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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just finished a 43 mile ride the other day and on the last hill before I got home both of my legs....well, siezed? cramped?...on me. This sensation was completely different from a "stitch in the side". I had to quickly get of my bike and COMPLETELY stop moving around. Just moving my legs (thus using my muscles) even a fraction of an inch caused my quads and hamstrings both to get this weird exteme "pulling" sensation. I knew if the pulling continued that I would be in exteme pain. After about five minutes I was able to get on my bike and very, very slowly pedal again. Any moderate effort caused the feeling to quickly return. After I got home this "condition" persisted for a few hours although I could walk around just fine but climbing stairs I could feel that the sensation would return.

I drank almost 115 ounces of a sports drink (sqwencher - has two forms or sodium and also has potassium) during the ride so I can't imagine that it was lack of fluids, but maybe I need more? My ride lasted about 2 1/2 hours and the weather was around 80 deg. I also had a cliff bar halfway through.
I'm used to riding 30 miles almost everyday averaging 21-22 MPH (sometimes twice a day) and have never had this problem. I've been riding this way for almost four months. I also made sure that I was drinking before the ride; about three to four hours before the ride although it was diet pepsi - large taco bell drink left over from lunch; although I normally have this everyday.

So anyway I trying to figure out if what I experienced was a cramp or something else. It just never felt like any cramp I've ever had before. Also, once any other type of cramp I've had went away it never returned again. Has anyone had this happen?
 

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I'm prone to recurring cramps in the same spots--right quad, on the front of the thigh, and left calf, on the back. Hydration and electrolytes help, but are not absolute proof against cramping. Distance is not necessarily a factor for me, and temperature is not a reliable predictor. The most common scenario I've experienced is one in which I've ridden a fair distance (30+ miles), not necessarily at a killing pace, and then suddenly ramped up the effort, which typically means hitting a steep climb in too big a gear. The cramping often doesn't begin for quite a while after the big push, sometimes when I'm just spinning along and start to accelerate. The only thing I can do is to get off the bike and relax for a while, then try to walk off the cramp before my legs seize up. I should start carrying a tube of liniment in my jersey....
 

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Wrong direction

jabpn said:
I just finished a 43 mile ride the other day and on the last hill before I got home both of my legs....well, siezed? cramped?...on me. I drank almost 115 ounces of a sports drink (sqwencher - has two forms or sodium and also has potassium) during the ride so I can't imagine that it was lack of fluids, but maybe I need more?
The general rule for drinking is about an oz. per mile. You drank 3X that! There's no way you should need to drink that much at 80 degrees. I'm guessing that if you weighed yourself after the ride, you'd find that you'd gained weight. You're heading toward hyponatremia drinking that much. Your description doesn't sound like a normal cramp, though people use different words for it. To deal with cramps, stretching or massage right away is the immediate relief and adequate hydration and minerals is the preventative. Hard to figure out what happened to you, but you SURELY are drinking too much.
 

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I have this problem, too. It's so damn annoying, and on one group ride I almost caused an accident because my legs seized up in the middle of the paceline.

I wonder if poor fit has something to do with it. I've never been fitted, and am always fiddling with saddle height, setback, etc.

I will try the hammer endurolyte. I'll try anything. Cramping stinks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Derailer said:
I have this problem, too. It's so damn annoying, and on one group ride I almost caused an accident because my legs seized up in the middle of the paceline.

I wonder if poor fit has something to do with it. I've never been fitted, and am always fiddling with saddle height, setback, etc.

I will try the hammer endurolyte. I'll try anything. Cramping stinks.
Hmmmm....kind of the same way myself. I tend to use comfort as the rule of thumb as to how something fits. I have used wrenchscience.com to get my overall measurements but I seem to be tweaking a little here or a little there.

The weird thing is I've done five centuries now and not a problem and I've gone on longer rides and not a problem. Yeah cramping, if that's what this is, sucks. One of the reasons I question if it's cramps I get (I've had this happen before but only three or four times and I haven't found a similar enough situation after lots of looking around on my own, thus why I'm posting here) or not is because a search on the forum didn't describe the experience of cramps as being like mine. Namely, once cramps stop hurting people can continue on riding. What happens to me pretty much grounds me for the remainder of the ride. There's no way I can get back on the bike, even pedaling extremely easily, because the situation quickly rears its ugly head again. Even walking too fast will cause the muscles to do "whatever" they do so I would need to be picked up.

