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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 December 3, 2003

More on motorpacing
Winter intensity
Fuel for weights and cycling
Effect of the Pill
Returning from running

More on motorpacing

In last week's fitness letters we responded to a letter from Colm Ahern in Ireland about motorpacing riders. Fitness panelist Richard Stern has pointed out that motorpacing a bicycle rider is illegal in many jurisdictions, and at the very least will invalidate your motorbike insurance in the event of an accident.

Cyclingnews encourages all riders, on bikes or motorcycles, to obey their local traffic laws, and in the case of an activity such as motorpacing, to seek legal advice before taking to the road.

If you are able to motorpace legally, panelist Eddie Monnier suggests you should fashion a roller bar to the rear of your motorbike so that the rider's front wheel can bump against it if s/he gets too close. This will help mitigate the likelihood of a crash.

On the practical side, Georg Ladig adds:

What makes motorpacing difficult is that the moto accelerates faster then the bike rider and also loses speed faster (under braking). This makes drafting the motorcycle restless, rough and ultimately dangerous.

To mitigate this, choose a scooter or a weaker engine with less HP; always try to keep the moto in the biggest gear, at the cost of getting to a coughing exhaust pipe; try to load the moto with as much extra weight as possible.

Winter intensity

I am new to racing and this is my first winter of training specifically for cycling. 6ft. 145 pounds 27 years old. I plan on racing road race, crits and time trials all summer. I have been riding about 10 months.

Most winter plans stress base and aerobic low wattage riding over the higher intensity race specific training. Where I am lost is that I have an aerobic base and low body mass from years of running but lack considerably in the arena of generating force to the pedals. My 5 minute power wattage is a low 275 how can I possibly hold 260 and above for 20 minutes in May if I spend so much time training at a low wattage. The wattages are a close guess, but if I can only hold 28mph in the flat for a minute how the heck am I ever going to hold 28mph for a 40km time trial. I can climb like most riders several Categories above me with my low body weight, but give me a head wind or a flat section of road and I am in trouble! If burnout is the only reason then I am going to hit the pedals hard. Are there any test results that compare high wattage quality programs to training plans with more emphasis on base?

Sam Krieg
Knoxville TN USA

Richard Stern replies:

It is necessary to do some long rides, as this will allow you to become more comfortable at riding over longer distances, assuming that you want to do some long races.

I also see no reason why you should not include some harder intensity work during your off-season training. This can include some zone 3 and 4 work, with zone 4 being around TT power. This may include longer sessions at low zone 3 (e.g. building to 90-mins), or shorter sessions at zone 4 (e.g. 15 - 30 mins). These two sessions are particularly good to do inside on trainer, if the weather is inclement. By gradually increasing the power you can maintain at e.g. zone 4, will allow you to TT at higher powers/faster speeds.

Out on the road, you'll invariably come across some hills, and these will almost certainly be ridden at a higher power (e.g. zone 5). If, like many people, you have to ride indoors during the week in the off-season on the trainer, then almost certainly you'll end up doing higher intensity sessions, as long, low intensity sessions on the trainer are excessively boring!

Fuel for weights and cycling

I am a 31 y/o male weighing 77kg, 180cm height and have been road cycling for some time now. I weight train three days a week, since I enjoy the benefits of it and I am also in remission from Hodgkinson's Disease. My fitness levels are probably the best they've ever been (no, they don't put anything into your chemo!). I find I am stronger on long rides with climbs and often head out to Falls Creek in Victoria for great climbing. I find that it takes my body a couple of hours to really get warm before I am performing at my best.

My question is diet related. I have done so much reading on food since my health scare and now incorporate a strict eating regime. Since I weight train, I mostly consume protein, veggies & fruit, virtually no milk, no bread etc. My dilemma occurs when I go out on the weekends for long rides. I find that for the remaining part of the day after the ride, I am constantly stuffing my face with carbs and am depleted of energy. It's an unusual feeling since weight training does not have this effect on me. I ride between 200-250kms on the weekend. The weight training has also helped me regain muscle which I lost during chemo, so I am keen to keep this up, yet I am experienced enough to not build excessive muscle that might hinder my cycling. How do I strike a balance by means of fueling my body for the two, different disciplines?


