Question: I’m a 26-year-old former college basketball player and track athlete who has an excellent vertical jump. I started riding last fall and want to begin racing, but I’m having trouble staying with the local training group, especially on hills, although I dust everyone in the sprints. They say I have too many fast-twitch muscle fibers and should forget racing because I’ll never be any good. Are they right? — Darin G.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Don’t believe them. It’s true that many racing cyclists, especially climbers and time trialists, have a high percentage of slow-twitch fibers. But there’s good research indicating that endurance training can give fast-twitch fibers some slow-twitch characteristics to improve stamina. You haven’t ridden long enough for this process to take place.
Interestingly, the reverse situation – turning slow-twitch fibers into fast-twitch – can’t happen. Although you can develop endurance so you’ll be there at the end of a race to contest the sprint, your slow-twitch buddies will never be able to sprint well.
Concentrate on a good all-around training program and be patient. It’s often said that it takes five years of riding to know for sure if you’ll be any good.