I will have to try weighing myself concerning the whole too much water thing. I sweat alot. On my typical 30 mile ride my helmet straps are caked with salt, once they dry, and I usually have lovely little salt stains on my jersey and shorts. Part of the reason I drink so much is on kindof/sortof a doctor recommendation. I say sort of because I've never actually discussed with him how much fluid I should drink. The long story short, ever since I started seriously biking (i.e. mostly every day) about a year ago I've constantly had headaches nearly every day and my eyes have become constantly bloodshot. Not bad but if you looked closely at my eyes you would see it and no matter what I do it never goes away. Ever,. So I went to my doctor originally for the headaches. Bloodwork and other tests revealed nothing unusual and he attributes it to how I get my migraines which appear to be caused by neck muscle strain/stress. He noticed my eyes. I described the situation. He suggested I wasn't drinking near enough water as red eyes typically meand dehydration or irritation. My eyes aren't dry just red and the tests revealed nothing out of the ordinary which is why he suggested the lack of hydration. Considering I would typically go through two 24oz water bottles on my 30 mile rides......hence why I drink so much now. But.....eyes still red so there goes that theory I guess....maybe refill the hydration pack midway through the ride :D .
 

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don't overdue the electrolytes...

I met another rider recently who took waaay too many ( supplements, Tums, bannanas, salty foods, etc.) to avoid leg cramps on a very tough ride, this screwed up his heart rhythm, he ended up in ICU for a few days, left w/ a $20K bill that his insurance only covered 75% of...but no permanent damage. Overdoing fluids can be really bad too as Kerry said, even fatal from what I've read.
anyway, I've had good results w/ Tums (calcium), but have to take them before leg cramps occur, they don't seem to help much after they have started. Have also heard that quinine is very effective, but don't know if it would work or be safe in an athletic setting.
 

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not that im an expert...

...but i find that getting off the bike hurts more than just slowing down or turning an easier gear. this helps when you are either on a flat or descending, but that is rarely when i cramp up. i can also usually sense when the cramp is coming and back off a bit.

but when they do hit, they scream. still, i try not to get off the bike.

and that too much water thing? yeah. not good. i get "water stomach" which leads to "water head."
 

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No expert,either.

I've had cramps 4 times in 6 years. I think it correlates to hydrating, and also to days where there are big increases in temperature while I'm out there. Endurolytes definitely seem to help as when I take them I don't get the chills in my legs that precede cramps. They also make me thirstier than I am when I don't take them.

When the cramps have happened in my quads, I've been able to stay on the bike or walk it off and resume running. Cramps in my calves have put me in the dirt with no hope of continuing until they subsided.

After the last round of them, I was determined to hydrate enough for the next event. I drank lots of water the night before, woke up, and drank some more. The race was delayed due to a problem on the course so we got a cup of coffee to pass the time. I peed 5 times in the first 9 miles of the marathon, but I didn't have anything near a cramp.
 

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I just experienced the same thing over a century ride this past weekend. I felt fine for the first 75-80 miles; after that I was in some seriuos pain. It may have been the heat (Close to 95 degrees) it may have been my age (40), not sure, but I will definately take everyones advise on the Tums. I have nothing to lose.
 

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Up until last weekend I was telling everyone how I never cramp - did a century in 90 degree weather, ride hills hard, hydrate with water and gatorade only....
Anyway, weekend before last we did a 65 mile ride and the last 2 miles was up a steep hill and sure enough I almost fell over trying to get off the bike while my hamstrings felt like piano wire...

I've now started using e-fuel (i think that's what it's called) and haven't had any new cramping...of course this weekend will be another 65 miler with about 6000ft of climbing so we'll see
 

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All these are decent suggestions, but let me offer mine as well. On some of my harder rides I would also cramp up on a severe hill not far from the end. My rule of thumb is to drink a bottle of water for every hour of riding at moderate to high pace. My quads would also cramp as you said. A buddy offered the hammer endourolytes and they worked decent enough, but honestly I think everyone's body chemistry is different as to what it tolerates.

Back in the day, I bought into the Accelerade carb to protein ratio and used it religiously... and strangely enough, I had the WORST cramping issues and it was not a matter of fitness. So, I tried another drink... Ultima... did alright with cramping but caused me some stomach issues and had no calories... so bonk. I ended up with Cytomax and I have been cramp free for at least a year and a half, even on the same ride, same effort, same temperature. So, consider changing your drink...

As far as over hydrating... "maybe"... I read something the other day that was kind of mind boggling. I read that an average competitive cyclist on a 2.5 hour moderate paced ride at 80 degrees can lose... get this FOUR to FIVE pounds of water weight via heat, perspiration and respiration. So, I somehow doubt that you are OVER hydrating, especially since your body will rid itself of excess fluids via uriniation... even so... I dont think excessive cramping is a typical symptom of overhydration. Plus, overhydration of solutes, as opposed to water, would have a lower chance of "flushing" the necessary nutrients.

So, other than changing your endurance drink... I would strongly consider upping your calcium. Most people tend to look at potassium and sodium, but calcium also plays an important role in muscle contraction and relaxation. I also started supplementing at night with a calcium tablet, and once again... no more cramps. So take a good look at your diet and validate you are getting sufficient calcium... most men don't. If you feel you get adequate calcium, take a look at how much caffiene you intake and when. I know a lot of the discussions indicate that caffeine intake also increases the amount of calcium excreted via urine... so just make sure all is moderate, you have adequate calcium intake in your diet and you should be fine.

