Struggling with Out of Saddle cycling on turbo (I can't pedal on saddle due to catheter) advice please

I am struggling with doing out of saddle training on the turbo and would welcome any ideas please.

Background: last year I was doing TTs from 10m to 12 hrs and even managed over 22mph in the BBAR competition. Seven weeks ago I had serious water retention, ended up in A&E having a catheter to drain my bladder and came out with a catheter until I can get the operation to reduce my prostate. (I am 61, but I feel I aged from 45 to 65 in a week). I don’t know when operation might be.

The urology consultant turned up with an Ironman Lanyard and in response to “Can I still cycle?”, said “No, absolutely not. You cannot sit on a saddle, even on a turbo”. Running is OK, but no cycling! (I don’t have a bag, but have a valve on the end of the catheter I can tuck into my shorts and run). However, a later converation with him went “Well, yes you could do out of saddle cycling, but sitting on a saddle is likely to cause bleeding in the uretha due to the catheter tube” (Sorry for the detail)

Advice please: However, despite this glimmer of hope, I am struggling with out of saddle cycling, and looking for advice.

What am I actually doing?

  1. I am using my road bike, with the front wheel on two blocks raised approx 80mm 3". I have a Kickr core. I am controlling the power from my wahoo elemnt, setting the power for that interval.
  2. I started trying simple intervals, with 60 second up and then 20 second sat back, not pedaling. Repeated for 15-20 mins.
  3. Second session I managed 90 seconds up at various powers, and 30 sec sat back.
  4. Today I tried 2 mins with 30s seated, at various power levels but again struggled after around 20 minutes, and reverted to 60 second intervals.
  5. My FTP was around 240 (probably 230 over winter). I am starting these intervals at 150W and going up to 200W. I have tried a few higher powered ones, up to 220W, but wanted to ease my wahy in and make sure I was not doing myself any harm.
  6. I find I can do a cadence of around 60, or 65, but if i raise it to 70 or 80 things resistance drops away and I find it hard to sustain the standing power. I feel I am chasing the pedals, even though there is the resistance.
  7. Sometimes I am on the hoods, but I find it easier to be on the drops.
  8. Even these short sessions, at normalish powers seem hard work.

Also started running again: I am running every other day, and trying to do these OOS sessions on the alternate days. (I have not run for 7 years (though ex-ironman triathlete). I definitely need to give my legs time to recover after a run.

Advice appreciated So, any advice on how I can make these sessions more manageable, would be appreciated. I want to get back to Time Trialling next season (I have completely written off this season obviously), subject to getting teh operation. So I want to keep some cycling in my legs and this out of saddle turbo approach seems to be the only solution.

PS In case anyone else had similar issues I was going to tag this post with catheter and prostate, but they don’t seem to be accepted.

I’ve totally ignored your questions, sorry, but have two immediate thoughts.

First thought is have you looked at ISM saddles? I would of course recommend discussing them with your urologist before using
Note that there are other brands of saddle offering similar benefits and ISM tend to work better for people with bigger skeletons and a wide pelvis.

Second (and one that would need validating for your situation!) would be if you had access to an elliptical trainer, where you may use some of the muscles used in cycling in a similar motion at a measurable power output. When I partially tore my Achilles my physio got me working through 3 months on an elliptical trainer gradually building workload. I hardly lost any performance through that period.

Thanks @Boombang, yes have ISM saddles on my TT bike and track bike, but while they look a sensible option, I am not going to risk causing a problem, and then having to contact the NHS to sort it out. Hence, staying off the saddle entirely, except when stationary.

Sorry, no elliptical trainer, and no room for one, either. But I can run, so that is very similar.

I wonder if you should try Resistance or Level mode?

That run away feeling sounds like an ERG issue and I think one of the other modes may serve you better. They will require shifting and attention by you to get the right resistance, but controls in a way that may be better for your use case.

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Thanks Chad, that is an idea - I will give Level mode a try.

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I had a point last year where I wasn’t able to sit on a saddle. I tried a few things.

One, you may try a noseless saddle. It is really mainly something to lean against rather than sit on because it will restrict your pedalling motion. You might be able to use it for rest valleys while you stand and hammer on the intervals. I don’t think trainer road is perhaps a great option during this period.

The other thing I tried was just standing work on Zwift. I thought I might climb Alpe du Zwift, Innsbruck, London Leith and Heith. It was great in theory, but really beats you up so you can’t do it every day.

Ultimately, I ended up taking some time off the bike and doing some strength training instead.


Recumbent - on a turbo?

Thanks @russell.r.sage I have some adamos, but I am not going to risk it, just in case. Am definitely avoiding TR for the moment. All I want to do is out of the saddle for enough that keeps my legs remembering what cycling is about :slight_smile: I think my chances of climbing Alpe du Zwift is minimal at the moment :frowning: I would struggle with “Bump du Zwift”

My $.02…listen to your doctor. Run since that seems to be OK, look for an elliptical as noted above, but just accept that riding isn’t the best option for you right now.

Trying to force standing-only cycling into a training regimen is likely going to be of marginal benefit anyway. Better to take a temporary step back now than risk more serious injury / damage in the future.


Yes. Some do it. Not mine, but here…

Also someone in my local club was trying to find a trainer for a recumbent.

Edit: they have models that are 700c and 559. 406 (20”) might work if there is clearance on the trainer and blocks under wheels. Also use power pedals instead of trainer power.

