Q and A Coaching Forum

Question Mark Key on Computer KeyboardWenzel Coaching offers responses to interesting questions submitted in the comment space below. We don’t promise to answer every question, but if the answer to your question is likely to be interesting or useful to a lot of people, we’ll publish it.

8 comments on “Q and A Coaching Forum
  1. Christopher Kelly says:

    Warming up for endurance rides??

    I understand and recognise the benefit of warming up for a race, but purpose does warming up on an endurance paced training ride serve? Typically I have to stop myself from going off too hard at the beginning. In fact, not being eager to push on at the start is usually a sign of fatigue. If my heart rate comes up easily within two minutes, why not just continue on for the pace I’ll maintain for the duration of the ride?

    Scott Saifer responds
    Hi Chris, In warming up for endurance ride there is no reason not to cruise at whatever pace is comfortable. Warming up in the Recovery Zone or the Endurance Zone can both be fine. The suggestion in Wenzel Programs that you should warm up on Spin endurance rides really means not to push to get your heart rate up early in the ride. If it rises with no effort, let it rise. If you are doing any kind of very low or very high cadence work though, do spin an easy cadence for the warm-up period to get your joints loose and lubricated before doing anything that’s going to require them to deal with a lot of

    Chris responds
    Re. Warming Up. Thanks Scott, that’s great.

  2. Q & A Coaching Forum: Training on a Commute

    Posted by Wenzel Coaching on February 26, 2013 in Q&A Forum with no comments


    I have been cycling seriously for a little over a year now. My racing goals focus mainly around triathlons (Olympic distance) but I would like to give straight cycling races a try. As a result of the time commitment involved in the multisport training regime and life in general, I get a large portion of my cycling miles in on my commute to and from work (I do this once or twice a week). My work commute is broken up by stops about every 4 miles so it is not ideal cycling (details below). Can you give me some advice on how I can maximize these commuting miles?

    Depending on which way I travel my commute can be 17-30 miles one way, with 1-2 sizeable climbs (a few miles long each). I have noticed that my engine is never at 100% on the morning ride, I am assuming this a result of not waking in the middle of the night to load up on nutrition. My strategy at present is to treat the morning ride as light (zone 2) ride and the evening ride as a more intense workout with some intervals and stronger attacks on the climbs. When the day is done I am pretty much shot given the other training that goes on during the week. Is this the optimum way to use this riding time? Is it better to split the commute (ie. ride in one day and home the next day)? Are there other training drills I can do during these rides to gain fitness? I understand these aren’t ideal training conditions, I am just trying to work with what life is offering me in the best way that I can.

    Thanks for reading and your help,
    Scott Saifer responds

    Hi Matt,
    I’m sorry for the delayed response. We’ve been cleaning up the new website and can now start looking outward again.
    Many people find it difficult to raise the heart rate or generate normal power in the first hour or so after waking up. Sleep is so important to recovery and performance that I would not recommend waking up at night to eat, even if I though that would make a difference. You didn’t mention how much sleep you normally get or whether you wake spontaneously or with an alarm clock. If you wake with an alarm clock and you really want to improve performance, I’d suggest getting to sleep incrementally earlier until you can wake without an alarm.
    Commuting by bike is an excellent way to sneak in extra training hours in an already busy schedule. Four mile blocks with short rests really is worthwhile training. If you were stopping every 10th of a mile, that would be different, and less valuable other than maybe as sprint training.
    Riding has to be of good quality to be valuable as training. Quality training means you are going fast compared to the effort, making good power compared to the heart rate compared to your own previous rides. Any time you are tired or slow, pushing for anything harder than zone 1 is counter productive. You are making yourself more tired without getting the benefit of a quality ride, practicing pushing hard to go slow. I bring this up because you mentioned being tired from all your other training.
    So, assuming you will be smart and go the short way at a recovery pace any time you are tired, I’d have you go the 30-mile way anytime you feel decent. Triathlons reward only sustained aerobic power, not jumping, attacking or sprinting ability. Bike racing rewards those other abilities, but only if you can already keep up with the group, breathing less hard and breathing hard less often than the competition.
    I agree with using the morning ride as a zone 2-endurance building ride. If you are already about as fast as the competition for sustained efforts. Doing jump and attack sorts of things on the way home makes sense. If there is any question though, you’ll do better to do more aerobic, less fatiguing riding on the way home. If you feel very fresh and you are already keeping up with group rides, do the 30 miles as a half-hour warm up, then alternate your 4-mile chunks at LT and in zone 2 until you are close to home, spinning easily for at least 10 minutes at the end.
    If there is any question that you are able to keep up with the your race category, do the evening ride as intervals of 5 minutes done at bout 60 rpm and 5 minutes done at about 90 rpm, all in zone 2 for a while.
    Let me know which level you put yourself at, and how the training goes. It will be time to change things up in a month or two.
    One last rule: You should only be training hard enough to get really tired one or two days per week. The other days should all be more comfortable, finishing still strong.


