Ask the experts Q&As

Ask the experts Q&As

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Last month British Cycling members were given the chance via their weekly Member News email to ask a question to the Insight Zone experts.

The response was brilliant and below you can find the top eight Q&As, as well as a link to the full list.

1) Do you wear underwear under your cycling lycra shorts?

You shouldn’t wear any underwear when cycling; your skin should be in direct contact with the pad in the shorts. The reason for this is that the pads are made of high tech fabric that will wick moisture away from your skin. If you wear underwear, especially cotton, this will hold the moisture next to your skin which can result in discomfort, chaffing and even the development of saddle sores.

Avoiding Saddle Soreness

2) I don’t use clip in shoes and after about 80km of a sportive my feet start to burn. Can you help?

By not using clipless pedals and dedicated cycling shoes, your feet won’t be receiving adequate support and, the constant flexing is what is likely to be leading to your foot pain. Try switching to clipless and you’ll probably find it helps.

Foot Pain on the Bike

3) What saddle would females suggest to prevent soreness?

Unfortunately, saddle choice and what saddle is right for you is massively individual. To a large extent it’s a case of trial and error to find the one that works best for you. A professional bike fit, especially if they also offer pressure mapping, can definitely help but it’ll still only be a steer in the right direction.

Along with saddle choice though there are a number of other steps you can take to prevent saddle soreness.

Avoiding Saddle Soreness

4) Why do some riders wear a cycling cap?

Riders wear a casquette or traditional cycling cap under their helmet for a number of reasons.

In colder or mixed conditions, it can give a bit of warmth/protection to the head and the peak can help to keep rain out of the riders eyes.

In hot conditions, it can protect the scalp from sun burn through the helmet’s vents, especially if the rider is lacking hair. Also, many riders find that they help stop sweat running into their eyes.

A final reason is that they’re part of cycling’s heritage and some riders just like the way they look.

5) I'm an MTB and a road rider. I'm 55 in good shape and I average about 100 miles a week. What's the best way to lose weight by only riding my bike? 

The most important thing to remember is that you can’t exercise away a poor diet so, even if you’re cycling regularly, you will still need to pay attention to your diet to lose weight/fat.

You might find these articles useful:

Safe Weight Loss for Cyclists

Struggling with Weight Loss

6) I have just finished a 12 week training block before visiting the Dolomites to climb mountains (which was amazing).  How should I continue my training now?  More of the same?  That was 3 hard weeks then an easier week. That was repeated ramping up during the 12 weeks with a taper week at the end.  I have no more events to focus on for the next 3 months.  

First, after a big block of riding like you’ve just done in the Dolomites, the first thing is to make sure that you take some time to rest and recover. It can often be tempting after a great trip away riding to get carried away and to plough straight into a big training block. However, it’s always better to give yourself a full recovery week, bank the miles you have ridden abroad and then carry on with your training.

Take a look at our training plans but, with a 3 month block with no events, you could get a head start on your “winter training” and put in some really solid Base Work by following our 12-week Off-Season Base Builder. It’ll certainly be more pleasant doing more endurance focus training during the summer and a solid block of endurance work at any time is never a bad idea.

7) I cycle to and from work 30 miles per day mostly flat.  Even though I'm feeling fitter and recover quickly my times don't really seem to improve by much now. What, if anything can I do to improve my speed? For someone who cycles approx 200 miles per week (including getting out at the week-end) how fast should I be going?

It is impossible to say how fast you should be going as speed isn’t a particularly reliable metric for tracking improvements in fitness. So many variables can impact on it, such as hills, wind, air pressure, so, we can’t answer the last part of your question.

It sounds as though, like many people who put in relatively big mileage, that you’ve hit a performance plateau that is inevitable with lots of same paced riding.

In order to get faster, you have to start introducing some quality into your training rather than solely focusing on quantity... Read More

8) What do you feel is the difference between wearing padded shorts or gel saddle and normal shorts?  Why does the former always seem to rule?

Padded shorts with a well designed pad are tailored to the rider and, no matter how the rider shifts about of moves their weight, the pad will remain in place. Also, the pads are made of hi-tech wicking fabrics that actively keep moisture away from the skin.

The problems with a heavily padded saddle or a gel cover are that the padding isn’t necessarily in the right place and, as they invariably increase the width of a saddle, can lead to problems with chaffing and rubbing.

Read the full Q&As