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  1. #1
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    On Bike Nutrition Question

    At about 40 miles into a ride this morning, my quads started to hurt pretty badly, even when I wasn't pedaling. In fact, they hurt more when I wasn't pedaling. I pushed through another 10 miles and when I got home it took about 15-20 minutes for the pain to go away. The pain was constant whether I was moving or not. I've been mountain biking for 3 years and been on 5 hour rides and never felt anything like this. I've only been road riding for about a month. Is this a a function of not consuming enough calories? Electrolytes? Maybe dehydration?

    I consumed about 150 calories of homemade gel 45 minutes in, another 150 calories about 30 minutes later, half a Clif Bar 30 minutes later and the remaining half 30 minutes after that. I finished in 3 hours. As I type this, it's becoming apparent that I didn't eat near enough, but is that the cause of the pain, or is there another possible cause? I only drank a bottle and a half of water, but it was in the 40s, so I wasn't exactly sweating much. Thanks for any input

  2. #2
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    My guess: none of the above. Mostly, just not used to it. Road riding demands a lot more continuous endurance than mountain biking. That's the reason that mtb racers spend most of their training time on road bikes. Other possibility is not enough protein in the past week. Muscles broke down and didn't rebuild. Try some whey after a ride, and maybe before meals. Depends on what you eat and how many hours/week you ride.

  3. #3
    Senior Member oban_kobi's Avatar
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    That's bizarre. What kind of "hurt"? Cramping, or burning? If cramping, maybe electrolytes. If burning, then possibly what Carbon said, though you would have had to be trying to not eat protein to not get enough, unless you were doing some particularly intense riding over the past week.

  4. #4
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    I get the same feeling but not nearly as bad when I don't hydrate the day before a ride.
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

    Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. ~ Charles Schultz

  5. #5
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    It was more of a burning. Not cramping and not soreness. I felt no residual effects today.

    I eat very clean and healthy, but my wife's cooking does lack in the animal protein department, but most meals have other protein sources. FWIW, I'm only 31 and have been very physically active my whole life, so I'm not new to physical activity.

    I definitely did not build up to 50 miles, in fact, it was only my 5th road ride, the previous longest being only 33 miles. I have the same problem with running in that I have endurance to go much further than my joints have gotten accustomed to. I really only get out on the road on weekends, so this week I'll watch my protein intake and make sure I'm well hydrated before my next ride. If it happens again, I guess I'll know the cause. Thanks for the input

  6. #6
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    That sounds like plenty of food for three hours. The pain was from overuse. Being low on glycogen doesn't cause leg pain.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    I definitely did not build up to 50 miles, in fact, it was only my 5th road ride, the previous longest being only 33 miles.
    Building aerobic fitness is a long process.

    Probably one of the hardest lessons to understand is that you can not "pile on" activity. And just because you "can" ride -doesn't mean you should.

    It would be a good idea to just stop riding for a week, and come back to riding, paying attention to how and when your legs begin to "hurt" again. You have ride easy, to learn to ride hard.

  8. #8
    Senior Member oban_kobi's Avatar
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    I agree with Richard, sounds like you over did it a bit.

  9. #9
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Not necessarily aerobic issue, but muscular exertion levels. You're basically making the muscles contract too strongly for too long. For a long ride like that, you want to be conscious of using low-gears and spinning. This works your heart and lungs more, but saves the legs.


    The aerobic system recovers a lot faster. So if you hit max-HR and blow up climbing a hill, you just rest at the top until HR drops and then you can get going again. You can even blow up multiple times aerobically during a ride (like doing intervals) and it's fine. But once your muscles cramp up from over-use, that's it, it's not going to go away during that ride and you'll have to take it easy the rest of the way. Depending upon how much you ripped them up, it may take days to recovery.

    Yeah, take it easy for a while. Sprints and 1-minute intervals are great for building up the muscles to withstand abuse.


    BTW - for a 40-mile ride, I don't bother eating anything at all if I had a meal within a couple hours beforehand.
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 11-04-10 at 03:18 PM.

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