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· fu
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I took a week off from riding and today decided to go for a 24-mile ride ...or so I thought. About 3 miles into it, my left hamstring started cramping up while going uphill (not steep at all). After about a minute, it got so bad that I had to get off the bike and take a break. When I got back on, I took it really easy but kept going. After a while my right hamstring cramped up. I only rode 12 miles before calling it quits. I'm home now and my hamstrings are still hurting every time I get off the couch. I went from riding 200-250 miles a week to basically doing nothing in the last 6 days (there was a good reason). What happened to me?
 

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You probobly went to hard to soon. When coming off a rest week its best to ease into it. I usually do a slow moderate distance ride and slowly build up the intensity/duration again.

The muscle definitely weakened due to the lack of exercise, but because you gave it some time to rest the potential to build up is now greater.
 

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Did you spend your off time sitting around, bed rest, pigging out at an "all you can eat buffet"?

If you're logging 200 miles a week you should have been able to keep some form as long as you didn't do any of the above things I mentioned.
 

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Unless he was completely bedridden and immobile for that one week, I think we can rule out atrophy, and atrophy would affect strength more than anything else, not cause cramping. After 1 full week off of strenuous exercise, the body usually comes back a bit stronger than before because it has allowed itself to fully recover from constant training.

Maybe you just weren't hydrated enough, didn't have enough calcium or potassium in your system, who knows. Start eating right and staying hydrated and see if you get any better. If not, see a doctor.
 

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You either didn't stretch and warm up properly or you didn't have enough nourishment which could result in cramps. It could have been a coincidence that this happened after a week off or it could be because it was a week off and you didn't ease into it. What did you eat and drink before the ride and how much time passed between eating and riding? I'd take a day or so for them to get better and try again. This time stretch and warm up and make sure you are hydrated and nourished.
 

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this happens to me as well. I don't believe it is related to hydration, electrolyte imbalance etc but reflects your body's adaptation to the bike (in terms of muscle pattern generation, range of motion etc). If I take more than 2 days off the bike, I sometimes experience intense quad cramping just from a brief walk, calf pains etc. It can be brutal. My recommendation - and the only thing I've found that works - is to do at least a light spin on a trainer or even a stationary bike in a hotel gym if you're traveling rather than being completely off the bike. Also, I find if it happens I'm OK the next day back on the bike.
 

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I highly doubt that a week off from riding had a major effect on your fitness. It takes years to build and those adaptations just don't magically disappear - similar to how you just didn't magically get fit in a week. If anything, a rest period probably does you some good long term.
 

· fu
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the input, everyone!

I'd been riding a MTB and a perf. hybrid since 2003 but only got a road bike last year. I wasn't using the hamstrings a whole lot on the previous two bikes so they're not as seasoned as my quads. I was eating junk food while my wife was in a hospital having our second baby last week which probably didn't help. I made sure that I was well hydrated before yesterday's ride. I usually do a few 22Mph warm-up laps in the park by my house before hitting the road. Yesterday I did 20Mph laps instead since I was trying to take it easy. I guess that wasn't easy enough. Today I rode 16 miles just doing the laps, averaging 18Mph. The hamstrings didn't bother me at all. I'm going to try my 24 mile route tomorrow and going a little harder.
 
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