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  1. #1
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    Hydration/quad cramping

    Hey guys/gals,
    So in my preparation for an upcoming orgainized 35 miler I signed up for I have started lengthening my rides. Typically I get out from anywhere between 10-15 miles but the past two weekends have uped that to 20-25 respectively. My goal is to increase the distance each week up to the event.

    In any case, on Saturday at about the 20 mile mark my right quad started tightening up on me with each down stroke. My left was not as bad. I would say that if I had to stand and climb up a large hill that my right would have certainly cramped up on me.

    I had been drinking water the entire way via my hydro pack and stopped for a quick snack/break at about the 12 mile mark. But I did not have liquid with me other than water. Durning the summer when I was riding with water bottles I normally had one full of gatorade and the other with water and would sip on them both durning the ride. I guess I just figured I would be fine with a full pack of water this trip. WRONG

    Ok so my question is how should I approach this? Does this sound more like a dehydration issue or a simple lack of carbs???? I ate a good breakfast and dinner the night prior. Just curious what sort of supplement I should consider carrying with me on the ride to help prevent this from happening in the future. I can't imagine having this hit me at mile 25 and still have 10 to go with the worst climb of the riding hitting at about mile 33!

    Keep in mind that I raced road bikes for years back in the day and had problems with my calfs cramping back then but my quads is something new (and I rode with cytomax back then). Just wondering how any of you guys that put in longer rides deal with this sort of thing or what I could try in the future.

  2. #2
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    Are you feeling pain in the affected quad?

    My guess is a magnesium deficiency. You lose mag from sweating.....try some Rolaids before the ride. I recently read an article that said this was the most common, yet overlooked cause for cramps and pain for cyclists. I'll see if I can find it.

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    Heres the article...apparently I took a lot from that article. Thats where I read using Rolaids helped.

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    Yep, definitely still feeling a little pain. Right above the tear drop portion of my quad if you will. Almost where it tires in I guess. I wouldn't say it hurts so much as it just feels stiff. Sorta like a day or so after a hard leg day in the gym.

    going to read the link now but makes sense.

  5. #5
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    Endurolyte does the trick for me, mix in water, adjust the mix to suit.

    Endurolytes - Electrolyte Replacement Supplement | Hammer Nutrition

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    Do any of these taint your hydration bladder? I mean, does it end up leaving a taste in the bladder the next time you only drink water out of it? Don't get me wrong, I can clean it out but just curious if you guys have experienced that at all.

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    I use Heed and it doesn't do anything to the bladder if I rinse it out good. Sometimes you get a little taste the first sip, that's it though.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS View Post
    Endurolyte does the trick for me, mix in water, adjust the mix to suit.

    Endurolytes - Electrolyte Replacement Supplement | Hammer Nutrition
    Is the powdered form flavored? I don't see any options on their site so I am guessing it is not and is considered flavorless if you will.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metalhack View Post
    Heres the article...apparently I took a lot from that article. Thats where I read using Rolaids helped.
    Good little article. Especially since I sort of fall into the south beach diet plan. Trust me, I'm not on any diet. I simply tend to not take in as many carbs as I probably should. Perhaps this is from years of training in the gym (not that I am huge by any means-185 at 5'9") where it was always about protein intake.

    I will definitely give the Rolaids a shot though as I would say that while I am getting cramps I am also suffering from DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) similar to how I would feel after a hard workout at the gym. Normally it hits me at about the 48 hour mark for my legs which is exactly where I am at today.

    I will also make sure that I add in some electrolites as I am sure that was part of it as well as I tend to sweat quite a bit and it was quite humid out there.

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    Well, I thought I was doing things right. I carb loaded starting two days out, I drank water all frickn day on Thursday (I swear, I ran to the take a leak 3 times an hour at least), I ate well... Friday morning, I ate a good breakfast, popped some Rolaids before the ride and headed out. At mile 10 I stopped, took a Gatorade Prime, drank more water, stretched my quads a little bit and got going again. At mile 13 I started getting the crampy feeling in my quads again! WTH?? I popped two more Rolaids and drank alot more water and drank a Gatorade recovery drink. I figured since it has about 230 calories as well as protein that it would help. I never felt tired or wooped in anyway. Keep in mind that from mile 8-13, the trail was fairly mellow with minimal climbing. I felt pretty good at this point but at mile 17 my quads hit the wall. I got off, stretched some more, drank more (I was drinking the whole time mind you-water) None the less, I was screwed! I had to climb up a 3 teared road climb to link the two sections of trail and get back to my car. It was horrible. I caught a cramp on the second tear. I stopped at one point and got off the bike. Both quads were cramping, I couldn't straighten my legs to even stand and stretch one leg. I couldn't lay down as there was no shoulder on this tight little country road either. I started to go back down the hill thinking I would just hike up the side of the hill but figured I only had about 200 yrds to go. I litterally sucked it up and pedaled up to about the last 50 yrds and got off again. I managed to walk up the rest of the way w/ my knees bent. I swear I probably looked like I was handicapped (honestly, I was!). I want you all to know that I was a Ranger in the Army for several years and I have suffered through many physical things durning that time. But hiking up a hill pushing a bike with cramps in both quads was easily as bad as my worst day ever as a Ranger. I managed to ride back to the car (about 3.5 miles). I was littlerally grunting and cussing the entire way! But when I hit the parking lot it seemed like the cramps suddenly went away. I was able to walk around my car, bend over to take off my shoes, put the bike in the car... I just don't get it. I even stretched a little bit.

    So here I am a day later. My quads feel like I did squats yesterday and are stiff as hell. I know I did some damage trying to ride through it and it will take a few days to get back to normal. But I am stumped. I did a little research and learned a little bit more but the reality is that everything seems to point out the same things...Hydrate (drink water), good nutrition, STRETCH! During my research, I came across a post that a member made on here a few years ago. The guy had some really good points, but to my surprise he only had/has one post on the forum. Not sure if he was asked to come on and post something or what. None the less, I copied it and have attached it below. Its a good read for anyone that is dealing with some cramping issues.

    I know this is an old thread, but I figured it needed my input.

    Cramps are very simple. Treat them as such.

    All of these suppliments and electrolytes that are apparently missing, thereby causing cramps is only a small, very small part of the equation.

