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Long ride w climbs = tired

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Long ride w climbs = tired

Old 07-13-16, 07:32 AM
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Long ride w climbs = tired

Yesterday, I did a ride with friends that ended up being 64 miles and over 4,000' of climbing. The distance and climbs were not an issue at all, but I was getting leg cramps at the 6-7 miles left to go mark, with all uphill to go.

Here is the Strava link https://www.strava.com/activities/63...ref_map=%5B%5D

A few things, I started out fasted (like I always do for morning rides, regardless of length and speed) but had plenty of water, electrolytes and a gel for the ride. About a half hour before the cramps started (55 miles into the ride), we stopped at a bakery and I had a 'Mountain Dew" with a crescent rugula. I never drink soda but it just seemed like the right thing to have at the moment.

A few cramps when I got home but after a beet salad w apple cider vinegar, they stopped. The odd thing here is that I never cramp up during a ride. Sometimes after a ride and rarely ever night time cramps, unless I have a beer. That seems to bring on night time cramps for me, and night time bathroom trips too, lol.

Last thing, on a steep climb, we had a fast decent and for the first time ever, my front tire shimmied violently (about 45 mph). The bike is a Specialized Roubaix and nothing was loose (headset, wheel, etc) but I barely saved myself from a near wreck. That was not a good feeling but I did squeeze the top tube with my knees and shift my weight back and that helped a lot.

I'm fine today and looking to ride again tonight with the club but wanted to learn from this. Oh, I have only been riding for 11 months, so I am not that experienced, hence why I ask the questions.

Thanks in advance for the anticipated help.
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Old 07-13-16, 08:02 AM
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What questions do you intend to ask, because you haven't asked any yet?
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Old 07-13-16, 08:15 AM
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I'm no doctor and I don't subject myself to many punishing, hilly rides, but I suspect it's all the sugar in the soda and the rugullah that caused the cramps. Soda also has salt, if I'm not mistaken, which would sap some of the hydration that keeps you from cramping.

Anybody with more knowledge wanna comment?
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Old 07-13-16, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
What questions do you intend to ask, because you haven't asked any yet?

And right you are.... what may have brought on the cramping when I normally do not get them? Was the soda part of the reason? I was taking in good amounts of water, gel and electrolytes and for riding almost a year, that was my first experience with cramps.

Also, why the front end shimmy? The bike never did that before on faster descents?

Is going out "fasted" bad for a 58 year old Cylde? I've been routinely doing it for every morning ride and it hasn't caused me any ill effects so far. I do it to try and firm up and drop 5-10 pounds.

Thanks

Last edited by NYMXer; 07-13-16 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 07-13-16, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
I'm no doctor and I don't subject myself to many punishing, hilly rides, but I suspect it's all the sugar in the soda and the rugullah that caused the cramps. Soda also has salt, if I'm not mistaken, which would sap some of the hydration that keeps you from cramping.
I don't usually drink soda, on any day but for some reason, that's what I grabbed yesterday at the bakery. So, naturally, I now associate soda with the cramps but it doesn't sound like a fair conclusion, so that was one of the things I thought I would share with the members here and get some feedback. Ask and learn, my motto.

The reason I took the Mountain Dew was for the sugar and caffeine. I doubt I'll drink soda during a ride again and that is easy for a guy who doesn't normally drink any soda to do.

It was a long and climbing ride but at a relaxed paced with several stops. It was 80sih degrees and moderate sweating but I thought I was prepared for replacing electrolytes and hydration. Maybe it just wasn't enough?
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Old 07-13-16, 08:30 AM
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I don't set out on an empty stomach, and I avoid sodas. It might have been helpful to eat a banana before the ride.
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Old 07-13-16, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
I don't set out on an empty stomach, and I avoid sodas. It might have been helpful to eat a banana before the ride.
A lot of people have told me to eat a banana or two an hour before a ride and I tried that. I guess, due to the high fiber, it just made me need a bathroom soon after the ride so I don't dare eat them before a long ride. I did take a good multi vitamin and a potassium pill before the ride, and another while on the ride. I did drink 4 full bottles of electrolyte water and had 1 eGel (150 cal, not 100 calorie).

