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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yesterday I totally seized-up after a hot ride. I usually do fine in the heat, but yesterday not so. We did a (fairly regular) 70 mile training loop at moderate/strenuos pace, with about 5000' of climbing. The temps were right at about 100f with little wind. I've been training in the southwest all winter, so I am pretty fit, and I do train and race as a 60+ Master, so I am no stranger to 'hurting'. While I've had the occaiaional leg cramp following summer races on hot days, this was quite severe. And man, both legs at once? Ugly and painful! I did just change my sport drink from Accelerade to Cytomax and I did not do any Gatoraide at our breif water stop (in Goldendale, Wa. at the top of the loop) but I did keep well hydrated and fed all day (around 3.5 hrs in the saddle) with one bottle of 'strong' Accelerade, Gu gels and powerbars. In the past, this kind of fluid uptake has been sufficient for me to mostly avoid post ride cramping except very rarely after extreemly hot long races..We DID do a number of very strenous town line sprints, one "killer" at the end of the ride, followed by an 800' climb back up to my house(about 6%) during which I tried to recover and wind-down.. When I finished at home, I felt quite flushed and a bit light headed, so I cooled down carefully, then took a coolish shower to further bring down my core temp and get comfortable (it was still in the 100f range at 5pm in the house) So, how do I avoid that happening again? What did I do wrong (other than get older?) Is there some kinda electrolyte drinks or supps. I should be considering to lessen the tendency to cramp? I realize you can't totally avoid (at least I've never heard of any endurance athelete that has *never* had a cramp) these, but I would like to have as few as possible. BTW, the muscles that cramped yesterday are still real tender today.
Thanks for any advice, opinion, Urban myth, etc.
Don Hanson
 

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Crampology

VeloNews, July 1, 2003, Monique Ryan. Cramp causes are a mystery but most likely are due to muscular exhaustion, low fuel, bio mechanical problems, fluid losses, and mineral deficiencies. Na losses per liter of sweat have been measured from 115 to 2300 mg. Studies on football players have shown that players who lost more Na were more likely to cramp (3 gm/hr vs 1 gm/hr). Drink 16-32 oz one hour before the ride, and then 8-16 oz 20-30 minutes before the ride. Add 1/2 tsp salt per large bottle for Na supplementation during a ride - that's 1200 mg of sodium.

Adventure Cyclist Sept/Oct. 2001 Muscle Cramps comments by Nancy Clark. 5 theories (none proven, as science does not know the cause of cramps, and cannot cause cramps predictably): 1) hydration, 2) lack of calcium (doubted by nutritionists), 3) lack of sodium, 4) lack of potassium (not likely since the body has so much) 5) lack of pickle juice (lots of ions). Note, musicians get hand cramps, even though they are not likely experiencing any of 1-5.

My own experience has been that electrolytes and hydration are the keys. Taking a TUMS or two at the break in a long ride seems to help in the home stretch. For long rides, I also add both table salt and salt substitute (potassium chloride) to my feed bag (fig bars) to insure adequate electrolyte intake. Keeping a high cadence is always helpful. Your check for hydration can be either weighing yourself as you leave and when you get back (retrospective), having to pee every 2 hours or so during the ride (concurrent), or keeping track of past rides and how much you drank and drinking more this time (prospective). It never hurts to down a glass of water just before you get on the bike.

www.roadbikerider.com/cramps.htm
 

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i've been experiencing cramping in my calves as well, something that hasn't happened before. is it possible that cleat positioning would have an impact as well as the aforementioned potential causes? would pedal size have an impact? just wondering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you, Kerry

Guess I'll just have to be more dilligent (anal?) about keeping my electrolyte balance. I am guessing sodium loss is probably the main culprit. My helmet straps were quite white with salt after they dried out.
In the past, when working really hot, I have taken salt tablets with fairly good results..un-verifyable, subjective, yes, but we all (on my construction crew) did seem to feel more energy on very hot workdays with supplimental salt intake.. Yesterday's training, again very hot, I downed a quart of Gaitoraid prior to the ride and another after. Not even a twinge of cramping, though the specific muscles that cramped two days ago were very very sore, still. Anyhow, thanks for the info. Do all you can to avoid having BOTH legs cramp at the same time! That was simply awful!
Don Hanson aka Gnarly 928
 

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cramps ......

You might want to look at some of the Hammer Nutrition products - I think it is the endurolyte capsules that are supposed to contain the electrolytes to prevent cramping. A lot of people swear by them. Also, Joe Friel, the author of the Cyclist's Training Bible has a few new energy drinks on the market and some of them are specifically geared to hot weather riding. I have been adding salt to my Accelerade and that seems to help. I think it is a combination of having the proper hydration, electrolytes and fitness. I've had problems in the past but since I've gotten a little smarter about the electrolytes and am a little more fit, I've had less problems. Sometimes it seems that even when you do everything right, if you've been riding at your limit for a long time, the cramps come anyway. I've been there!
 

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Ditto

I'm 60. It's hot and really humid north of Houston. Two weeks ago and again this past saturday I camped at 3 hrs during a 3.5 hr ride. This past saturday I was armed with three large bottles with Hammer Sustain and I was popping the Electrolytes before and during the ride and I still cramped in my weak leg( old ACL injury). I was riding hard- it was all hills and I pulled close to 2.75 hrs with 2 hrs of strong head wind and cross wind. I thinking it is basically a fitness issue. My legs are good for 3 hrs of hammering (for me hammering, not Mr. Lance), not 3.5 hrs. This saturday I will drink more before the ride and will have a Camelback as well. I just started using the Hammer products. I will try the Gatorade with additional light salt again in a couple of weeks.This is what I use to use toghether with fig bars. I find it hard to determine what is hydration vs electrolite loss, vs fitness. I need to weigh before and after a ride like that to determine water loss. The good news from my perspective is that the past saturday was about as miserable as the weather gets! It will get hotter, but not with that level of humidity and wind. I suspect age is a factor and the airconditioning system may not work as well as 20 years ago-hate to admit it.
 

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I have had both legs cramp as well it was terrable! It was the last 30 miles of a century and both of my hamstrings cramped and i couldn't get off my bike. I had to stradle the top tube for a few min. before I could get off. Most pain i have ever felt! This happened probely 2 or 3 times every 10 miles or so. I dont know what caused this but a lack of salt could have done it. I am going to make sure to drink more too.
 
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