    You need to look at the root cause of WHY you are cramping. Yes, electrolytes, vitamins and minerals play a key role. Yes, fatigue and colder/hotter than normal temps play a key role. But these keys are are fairly uncommon unless the rider is feasting on doughnuts and pop every day before a ride or is riding in Death Valley or Alaska in February. Your body has a knack of being able to handle these imbalances quite well.

    So, in a nutshell, unless the temperatures are TRULY extreme and/or your body is simply lacking proper nutrition altogether, your muscles make do.

    What people fail to realize is that MOST of the time a cramp happens because of one thing... generally. This one thing is simple, but has two parts.

    Your muscle needs to do two things, contract and relax. Period.

    The contraction is what most people focus on primarily because it is what "gets the work done". Therefore, the RELAXATION is simply forgotten about because, heck it's only relaxing so it can CONTRACT again to do more work.

    This is the problem.

    When you paid $400 for a "bike fit" what did they do? Yep, they set up your seat height so your leg is in that "sweet spot" for a maximum extention for greatest efficiency. GREAT!

    Here's the problem with that.

    A muscle NEEDS to relax fully at least once in a while to complete the cycle. This never happens in a full pedal stroke. It's impossible. A truly FULL relaxation of the muscle is with your heel touching your buttocks. Do you ever kick your butt while pedalling? Nope.

    So this full contraction/ partial relaxation cycle slowly builds up toxins and lactic acid from the partial movement and the muscle doesn't have a chance tp "flush" so to speak.


    So enough on the technical stuff.... So obviously you can't touch your heel to your butt while cycling, so here are some tips to MINIMIZE the possibility of cramping.

    1. Proper nutrition. Before, during and after a ride. REAL nutrition... you know, fruit, veggies, protein, fiber and water. Not diets, not Taco Bell, and not pop. Real food the way God intended. (sorry athiests) Beer is ok as it is the nectar of the earth.
    2. Stretch your key muscles prior to riding. Not too much, just a good 45-60 second stretch to get the blood flowing
    3. Water intake. I didn't say Gatorade, Powerade or Enduralytes. Water. Your muscles need to be hydrated to flush toxins and lactic acid away. You're already screwing them over by only partially relaxing your muscles while pedalling so good hydration gives them the best fighting chance to do their best for you.
    4. Electrolytes. This is actually debated in many scientific fields stating that your body has more than enough to sustain itself for many hours of strenuous excersize, but that supplimentation "can't hurt" and if you ARE deficient to begin with (see #1) then supplimentation is going to be a plus.
    5. Seat height. While I have discussed this earlier as being more of a cause than a cure for cramps, improper seat height can still cause cramps in many other ways, especially if it is too high which will carry your cramps into your calves. A seat that is too low is inefficient, but will aleiviate some cramping in the calves and quads, but will start to cause cramping in the hamstrings. I always tell people on the trail to lower the seat a bit if they are quad/calf cramping and raise it a bit if the hammys are going nutso.
    6. Crank length. This is an expensive solution, but a longer crank arm will give you a little bit more relaxation in each crank, will lower your center of gravity and even give you a bit more climbing power... but the downfall is more pedal strikes, especially on a full squish.
    7. Stretch: If you get a cramp. Stop. It won't go away. Suck up your pride, get off the bike and stretch it out. Hold the stretch for at least 45 seconds and 60 if possible. Release slowly and repeat a few times. While doing this suck down as much water as you can afford. Eat something as well. The extra carbs and sugar get your blood flowing which is what your muscles need... the water hydrates them.
    8. Consider cutting your ride short if there is ample climbing left. Once you cramp, it's difficult to not re-trigger them on the next climb... especially if you're trying to keep up with faster riders.
    9. Don't push it after a cramp. That's a guaranteed re-cramp. Spin
    10. Feel a cramp coming on? Stop right then. It's easier to stretch out a budding cramp than a full blown muscle blaster that already has you in the fetal position and begging for your mommy.
    11. Stretch: Again??!! Yeesh! Yep. Like I said before, it doesn't have a be a long drawn out event, but you need to give those muscles a chance to go through a few more good full relaxation cycles to help flush the buildup and to ease them back into regular life.
    12. RECOVERY. Did I mention recovery? Well then, RECOVERY. If you just took a little spin for an hour, chances are you didn't tear down your muscles too bad. But that same spin at full intensity or an epic 40 mile endurance testosterone fest with maps, six Camelbaks and lack of civilization will do significantly more muscle fiber damage that needs to be repaired. So let it happen. A healthy and undamaged muscle will give you many more miles of cramp free service than one that is damaged and screaming at you to piss off and die. Give your muscles a minimum of 48 hours of passive or active recovery. Both are acceptable.
    13. Train: Yes, believe it or not, you probably weren't cut out for that particular ride that day... get over it. Keep riding and alternating short "sprint" rides with longer endurance "epic" rides. Keeps your muscles on their toes and on a constant state of alert and adaptaion mode. This is a good thing.
    14. Give yourself a pat on the back after a good cramp.... it means your cranked your arse off and were pushing it. That's just simply being an athelete in my book. Don't be ashamed of a cramp. It happens. To ALL OF US. I once had a fellow rider tell me,"Suck it up, aw you're just faking it." Which is what he truly thought until I pulled my face out of the dirt (to muffle the cries) to look at him... my look was unmistakable and his attitude changed as well. Trust me... there's no face quite like the face of a rider enduring a true cramp.
    15. Adapt: Your muscles WILL adapt. They will be able to sustain those short relaxation cycles for many more miles than they did a year ealier. They will be more efficient, requiring less stringent nutritional needs, and they will be more responsive to post cramp treatment (stretching) when the time arrises that you cramp again. You will. Even the endurance racers get them... and noone has legs more adapted to long rides than they do.


    I hope this helped.
    My fingers are cramping.


    With all of that said, I would like to add that I was also experiencing some PITA during the ride. Not sure if it was my shorts or what. But my butt was in a little bit of pain during this ride. So, I swapped out my seat out. I was riding a SLR carbon rail set up and changed it to my road seat, a Fizik Aliante. Unfortunately, I have not been back out on the bike yet (it rained all day...and I feel like crap!). I am also going to lower my seat about 1/4" as well to see if that helps any.