Dave Palese replies:

I don't have enough info to give you an absolute answer, but here is my opinion.

The one thing athletes need to keep in mind when considering diet issues, is the type of athlete they are. You end you message by asking, "How do I strike a balance by means of fueling my body for the two, different disciplines?". What you need to consider is whether you are a bodybuilder or an endurance athlete. If your main focus is cycling and weight training is just one component of your training plan, then I suggest sticking to the usual high carb diet of the endurance athlete. This will ensure that you are properly fueled for your training rides and will also make available to fuel for your weight training. Depending on the type of weight training plan you are following, the amount of protein that you get from the endurance diet should be sufficient to rebuild any muscle tissue damage from your gym sessions.

Eddie Monnier replies:

I imagine that focusing your diet on protein, veggies and fruit is part of your anti-cancer strategy. It's also an approach I advocate for my athletes. For readers' general interest, I recommend The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain. In short, the theory is that our bodies' ability to process food hasn't really changed since our hunter/gatherer ancestors and, as such, we are ill equipped to handle the starches, sugars and dairy products so prevalent in the diets of modern societies. See Cordain's book for a the complete explanation and the scientific support.

As you've experienced based on your long weekend rides, the challenge for the endurance athlete is maintaining energy levels during long rides and restoring glycogen levels following long and/or hard training and racing sessions. Some of the problems associated with high glycemic foods are mitigated during exercise, so it's appropriate to use energy drinks, gels and/or bars during your rides. Some people can also use natural foods like raisins, figs, watered down fruit juices, etc. You will need to experiment a bit to see what works for you.

Following a ride longer than 2.5 hours or a very hard workout/race, it's important to begin restoring glycogen levels as soon as possible following your training session, so try to get something within the first 30 minutes or so. You might start with an energy drink for ease. Foods that work for me include baked potatoes (also great because it's a net base food whereas most starches and processed foods are net acidic), oatmeal (try the steel cut!), pastas, rice, couscous, etc. Many of these can be cooked in bulk, enabling you to reheat some for a quick meal. I usually try to take in some protein at this time as well.

Joe Friel and Dr. Cordain are working on a book about adjusting the Paleo diet for the athlete, but for more information in the mean time, see this e-tip (with reference to other e-tips on the topic) written by Joe.

Here's to your health!

Effect of the Pill

I am wondering if the birth control pill affects performance negatively or positively. I have been an avid rider for a few years and have never worried about it, but I want to try racing next spring. Do elite athletes use the pill or do they stay away from it since it gives them more female hormones? Aren't the male hormones the ones that help athletic performance?

Wyoming, USA

Eddie Monnier replies:

The only study I know of that examined the impact of oral contraception on the performance of highly-trained women showed an average decrease in aerobic capacity (VO2max) of 4.7%, though there was a lot of variation among the individuals (vs. an increase of 1.5% for the placebo group; the study was conducted blind). Quite a few questions remain unanswered, so I hope we'll see more studies done in this area.

While an elite level rider may want to evaluate her individual response, given the variability of response among the 14 participants, the relatively small decrease in VO2max and your entry-level racing status, I wouldn't let any potential impact on aerobic capacity affect your own decision (i.e., make your decision with your healthcare professional's input based on non-athletic factors).

Good luck with your first season of racing!

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

Ric Stern replies:

Welcome back! If you have 10-hrs/week training time then that should be plenty for many races. You'll need to up your frequency of training from twice a week, building up to four to six times a week over a period of time. This will help enable you to get used to riding for periods and to become more comfortable on the bike.

As you get more used to riding the bike, you'll also need to include some intensity work. This can be done with zone 3 and 4 work. There's no need to start these intervals as short efforts, as long as the intensity is correct for you, i.e., the zone 4 work can start at ~ 15-mins.

If you ride outdoors (e.g. at the weekends), then ensure that you encounter a variety of terrains, e.g., flat roads, rolling roads, and hills. The intensity of the work that you do will vary on these differing roads, as will cadence and this will allow you to become adept at different terrains.

You should also include some group sessions, as this will help with motivation and teach you some of the skills you'll for racing (e.g. riding closely together in a bunch).

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