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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 November 27, 2003

Returning from running
High heart rate
Milk in recovery drink

Returning from running

I'm a 33 year old whose last race was 12 years ago. Since then I've run competitively (15:50 5km, 2:41 Marathon). Next year I want to race bikes again. I'm 6ft 1in and 140 pounds and naturally have lousy acceleration but decent endurance and climbing. I've ridden one or twice a week over the last few years. I probably have time to train about 10 hours a week. How should I adjust a normal training schedule to fit my background?

John Hessian

Georg Ladig replies:

Welcome back to the best sport in the world! Due to your aerobic fitness from running it shouldn't be a big problem for you to catch up soon. You need to build your specific power, depending on the type of race you are looking for.

A criterium wouldn't be the best choice in the beginning. The best races for your ability are rather long events, where you can rely on your good endurance. The shorter the race, the higher the anaerobic capacities and the demand for power. You might compensate for your lack of force in the beginning with higher RPMs to develop the power (power = force x speed) - but this depends on your ability to spin fast and comfortably.

If you go for longer road races or road marathons then your goal should be to improve muscular endurance - this is the key to competitive cycling anyway. That means you need to integrate interval work around your threshold in your base endurance work. Start with a short session - 2 x 2 minutes for instance - and prolong length and repetitions over time. Do some of the interval work at low RPMs to improve force (50-60 RPM).

I would start with power intervals right from the beginning - so you have more time to develop the necessary strength before the first races start. But be aware of the periodization! Work on the power during intense weeks and respect recovery times and normal base endurance work, where you convert your running endurance to bike endurance. During the base endurance work include speed drills - spin 10 RPMs faster then you would do naturally - keep the high cadence for an extended period of time. Speed drills are best done when you are fully recovered.

During the base endurance work you can also integrate very short and hard intervals (e.g. 3-10 x 6 seconds) at maximum power without compromising the endurance work because these very short intervals don't build lactate - but improve the bike specific force you are looking for. Do these intervals during the first hour of your endurance ride.

Good luck for the upcoming year!

High heart rate

I'm a 34 year old male roadie (Cat 4). I raced back in the early 1990s (Cat 3), took time off to get married and have a family, and am now getting back in to racing in 2004. I'm 5ft 11in and weigh 160 pounds. I've been training intensely all year and am in as good, if not better, shape now than when I was 20-something. When I was born I had a heart murmur. It went away with age. Subsequent tests have shown that my murmur is no longer (I was tested before I started racing back in the early 1990s and I was tested before back surgery in 2002). I do not drink or smoke, my blood pressure is very good. My resting heart rate is in the low to mid 30s.

When racing in my 20s the highest heart rate I saw was 202. Yesterday, while climbing and simulating attacks, etc., my heart rate reached 213 for a second, then went back down to 203. I was really pushing the pace, however I didn't feel bad at all, I felt like I was just pushing the pace. I use a cheap, wireless heart rate monitor and there were telephone/power lines on the road I was riding on, but I've never seen my monitor go wacko so I'm inclined to trust its readings.

Do you think 213 is accurate? Are wireless heart rate monitors affected by power lines intermittently? Should I be concerned with a max HR of 213 or do you think 203 was the accurate reading? Should I test it again on a different hill? Should I see my doctor? At my age I expected my max to be in the 190s. This took me by surprise and I'm a little concerned.

Alan Gale

Dave Palese replies:

It's tough to say whether the 213 number is too high or not. It is possible that there may have been some interference with the monitor. The best thing to do is observe your heart rate over time and look to see if numbers in that 213 range show up again. If not, then it was a fluke.

You will also want to observe your HR under controlled circumstance, i.e., testing on an ergometer or the like, to track your fitness and set and adjust your training zones.

But before you start any training program, you should visit your doctor and get a complete physical. Not because of having seen this weird number, but just because it is a good idea to do so at the start of every training year.

Milk in recovery drink

During intense periods of training, I like to speed up my recuperation everyday with a recovery drink in powdered form. The products suggest mixing it with water, however I prefer the taste of milk.

My riding buddy claims that mixing the recovery drink with milk defeats its purpose, that the lactose in the milk only added to the lactic acid build-up in my legs.