    On a good note, I got up and went out to an urgent trail maintenance day. We have a very large Epic ride scheduled by our local bike riding club (MORE) in two weeks and unfortunately some of the heavy eastern storms have taken a toll. So we ended up cutting in about .75 miles of new trail, added a creek crossing (pavers and all), some gravel paths thru some really wet and muddy areas, all while dealing with the rain beating down on us. Did I mention that this was like working on a damn chain gang???? Good God, now my back is tight, abs are tight... from swinging hoes, axes, rakes, pulling out roots.... Oh, I carbed up on some beer while working on the bike and cleaning it up. All in all, even though I am sore, it was a good day considering the weather.

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    Cramps

    Try adding bananas to your diet, especially a few hours before a ride, it has helped me.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1SPD View Post
    Is the powdered form flavored? I don't see any options on their site so I am guessing it is not and is considered flavorless if you will.



    Yes, it is largely flavorless. Sorry it took so long to reply.

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    Awesome

    So the other night I dropped my buddies son off at his house after taking him to my daughters soccer game (which he did not watch-instead he and my other daughers and her friend all went over to the play ground). In any case, he has started working out again (used to be my workout partner) and he gave me some preworkout BCAA's from GNC. Nothing special but I tell you what that stuff really worked! That along with some creatine (which is a cell volumizer basically) twice a day. The cool thing about creatine these days is that the science has progressed to the point that you no longer have to go thru a loading phase with it. So, I took the creatine first thing in the morning and then took the prework out crap about 20 minutes before I set off on my ride. I will add that I drank about 1/2 gallon of water throughout the day prior to the ride (been drinking alot of water each day lately). During the ride I continued drinking water. At mile 10 I stopped and drank a 1/2 water bottle of gatorade (brought a smaller 20oz btl w/ me in my hydration pack). At mile 15 I took a gatorade prime and an Alieve. At mile 17 I had a decision to make, either go straight to my daughers game (was the plan from the get go) which would have resulted in about 18 miles for the ride. I opted to add a portion of one of the loops at the local trail (which is where my ride ends up at-right next to a huge soccer complex where my daughter was playing in a tournament this weekend) which resulted in my ride being about 22. I honestly felt like I could have kept riding had I not been under a time constraint. I can say that I was starting to get a little tired but I know I could have kept riding w/ little to no problems! Honestly, it was just an awesome day. I felt like my old self again. Not even a hint of a crap. BTW, I also swapped out my seat post and lowered it. I went back to my KCNC straight post from my Blacksheep 20 degree lay back. It felt a little uncomfortable at first but I will keep the bike set up this way through my 35 miler.

    So with all that said, today was simply a good day. I plan on running this same nutrition plan next weekend but will get to add in the rest/aid stations so that should help out. That along with having a ton of other people out there riding with me!

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    It could be a lack of potassium, or even calcium as well. I know that I have had quad and calf cramping myself, and those are both areas in which I increased my intake of both of those and have virtually put an end to the problem. Hope that you are able to fix it as well!

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    Increased intake of both. Started with increasing potassium and did not notice much of a change. Think I got things under control at this point.

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    Well, I was wrong. I repeated my same supplement strategy starting on Friday evening before my ride on Sunday. I honestly felt great and would say that I was pretty well hydrated judging by the frequency in which I was running to the bathroom. None the less, at mile 14 (3 miles after our first aid station stop) the cramps started coming and of course got worse as the ride continued. I never hit a point where they were flat out cramped, but rather managed to keep my leg bent just enough to prevent total lock out if you will. It was horrible riding the last 23 miles of the ride in this condition and of course I ams still stiff 3 days after the event.

    I am a little stumped at this point as to what the problem is. I have adjusted my diet by increasing my fluid intake, increased carbs as well as potassium, made seat height adjustments...I thought I had things worked out but apparently not.

    I happen to have an anual physical scheduled for tomorrow so I plan on asking the doctors as many questions as I can. I am also trying to get in contact with one of my wifes friends from college who is one of the UMD's sports teams doctors. Basically there is a staff of doctors that simply rotate to cover the various sports teams at games/practices. I figure she will be a great place to start and if anything perhaps tell me what I should be asking my doctor tomorrow at a minimum. At the moment, I am keeping my fingers crossed in the hopes of trying to figure out what the issue is.

    The bottom line though is that judging by the way I feel when the cramps are hitting it simply makes me think that somehow my body is now making more lactic acid than it can push out of the muscles. I know that is basically what causes a cramp to start with but what I can't figure out is why this has somewhat suddenly started happening (over the past 2 months). I never had this problem before so it just seems so out of left field right now its not funny.

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    So I just got off the phone with my wifes friend "Val" who specializes in sports medicine for the University of MD. She suggested a couple of things to ask the doctors but understands that the office I am going to is for general medicine if you will and may not be able to do a whole lot of testing (stress testing...).

    She suggested that perhaps I could try to ride or replicate the cramping prior to going to the appt. Honestly, that does not sound fun at all! That would mean having to do a solid hour or two on the spin bike in my basement to generate that condition, and then heading over to the appt all sweaty and nasty, but it could allow for them to see things in blood work that they might not normally. I doubt this is the approach I will take and she mentioned that depending on what sort of results they see back that perhaps she could set something up at the university for me to have them do some testing on me. How frickn cool would that be??? Wait a minute, how much would that cost????

    She also mentioned a few things to have the doctors look at or test for.
    1. Potassium levels
    2. CK enzyme
    3. Compartmental syndrome

    Number one seems simple and should pretty much show up in the routine blood work.

    Number two CK (Creatine kinase): basically an indicator of muscle breakdown. Your CK levels tend to rise as muscles begin to break down. The question here is why are the muscles breaking down all of a sudden. Simple suggestions for lowering your CK levels is to stop/minimize the use of the muscles affected (stop riding) for up to 4 weeks! I don't like that solution of course. I will however be making sure they look into this in my blood work.

    Lastly number 3: defined as the compression of nerves, blood vessels, and muscle inside a closed space (compartment) within the body [1]. This leads to tissue death from lack of oxygenation due to the blood vessels being compressed by the raised pressure within the compartment. Compartment syndrome most often involves the forearm and lower leg. I can understand this and perhaps my seat could be part of the problem here. Perhaps the seat is hitting pressure points or cutting off blood flow. This could all be as simple as maybe trying to find another seat that fits me better. The odd thing again is that I don't recall having this problem before and I have been riding this seat for longer than I have had this problem.