Sound advice, thanks @Power13. Dr did say out of saddle cycling was OK, just to be careful. Frankly it is a bit better than running with a catheter in (which he was quite happy with) as you tend to pee cranberry juice (get blood in the urine) for the next pee or two afterwards, until it clears. The first time was a bit of a “Oh Er!” moment until the nurse said, “Oh that is normal. As long as it clear after drinking a load you are fine! That evens happening when people do gardening”. That was not in any of the books!

@mcneese.chad Thanks Chad, I used level 4 this morning and it was much more manageable. I am still rubbish at out of the saddle cycling, but at least it felt more natural and controlable, and I feel i can make progress with it in this mode.

Really appreciate all your input into TR. :slight_smile: Take care & stay safe.

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Great news, glad you found something that works better.

Always happy to help when I can. Keep up the training and make sure to take care of yourself too :smiley:

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I had the same issues as you. Taken into hospital March 2018 (age 64) to have my bladder drained and discharged with a catheter. Had a catheter with bag, then valve and then intermittent Self Catherisation until surgery in May 2019.

When I was discharged with the catheter there was no restriction on what exercise I could do. I found it very uncomfortable to walk never mind run so that was out. Tried the turbo and after a few sessions found a position that was comfortable and did not cause any problems (bleeding). I found that if I went into a normal cycling position on the hoods and especially on the tri bars I was aware of the catheter (but no pain) and had blood in my urine after. However, if I sat very upright with just my finger tips on the bar I had no discomfort or bleeding. In this position I was doing 4 to 6 turbos each week for several months with no issues.

If you have a catheter with valve there is not reason why you cannot do ISC. The one-use catheters are quick and easy to use. You should make enquiries to see if you can do ISC.

Trust all goes well and you have a good outcome from your surgery.

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Cheers, that is useful, thanks @innesmacr. I have discussed ISC, but unfortunately I can’t get to ISC at the moment with all the nurses tied up. So am using flip flow, which is far easier and more convenient than a bag. However have been well warned off pedalling with catheter. I have been running, and getting blood in urine afterwards (peeing cranberry juice as I call it). But that clears after a while and downing a pint or so of water.

Crickey, 10 months! - that was a long wait you had. I am pleased to hear you were able to get back to the turbo again. Did you have any longer term effects of having had a catheter and waiting for so long? Or do you think that was mitigated by the ISC?

How long after the operation did it take to back to cycling normally?

Thanks. for post. Partly I wanted to share so others would find and perhaps discuss this stuff openly and get advice, so your contribution appreciated. Thanks for the good wishes.

Agree that this issue should be shared.

I didn’t realise I had a problem, just sort of creeped up on me. I had some issues emptying my bladder but did not think it was an issue. I then developed a lump on my stomach, similar to when I had a hernia but further up. After the second scan I was rushed to hospital. The first thing the Consultation said to me on the basis of the scan that my best outcome would probably be ISC. (bladder muscles stretch and lose function) I was kept in hospital for a number of days to monitor my kidney function as the retention had affected my right kidney. After an internal examination of my bladder I had to wait for surgery to remove a “growth” on my bladder. I then had a (long) wait for a meeting with the Consultant. Then a wait for a Urodynamic Test (very “interesting” experience). Then a wait for a PSA test and then surgery. 14 months in total + 6 months to get diagnosed.

I have no long terms effects of the catheter but mentally is was difficult and I was quite “down” at times. ISC was great as it gave me back a “normal” life.

Recovery is similar to other operations, for me, much the same as for my hernia surgeries. First 4 / 6 weeks no lifting or cycling etc. I then started short zone 1 turbos and gradually increased the duration and intensity. Total recovery about 3 months

Hope that is not too much detail.

All the best.

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No too much detail. we need to share. Mine was quite different: Urine retention. I was watching Rugby on TV and kept wanting to go for a wee every 10 mins but nothing was happening. That was the Sat pm. Sun am at 5:00 I rang 111 in lots of discomfort. They diagnosed urine infection and got me some antibiotics.

However by Monday no improvement. In fact by early afternoon I was doubled up in agony, swollen stomach, and really painful. Had emergency trip to GP, who went “Urine retention, get to A&E, i will get you an emergency admission, and get driven in - it will be quicker than an ambulance”. That was 17:50pm.

By 19:00pm I had a catheter in and by 20:00 I had filled a two litre bag and another 450cc in another bag! Apparently, a bladder is normally full at 600cc and the ultrasound machine they use to determine the urine in a bladder goes up to 999cc. I was way off the scale.

So it crept up on me as well, but when it started in earnest with this urine retention, it all happened very quickly. There was an infection, but it is not clear what triggered the retention issue.

A warning to anyone reading this, if you are having such a problem and feeling bloated, don’t hand around tring to finish business skype calls. Get yourself checked very quickly.

wow, thanks for posting this, didn’t even realize this was a thing to look out for. Every male on my dads side has had prostate cancer and issues with their prostate so I really should educate myself more as I am already in my 40s. Is there anything one can do to help avoid such issues before it happens?

Don’t really have any advice as for how to cycle, but it could always be helpful to see this as an opportunity to work on other areas that you wouldn’t normally have the time to devote to, like strength training or running or whatever.

Good luck man!

Hilbert you mean can you avoid prostate cancer? There is a lot of information on the internet about diet and exercise. But as someone who has had their prostate removed due to cancer. Please if you have any of the symptoms of prostate cancer get yourself checked out. I had a few examinations that missed it but fortunately I persisted and had a blood test that caught it at early stage. I am sitting at 2.2 thousand miles cycled this year. So there is life after cancer.