Best of luck.
 

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I ride in excess of three hours or so, putting in between 40~60 miles. It also gets pretty hot here in the Folsom Sacramento area. I try and ride eralier in the morning. I bring two bottles mixed with half water, oo-long and chrysanthemum tea.

I also believe in the power of stretching. I stretch out my whole body on a daily basis. If I know I'm not going to have time to get a good stretch in the moring before a ride. I stretch out the night before. That way I can do a little stretching in the morning and get a good stretching session in at the end of my ride.

Most people don't stretch on a regular basis. But if your going to use your body for anything athletic, you really should consider adding stretching to your daily curriculum.

Not hard to do, I stretch while I watch TV! Sometimes I hold a stretch during the commercial, other times I hold the stretch during the program and take brakes during the commercial.

I use a mixture of Chi Gong and Hatha Yoga for my stretching needs. Hatha Yoga for warm downs and to slow down my heart rate and hard Chi Gong when I really need to put out hard force. I rarely if ever get cramps...

Peace :aureola:
 

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R1000, if you look anything like your photo, I will swallow every pill you listed and stretch until I pass out!!! Funknuggets, awesome and thanks for the suggestions. I will try to change my drink. I went from Gatorade to GU, but nothing helped over this weekend..
 

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Soda isn't going to properly hydrate you before a ride. It seems caffiene is in alot of gels and supplements, but time spent in the desert taught me that caffiene will also cause dehydration. I ride in Fl, and while it usually isn't as hot as out west, the humidity can be a killer. I've found straight water or a slightly diluted sports drink along with endurolytes seem to cure most cramping. If you don't have to stop in the middle of or at the end of the ride you aren't hydrating enough. Overhydrating is a very rare occurance, especially if you are ingesting any type of caffeine.
 

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Cramped well after the ride..

A couple of weeks ago after a short 30 miler in relatively cool temperature I got home, drank, stretched, and then took a nap. It must have been two hours later and I got a cramp in my right quad that woke me up and brought tears to my eyes. There was a knot above my knee that felt like a billiard ball. I couldn't bend my leg and it was about five minutes before it went away. I've never felt pain like that before and never that bad during a ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
***UPDATE***

So I just got done riding the Flowerfest century. At about mile 50 I could feel the "cramps" start to come on. Albeit very slowly. So I pedaled about three miles to the nearest gas station (let's forget about the fact that a SAG station was just around the corner and I didn't know it- whoops) and downed 44 ozs of Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi. Which by the way was very refreshing as I was rding in 95 deg heat. Even though I had H.E.E.D in my hydration pack and Perpetuem in a water bottle (mixed with enough for six hours) the pop was nice and cool, definitely a nice mental effect to get back on the bike. I biked back to the course and hit the SAG station and stopped for a little while. Got back on the bike and rode the rest of the century.

I think a couple of things are lending themselves to my cramping issues. One is fitness. I think I just need to keep plugging away the miles. Although I finished the last half of the century I was very slow. Although interesting enough it wasn't a bonking situation. I've done that before so I know it wasn't the case here. I think it was more of the heat getting to me. I noticed towards the end that my heart rate wouldn't slow down to normal even when I would stop for about ten minutes or so. I also wasn't sweating much. I don't know how much of this was due to the heat (sweating issue) or lack of fluids. Despite the pop I had, water at the SAG stations, 2.5 L in my hydration pack plus a 28 oz water bottle of H.E.E.D, and a similar bottle of the perpetuem mix I stopped once again at the gas station (ride consisted of three loops) right before the end and downed another 44 oz of pop. After that pop I felt much, much better. I never did have to pee the second half of the ride but after the second pop I did shortly after the end. I think the sodium is what I lose most of. I was literally caked in salt after the century. I also sweat ALOT!

So now, besides putting in lots of miles, I going to be adding salt to my drinks and playing around with the ratios. I hoping to get to the point that I actually tire myself out instead of ending rides due to cramps even though I'm not physically tired. I've noticed that the rides I've started cramping on has included more rolling hills. A lot more than what I rode last year as my main loops. They had one or two hills but that was it. The century I just did and my new loops have lots of rolling hills and two or three big ones mixed in.
 

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venus said:
BTW: the BALANCE of your electrolytes is key. It’s not just how much potassium or sodium you can take in but the equality in the entire mix.
Agreed. Doesn't sound like the OP is drinking ANY regular water (or almost none) which is overkill and, in hot weather, a recipe for an upset stomach. At the most, every other bottle should be sports drink (maybe even every third bottle). There's only so much sugar, salt, and potassium that a body needs.
 
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