Dear Fitness Expert,
I am a competitive cyclist. Would it be harmful to carry on training during pregnancy with the intention of racing soon after (and perhaps before) giving birth?
I have been training regularly for 3 years now and before that I used to run long distance so my body is well used to hard sessions.
You really need to check out the book, Entering the Mother Zone. While it was written for moms and moms-to-be of all shapes and sizes, it was initially created for elite athletes. There are many documented cases of Olympic athlete/moms who trained intensively during pregnancy. It sounds like you are in fabulous shape and there is not reason why you should not be able to continue throughout your cycling career.
HOWEVER, there are several sports in which I heavily caution moms-to-be. Cycling is one. As long as you are properly hydrated and watch your inner core temperature (check www.pregnancy.org website to learn more about inner core temperature and how to check it for the safety of the fetus), your body is already conditioned for intense workouts. It is the outside factors that you cannot control while skiing, horseback riding and cycling -- other cars, riders, weather -- that might cause you to crash.But can you continue the intense training while pregnant? Yes. As long as you get permission from your family physician who knows your medical history and you work with a buddy/trainer.
Additional training aids recommended are a fetal and heart monitor.
Again, check out the Mother Zone and get permission from your doctor but I would strongly suggest creating an indoor bike training routine by the second trimester.