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Old 05-28-13, 03:46 AM   #1
bruce19
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What just happened?

A little background.....I'm about to turn 67 and although my ideal cycling weight is 175-180 lbs. I'm currently around 193 lbs. Thanks to a change in diet I'm also riding better than I have in the past 10 yrs. Significantly stronger on hills despite my weight.

Yesterday my gf and I did a B group club ride for Memorial Day. We have been averaging about 75 mi. per week which is less than last year and due to some sporadic weather around here. Our longest ride had been 40 mi. Yesterday's ride was 65 mi. and throughout I felt confident and strong...climbing in the middle of the pack (In years gone by I would have been last) and easily spinning over 100 rpm. The ride itself was pretty hilly with one climb (Rattlesnake Ledge rd.) being a real killer. It's a well know and dreaded hill. This fell at about 40 mi. into the ride. I just paced myself and did very well. I seem to recover well and was good to go about a minute after the crest. At about mile 50 I could tell that my body was getting worn so I just continued to spin and felt fine. At mile 55 we were beginning the home stretch into some rolling hills that start with a short but steep climb of no more than a couple hundred feet. I stood to pedal and my quads were on the edge of spasm. I knew there wasn't going to be anymore standing or pushing on even minor rises so I just sat spinning. But, I was slowly falling off the back. About 5 mi. from finish the ride leader (and friend) came back and rode the rest of the way with me. Pushing on any thing that even resembled a rise was not happening. When we finished (about 5 minutes after the group) I did not feel particularly tired or winded. I ate well during the ride and I carry 4 bottles of water with Gu Brew in each. I theorize that the extra weight just wore my legs down over so many miles but was wondering if there's something else I could have done to save my legs.

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Old 05-28-13, 05:17 AM   #2
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It still kind of sounds like you bonked. Your body can only process so many calories. Maybe with the earlier hill, you were just burning too many and you couldn't get enough new energy. (???)

(The fact that you didn't feel winded at the end doesn't support my theory...)
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Old 05-28-13, 05:48 AM   #3
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Bruce,
After thinking about your experience and reading the other thread along this line, I'm going to guess this is just early season bugs getting shaken out. Maybe the fitness level as well as your extra weight that you spoke about, are just dragging you down right now. Charles last statement made me change my initial reply, made me argue with myself for a few minutes, (either way I lose an argument.) How are you feeling this morning after some rest and perhaps a good meal?

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Old 05-28-13, 05:58 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
A little background.....I'm about to turn 67 and although my ideal cycling weight is 175-180 lbs. I'm currently around 193 lbs. Thanks to a change in diet I'm also riding better than I have in the past 10 yrs. Significantly stronger on hills despite my weight.

Yesterday my gf and I did a B group club ride for Memorial Day. We have been averaging about 75 mi. per week which is less than last year and due to some sporadic weather around here. Our longest ride had been 40 mi. Yesterday's ride was 65 mi. and throughout I felt confident and strong...climbing in the middle of the pack (In years gone by I would have been last) and easily spinning over 100 rpm. The ride itself was pretty hilly with one climb (Rattlesnake Ledge rd.) being a real killer. It's a well know and dreaded hill. This fell at about 40 mi. into the ride. I just paced myself and did very well. I seem to recover well and was good to go about a minute after the crest. At about mile 50 I could tell that my body was getting worn so I just continued to spin and felt fine. At mile 55 we were beginning the home stretch into some rolling hills that start with a short but steep climb of no more than a couple hundred feet. I stood to pedal and my quads were on the edge of spasm. I knew there wasn't going to be anymore standing or pushing on even minor rises so I just sat spinning. But, I was slowly falling off the back. About 5 mi. from finish the ride leader (and friend) came back and rode the rest of the way with me. Pushing on any thing that even resembled a rise was not happening. When we finished (about 5 minutes after the group) I did not feel particularly tired or winded. I ate well during the ride and I carry 4 bottles of water with Gu Brew in each. I theorize that the extra weight just wore my legs down over so many miles but was wondering if there's something else I could have done to save my legs.
I know of and have experienced the exact same thing on group rides. You are progressing very nicely in getting back to peak form. The great climbing legs earlier in the ride show you are getting back into riding shape. However to sustain that performance level for a longer period you just need more miles in the saddle at a sustained pace...... plus losing some more weight will help some with the inclines late in the rides. Usually increases in performance come along with reduced weight as it generally takes more exercise/training to get the weight down----at least it does for me. You are well along the way and off to a great start. It just takes consistent time and effort. If that is what you are after keep up the training stuff. The weather should be getting more agreeable to getting in those types of rides.
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Old 05-28-13, 06:11 AM   #5
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However to sustain that performance level for a longer period you just need more miles in the saddle at a sustained pace....
This.