We took a few liberal rests and the ride was at a relaxed pace for me so I didn't feel that I was pushing myself until the last 6 miles when the leg cramps started. Both legs, inner thigh, back of thigh and calves.

I think my soda days, as short lived as they were, are officially over. I know some club cyclist have told me a "Coke" after a ride helps them.
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Old 07-13-16, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
I'm no doctor and I don't subject myself to many punishing, hilly rides, but I suspect it's all the sugar in the soda and the rugullah that caused the cramps. Soda also has salt, if I'm not mistaken, which would sap some of the hydration that keeps you from cramping.

Anybody with more knowledge wanna comment?
No, the sugar in the soda didn't cause leg cramps. And arugula has very little sugar in the plant. It's a member of the Brassicaceae family and is related, as are many vegetables, to cabbages which aren't known to have lots of sugars in them. Hint: If it tastes sweet, it has sugar. If it doesn't, well, it doesn't.

Nor does the soda have much in way of "salts" in it. It has some sodium salts of various types but the total sodium concentration is about 4% which isn't that high.


The WebMD page on nighttime leg cramps list 3 causes that are related to NYMXer's issue


His other mistake was to start out on an empty tank. This website is prehaps a bit more on target than the WebMD page when it comes to exercise induced cramps. This is the most important quote from that website

But when the system is perturbed by low blood glucose, muscle glycogen depletion, dehydration, accumulated muscle damage, high body temperature, severe salt loss, accumulation of metabolites, or reduced muscle blood flow, fatigue will gradually or suddenly sets in. The neuromuscular system becomes unstable. Muscle cramps are often associated with fatigue, a painful example of a failure in neuromuscular performance.
Starting exercise without energy on board in the morning puts the body in a glycogen deficient. The body will attempt to adjust by drawing on other energy stores but it takes time to mobilize those. Meanwhile, you are exercising and losing fluids as well as electrolytes which will also contribute to cramping. By the time NYMXer got something to eat, he was already in a hole and his food and soda didn't lift him out of the hole much. Add in summer heat and humidity and the hole is just deeper.

Basically, eat something before you start riding. Eat something and/or drink while riding. Gatorade does do a great job of replenishing sugar and electrolytes while riding but water is just as important.

I fully understand where NYMXer is coming from. I've experience cramps during a ride and post ride. I often get them while on tour because I haven't been drinking and eating enough while also doing a lot of intense climbing. The worst are quad cramps. It feels like your leg is going to pull your femur into pieces. The worst time to get a quad cramp is when you are crawling into a tent and you are stuck with your body half way in and your legs rigid because it hurts so much. And you can't go and get the Gatorade you need because your legs simply won't work to get you up off the ground.
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Old 07-13-16, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
No, the sugar in the soda didn't cause leg cramps. And arugula has very little sugar in the plant. It's a member of the Brassicaceae family and is related, as are many vegetables, to cabbages which aren't known to have lots of sugars in them. Hint: If it tastes sweet, it has sugar. If it doesn't, well, it doesn't.

Nor does the soda have much in way of "salts" in it. It has some sodium salts of various types but the total sodium concentration is about 4% which isn't that high.


The WebMD page on nighttime leg cramps list 3 causes that are related to NYMXer's issue



His other mistake was to start out on an empty tank. This website is prehaps a bit more on target than the WebMD page when it comes to exercise induced cramps. This is the most important quote from that website



Starting exercise without energy on board in the morning puts the body in a glycogen deficient. The body will attempt to adjust by drawing on other energy stores but it takes time to mobilize those. Meanwhile, you are exercising and losing fluids as well as electrolytes which will also contribute to cramping. By the time NYMXer got something to eat, he was already in a hole and his food and soda didn't lift him out of the hole much. Add in summer heat and humidity and the hole is just deeper.

Basically, eat something before you start riding. Eat something and/or drink while riding. Gatorade does do a great job of replenishing sugar and electrolytes while riding but water is just as important.

