So I went out for a 60 mile training ride Saturday. Felt good, well-rested, had a bowl of granola cereal for breakfast. It was about 50F when we started, and I brought a bottle of water, a bottle of weak Accelerade (just ran out), a gel and a baggie of fig newtons. The first hour or so, I didn't drink much water, and didn't eat anything. About 30 miles in, my quads started cramping, most noticeably when standing on climbs. As long as I stayed seated, the discomfort wasn't bad. I should mention the only other time I've had any notable cramping was near the end of the Solvang Metric, a 63-mile ride with over 3600 feet of climbing.
As I got closer to 40 miles, any uphill at all was causing major cramping, now in my quads and calves. I stopped and had a smoothie and about a half hour break, and felt much better. After the break, we set off again and I was fine until we hit the next significant climb. Now I was cramping to the point I felt like I would fall over when I stopped the bike. I ended up having to call my wife to pick me up at mile 51, as there was a significant hill between me and home, and riding on the flats was now painful.
I can only assume I was lacking in hydration and electrolytes. What are some of your favorite drinks/pills/concoctions to ward off cramping. I didn't feel at all fatigued, and felt like without the cramping, I could have easily knocked out several more miles.
You probably should have drank more during your first hour. Most people stand as a rule a bottle of water and 200 calories every hour. Even the starting one. Thats not always the cause of cramping though. Could be a lot of other things. edit: If you were only drinking water the second hour and so on because you felt you needed water you probably weren't drinking enough. By the time you feel like you need water is usually after the time your body actually does.
It might be that you were dehydrated before you even started. The only time I've cramped up in the legs is when I went out drinking the night before and didn't properly rehydrate. That was a MISERABLE ride.
Sports-drinks are woefully inadequate at supplying the necessary electrolytes and glucose to replenish what you burn up on a ride. I would mix my own Gatorade in a double-concentration mix in order to get the required 250cal/hr and sufficient electrolytes in a 600ml bottle (pre-made Gatorade would require you to drink way too much volume in order to get sufficient nutrients). You can also take electrolyte tablets like eCaps, e-load, Endurolytes or similar products.