    So, at this point I am glad that I spoke with Val and feel that I can go to the doctor tomorrow with some good questions to ask and hopefully get the ball moving in the right direction.

    At this point I have read that it is suggested to make sure you are consuming higher quantities of quality fluids (water, gatorade, powerade...) to help flush out some of the CK enzyme. However, I think I am going to keep my diet exactly the way it is right now so that when they draw blood we will have a better idea of what is going on. If I start trying to self treat everything right now, I could end up masking an indicator or something that is normally there. So I will hold off and see what the doctors have to say.

    I will post back when I find out more as I'm sure I can't be the only person suffering from this sort of thing.

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    Fitness

    I used to cramp during every race I did. I tried all the various supplements/sports drinks/diets out there to find a solution. Nothing worked.

    Finally I realized it was a fitness issue. I added back to back hard long (1.5 - 2 x race distance) rides on the weekends (often riding till I cramped) and now I don't cramp unless I go way beyond what my body is used to.

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    That very well may be the case. I just seems odd that it has started in the past couple of months. Then again, my distances increased as well. I put in 17.6 yesterday however and felt great the entire ride.

    Should have blood results back some time tomorrow and will then forward them on to Val (wifes doctor friend). Not sure what all we are going to see at this point as the sample came a few days post ride and I had not ridden at all from the date of my cramping ride to the date of the sample.

    Compartmental Syndrome testing needs to be done before/during/after the event. Basically, I will need to be on a spin bike or something creating the same scenerio when the samples are taken. I am sure they will collect blood but the real testing comes from them taking pressure readings from the muscle compartments themselves. Basically that means inserting a needle that has a syringe/pressure gauge connected to it directly into the muscle, aspirating, and reading the gauge. Sounds fun huh? NOT! I'm not sure if I will ever get to that stage as I'm sure my insurance will not cover that sort of testing. It is easier for them to agree with a doctor that says not to ride any more than to fund the testing. Gotta love insurance! I will add however that after speaking with the PA that did my exam that he said that typically compartmental syndrome occurs in the lower extermities (forearms or below the knee). Not that it can't occur elsewhere but it typically does not. So that is actually a reasuring fact at this point and goes along with what I have read so far.

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    Your saddle height is set high enough isn't it? Maybe it's a dumb question, but I thought I'd ask it anyway. It doesn't hurt to rule out all the potential contributors.

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    Yes, the saddle height is high enough. I actually swapped out my post from my Black Sheep layback to a straight post and lowered it slightly. It felt awkward in the beginning and I could really tell the difference on seated climbs. But I did not get any cramps on my next 22 mile ride so I figured things were good. However, when I did my 35 miler the cramps hit me at mile 14 or so. I have since raised the seat back up about 1cm and did 17.6 yesterday with no problems at all. It definitely feels better at its current height so that is where it is staying.

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    1SPD,

    I hope you are getting this under control. I have had cramping in endurance races, but never in training on road or mountain. I don't know why the race causes the cramps, but the equally intense and equally long or longer training rides don't result in cramping.

    I also had surgery for compartment syndrome (facial release) in my right shin. I highly doubt that you have compartment syndrome. The pain and symptoms are very different from cramps.

    Good luck.
    Whether you think you can, or think you cant, you're usually right.

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    I really don't know what you missed. You seem to have covered almost everything. Focus more on your general 24/7 diet. Gobs and gobs of fruits and vegetables. All colors. Small portions of poultry and meat. Also you aint no spring chicken; more spinning, less pushing. Especially on the Epics.Good luck.

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    your cramping is from lack of electrolyte replacement. Has nothing to do with carbs. Go back to the Gatorade and I bet you'll be fine. FYI....I am really a doctor and not just qualified to play one on tv

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    have you tried a stretching regimen during and after a ride and making a habit of stretching at night to after warming up a bit. on long rides I force myself to stop at some points and stretch even if I feel good. I find that helps in preventing my cramps.

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    Yes and no. Earlier in the season when I felt some cramping coming on a couple of rides I started making it a point to try to at least stretch before the ride and briefly whenever I stop for a break. I can say that it helped some. Since the last epic ride, my mileage has decreased quite a bit and I haven't experienced any cramping. I really think that part of my issue was that while I was getting in the miles, I think that I wasn't training on the same sort of course I was going to be doing the epic on. I mean, alot of my training rides were on somewhat flatter loops. I then went and did my event and the course simply had hill after hill. Not that they were huge mind you but they just kept coming. So I have learned that I need to train a little harder/on terrain with some more hills. Not hard, just means that I have to drive to the trails rather than ride there (the nicer trails are about 10 miles from the house).

    On a side note, about a week ago I started P90X which means I get to do Yoga once a week and stretching another. Granted I now get to stretch every day before the workout and some after but there are at least two dedicated days that focus on stretching and flexability.

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    maybe you need more than 1 gear ; ) I fear cramps on longs rides as well ive had some really bad cramps. Starting two days before a big ride I drink a bunch of water, and gatorade during the ride. I think staying hydrated days before the big ride really helps. I wish there was a simple trick to take in your pack but I have heard that mustard being high in sodium helps during cramping try taking a few mustard packs cant hurt. I like the rolaids trick ill have to try that one.

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    Excessive hydration with water can actually dilute or wash away electrolytes in the body leading to cramping. I would suspect an electrolyte deficiency (sodium). A multivitamin will also help if your levels are all jacked up. I would give these folks a try Infinit Nutrition - Custom Sports Nutrition Solutions. I used their stuff last year during a 100 mile 14 hour race, and never cramped once.

  29. #29
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    Well, I will admit that yes, more than 1spd would help. I'm not getting any younger afterall. But I am not interested in making a switch just yet.

    I think there are a couple of factors going on in my case. I think that if my legs have been worked fairly hard in the days leading up to longer rides (or basically don't get enough rest), if I don't hydrate in advance and watch my diet all together, and don't relax enough on the ride, then cramps will probably come.

