Special Guest: Amber Pierce – Ask a Cycling Coach 193

Best guest to date. Bring Amber back or have her Skype in for Ask a Pro!

@ambermalika What tools did you mention / recommend?


I agree–interviewing more pro women would be great! Maybe if TR can get Megan Guarnier, Evelyn Stevens, Mara Abbott–all American women that have done extraordinarily well in their cycling careers, that would be sensational!

1 Like

One of the best podcasts y’all have done. #hireamber

Keep up the good work! :sunglasses:


I absolutely agree. Keep Amber as a regular.


Thanks for the reading suggestions @ambermalika!!

I’ve listened to the podcast twice, on top of watching it live. So much useful information that I feel like I can apply to my future in this sport! :smiley:

1 Like

The tools are by Unior USA! http://uniorusa.com Unlike most tools that are manufactured in China, these are made in Europe. The factory is in Slovenia, and the tools are incredible. They are beautiful and thoughtful (seriously, they think of everything - have a gander at their full catalogue, because it will blow your mind) and make bike maintenance and repair a pleasure. Full disclosure: they are one of my sponsors. Full disclosure: I reached out to them for sponsorship, because I love their products!


Terrific episode with a knowledgeable, articulate, and experienced guest that knows her stuff. Right up there with some of TR’s best episodes. Thanks, Amber!

1 Like

This was a superb podcast. @ambermalika was wonderful. Full of insight and honestly just straight with the common sense. None of this silly deep dive into how many watts can I save by using these laces and tucking them this way or shaving my legs in a certain pattern on a full blood moon night (jokes people!). Between this and the ones with Pete during his recaps or how he races are at the top. Kudos


I continue to be blown away by all of the kind feedback about the show - thanks everyone!

One topic that arose over on Facebook deserves mention here. On the podcast I joked that pro cyclists “eat like we’re trying to give ourselves diabetes” in context of our discussion about the importance of carbohydrates (CHO). The last thing I want to do is spread misinformation, so I want to clarify that I did not meant to say CHO causes diabetes! Instead, I was referring to the fact that high level endurance athletes ingest a lot of simple sugars to fuel their training, which without the insulin sensitizing effects of exercise, would likely cause repeated insulin spikes that over time could lead to insulin resistance (IR), which is a precursor to prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes (T2D). I apologize for the lack of clarity and context and definitely meant no offense!

Someone commented that intramyocellular lipids (small droplets of fat in muscle cells) cause T2D and cited a website that claims to ground recommendations peer-reviewed science. I wrote the following response and thought it would be a good thing to share here, because it illustrates some of the common pitfalls of allowing an so-called expert to cherry-pick and summarize primary sources without verifying those conclusions for yourself (even if that person has an M.D.). For the record, I am aware of the irony that I am “picking” sources to make a point here, as well, but my point is that you should take all perspectives - mine included - with a big grain of salt!

Here is my response; you can see the full comment thread on the Trainer Road FB page:

I appreciate your interest in this topic. Let’s dig into it. Intramyocellular lipids (IMCL) have been CORRELATED with insulin resistance (IR), i.e. we do see higher IMCL in people with IR, but whether IMCL CAUSE IR has not been proven and remains controversial. An example of this is the Athlete’s Paradox - see, e.g., this 2018 study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29110300 – where athletes have the same high levels of IMCL as non-trained people with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), but the athletes do not have T2D or IR—evidence contrary to Dr. Greger’s assertion that IMCL cause IR & T2D. More here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3804891/. The reality is far more complex. Dr. Greger is cherry-picking studies (most from 20 years ago) to support his assertion that a vegan diet can reverse/prevent various diseases, including T2D. He doesn’t mention any of the many (more recent) studies showing that a high-fat low-carb diet can also treat T2D by increasing insulin sensitivity. I found three in a brief search, including a comprehensive review article:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5329646/ .

I have nothing against veganism (it has many benefits and helps a lot of people), but I do have a problem with selectively using science to justify false claims. Eating vegan is beneficial for many people and may work for you, but the truth is there is no silver bullet that works for everyone. (The closest thing we’ve got to a silver bullet is exercise, and even that doesn’t cure everything.) Anyone who tells you that all you have to do is follow this ONE diet and you can reverse all major diseases is selling you something, and in fact, Dr. Greger is doing just that.

With all of that said, if it works for you, that’s great! Physiology is highly individual and varied, so I encourage everyone to experiment to find what works best for them. Just because one study found a particular result does not mean that it works for all of humankind, or that the study’s results can even be replicated (see https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124). That’s why it’s important to read multiple studies and look for counterexamples to prevent confirmation bias. Dr. Greger is not portraying a balanced view of our current understanding of metabolic disease and instead speaks in absolutes and presents only self-confirming evidence.

I write and edit scientific research proposals for a living, have authored/published peer-reviewed journal articles on physiology, and have studied human (and in particular exercise) physiology for many years with the world’s leading experts, and I still tell people to take what I say with a grain of salt and figure out what works for them. Anyone who doesn’t is not a real scientist. Science doesn’t work in absolutes, especially when it comes to physiology. In fact, just to check myself, I reached out to a physiologist friend who studied metabolic disease at the Mayo Clinic, and he said: “The real issue is not a matter of simple [IMCL]. Metabolic flux, tissue redox balance, and intramuscular inflammation all play a role in insulin resistance.” Even he is quick to point out the gray area.

