Could your experts please tell me why, when I get back into cycling after a lay-off in the winter, and ?dig deep?, I end up coughing after my ride, and bring up lots of phlegm. This happens for a few weeks, then stops. I also sometimes taste blood in my mouth when racing hard. Is this normal?

J. Maynard, Bournemouth

This isn?t normal, however it?s difficult to think of any serious problem that could give rise to symptoms only occurring for a few weeks every year. The most likely explanation is that a sudden increase in the airways? exposure to cold air causes a reaction that results in a cough.

Many riders suffer from regular exercise-induced coughing during the winter months, which may be a variant of exercise-induced asthma. It would be interesting to know if you have any other symptoms during cycling (tight chest, wheezing).

As for the taste of blood, if you start coughing blood then you should see your GP.

James Hull

Respiratory expert Specialist in respiratory and general internal medicine, James studied exercise physiology before turning to medicine