    Yesterday for example: I did a leg workout on Friday. My legs were a little stiff Sunday so I decided that since the weather was nice and I had a new tire on the rear of the bike that I should go for a short spin. My plan was to get in about 10 miles on fairly flat trails. Honestly, at about mile 3 my legs felt like lead. Cardio wise I felt great but getting my legs going was taking a little bit of work. At about the 8.5 mile mark I came out to a street I needed to cross and got asked a few questions about the trails direction by a couple of runners which then followed with a bunch of questions about my bike (the guy apparently had some sort of 29er and recently picked up a Single Speed cross bike that he commuted on) In any case, we probably chatted for about 5 minutes. When I started riding again and got back into the trail I could feel my left quad getting that cramping feeling. Odd, none of the trail was very difficult at all. My current diet has me drinking a fair amount of water. So the only thing I can think of is that my legs were still in recovery mode and the short rest was enough to allow some of that lactic acid to settle into the muscles or something.

    I am wondering if the breaks have anything to do with it. As I mentioned in the start of this thread, I was rolling along fine on the 35 miler, stopped at the first aid station we came to at about mile 11 and then around mile 13 started cramping. I am starting to wonder if it is the breaks that are some how attributing to the cramping. Not to say that they wouldn't come on later in the ride but it just seems odd that they hit with in a mile or two of rest period.

    nov0798-I will look into them and thanks for the link.

  30. #30
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    I just did 35 mile road cycling today and cramped really bad pass 25 mile. At the very end when I was cooling down, some kid on their kids bike speedup and rushed into me (it's a split lane) caused me to do emergency braking and I then tried to stand on the ground with my left leg, and that's when my whole left leg numbed up... have to sit on side of trail like an idiot for 5 min or so before I managed to stand backup and rode to my car.

    Rushed home and did some quick research.

    more reading
    Because different riders cramp for different reasons, somewhere in the following collection of cramp remedies you might find the one that'll work for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1SPD View Post
    Yep, definitely still feeling a little pain. Right above the tear drop portion of my quad if you will. Almost where it tires in I guess. I wouldn't say it hurts so much as it just feels stiff. Sorta like a day or so after a hard leg day in the gym.

    going to read the link now but makes sense.
    Agreed, either magnesium or potassium deficiency, can't overlook your electrolyte needs.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS View Post
    Endurolyte does the trick for me, mix in water, adjust the mix to suit.

    Endurolytes - Electrolyte Replacement Supplement | Hammer Nutrition
    The E-caps are great! I tired the Fizz this weekend and that was pretty good too. That said I should have started hitting the caps sooner in my race to stave off the quad cramps a bit longer. Made it to 52 miles before they started, if I had been taking the capsules along with the Fizz in my bottle a bit earlier I would have been good for the whole 62 miles.
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    Just read both pages of this thread and it's great. I hope it stays bumped to the top so more people can read everyone's input and learn.

    On short ride days I drink large amounts of water and have a gatorade during the day. I'll eat a later lunch usually a sammich with deli meats and mustard.

    While riding I normally only have water in my hydration pack. I don't normally cramp unless it's a really hot day and I'm not hydrated enough.

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    One thing that has not been mentioned yet is Energy Gels. I have seen them on numerous occasions alleviate cramps once they have occured. Both my wifes quads cramped up so bad one time she could not get off her bike and a gel took care of it. I always consume a gel about and hour or so in and every hour after that. They also really help with bonking issues. I of course stay hydrated with water from my camelbak. I never add anything to the water, if I want to do that I carry a separate water bottle with sea salt or some kind of electrolyte mix.

    If you want to try something cheap and different get some Celtic Sea Salt. It is grey and comes in bags that hold in its natural moisture. It has 84% sodium and chlorine while refined salt has 97.5%. It contains 14% of sulfur, magnesium, calcium and potassium whereas refined salt has 0%. It also has about 63 other trace minerals in it while refined salt has 0 of these. It must remain moist or the magnesium evaporates. You can buy a special glass grinder for this. For the last 12 years I have been buying 20lb bags and sharing them with my friends. The lady who sells it swears that if you eat a couple of tsp daily you will never cramp.
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    I picked up a new product I have never heard of before. it is called EFS and I believe it is made by 1 endurance. I will double check that this afternoon and post back. None the less, it has been working great. I rode 19 miles yesterday and not once did I feel like I was going to cramp up. I was getting tired but even with that feeling I seriously think I could have gone another 10 miles if I had the time and some more food with me to keep me going.

    I am planning on doing a race series here that starts in August so I have to start doing more training rather than just riding. Hopefully the training combined with some supplements that work for me will do the trick. I mean right now I'm just doing a few group rides or out by myself for anywhere from 10-15 miles so doing the 19 the other day after spending 2 hours doing yard work sweating my butt off in the sun I was turely expecting some cramping but none came at all! Kick @$$!

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    What gear combination are you running? Perhaps you are mashing too much.

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    For the most part I have been on a 32:18 though as of last week I was on a 32:16 and now on a 32:17. I did my 19 miles on the 17. I have a new 18 on order w/ HBC because my new wheels take cogs vs the old set using freewheels.

    I am really thinking that the added calcium, magnesium, and potassium is making the difference. That and I have been riding w/ faster guys which of course is making me stronger. I have also started trying to ride my fixed/ss road bike once a week for about 8-10 miles. Gearing on that is a 46:16 or 46:20 depending whether it is fixed or ss

  38. #38
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    Ok, here is a link to what I am currently using.

    EFS Drink

    They also make a stronger concentration that can be purchased in a flask or buy a 30 oz bottle to use as a refill. According to their video they say that this is to be used above and beyond their EFS drink. It will allow for additional calories and can be made in varying concentrations simply by using 1/4 flasks measurements and then adding water.

    Trying to get ahold of my buddy to see if he can order it into the store for me.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1SPD View Post
    Ok, here is a link to what I am currently using.

    EFS Drink

    They also make a stronger concentration that can be purchased in a flask or buy a 30 oz bottle to use as a refill. According to their video they say that this is to be used above and beyond their EFS drink. It will allow for additional calories and can be made in varying concentrations simply by using 1/4 flasks measurements and then adding water.

    Trying to get ahold of my buddy to see if he can order it into the store for me.

    Please keep us posted on your results. I too fight with cramping on longer rides, but took multiple endurolyte capsules during a recent SS race in NY and it helped hold them off. Only problem was the difficulty in taking the capsules during a race.
    Nothing really witty to say..........

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    Well, I am hoping to give the stuff a shot again this week on my group ride. If the weather holds out mind you. In any case, I will jump in with the fast group and hopefully get the hammer dropped on me. We'll probably only get in about 13-15 miles but perhaps the quicker pace will provide a good testing ground. If that doesn't work, I am also going to plan on a longer ride early Saturday morning so we will see.