The last thing I want to do is spread misinformation. I want to reiterate that I didn’t say carbohydrate causes diabetes, but I should have better clarified my comment, given the context of the conversation. I also don’t assert that sugar CAUSES diabetes (see my previous comment), but rather that repeated insulin spikes over time can lead to insulin resistance (IR). This is clearly not the only pathway to IR, nor does it capture the complexity of metabolic disruption that leads to T2D.

If you genuinely want to understand the science, I strongly encourage you not to take Dr. Greger’s word at face value and instead to go to the original literature and see for yourself. You can look up the original sources for studies he cites, or search keywords for related studies here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

You’ll quickly see a range of perspectives and far more complexity than what he portrays. I’ve seen worse and more harmful diet advice out there, but the fact remains that he does not offer his viewers an accurate representation of the state of the science on nutrition.

I realize I probably won’t change your mind about Dr. Greger or his website, but I hope that anyone else reading this thread will think twice about the nutritional “science” offered by websites that offer silver-bullet diets (and books and DVDs and related products). Just because his site operates as a non-profit does not mean that he isn’t making money from it (he owns the site according to public records and his non-profit reported over 1.5 million dollars in 2017 income according to Charity Navigator). As for veganism, there are plenty of sound reasons to promote this lifestyle without resorting to cherry-picking data to construct misleading conclusions.


Fantastic episode! Thank you TrainerRoad for dedicating an entire episode to talking with a rider from the woman’s pro pelaton, and most of all thank you Amber for sharing your honest common sense insights. I am the father of two little girls that I hope to see get into racing in the next several years, and hearing from a highly successful pro was inspiring. When my girls get a little older (they are only 3 and 6 right now) this episode is going to be required listening.

I love all things cycling, but as a father of daughters I am often discouraged by the lack of coverage of the woman’s races and by the bold faced sexism that seems to be woven into the pro cycling culture (at least from the standpoint of a fan watching from the outside). So to hear from a successful pro is an inspiration to a proud and hopeful father. Thank you again!

1 Like

Thank you TR for this episode!! Much appreciated. I was starting to wonder if women were even the target market anymore. I will echo the sentiments above in that Amber was/is awesome. I actually listened to the episode twice (once in the car, once at home on youtube). Great advise all around.

1 Like

Your post warms my heart. Your daughters are lucky to have you as their dad. I can tell you, having a strong support network that includes family can help your girls face almost anything. The sexism in sport is real, but I offer two hopeful observations. First, it is getting better, and second, the good people and experiences outweigh the bad. Many women before me paved the way for me, and when I’d get frustrated, I’d remind myself that in a sport with so much room for improvement, there are more opportunities to make a real difference, like those before me did. My hope is that your girls have more opportunities and fewer unnecessary challenges (and more of the good and fulfilling kinds). That said, as they encounter frustrating hurdles, take heart in knowing how much of a difference they might be making for others, too. The good parts of cycling are just awesome, and even the bad parts have silver linings. With parents like you out there, the future is bright!

1 Like

Can I say how fantastic this episode was?! Not only did you manage to cover some of the more serious or less talked about issues (e. g. eating disorders, living abroad, guys secretly wanting to use women’s saddles or women’s cycling), but you approached others from a more psychological, less tech-y side (e. g. how to overcome fears after crashing or push your limits by removing distractions). And your guest was incredibly witty, funny and charming to boot. Please invite her more often.

As a proud dad of a daughter who secretly hopes to one day go on long, epic rides with her, I learnt a lot!


It was an obvious tongue in cheek/flippant/joke comment. People are so quick to find issue with anything they possibly can on the internet. Seriously don’t worry about it. I thought it was obvious and am really surprised anyone would think otherwise. :man_facepalming:t3:


Completely agree with @Crownan. It was an informal comment made during a podcast and I completely understood and agreed with the sentiment. It didn’t warrant being picked apart



I was listen to this episode (again!) in the kitchen last weekend. My wife (she’s a triathlete) walked in and asked what I was listening to?

She really enjoyed listening to the podcast and I got the impression that you’d managed to discuss a few topics that are of particular interest to female cyclists and athletes.

1 Like

That was an especially good podcast and what a great guest! I’ll definitely be recommending it to my women clubmates.


I’m almost through the entire podcast backlog (about 10 to go).
I think this was the best episode yet!

I’d love to hear more pro women in front of the mic.


I really enjoyed the discussion on psychology post-crash. I had a big one 5-years ago that I never emotionally recovered from, broke 9-bones and a bike, had a long recovery. Although I’ve raced since, never enjoyed any racing on pavement, really been struggling with even group riding since. I vacillate between avoiding the road and telling myself “it’s worth the risk”.

1 Like

Just wanted to weigh in on this one - have to agree with general comments and theme here that Amber was a fantastic guest and it was a great episode. I’m pretty certain her fan base has been hugely increased as a result of the episode. She is a really inspiring individual and a role model for athletes in general, but in particular for all the women out there! Massive kudos

But at the same time I also want to say that the AACC podcast is fantastic in general and whilst this was a great episode, there are many other great episodes out there. I really look forward to them coming out each week and it has been a five star rating in my book since the first episode I listened to (and don’t worry Jonathan, I have rated it as such on iTunes).

Whilst it would be great to hear from Amber again in the future, the insights and banter that we get from Jonathan, Nate and Chad week in and week out is brilliant and I for one really appreciate the time and effort that they must put in each week to deliver it. @Nate_Pearson I think it’s fair to say that Amber has lots of fans but don’t worry we still love you guys as well :wink: