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Palm trees & sunshine!
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Discussion Starter #1
For a while now I've been getting serious charlie horses whenever I pickup my cadence above 90 or so. It's almost always going up a hill but not under a lot of effort -- easy gradual climbs I can motor up no problem (minus the cramps).

I'm out of shape right now but this has been an ongoing thing with me, even when I'm at my peak. I've been making sure I'm good and hydrated, I drink gatorade, take suppliments, stretch, etc....

Is there anything positionally that would contribute to this? My setup is pretty normal. I'm not unconfortable on the bike, no hot spots on my feet, plenty of float.... Again, I get them when I pick up my cadence, almost always on an incline but with nominal effort. If I were hammering or mashing, I'd understand but that's not the case. They don't happen every time out but they definitely buzzkill an otherwise good ride.
 

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Palm trees & sunshine!
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Discussion Starter #3
_AEF_ said:
Can you describe where? Is it always in one muscle?
Yes... always in the center of my calf. I don't know the name of the muscle but it's right in the meat of it. Always. Both legs.
 

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Resident Curmudgeon
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I'd make sure my potassium levels were up. Bananas are good for this.
 

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Anecdotal, but food for thought.

My calves used to cramp at high cadences (100+) until I moved my cleats as far back as they would go. It's purely anecdotal evidence, of course. But I did give this some thought and figured this is what happened: with the cleats more forward, I was pedaling more "on my toes," recruiting my calf muscles a lot - and at high cadences, they didn't have time to relax during the upstroke.

With my cleats all the way back, I feel like I can bring more force onto the pedal at very low cadences, as when climbing very steep hills. On the other hand, my high-rpm spin seems to less smooth than it was. But all this is perception - I've not tested this on a known course with a stop watch.

Before I moved my cleats back, I did some longer rides with tennis shoes and BMX pedals (much to the derision and laughter from my riding partners). That allowed me to change foot position on the pedal during the rides and sort of feel my way into what cleat position would work for me.
 

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Palm trees & sunshine!
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Discussion Starter #7
_AEF_ said:
Have you recently changed pedals or shoes? It does sound like your cleats might be a touch to forward.
I have them all the way back. I did just switch to Sidis though but the problem predates them. (I was hoping that they'd help get rid of it)

I've stocked up on the bananas.
 

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...........kinda along the lines of what wim said,I find that this happened a lot to me primarily because I rode with my ankles high which put a lot more load on my calves
 

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It's not TOO Cold!
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Sounds to me like your calves are not up to the load you are putting on them. I used to have similar problems when skiing moguls. I would stretch, eat bananas, etc. As soon as I started changing my weight training routine to load up the calves in the off-season the cramping problem went away. If you change you foot position you might unload the calves enough to reduce the cramping, but there could be other problems encountered. As the calves get stronger, the cramping should reduce until it goes away.
 

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Fini les ecrase-"manets"!
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I had the same problem a couple of years ago, and I found that what Sledgehammer said is right on the money.

The muscles could do the job under heavy load, but as soon as I was spinning, they'd cramp--sometimes really badly. It's really easy to work harder at the beginning of the season than you should, and it's really hard to tell you're doing so--you don't feel out of shape particularly, heck, you rode all winter (though maybe a little less often than in the summer), so you should be fine, right? But you may have lost more strength in certain places than you think.

I did two things: I started to pedal much more heel-down. This keeps the calves extended a little more at all times--it's when the muscles are bunched that you're most likely to cramp. I was definitely very toe-down before. Then I backed off my training a bit, and tried to take it much easier for a couple of weeks. I got the miles, but I did less-challenging courses and at slower/easier pace (because the rides were easier I rode a little more often too).

After a couple of weeks, the new foot position felt natural, and my calves were strong enough that I could slowly ramp up the intensity. Now I'm all about having a more or less flat foot position, and I try to pay special attention to calf strength in the off-season.
 
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