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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 05-23-11, 09:31 AM   #1
tenkerman
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First century completed plus a cramp question

I did my 1st century this past Saturday, the 2011 Reach the Beach. Prior to this my longest ride was 40-50 miles. I didn't train enough and I didn't have any riding partners so it was as much a mental exercise as a physical one. With an off-course detour I covered 106 miles in 7:42. Only issue that I had was moderate to severe leg cramps that started around mile 30 and lasted for about 40 miles. It got bad enough that I wasn't sure if I could make it but I wasn't about to quit. I just pedaled through the pain and only stopped long enough to fill my water bottles. I ate and drank on the bike. Are there any specific cause of the cramps and what is the best way to avoid them or work through them if I experience that again? Other than the cramps I had a great time and I"m looking forward to the next one.
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Old 05-23-11, 09:54 AM   #2
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Several things come to mind. First a lack of training for that distance. Second as the heat of the day is starting to become an issue in most places you should probably be taking endurolytes once an hour on the bike, or at least taking in some salt and potassium thru a sports drink. Third it could be that you did not drink enough with some minor dehydration causing the problem.

I have had leg craps in the past from all 3 of these issues. Many people suggest finding some pickle juice along the route and drinking it to stop the cramps once they have started.

Drink more
Endurolytes
Train more

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Old 05-23-11, 09:59 AM   #3
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I take magnesium supplements everyday.
Never cramped on my bike rides.
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Old 05-23-11, 12:06 PM   #4
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I had was moderate to severe leg cramps that started around mile 30 and lasted for about 40 miles.
You probably just did not hydrate enough prior to the start of the ride or the early part of the ride. It's easy to do with the excitement of your first century. Kudos for just riding through the pain and for completing the 100+ miles.
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Old 05-23-11, 03:14 PM   #5
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Try Endurolytes or other electrolytes to try to avoid them (including Gatorade). They sell Picklejuice and other products to help with cramps, they don't always work. V-8 is supposed to help.

Carry a couple of rolls of Rolaids if you can find them. If cramps start, eat a whole roll. Has worked for several people in the local rando group. I hear Tums don't work, but haven't tried a comparison. And for reasons not fully understood (but including recalls), Rolaids are currently very hard to find in this area.
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Old 05-25-11, 11:32 AM   #6
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Try Endurolytes or other electrolytes to try to avoid them (including Gatorade). They sell Picklejuice and other products to help with cramps, they don't always work. V-8 is supposed to help.

Carry a couple of rolls of Rolaids if you can find them. If cramps start, eat a whole roll. Has worked for several people in the local rando group. I hear Tums don't work, but haven't tried a comparison. And for reasons not fully understood (but including recalls), Rolaids are currently very hard to find in this area.
+1.

OP needs to keep riding longer distances until this is no longer an issue. It's probably lack of training at the target distance over any other reason. I had cramping issues when I started going longer and longer distances. The cramps always started when I pushed a longer distance that I had previously ridden. I ALWAYS carry TUMS on longer rides (75+ miles). The last time I had severe cramping was on a 4000+ foot climb (first climbing ride in several months). I just pushed myself too hard too soon. That's what happens!
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Old 05-26-11, 05:18 AM   #7
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I used to get cramps until I started the following regiment: one banana a day, 250mg of magnesium per day, and Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes before and during rides. Additionally while riding I take one 24 oz bottle of Gatorade and one 24 oz bottle of water. On longer rides of 25 miles or more I usually take a Cliff Bar and Power Bar Gel's with me.

Everyone is different, so you will have to experiment with what works for you.

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Try Endurolytes or other electrolytes to try to avoid them (including Gatorade). They sell Picklejuice and other products to help with cramps, they don't always work. V-8 is supposed to help.
Pickle juice and V-8 does not sound appealing to me during or after a long hot ride.