Is this true?

Nick Schaffner
Santa Rosa, CA

Jim Lehman replies:

There are some issues with using milk as part of your recovery drink, but it is not because it contributes to the lactic acid build up in your legs. Lactose is a sugar or form of carbohydrate that is composed of glucose and galactose and it occurs only in milk. On the other hand, lactic acid is a product of glucose metabolism via glycolytic metabolism or what is conventionally known as anaerobic metabolism. Although the two words have similar roots, they are quite different in their purposes and their effects on exercise and recovery.

The primary goal of a recovery drink is to replace the glycogen stores that have been utilized/depleted during exercise. Your goal should be to ingest a carbohydrate drink that contains between 6-8 percent carbohydrate solution, which is optimal for absorption. Sucrose, maltodrextrins and glucose have similar absorption rates and there is some evidence that a small amount of fructose may help absorption rates and carbohydrate metabolism. Lactose does not absorb as quickly and many people have difficulty digesting lactose, which will further impede the recovery process. In addition, mixing your recovery drink with milk will also increase the carbohydrate concentration, which will decrease the absorption rate. Try mixing the same drink with water and see if it changes your response.

So your riding buddy was partially right, just not for the correct reasons.

Good luck with your training.

Eddie Monnier replies:

I'll add a few comments to those provided by Jim.

First, it's likely that by the time you're enjoying a recovery drink, most if not all of the lactic acid has been cleared from your muscles by the circulatory system so you don't need to worry about "adding to the build-up." The lactic acid formed in the muscle is a by-product of anaerobic energy production (anaerobic glycolysis).

Second, as Jim pointed out, lactose, is a carbohydrate in milk and occurs in the milk of all mammals. It is broken down in the intestine by the enzyme lactase to form the simple sugars glucose and galactose. Lactic acid is formed when lactose is broken down. You should also note that lactic acid is present in a number of foods including yogurt and cheese, is used to produce certain acid-fermented foods (eg, sauerkraut), and is even used in winemaking. In other words, even if you did have build up in your legs, you wouldn't be adding to it by eating food that has or is broken down to lactic acid.

Finally, milk is a low glycemic index food. You can make a homebrew recovery drink by adding a few tablespoons of sugar or honey to increase the glycemic level to aid in restoring glycogen levels. So, whether you continue to mix with your recovery supplement or make your own recovery homebrew, feel free to continue to enjoy your milk knowing that it's not hindering your recovery.


I have a motorbike and I'm willing to take out the odd rider on the road for some solid speed training when we get closer to the season. However I have never towed riders along before, and there is a big onus on the rider to basically keep their eyes open and not to ride into the back of me!

Is it up to me to simply keep the speed at say 45kph and assume he can manage to hold on? Is it up to me to check my mirrors every 10 seconds and ensure that I haven't left him behind? I'd like to hear from motorbikers who regularly take guys out on the road -- any general tips?

And what about the training regime? I hear about a lot of pros going out and riding 2-3 hours and then meeting up with "the wife" or whoever has the motorbike, and then they ride at 50kph for 1.5 hours... I presume that's the general idea? Any feedback from coaches, pros or experienced riders would be very helpful.

FYI - I ride the road bike almost every day but I very seldom race nowadays.

Colm Ahern
Dublin, Ireland

Brett Aitken replies:

The most important thing for a motorpace driver to do is to aim to keep the pace as constant as possible. With the power of a motor under you it's easy to surge ahead or even worse slow down with a rider hard up on your back wheel. You will also need to be aware of the rider's movements behind you via your mirrors or by listening to their signals to go faster or slower. On hilly terrain it can be hard to judge what speed a rider can handle, therefore the speed should predominantly be dictated by the rider behind giving you these signals.

Other than that it's really up to the rider to be aware of all other situations that may occur which could be potentially dangerous. As in a bike race a cyclist needs to be conscious of the wheel in front of them but they also need to be looking ahead to where they are going so they can brake when needed. I'd therefore suggest the rider looks at the back of the seat instead of the back of the wheel for judging the distance to sit behind. This will give the rider a much greater scope of the coming obstacles (eg. traffic lights, potholes) so that they can be prepared for any sudden braking.

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