    I also ordered another of their products yesterday. I am thinking that I will cut the does in half and see what results I have with it. If I don't notice much of any change then I will increase the dose. But all of the reviews seem to state that it works great and has allowed for increased training. It is somewhat expensive though. Retail seems to be about $75/ bottle. But I picked mine up on Amazon for about $46. Should be here in a few days.

    OptygenHP Review “Top End Supplementation” | First Endurance

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    Ok, so far the EFS is the 5hit! I have yet to catch or come near cramping while using this stuff. I pretty much just fill one to two bottles up and roll out. Depending on how long the ride is going to be I may drink a serving an hour before the ride as they suggest. My goal is 1 bottle/hr (24 oz bottles).

    I have now been taking the OptygenHP for about 4 days but I have only been able to get out on the bike once since starting. They say it takes about a week before it starts to kick in and suggests that you stay on it for a while with your results maxing out at about the one month point if you will. The whole idea of this product is to allow you to train harder so I am certainly looking forward to that. With the goal being to have longer rides seem a little easier with less fatigue.

    Its about time for me to pick up another can of the EFS though and I have to make it a point to get back to the store by the end of the week before I run out.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1SPD View Post
    I know this is an old thread, but I figured it needed my input.

    Cramps are very simple. Treat them as such.

    All of these suppliments and electrolytes that are apparently missing, thereby causing cramps is only a small, very small part of the equation.

    You need to look at the root cause of WHY you are cramping. Yes, electrolytes, vitamins and minerals play a key role. Yes, fatigue and colder/hotter than normal temps play a key role. But these keys are are fairly uncommon unless the rider is feasting on doughnuts and pop every day before a ride or is riding in Death Valley or Alaska in February. Your body has a knack of being able to handle these imbalances quite well.

    So, in a nutshell, unless the temperatures are TRULY extreme and/or your body is simply lacking proper nutrition altogether, your muscles make do.

    What people fail to realize is that MOST of the time a cramp happens because of one thing... generally. This one thing is simple, but has two parts.

    Your muscle needs to do two things, contract and relax. Period.

    The contraction is what most people focus on primarily because it is what "gets the work done". Therefore, the RELAXATION is simply forgotten about because, heck it's only relaxing so it can CONTRACT again to do more work.

    This is the problem.

    When you paid $400 for a "bike fit" what did they do? Yep, they set up your seat height so your leg is in that "sweet spot" for a maximum extention for greatest efficiency. GREAT!

    Here's the problem with that.

    A muscle NEEDS to relax fully at least once in a while to complete the cycle. This never happens in a full pedal stroke. It's impossible. A truly FULL relaxation of the muscle is with your heel touching your buttocks. Do you ever kick your butt while pedalling? Nope.

    So this full contraction/ partial relaxation cycle slowly builds up toxins and lactic acid from the partial movement and the muscle doesn't have a chance tp "flush" so to speak.


    So enough on the technical stuff.... So obviously you can't touch your heel to your butt while cycling, so here are some tips to MINIMIZE the possibility of cramping.

    1. Proper nutrition. Before, during and after a ride. REAL nutrition... you know, fruit, veggies, protein, fiber and water. Not diets, not Taco Bell, and not pop. Real food the way God intended. (sorry athiests) Beer is ok as it is the nectar of the earth.
    2. Stretch your key muscles prior to riding. Not too much, just a good 45-60 second stretch to get the blood flowing
    3. Water intake. I didn't say Gatorade, Powerade or Enduralytes. Water. Your muscles need to be hydrated to flush toxins and lactic acid away. You're already screwing them over by only partially relaxing your muscles while pedalling so good hydration gives them the best fighting chance to do their best for you.
    4. Electrolytes. This is actually debated in many scientific fields stating that your body has more than enough to sustain itself for many hours of strenuous excersize, but that supplimentation "can't hurt" and if you ARE deficient to begin with (see #1) then supplimentation is going to be a plus.
    5. Seat height. While I have discussed this earlier as being more of a cause than a cure for cramps, improper seat height can still cause cramps in many other ways, especially if it is too high which will carry your cramps into your calves. A seat that is too low is inefficient, but will aleiviate some cramping in the calves and quads, but will start to cause cramping in the hamstrings. I always tell people on the trail to lower the seat a bit if they are quad/calf cramping and raise it a bit if the hammys are going nutso.
    6. Crank length. This is an expensive solution, but a longer crank arm will give you a little bit more relaxation in each crank, will lower your center of gravity and even give you a bit more climbing power... but the downfall is more pedal strikes, especially on a full squish.
    7. Stretch: If you get a cramp. Stop. It won't go away. Suck up your pride, get off the bike and stretch it out. Hold the stretch for at least 45 seconds and 60 if possible. Release slowly and repeat a few times. While doing this suck down as much water as you can afford. Eat something as well. The extra carbs and sugar get your blood flowing which is what your muscles need... the water hydrates them.
    8. Consider cutting your ride short if there is ample climbing left. Once you cramp, it's difficult to not re-trigger them on the next climb... especially if you're trying to keep up with faster riders.
    9. Don't push it after a cramp. That's a guaranteed re-cramp. Spin
    10. Feel a cramp coming on? Stop right then. It's easier to stretch out a budding cramp than a full blown muscle blaster that already has you in the fetal position and begging for your mommy.
    11. Stretch: Again??!! Yeesh! Yep. Like I said before, it doesn't have a be a long drawn out event, but you need to give those muscles a chance to go through a few more good full relaxation cycles to help flush the buildup and to ease them back into regular life.
    12. RECOVERY. Did I mention recovery? Well then, RECOVERY. If you just took a little spin for an hour, chances are you didn't tear down your muscles too bad. But that same spin at full intensity or an epic 40 mile endurance testosterone fest with maps, six Camelbaks and lack of civilization will do significantly more muscle fiber damage that needs to be repaired. So let it happen. A healthy and undamaged muscle will give you many more miles of cramp free service than one that is damaged and screaming at you to piss off and die. Give your muscles a minimum of 48 hours of passive or active recovery. Both are acceptable.
    13. Train: Yes, believe it or not, you probably weren't cut out for that particular ride that day... get over it. Keep riding and alternating short "sprint" rides with longer endurance "epic" rides. Keeps your muscles on their toes and on a constant state of alert and adaptaion mode. This is a good thing.
    14. Give yourself a pat on the back after a good cramp.... it means your cranked your arse off and were pushing it. That's just simply being an athelete in my book. Don't be ashamed of a cramp. It happens. To ALL OF US. I once had a fellow rider tell me,"Suck it up, aw you're just faking it." Which is what he truly thought until I pulled my face out of the dirt (to muffle the cries) to look at him... my look was unmistakable and his attitude changed as well. Trust me... there's no face quite like the face of a rider enduring a true cramp.
    15. Adapt: Your muscles WILL adapt. They will be able to sustain those short relaxation cycles for many more miles than they did a year ealier. They will be more efficient, requiring less stringent nutritional needs, and they will be more responsive to post cramp treatment (stretching) when the time arrises that you cramp again. You will. Even the endurance racers get them... and noone has legs more adapted to long rides than they do.