    I’m looking for some training advice regarding hill climbing. I live in Tokyo which has few decent size hills and I’m looking to go into a couple of 160 kms and 4,000m climbs over the northern hemisphere summer (June & September). How can I best prepare for these whilst living in Tokyo ? I’m a 54 years old, 85kg, 193cms office worker and have about 1 hour a day to train apart from weekends. Commuting by bike requires frequent stopping in Tokyo traffic. Occasionally I am able to escape out of Tokyo at weekends and do around 1,000m climbs.

    Any advise would be gratefully accepted.

    Kind regards

    • Scott Saifer responds,

      Hi Simon, How to train for hills when you don’t have access to hill is a common question. Fortunately not having access to hills really won’t stop you from becoming a great climber. There is no substitute for access to down hills when learning to stay on the road on mountainous descents, but the challenges of climbing can be adequately simulated on a trainer or on a flat road. There is no physiological difference between climbing and riding the flats, except for one subtle one: On the climbs it is much easier to make power all the way around the pedal circle because the pedals effectively push back on your feet. You can make yourself a better climber by 1) focusing on pushing forward over the top of the stroke and pulling back through the bottom of the stroke when riding flats. 2) You are already a pretty good weight for non-competitive climbing. If you want to be the fastest guy up the hills you’ll want to lose 2-3 kg before the trip. 3) Assuming you’ve been riding top fill your available time, adopt a schedule something like this: Monday rest day, Tuesday Warm up generously and then do two two minute intervals at LT with 5 minutes rest between, Wednesday Easy Spin for one hour. Thursday One hour at endurance heart rates (zone 2) but at 70 rpm cadence, Friday same as Wednesday, Saturday get out of town for a mostly zone 2 ride that includes lots of hills, Sunday go as long as you have time for, mostly zone 2 but mostly flat. (If this would be a sudden increase in volume or intensity, take several weeks to ramp up to this level.)
      Good luck. Let us know how you progress.

  4. Erich Shofstall says:

    I’m reading BIke Racing 101 by the Wenzels, and I don’t see an alternate method of calculating Max HR, and threshold HR besides a lab. Can you suggest something I can do without going to a lab?

    • Scott Saifer Responds,
      Hi Erich, You can certainly test your maximum heart rate without visiting a lab. In fact, most riders can get a higher maximum heart rate outdoors than they can in a lab. To test your maximum heart rate, warm up really well, at least 30 minutes including a few jumps. Then find an uphill or headwind where you can ride hard for about five minutes. Roll gradually up to an effort that gets you breathing hard for a minute or so, then sprint. When you think you can’t sprint any more, sprint again, two or three times. When your heart rate starts to drop even though you are still trying as hard as ever, you’ve hit your maximum heart rate.
      Doing a good threshold test without a lab requires either good sensitivity to your body or good math ability or both. You can find the instructions here: https://www.wenzelcoaching.com/blog/lactate-threshold-test/
      Good luck, Scott

  5. Richard McCarthy says:

    New (and badly made) cycling shorts combined with a 62.5 mile ride resulted in two nasty wounds along the crease (between the inner thigh and scrotum)on either side of the crotch.
    The PCP prescribed some betadine spray and zinc oxide ointment along with the advice ‘stay of the bike till this heals’
    Any suggestions on anything (else)I can do to speed up the healing. I live in the northeast and the cycling season is short enough without being sidelined.

    • Hi Richard, That’s a painful injury. I know because I’ve had a similar one myself, from shorts where the fuzz had worn off the rubbery underlayer. I hope that you are well along toward healed. Your doctor is on the right track with the zinc oxide ointment. The area where you are injured tends to stay moist pretty much all the time, especially in warm weather. That makes it susceptible to fungal infections which can dramatically slow healing of a skin-break. If you aren’t already pretty much healed, I’d suggest getting an over-the-counter antifungal cream from the drug store to apply generously along with the zinc oxide, and allowing the area to dry well a time or two each day. In my experience, it is possible to ride and continue to heal so long as you use the antifungal. Let pain be your guide though. If it burns when you ride, wait a day. Good luck.