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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 05-30-10, 06:51 PM   #1
rdtompki
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Classic FDGB: you be the judge

Got up at 2:45 am for the two our drive to Paso Robles with my stoker. Temps were a bit warm, the course, albeit absent a big climb, was really up/down (100K). At 45 miles I started to cramp; quads cramp whenever I came to a stop and straightened my right leg followed by a left leg cramp.

The classic: we stopped at a convenience store for some cold gatorade. I put my right foot on the ground which cramped badly causing the bike, myself and stoker to fall to the left. Stoker unclipped and saved the bike, but I fell down and my left leg (quad) cramped severely. I lay right at the front door of the convenience store for 10 minutes. Onlookers inquired of my welfare. Picture would have been worth a thousand words.

We finished using our lowest gear on even the slightest bump; my stoker was a trooper! I did master putting a foot down without straightening my leg. Needless to say I need to get this cramp thing figured out.
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Old 05-30-10, 08:43 PM   #2
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Was that towards the end? On our ride I remember seeing some riders about a store, and thinking, why do they need to do that, the ride is supported well enough?

The exact cause of exercise-induced cramps isn't really known. It is often attributed to muscle fatigue, dehydration, and electrolyte depletion. In my own experience, I ward off cramps by optimizing hydration and having electrolyte replacement available. In my bento box, I have Endurolytes capsules available, and on hot days like today, I'll take about 6 per hour.

IMO, for most people, if they follow the precepts of Hammer's free publication, The Endurance Athlete's Guide to Success, they'll be far better off than what they presently doing.

Last edited by Ritterview; 05-30-10 at 10:45 PM. Reason: missing word
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Old 05-30-10, 09:49 PM   #3
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Tums work startlingly well in an emergency cramping situation. A couple of them can knock it right out. Best to take the long view as described by Ritterview, but Tums are a good backup.

OTOH, blood sampling from the med tent at ultras says that neither electrolytes nor dehydration are necessarily related to cramping.
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Old 05-30-10, 10:31 PM   #4
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My wife and I have done several 60+ mile rides this spring and the climbing involved in the GWBR 100K might have been a bit more than what we've done this year, but hydration and electrolytes aside I don't think I'm handling short steep roller well, often putting us in the wrong gear. Given a "real" hill we put things in a low gear and grind away as necessary. Big rollers you build up speed, milk the speed on the way up and try to get things in the right gear, but these short rollers find me bungling the chainring selection and once really under load it can be hard to change from our "36" to "24" (18 to 12 on our daVinci). In any event definitely a learning experience. I haven't had cramps like that since I rowed in college about 100 years ago. I am going to try Endurolytes as a change of pace from Nuun and might also go with a Camelbak, but I think I was reasonably hydrated.

The cold gatorade was my beloved stoker's idea although I prophetically protested mildly claiming I would cramp up (which I did). We also passed a bicyclist at the side of the road who had broken his 10 spd chain; I only had quick links for the DV's 9-spd drive train, but at stoker's urging circled back to see if we could help (and cramped). Of course the stoker is never wrong If I had been clear-headed I would have taken out my chain tool and nitrile gloves, but the pain dulled my reasoning.
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Old 05-31-10, 07:23 AM   #5
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On my cross-country ride I had problems with cramping legs when I got to western Kansas. My future stoker got busy trying to find a remedy. She called one evening and told me to stop at the next pharmacy and buy some potassium tablets and take one every day. I don't know if it will help in your situation, but as soon as I started taking them--the cramps went away and didn't return. It's certainly worth a try.

Last edited by foamy; 05-31-10 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 05-31-10, 08:30 AM   #6
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I don't know what I'd do without our Shimano Flight Deck that shows what gears I'm using. I can keep track on a motorcycle, but too many things to remember on a tandem.

When it's tricky, I call the shifts and we both lighten up for an instant. Often we can get away with just me lightening up. Sometimes I'll call for an acceleration and then we lighten up. Standing during a climb for instance, I'll go to the next chainring up, and 2 in the back, so I call an acceleration, then I call the chainring shift, then do the 2 in back and then call the stand. I always call the granny/middle ring shift since it's 13 teeth. Seldom works under load.
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Old 05-31-10, 08:37 AM   #7
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It's also the mileage/hours thing. If you do the same hours with shorter midweek rides that you'll be doing on your long weekend ride, you'll never cramp. IOW, weekend hours <= half weekly hours. This illustrates the problem of the aging rider (me). My weekend rides are limited to my ability to recover from it and midweek rides. I find that I can extend my recovery ability by making some midweek rides very short and of low intensity. For instance, just 30 minutes of Z1 on rollers on a single most days, coupled with a little tandem riding can do the trick, and leave me feeling strong with good endurance on the weekends.
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