Weight is almost irrelevant. Rehydration and electrolyte top-up may be significant contributors.

The lack of distance per week leading up to the ride is a telling factor.

Was the imminent onset of spasm in the inside of the quads just above the knees?
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Old 05-28-13, 06:11 AM   #6
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Our longest ride had been 40 mi. Yesterday's ride was 65 mi.
There is your answer. The road back to fitness has its peaks and valleys. Sounds like you are progressing well. Keep on truckin'.
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Old 05-28-13, 06:15 AM   #7
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Have you changed any medication or increased the dosage to a medication prior to the ride? If you did, you may want to look at some of the side effects of the medication and/or the dosage increase. Also, if this happens again, you may want to check with your doctor and see if you may be anemic.

This is what happened to me last month when I did our local MS 150. My leukemia medication was changed and the dosage that I was given caused a severe drop in the levels of my red blood cells and hemoglobin. While other components were also affected, these were the two major components that really counted. I did the MS 150, prior to finding this out, and was wondering why I couldn't get the energy to climb hills that last year were a cake walk. I was fine on the flats, but as soon as I had to do anything with an incline, I was out of breath halfway up. This was very unusual for me as I was climbing great during our practice rides before the medication was changed. When I was done the first day, I wasn't tired or breathing heavy. In fact, I was feeling quite well and only had some problems with my right knee. The next day, we did the 50 mile return trip and started out with about 25-30 miles of flat riding. Myself and some other team members started a nice little paceline and actually did several miles at 24-26 mph. As soon as we hit the hills, I was back to huffing and puffing trying to get up the slightest incline. I started out that morning at the head of the pack and finished last on my team. After the event was over, I felt fine, since the last two miles of the ride was flat.
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Old 05-28-13, 06:32 AM   #8
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I'd also cast a vote for "we're not machines/stuff happens".
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Old 05-28-13, 06:48 AM   #9
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I'm in the camp that says at some point everyone's muscles reach their limit for certain kinds of activity. Standing to climb is a very different activity that sitting and spinning. To me it sounds as if you just hit the limit of your current fitness level for that specific activity.
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Old 05-28-13, 07:00 AM   #10
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How are you feeling this morning after some rest and perhaps a good meal?

Bill
Well I actually feel fine. As I did last night after some pizza and beer. My legs feel a little tired but nothing like they would have last year.
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Old 05-28-13, 07:02 AM   #11
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Was the imminent onset of spasm in the inside of the quads just above the knees?
Yup.
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Old 05-28-13, 07:03 AM   #12
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Have you changed any medication or increased the dosage to a medication prior to the ride?
I don't take any meds for anything.
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Old 05-28-13, 07:05 AM   #13
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I had something similar happen a couple of weeks ago. I chalked it up to not knowing what I was doing since it was my first century and first organized first group ride. Like you I felt strong at first, in fact impatient with the group I was with on the rolling hills. About mile 60 after a stop I felt the beginnings of leg cramps but I spun them out which usually works for me, and subsequently was considerably weaker on the hills. In my case it was not drinking enough and not enough hill work at that kind of distance.
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Old 05-28-13, 07:05 AM   #14
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These are all very helpful responses. Thanks. It really helps to put some things in perspective.