    I hope this helped.
    My fingers are cramping.
    Thank you for adding this and I just wanted to quote it so that people see it at the bottom of the thread. There is so much misunderstanding in the sports world about what causes cramps and what wonder-drink will cure them that this message cannot be spread enough. Heck a few posts up we even had a doctor claim gatoraid is the cure

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    Water bottle 1/2 pickle juice 1/2 water and or carry around those packaged kosher pickles this always kills my cramps on epic races also I find a lot of people over due it with supplements when you train stick to just water and simple foods like bandannas save the specialty drinks for race day but I find 1nuun in a 3liter camelback of water and a water bottle with pickle juice and whatever you do don't go buy the directions of gels they tell you to take WAY TOO MUCH that you'll get a sugar crash only take food and supplement s when you feel you need it as every bodies different I've done races where all I drank was electrolyte/energy drinks and I did poorly and I've done races with just water and performed slightly better but when I use mostly water and a teeny tiny bit of energy/electrolyte drinks I perform amazingly well I guess it's all in moderation

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    Well, I picked up 2 more cans of EFS and am still taking the OptigenHP. I have been on the Ohp for about 2 weeks now and can't say that I feel too much different when it comes to riding. They say you have to be on it for at least a week but a month is best. I have heard from another that he didn't really notice a difference until the 2 month mark. In any case, after hearing from him I started thinking about my last ride.

    I did not have alot of time to ride and figured that I would only get in about 10-13 miles based on the amount of time that I had. I figured I would hit it hard on a couple of sections of my ride that I know have segments listed on Strava that I could compete at if you will.

    I honestly felt like it was taking a little while to warm up. My legs felt heavy and simply put, I felt tired. I pushed myself on a few segments and chilled out on others. I'm sure I could have gone further but would have set out at a different pace if that was the case. None the less, I did not notice anything different with my HR other than the fact that it went up when I was pushing myself and down when I wasn't. But the real kicker came in when I saw that I took 3 KOM's (king of the mountain) times on this short little ride. For one of them, my averages speed was 13.5 mph. I know that doesn't sound fast but when my typical fast average speed is about 10 or so, I think this was pretty good and obviously good enough to set the fastest time. I also broke my record on a climbing segment for the 3rd time and though I wasn't really trying I ended up taking a 3rd KOM on a particular section by 1 second. Funny because I was just tooling along for most of it and really only pushed myself on the climb. I will definitely have to look up that segment again and actually try to push myself the next time!

    OK, so knowing that I actually rode better than I thought and knowing that this other individual mentioned that his HR was way lower that how he felt while riding just shows me some things I need to be looking for the next time I head out. I will continue to keep you guys posted on my status with these supplements. In any case, I can't report any cramping as of yet since using the EFS. Honestly, that has really been the only change I have made so in my opinion, that has to be what is helping me with that.

  45. #45
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    I am sorry to say that I have no damn data to share! I took all my pre ride supplements and once I got to the trail, I realized that I didn't have my Garmin! I had my chest strap though! FAIL!

    In any case, my ride went pretty good and I held a good pace judging by where I rode and what my stop watch told me. I can say that I did feel like I was recovering a little quicker after hard efforts so that is a good thing.

    I basically did two rides. One on my own for what I am guessing was about 7-8 miles and then linked up with the group ride where I put in another 7-8 miles (cut out early so I could get home to watch the game). I got a little winded on the final climb of the first ride but then had a 15-20 break before the group ride rolled out. At one point a couple of us picked up the pace and rolled away from the group. I noticed that during a particular section where the trail gets pretty rolly that my right quad had a bit of a crampy feeling. I let off the pedal stroke a tad and backed off the pace a bit but was still close enough to the other guy that I didn't look like I got dropped. I hit my turn around point and waited for everyone else and then road back with a kid that had get back to meet his mom (his ride to the trail). I guess I recovered enough because the feeling never came back.

    I do wish I had the Garmin because I am very curious to know what my HR was during the ride. I want to know if it was lower than what I was feeling or if things were/are still the same. Unfortunately, I have no idea!

    So, I'm going to try to get out for a little spin today with the intention of trying to ride hard. It will be a short ride because I have dinner plans but hopefully it will give me some data that I can post up.

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    Woooo, post 2800!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1SPD View Post
    Woooo, post 2800!
    Sent u a pm.
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    Ok, so I'm rehashing an old thread here rather than starting a new one.

    I was taking Optigen for about a month. It took about 1-2 weeks for me to notice much of anything. I would say that it was fairly subtle as far as the transition goes. I mean, it wasn't like I took it for a week and bam, I was a new rider. But I figured I would note a few things for those that might be interested. So here goes. I will say that the notes below are my opinions after the two week mark since much of nothing happened the first week.

    1. I would take my pills in the morning and typically rode in the afternoons. I would say that it often felt like my legs felt pumped. Almost like I was tired even though I had just started riding. Eventually that feeling would give way to the reality that I actually felt pretty good and was riding pretty strong. I mean normally when my legs start feeling pumped up, I am typically at a point where I'm about to crack. Yet in this case, I was able to simply keep riding.

    2. I noticed that while the pumped feeling was there, I was still able to ride at a higher rate of speed, climb harder and in general, simply keep going strong.

    3. It seemed like I recovered quicker. I could hit the climbs I normally do and then recover pretty quick to the point that when the next climb came, I wasn't even phased. I can also say that I recovered from day to day a bit faster as well. I mean, I'd go out and do a pretty hard ride (competing against friends on Strava for KOM's) and then be right back out there the next day doing it again.

