

Usually, the heart rate ranges that correspond to the intensity zones are based on some percentage of either the MWHR or one's personal anaerobic threshold heart rate (ATHR). Both of these values can be estimated using different protocols.

The percentage you have quoted would fit with designing ranges using MWHR. So I would just want to make sure you are building your heart rate ranges using the proper percentages with the proper number. If you were to build heart rate ranges using ATHR, but used percentages intended for use with MWHR, the ranges would surely skew very low and that might be very frustrating.

But let's assume that your zones are proper.

Depending on the terrain, weather and training partners in your area, base training can be a frustrating affair. It can take quite a bit of discipline to keep your intensity in check. I sometimes have riders tape-over their bike computer screens or leave the computer home altogether, so that they won't be compelled to increase the pace when they see low speeds on the screen. My advice is to not get distracted by the numbers but rather focus on the goals of the training session and what needs to be done on a given day.

Resting heart rate

I am a 23 year old who races B grade every chance I get and trains over about 250-300 kilometers a week. I can average above 30km/h but my heart rate doesn't drop below 65 bpm while resting. When I was a runner I had a resting heart rate of 40bpm without any real training plan. Does your resting heart rate affect your cycling and if it does how can I bring it down?

Neil McGuire

Dave Palese replies:

I just want to clarify the term "resting heart rate". Resting heart rate (RHR), is commonly a reference to the heart rate you would measure as soon as you wake up and before you have gotten out of bed. It is indicative of the an athlete's heart rate in his most rested state. As fitness increases through training, this heart rate normally drops due to increased stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped with each beat of an athlete's heart).

If one of my clients came to me with a similar situation, my first inclination would be to rest the athlete and see if the heart rate returned to normal. I'll make some general suggestions. Note: I am working with very little of your personal / training information.

1) I would suggest taking a few days completely off the bike to just relax.

2) After 2-3 days off, do 4-5 days of short, low intensity riding. These rides should last from 30-60 minutes and should be at a very low intensity, such as 20-22 km/hr. Basically just letting the weight of your legs fall around.

3) It is also possible that you are not recovering between sessions. An average speed of 30 km/hr for an solo training session, over anything but flat terrain, is a brisk pace. You may want to mix some slower, shorter, recovery-focused session, between your harder sessions.

[Neil then replied to Dave that he does have "a properly structured training program set up with help from Joel Friels book, with proper rest days. But my resting heart rate stays the same while my performance improves." - Ed]

I'm not a physician, so I won't even try to play on the internet. The long and the short of it is, it doesn't really matter what your resting heart rate is.

Is a low resting heart rate a sign of good fitness for endurance athletes? Often times, yes.

Is it an indicator of performance potential or a predictor of ability? No.

You say "my resting heart rate stays the same while my performance improves". I think you said it all right there. If your performance is improving, then I wouldn't worry what your resting heart rate is, from a cycling/training standpoint.

You may want to visit you doctor for a good checking over, as many other factors can elevate one's heart rate.

Preparing for altitude

I'm a 50 year old cat 4 masters racer living at 700 ft. Some of my rides and races take me up to about 2100 ft, and one goes up to 5000 ft. In three weeks, a friend and I are going to do a stage race where the elevation will vary between 5000 and 6000 ft. How badly will the elevation affect me, and is there anything I can do in the next three weeks that will help?

Rick Watson
Ooltewah, TN

Dave Palese replies:

It is impossible to know how the elevation gain will affect you. Everyone is different. There isn't much you can do, from a training standpoint, in the weeks to come that will benefit you.

Three suggestions I can make are these.

1) Try to arrive at the race location two or three days ahead of time. This will give your body some time to adjust to the change in elevation. Train lightly those days, with very little intensity giving your body a chance to adjust with out putting any undue pressure on your systems. Hopefully in these first days, you'll get the worst effects out of the way, if you have any.

2) Stay hydrated. Drink more then you would normally, as gaining altitude can lead to dehydration. Start hydrating above normal levels, a few days prior to traveling to the race.

3) Don't push it. If you do feel the affects of the altitude, don't force the issue by doing to much, just stay loose till race day.

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