Someone who is a very strong club rider, ex-racer and around 60 yrs. old suggested I put a little salt in my water bottles.
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Old 05-28-13, 07:16 AM   #15
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FWIW I just got an e-mail from our ride leader and he says there was 4900 ft. of climbing. I have no idea if that's a lot for 65 mi.
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Old 05-28-13, 07:18 AM   #16
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I had something similar happen a couple of weeks ago. I chalked it up to not knowing what I was doing since it was my first century and first organized first group ride. Like you I felt strong at first, in fact impatient with the group I was with on the rolling hills. About mile 60 after a stop I felt the beginnings of leg cramps but I spun them out which usually works for me, and subsequently was considerably weaker on the hills. In my case it was not drinking enough and not enough hill work at that kind of distance.
I did drink all 4 bottles of the water/Gu Brew but am thinking that wasn't enough for that type of ride.
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Old 05-28-13, 08:24 AM   #17
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Yup.
Be grateful that you avoided full onset. They are awful if those cramps take full hold. It's almost impossible to walk, let alone stand, and there seems to be almost no way to combat them.

I get them when coming back after a layout. I suspect it has to do with the lifting motion of the legs, then the pressure downward on the pedal stroke, and those muscles' role in the action. They simply aren't used to it, especially when there is climbing involved.

In addition, it takes a little while to get the clothing right. Oddly, for me, I find often that when coming back, it takes a little time to get the layers and sweat levels under control. So dehydration may have been a factor.

Good advice on a little salt added to the water bottles, although light salt might be better because it contains potassium chloride.
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Old 05-28-13, 09:18 AM   #18
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Drat, all the good answers are used up. More long rides with appropriate rest sounds like the ticket. Keep up the good work.
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Old 05-28-13, 11:18 AM   #19
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Good advice on a little salt added to the water bottles, although light salt might be better because it contains potassium chloride.
Exactly what was suggested.
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Old 05-28-13, 01:20 PM   #20
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We all have our limits. Regardless of nutrition or training level, we only have so many hills, sprints, etc, in our legs. It's early in the season, and you rode pretty hard. Don't worry about it too much.
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Old 05-28-13, 07:54 PM   #21
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FWIW I just got an e-mail from our ride leader and he says there was 4900 ft. of climbing. I have no idea if that's a lot for 65 mi.
It definitely isn't a flat ride by my standards. Not extremely hilly, but pretty serious.
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Old 05-28-13, 08:56 PM   #22
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FWIW I just got an e-mail from our ride leader and he says there was 4900 ft. of climbing. I have no idea if that's a lot for 65 mi.
Depending on the pace that could be a good bit of climbing for 65 miles.
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Old 05-28-13, 09:00 PM   #23
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I think the very most important metric on a bike ride is elevation climbed. I can go 50 miles but elevation of 500 feet and feel like I could turn around and do a century. But give me 3000-4000 feet of climbing, and I'm likely walking up some hills. Some of our Strava brethren routinely climb that much. I hope they're not overweight.
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Old 05-28-13, 11:14 PM   #24
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75 miles per week..... crummy riding weather so far this season .... 40 mile longest ride this season.... 67 years old and carrying a few extra pounds.

You ran out of gas man! What would you expect? I think you did really really well considering these factors and should feel very happy about it.
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Old 05-28-13, 11:22 PM   #25
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FWIW I just got an e-mail from our ride leader and he says there was 4900 ft. of climbing. I have no idea if that's a lot for 65 mi.
My personal dividing line is it's hilly if it averages over 50' of ascent per mile. Since 4,900/65 = about 75'/mile, that's hilly to me. Of course I'm a Clyde (220) so hills really do kill me. Ride With GPS now has a chart that shows just how much grade affects speed. I think that the impact of climbing compared to flat would be less if I weighed 20-30 pounds less.



What's hilly for you fitter folks?
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