    4. My heart rate was lower. This was odd for me because my HR typically runs higher in comparison to most of my friends. I mean for any given part of a ride, I would typically be about 10 bpm higher than them. Trust me, I was concerned about this years ago and spoke with several different doctors and was given a clean bill of health. Apparently, mine just runs a little higher. None the less, while taking Optigen (now at about the week 3-4 point) I could see that my HR was lower over all during harder exertions. This in turn allowed me to push harder and not run out of breath as fast.

    Ok, so for the most part, my trial of this product was quite refreshing. I mean I felt great, was able to ride harder, I wasn't cramping, and I was recovering quite well. Thumbs up as far as all of that goes. I can say that the product is on the expensive side. I bought mine on Amazon for $48 I believe and that was the cheapest place I found it. I was actually going to order a second bottle, but my schedule started getting all jacked up when the school year started. (two of my daughters started high school and both played fall sports-no time to get out and ride 4-6 days a week like I had been doing)

    I then started riding a road bike at lunch since I could at least get out and do that on a regular basis. It was a bit of a transition back to a road bike and I tell ya, the strain on your legs is a little bit different when it comes to climbing on the road vs the mtb climbs I had been doing in my area. I eventually decided that I would do the Moco Epic ride (the same ride I did last year when all of this started). I said that I was going to train for the 50 miler this year since everything was going well. I was getting in a good 50-80 miles a week just on the road and throwing in a mtb ride whenever my schedule would allow it. I started doing intervals in hill repeats and did it all clean (no supplements other than Gatorade for the most part).

    When it came time to sign up for the ride I ended up going with the 35 miler since some friends asked me to ride with them. I went and picked up some more EFS cuz that stuff frickn rocks, and then debated on the Optigen. I ended up trying something new.

    I went with Endurox Excel instead. It only cost $17 and it was on the shelf right next to the EFS (for whatever reason, the Vitamin Shoppe doesn't sell Optigen). I started taking it about 11 days before the ride. I know, I lost track of my timing plan...in any case all went well. After a few days of taking the Excel, I got the familiar leg pumps, lower HR, less fatigue, and good recovery so I was quite happy. I also started loading up on EFS. Even on days I didn't ride, I would make sure I drank a water bottle full of it. (one scoop/bottle)

    I showed up for the ride with lots of miles under my belt ready to go. I debated on which wheels to ride (tires). My knobby set has a 18t fw on it which was the gearing I wanted but my nicer set of wheels had the Maxxis Ikon's but a 17t. Now don't get me going on the whole Home Brewed order situation. We'll just say that it has been over 6 months and I still don't have my new 18t cog! But I decided to ride the 17t since I didn't want to have to deal with a tubeless tire swap.

    The ride started and it was somewhat nippy out. I bolted up the hill past my buddies so that I could get a lead on them, pull over and take off my vest. That way no one else would have to stop and wait. I hit the 4 way, followed the orange arrow sign, stopped, waited....no one showed up. So I kept going. Turns out I took a wrong turn and got in an extra 3 miles of riding. The down side is that probably worked against me and I ended up doing the rest of the ride by myself.

    I started catching a little bit of a cramp at mile 20. It faded but eventually they returned and I had a few hard miles to deal with. In total I rode 39.7 miles in 3:59 with an average speed of 9.9 mph. I dealt with the cramps off and on and drank a total of 4 bottles of EFS (24 oz) and one bottle of water during the ride. I also made it a point to hit the aid stations and taken at least some form of food, mostly brownies, a gel of some sort, a sandwhich at another...I was really suffering thru one of the later sections of the trail. This was a newer connector trail that was still somewhat soft and very rutty since it was recently completed and not yet packed from a lot of traffic. You couldn't coast on the flats because the bumps just sucked out all your momentum and the downhills were more technical just because of the time of year with all the leafs on the rocks and what not. I mean I was feeling cramps when standing up coasting down hill! In the end, I uploaded to Strava and found out that I actually set the 6th best time on that part of the trail (as of yesterday I was down to 12, obviously more people finally uploaded their ride-49 as of yesterday). I guess I was actually riding harder than I thought. I say that because the guys I got separated from did the ride (minus my extra miles-they clocked in 37.1 miles) on full suspension bikes with full gears w/ an average of 9.1 mph. So the SS was faster but I think I paid a greater price! An 18t would have probably helped me quite a bit towards the end but it is what it is!

    At this point, I think the Excel is a decent product. It gave me the same feeling as the Optigen did and I honestly believe the results would have been the same, Opt vs Excel, had I actually started taking it 3-4 weeks out. I think that had I been on it for longer, there is a good chance that I would not have had the cramping at all or at least not until farther along in the ride. Which would have been nice seeing how the ride was on Sunday and today is Wednesday and my quads are still sore/stiff. But I am no where near the shape I was in last year after the ride. Last year was brutal and I was sore/stiff for 8 days after the ride. Personally, I think that says quite a bit about the supplementation as well as my training. I should also add that last year I did the ride on a 32:18 but didn't have a good supplementation plan put together though my diet was ok. This year a harder gear choice of 32:17, better supplementation, better training, and I feel much better post ride than last year!

    Next year, I am going to shoot for the 50 again but we will see. I'll probably train the same way but make sure I have my supplementation planned out better so that I am on it about 4-6 weeks prior to the event. I will also do the ride on a 32:18 for the next go around.

    I'm not sure what I will be running at that point as far as supplementation. In the spring I may try out the EPO Boost to see if that really does anything for me. It costs about the same as Optigen so we will see. I may start off on Excel and then switch to the other leading up to the actual ride. That might be the cheaper way to go about it.

  49. #49
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    Had a ride tarnished by quad cramps today. Started looking at info on the old interwebs and found this thread along with this piece

    In a nutshell it says that more than anything else it is a fitness issue. It also points out that there is very little actual scientific research into what cause exercise induced cramping. Surprisingly what research there is shows little connection between hydration or electrolyte levels and cramping.

  50. #50
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    Fitness is the key to not crampin in my view for 70 percent of people. The other 30 percent need a supplement because of there genetic make up. Try Elete electrolite replacement and Adovocare, rehydrate. Stopped all my cramps in four and five hour offroad motorcycle races!

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