I fully understand where NYMXer is coming from. I've experience cramps during a ride and post ride. I often get them while on tour because I haven't been drinking and eating enough while also doing a lot of intense climbing. The worst are quad cramps. It feels like your leg is going to pull your femur into pieces. The worst time to get a quad cramp is when you are crawling into a tent and you are stuck with your body half way in and your legs rigid because it hurts so much. And you can't go and get the Gatorade you need because your legs simply won't work to get you up off the ground.
I think that what you are saying is true for the majority of people. However, if what he did (starting out fasted) is his norm and the ride was within his norm, then the cramps were probably caused by something else. The soda is a change and some people react poorly to soda. Also, it could be related to what he ate the night before (if it was outside his norm).
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Old 07-13-16, 09:24 AM
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Good info cyccommute, thanks. I was hydrating very well and had electrolytes, potassium pills, B vitamins and a quality eGel. In the end, it wasn't enough. So beside aasking here, I did some good ol' interent research and found this

How to Prevent Leg Cramps When Cycling | Tips for Preventing Cramp

I think what I was experiencing yesterday was neuromuscular fatigue. For sure, next long ride on a warm day, I will be better prepared and expect better results.
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Old 07-13-16, 09:25 AM
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Some new research on cramps - the theory being they are caused by the nervous system.

A New Way to Prevent Muscle Cramps - WSJ
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Old 07-13-16, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Kindaslow View Post
I think that what you are saying is true for the majority of people. However, if what he did (starting out fasted) is his norm and the ride was within his norm, then the cramps were probably caused by something else. The soda is a change and some people react poorly to soda. Also, it could be related to what he ate the night before (if it was outside his norm).

Oooh, good points. I don't recall what I had the night before as I have never selected my dinner based on a ride the next day. The long ride was not out of character for me, as was the climbing. It was not particularly hot (80's) and we had many rests and cooling breezes along the way. The pace was very relaxed for my normal speeds too.

I really think this is related to the soda some how, as I am not a soda drinker. Why I chose it yesterday is a mystery to me but it just seemed so right at the time. The only thing outside my normal riding routine was the soda but the link I post above describing neuromuscular fatigue makes a lot of sense to me.

I think that the real conclusion is a combination of many factors but ultimately muscle fatigue from a long and climbing type of ride in warm weather that my 230 pound and 58 year old body just was telling me "enough already".

Little does it now that we are going on a club ride for about 25 fast miles this evening, lol. I am hydrating today and taking in minerals too. Fingers crossed and hoping for the best!

Does anyone have a clue about the headshake of the front wheel?
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Old 07-13-16, 10:09 AM
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Tired?? Good.
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Old 07-13-16, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
Tired?? Good.
I had no problem falling and staying asleep last night, lol
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Old 07-13-16, 10:38 AM
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WSJ article is interesting but still in the anecdotal stage. Drinking a pepper shake during a ride is not my idea
of a solution. OTOH it has been more than 10 yrs since I had leg cramps. I never ride fasting after one brief
experiment ~2005 in July when I rode ~20 miles or so early on black coffee only and my blood pressure at
the end of the ride was ~80. FWIW bananas are high fiber sucrose with 7-10 meq of potassium.
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Old 07-13-16, 11:00 AM
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sch, that's what I drink before a morning ride.... 2 cups of black coffee and out I go. I also take a multi vitamin, a B complex and a potassium pill too. My average club ride is two hours long and fast, about 40-42 miles and near 2,000' of climbing involved.
On longer rides (like yesterday), I bring a gel or two and an extra potassium pill. I knew yesterdays ride would be long, but at a relaxed pace with numerous rest stops to accommodate all in the group (only 4 of us).
I had no hint of cramping until about a 1/2 hour after the bakery stop and that soda drink. Someone told me that if you pinch your upper lip (not too hard), the crapping will stop, assuming it is nerve related and not lack of nutrition.
I'm glad that it's all over but I still an determined to figure it all out, since I never cramp but haven't been riding that long either.
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Old 07-13-16, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
sch, that's what I drink before a morning ride.... 2 cups of black coffee and out I go. I also take a multi vitamin, a B complex and a potassium pill too. My average club ride is two hours long and fast, about 40-42 miles and near 2,000' of climbing involved.
Part of your problem may be the coffee and the Mountain Dew or, more specifically, the caffeine in them. Caffeine is a mild diuretic. That's not a problem for most people but most people aren't spending hours on a bicycle while losing lots of water. The coffee probably didn't help and the soda put you over the top.