Last edited by jbholcom; 05-26-11 at 05:22 AM.
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Old 05-26-11, 08:05 AM   #8
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I have to advise against Gatorade. It's mostly just sugar water, and doesn't really have much in the way of electrolytes. I've never used it on the bike, but I've heard the excessive sugar doesn't agree with some peoples stomachs. You can do a lot better for electrolytes. I haven't tried any drinks yet, I usually just eat bananas, raisins, and something salty.
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Old 05-26-11, 10:59 AM   #9
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One tip that has helped me is to use a repeating timer to help me remember to eat and drink at regular intervals. I use the same timer to remind me to take my endurolytes on a regular basis. I've noticed that as I get fatigued I can forget to hydrate/eat. The timer keeps me regularly taking in relatively small amounts of food and fluid.
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Old 05-26-11, 12:14 PM   #10
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re Hydration... I've recently discovered coconut juice. It's a refreshing but subtle taste, and the pulp-free kind goes down easy. $1.75 for 17 oz at a corner store in the bay area.
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Old 05-30-11, 09:55 AM   #11
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re Hydration... I've recently discovered coconut juice. It's a refreshing but subtle taste, and the pulp-free kind goes down easy. $1.75 for 17 oz at a corner store in the bay area.
I'm glad you discovered coconut juice. For what it's worth, fresh juice straight from the coconut is THE BEST! I don't know what they do when processing the juice for the canned stuff, but I can tell there's some loss in the juice's "vitality" compared with the fresh stuff. Of course getting the coconut open requires a chinese butcher knife or a machete. None of these are convenient on the bike.
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Old 05-31-11, 12:32 PM   #12
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I have to advise against Gatorade. It's mostly just sugar water, and doesn't really have much in the way of electrolytes. I've never used it on the bike, but I've heard the excessive sugar doesn't agree with some peoples stomachs. You can do a lot better for electrolytes. I haven't tried any drinks yet, I usually just eat bananas, raisins, and something salty.
Try comparing expensive alternatives to Gatorade, the ingredients are nearly identical! Those bananas you are eating have approximately the same amount of sugar contained in Gatorade. I recommend Gatorade and I actually use it. Water is not always enough, especially on rides over 2 hours during the summer.

Stomach cramps can be caused from many things, while leg cramps are another ball of wax. Everyone is different, so experimentation is key discovering what nutrition works for you.

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Old 06-03-11, 07:46 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by MikeOCS View Post
One tip that has helped me is to use a repeating timer to help me remember to eat and drink at regular intervals. I use the same timer to remind me to take my endurolytes on a regular basis. I've noticed that as I get fatigued I can forget to hydrate/eat. The timer keeps me regularly taking in relatively small amounts of food and fluid.
I used to ride with a guy whose watch would beep every 10 minutes or so, and he'd take a drink. At first, most of us just ignored it, but then we all started drinking when we heard the beep ... it was good and got me into the habit of drinking regularly for several years. I need to start doing that again!

I know there are some reports that say that hydration has no effect on cramping, but there seems to be a connection with me ... and not just with cycling. If I don't drink enough during the day while at work, my feet will cramp in the evening. But if I do drink my "usual" amount, my feet are OK. And the same thing happens on rides. My feet are usually the first to cramp if I have not been drinking regularly.

The nibbling thing (regularly taking in relatively small amounts of food) also works for me. Sometimes I have trouble eating on long rides but the nibbling thing keeps me going.
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Old 06-09-11, 07:34 PM   #14
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http://www.ultracycling.com/training/cramping.html

Good article, more than just anecdotal evidence.
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Old 06-10-11, 08:29 AM   #15
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This past weekend, I did my first century of the year. I started early and the first 50 miles felt easy and I was feeling great. The last 35-40 miles was done in 85 degree heat, full sun, and definite humidity. I started taking 4-5 endurolyte tablets/hour, starting from the first hour. I averaged 24-30 oz of water an hour, most of it mixed with perpetum. I was whipped at the end but I didn't cramp or get any indegestion. It started to feel the beginnings of a cramp in the right calf about 3/4 of the way through so I did a little on-bike stretching and it never became an issue. Looking back, I could have been drinking just a little more each hour. My fatigue at the end of the ride had nothing to do with nutrition or hydration, just a lack of conditioning.
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Old 06-10-11, 03:33 PM   #16
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I did a century last weekend, the Ojai Valley Hammerhead Century. I've been doing lots of riding prior to the century including a handful of 85 milers. I had some slight cramping issues about mid-way through. A bulk of the climbing was done during the first 40 miles, but once we reached the Pacific Coast, we were riding into a pretty strong headwind. That's when I started getting some cramping in my left calf. Had to do some off the bike stretching, and I dropped my pace. But I reached the lunch stop and my legs fully recovered. I was using Heed, Endurolytes, Perpetuem as I usually do throughout the ride, and I also was popping TUMS pretty regularly throughout the 2nd half of the ride. All those TUMS wreaked havoc on my digestion post-ride. For the next day and half, I suffered stomach cramps and constipation. I'll have to be more conservative in my use of TUMS on future rides. Next big ride is the LA Wheelmen Grand Tour (200km). I've never ridden that distance before. I'm hoping to do an unsupported century before the 200k (on June 25th).
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