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Old 09-13-10, 11:53 AM   #1
bruce19
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Is this age related?

Please bear with me while I set the stage for my question. I'm 64, an ex-college football player and have been cycling for a couple decades. After watching my nutrition and riding about 50-75 mi. a week I managed to get my weight down from 197 to 188 lbs. Having lost about an inch in height I'm also down to 5'9" and have a 35 1/2" waist. OK, here's the question. I ride a 15 mi. TT as hard as I can (usually around 17+ mph) and feel great. I also ride 30-35 mi. pretty hard (somewhere in the 16.5 mph range with some significant hills) and also feel good at the end. But, as soon as I do a 30+ mi. ride that has a LOT of hard hills my legs become mush in the last 4-5 mi. (I should mention that I'm pretty slow on the climbs.) My breathing is fine and my heart is strong. But, despite making sure I eat and drink what I'm told I should, I still have leg spasms. Is this just age related and something I should get used to or is there some different approach or training I should try? (Sorry if this is long winded. I'm just at a loss.)
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Old 09-13-10, 12:26 PM   #2
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If you're having spasms, I would first think about dehydration - are you drinking enough?

Otherwise - using interval training will help with your fitness - and hills ARE intervals.

And yes - your age does affect your ability to recover. Any long ride is a series of effort/recover cycles, and the more you ride the more efficient your recoveries will be. But there can be no question that it gets harder as we age.
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Old 09-13-10, 12:44 PM   #3
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It's not age related, your just not use to that kind of workout. You just need more training on the hills, or whatever your other weak points may be. Congratulations on the weight loss. All the rest will come in time.
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Old 09-13-10, 12:50 PM   #4
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I agree with everything gizzsdad has stated, plus I'll add that you need to be thinking about electrolyte replacement.

Lots of chemicals (including salt) that you sweat out (on rides like the ones you mention) need to be replaced in order for your muscles to operate efficiently.

I prefer E-Caps by Hammer Nutrition, but whichever brand works for you would be good.

Here's a link to the Hammer E-Caps:
http://www.hammernutrition.com/produ...-energy-drinks

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Old 09-13-10, 02:11 PM   #5
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See Hermes post about old fashioned wisdom - there's no substitute for saddle time. I'd say that if you want to have the stamina to do challenging 30+ mile rides, you need to ride more than 50-75 miles/week. YMMV, but I'd guess that you'd do fine on those kind of rides if you were putting in 100-120 miles/week.
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Old 09-13-10, 02:15 PM   #6
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Do you spin Or mash?

You say breathing is fine on the hills but the legs give out. By spinning faster on the pedals- you will take some of the strain off the legs. Lower gear- higher Cadence (RPM of the legs) and you will find that the breathing does get harder. But somewhere there is the optimum for you. For me it is below where the legs give out and I run out of lungs.

Water- electrolites and cadence. Look at all 3 and get the rate up on all of them.
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Old 09-13-10, 05:00 PM   #7
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I prefer E-Caps by Hammer Nutrition, but whichever brand works for you would be good. OCRR
My choice of electrolytes is Gastrolyte from the pharmacy
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Old 09-13-10, 06:43 PM   #8
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Are you having spasms or cramps? Are you getting enough potassium in your diet? I had problems with cramping that adding bananas to my diet helped alleviate.
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Old 09-13-10, 06:53 PM   #9
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Yes. I am 65. Check your saddle height and also you can try moving it back about a 1/4 inch at a time to see if it helps. Its like the sound barrier, you just have to get through it.
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Old 09-13-10, 06:59 PM   #10
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It's not age related, your just not use to that kind of workout. You just need more training on the hills, or whatever your other weak points may be. Congratulations on the weight loss. All the rest will come in time.
More Hill Training.
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Old 09-13-10, 07:12 PM   #11
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Always follow a hottie up those hills boysand your legs will overcome.
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Old 09-14-10, 04:12 AM   #12
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Are you having spasms or cramps? Are you getting enough potassium in your diet? I had problems with cramping that adding bananas to my diet helped alleviate.
Spasms in the quads.
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Old 09-14-10, 06:21 AM   #13
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Spasms in the quads.
That's an overuse thing then. Those suggesting more hills / intervals are right on target.
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Old 09-14-10, 06:37 AM   #14
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Spasms in the quads.
Quads could also indicate your saddle might be a little low.

If you think this is a possibility, try raising it an 1/8" at a time.
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Old 09-14-10, 09:44 AM   #15
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.'Is this just age related and something I should get used to or is there some different approach or training I should try? (Sorry if this is long winded. I'm just at a loss.)

Yes and no on the age related. You could have just had a bad day and it was due to one of many possible reasons. Blaming age is a common "cop-out" which is too readily used in our sedentary culture.

On the other hand, recovery takes longer as one ages. If it was due to leg fatigue and that fatigue was not due to inadequate training/condition or inadequate carbs, then it could be due to inadequate rest time between training rides. Then yes if you haven't accommodated the need for longer recovery time.

I remember the first inkling of the longer rest time requirement at about 65 (71 now).

The curve (Bicycle Science 3, page 64) indicates a 2 mph drop in average speed between ages 60 and 70 for a 50 mile time trail. The drop-off is the same between 70 and 80. Both the speed and the oxygen consumption are straight line decreases from age 40. So nothing happens over night, popular folklore not withstanding.

Nothing in the data indicates legs "turning to mush". I have and always had days like that. One data point does not a trend make. Training/conditioning is the key as well as carb supplementation for hard rides over 30 minutes roughly.

There's a famous 74 year-old guy who goes around competing in the 100 mile mountain bike races like Leadville (Armstrong won the last one) and Tanasi/Ocoee. He should write a book on how he trains.

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Old 09-14-10, 10:14 AM   #16
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This is all good info. Thanks to everyone. FWIW, I've had this happen to me twice this season and both times it was on longer 40-50 mi. rides with lots of hills. On 40+ mi. rides with moderate hills I'm just fine. And, on my 15 mi. "balls to the wall" TT I have actually gotten faster over the past two years. I'm going to try several of the suggestions made here. Thanks again.

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Old 09-14-10, 11:14 AM   #17
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Spasms in the quads.
Despite all the home remedies to prevent cramps or spasms as you call them, there is no medical explanation or fix for this issue.

I would ask only one question: Have you always had an issue with cramping even in other sports? I started to get serious leg and foot cramps when I was about 12 years old. 48 years on, it still is a problem at age 60. Serious hill workouts might help somewhat but if your body chemistry says it's time to get a cramp then it is time.

Several home remedies that have helped me a bit are: add salt to your gatoraid or sports drink, drink early and often during your ride, chew up some Tumbs prior to your ride and a few during the ride(extra calclium seems to cut down the cramping).

If my tone sounds discouraging it is not but just my take on the subject. When I discover the solution to cramping I will let you know after I file my patent and become a gazillionair.
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Old 09-15-10, 05:52 AM   #18
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I would ask only one question: Have you always had an issue with cramping even in other sports?
I've spent a lifetime playing football and baseball from age 8 through college and never had a problem with muscles cramping. The issue I'm describing is really about running out of all strength in my quads. Just nothing left. In the extreme I could barely get out of the saddle to pedal. And, it only happens on rides of over 35 mi. or so when there are lots of hills.

FWIW, yesterday I went out to do my 15 mi. TT on a fairly windy day here in northeast CT. Rode as hard as I could and did 17.2 mph which is faster than I did 2 yrs. ago when I started doing this ride. Actually it was my fastest time period. Felt good afterward and feel great today.
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