Another factor to consider is the fat content of the croissant. Trying to digest fats can pull moisture away from the rest of your body as well. Sugars will absorb without much digestion but fats take time and energy to break down.

Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
On longer rides (like yesterday), I bring a gel or two and an extra potassium pill. I knew yesterdays ride would be long, but at a relaxed pace with numerous rest stops to accommodate all in the group (only 4 of us).
I had no hint of cramping until about a 1/2 hour after the bakery stop and that soda drink. Someone told me that if you pinch your upper lip (not too hard), the crapping will stop, assuming it is nerve related and not lack of nutrition.
I'm glad that it's all over but I still an determined to figure it all out, since I never cramp but haven't been riding that long either.
I think that the potassium pills may be part of the problem as well. Look at the Training Peaks link. Cramps are caused by imbalances in various body mechanisms. Increasing your electrolyte level while in a state of (mild) dehydration may tip the system in the wrong direction. Even if the electrolytes are time released, it a fairly big hit all at once.

Something else that the link brings up is pickle juice and hot sauce. Both seem to help alleviate cramps by stimulating certain nerve centers in the mouth and throat. The capsaicin does the work in the hot sauce but I suspect that the acetic acid in pickle juice is what is acting on the nerve centers because pickle juice doesn't necessarily have capsaicin in it.

I wonder if the acidity is what is at work in a "Coke" as well. Not a "cola" but Coca Cola. "Coke" (the brand) has phosphoric acid added to it. Other colas may not. Lots of colas have citric acid...which Mountain Dew has...but that may not be a strong enough acid to tickle those nerve centers.

It's certainly food for thought. This kind of discussion is also why I keep coming back to Bike Forums. It makes me learn stuff
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Old 07-13-16, 11:45 AM
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Bananas, pickle juice, cherry juice, pineapple juice, orange juice & grapefruit juice before riding = no cramps.

Lot's o' potassium in them there things.
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Old 07-13-16, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
A few cramps when I got home but after a beet salad w apple cider vinegar, they stopped. The odd thing here is that I never cramp up during a ride. Sometimes after a ride and rarely ever night time cramps, unless I have a beer. That seems to bring on night time cramps for me, and night time bathroom trips too, lol.
I missed a couple of things initially. "...Unless I have a beer" may be the key. Like caffeine, alcohol is a diuretic. Added to the potassium, you could end up with electrolyte levels that are too high. That can cause cramps as if they are too low.

I really don't think the "soda" was the problem as much as what was in it. A 7-Up or other soda without caffiene might not have caused the problem.

Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
Last thing, on a steep climb, we had a fast decent and for the first time ever, my front tire shimmied violently (about 45 mph). The bike is a Specialized Roubaix and nothing was loose (headset, wheel, etc) but I barely saved myself from a near wreck. That was not a good feeling but I did squeeze the top tube with my knees and shift my weight back and that helped a lot.
Yup. A "death wobble". It happens on lots of bikes for a variety of reasons. 45 mph is a bit higher than most people experience on a bicycle. Wikipedia's page on bicycle dynamics has this to say about it:

Wobble, shimmy, tank-slapper, speed wobble, and death wobble are all words and phrases used to describe a rapid (4–10 Hz) oscillation of primarily just the front end (front wheel, fork, and handlebars). Also involved is the yawing of the rear frame which may contribute to the wobble when too flexible.[74] This instability occurs mostly at high speed and is similar to that experienced by shopping cart wheels, airplane landing gear, and automobile front wheels.[9][11] While wobble or shimmy can be easily remedied by adjusting speed, position, or grip on the handlebar, it can be fatal if left uncontrolled.[75]
Wobble or shimmy begins when some otherwise minor irregularity, such as fork asymmetry,[76] accelerates the wheel to one side. The restoring force is applied in phase with the progress of the irregularity, and the wheel turns to the other side where the process is repeated. If there is insufficient damping in the steering the oscillation will increase until system failure occurs. The oscillation frequency can be changed by changing the forward speed, making the bike stiffer or lighter, or increasing the stiffness of the steering, of which the rider is a main component.
The last bit is most important. Changing the speed...usually slowing down...or changing the damping so that the frame can't oscillate both work. You probably don't have to "squeeze" the top tube to stop it. Simply putting your leg against the top tube is sufficient.

And, no, steel bikes aren't immune from a death wobble nor are carbon bikes prone to it.
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Old 07-13-16, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
This kind of discussion is also why I keep coming back to Bike Forums. It makes me learn stuff

While that is why I started this thread and shared my concerns with the members here, as you can see.... not all agree.

You raise some points worth looking into because I do not want that to happen again. Just remember what I have posted so far...... all the pre-ride coffee, going out fasted, etc is part of my normal routine and has nver been an issue for me since I've started cycling 11 months ago.

So I am looking for something unusual but it looks to me like neuromuscular fatigue more than hydration or electrolyte but quite possibly all of the above. Thought maybe others here had similar situations and a way of dealing with it.

Good reading for sure, except for trailangel's angry post. Maybe he is having cramps, the monthly kind?
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Old 07-13-16, 12:09 PM
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I think the root cause here is trying to ride 60+ miles while starting fasted. By the time you stopped to eat/drink, your stores were depleted, and what/how much you ate mattered little. I personally won't do a fasted ride over 30 miles or so-- but I do those 30 miles at a significantly faster pace. If I'm setting out to do 60 or 100, I make sure to eat before, because I'm really bad about eating during. My last imperial century was done on two Clif bars and an ice cream cone (at mile 90.)
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Old 07-13-16, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I think the root cause here is trying to ride 60+ miles while starting fasted.
That was the other thing, my normal rides are around the 40 mile or 2 hour mark. I'm not sure if it was the time on the bike that hurt me as much as the miles did. I have rode many 60+ mile rides and never had any cramping. This ride was a slower paced ride but it did end up being a 5 hour "on the bike" ride and you could be right, in my body wasn't given proper nutrition to handle that duration, regardless of effort. My legs were not hurting except from the cramps.
I don't think I was dehydrated in any way as I did need to stop twice for a "nature break", but the urine was bright yellow. I took a B complex before the ride and that makes you pee a bright yellow, almost neon yellow urine.

Thanks for the input. Care to explain the "Dr Isotope" moniker, via PM?
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Old 07-13-16, 12:30 PM
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I only experience leg cramp at the beginning of year where I did not touch the bike whole winter . I only have a banana , double shot of espresso coffee before each ride which last from 3.5 to 4 hours . I used Hammer perpetuem , endurolytes on every ride and no cramp so far .
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Old 07-13-16, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
Does anyone have a clue about the headshake of the front wheel?
When this happened to me, it was traced to a slightly too loose front wheel quick release.
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Old 07-13-16, 12:46 PM
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I often climb a lot but have only gotten cramps once, and that was on a very hilly (14,000+ feet of climbing) double century.


That said, I always eat before a ride, usually a large breakfast and then add Perpetuem for quick on-the-bike nutrition (the flavor I like, Café Latte, has caffeine) and whether it's an organized ride of just a training ride, I usually drink sodas, most often Coke.


Other friends who do get cramps have used pickle juice or mustard packets to relieve cramps. Maybe vinegar is the common ingredient that gets rid of cramps! Maybe.


Here's a sample of a ride I did recently: https://www.strava.com/activities/630257808


I have gotten "speed wobble" on occasional (thankfully rare) fast descents but your method of putting your knees against the top tube has always worked for me. And yes, I've experienced it on steel, aluminum, titanium and carbon bikes.
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