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Now broadcasting from CO
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey,
I am in my second season of doing 6hr solo races. The last two I did I started cramping up pretty badly during the 4th and 5th hours of the race. I am hydrating well (camelbak bladder full of cytomax) and eating plenty (gel + granola bar/bannana/orange after every lap). I don't understand why I am cramping. It gets so bad that I have to drop my cadence (usually about 80-95rpm) to about 50-60 rpm in a large gear to keep from cramping. Does anyone have any advice to help prevent these cramps next time I go out for that long?

Thanks
 

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Beer
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Same here

I have had issues with cramping on long races as well. I don't do alot of 6 hr races like you though. But to resolve my problem I have had to up my training, put in more hours and so on. Plus I also make sure to have some source of protein while I am riding (Accelerade, Sustained Energy,...) This seems to work for me.
 

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Topeak-Ergon Racing
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I recently read this article: http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/leg_injuries/a/leg8.htm

Here is the opening paragraph:
Cause of Muscle Cramps Although the exact cause of muscle cramps is unknown, some researchers believe inadequate stretching and muscle fatigue leads to abnormalities in mechanisms that control muscle contraction. Other factors may also be involved, including exercising or working in intense heat, dehydration and depletion of salt and minerals.
My current thinking is that cramps are caused by fatigue of the specific mucsle(s) that are effected. What you are looking for is the cause of that fatigue whether it is nutritional, over-usage, under-development, or something else.

Hammer and Gatorade would like you to think a lack of electrolyles is the only cause of cramps, but it sounds like you have explored this possibilty and it has not helped. Don't get me wrong, hydration and electrolyte balance is critical, but other factors may be at play.

So maybe you should look at your conditioning and your pedal technique. Are you training specifically for these 6 hour races with rides of similar intensity and length? Are you pushing harder during the races than during training? Are you allowing the muscle(s) that are effected to relax at all through your pedal stroke?

Eddie O
 

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Beer
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Eddie O went a little more in depth than I did. I also relized that it was not an Electrolyte or hydration thing. Drank plenty of water, took the Endurolytes, nothing helped. It was the muscle fatigue and lactic acid build up. I also had read that the body starts catabolizing the the muscles for protien, causing more damage. So I am a believer in consuming protein, especially on long hard rides. The nutrition and added training seem to have cured my cramps
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's probably the training

I need to get on the bike for long rides more. I guess I'll have to get my lazy ass up before work to get in some 3-4 hr rides. Maybe some longer rides on weekends. And I am allergic to E-caps (they contain whey, a milk product and I am allergic to dairy), so they are a no go. thanks for the help.
 

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Topeak-Ergon Racing
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PAmtbiker said:
I need to get on the bike for long rides more. I guess I'll have to get my lazy ass up before work to get in some 3-4 hr rides. Maybe some longer rides on weekends. And I am allergic to E-caps (they contain whey, a milk product and I am allergic to dairy), so they are a no go. thanks for the help.
That sounds like a great plan. The cool thing with 6 hour races is that you can actaully train for that length or longer on a weekend ride.

Look into Elete for non-whey electrolyte suppliment. Sport legs may be another option, but I can't find the ingredients on the site.

Eddie O
 

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Fo' Bidniz in da haus
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perhaps just pure coincidence, but i tended to cramp quite a bit, even taking endurolytes. perhaps it is in part because I would wait too long to stop and take the endurolytes but now I dont cramp at all (knock on wood...still need to test in long race). I use Elete drink. I little over double up on the recommended amount for a given amount of water. I think, just maybe, that because I am pretty good about taking in water, the electrolytes keep pouring in from the Elete thus, preventing, or at least minimizing cramping. Worth a try for sure. I have yet to use my Endurolytes on a ride, though I still bring some along just in case.
 

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I have done several five hour to nine hour runs this year. I often run just below cramping effort.

When i skied I always drank diluted orange juice.

First I tried gatorade Na 9% of daily K 3% of daily. Close to body ratio. Cramps.

Then Powerade Na 2% of daily K is I think 3%. Better

Orange juice Na 0 % of daily K is 22% of daily. Pretty damn good.

Na/K ratio for me seems to be important
 

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Heat Adaptation and a couple other things

Hey PAmtbiker ... I did the Marysville Enduro also ... how many times did you fall on the wet roots :) My upper body got worked real hard getting over all the logs and fighting to stay upright on the roots and stuff. I fell a couple times but fortunately the landings were pretty soft!

You are getting some pretty good advice from the crowd here. I'll try not to repeat what they have already said.

Here are a couple other things that have helped me out:

Heat adaptation is an important part of my training. I try to get in rides and runs (I do adventure racing too) during the middle of the day so I get used to the sun and heat. I've even started driving my car without using the AC unless it is really unbearable out. Seems to be helping me.

I also think pacing plays a part in cramp prevention. This is an adventure racing thing for me too ... keep moving at a steady pace and finish strong but don't hammer. It is tempting to smoke the first couple of laps while you feel fresh. Try not to dig too deep ... it is OK to push the bike up hills that you can ride if you really dig deep. I don't think it is worth it. In a shorter race, hammer everything, in an enduro, save your strength and finish strong.

Another thing that I think has helped me with my riding is that I started riding with the local road racing club on Tuesday nights. This has gotten me out of my normal comfort zone. 90 minutes a week of hammer time has caused some definite physiological and psychological changes that have helped. It is good to put yourself under strain in a somewhat controled manner like this. It is hard to do it on your own or out riding mountain bikes with your buddies.

-SUB160
(John Nusbaum)
 

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How is your hydration the day before the race???? this is often overlooked....

I drink atleast a gallon of water every day, and if I know I am going to be putting in a long day on the trails I drink probably a half gallon before even heading out.... also no coffee because it is a diuretic, and will dehydrate you.

someone mentioned how you get into a catabolic state after riding for a while.. this is true... about 45-60 minutes into riding your bodies cortisol levels shoot way up, and switches from using glycogen (blood sugar), and bodyfat for energy to amino acids (muscle) this can be minimized by spiking your insulin which is done by taking in a good dose of simple carbs... 50 grams or so... these carbs also pull water into your system... 1 gram of carbs will carry 3 grams of water with it into your muscles. Which brings me to my next suggestion....

start eating a lot of carbs for two days leading up to your race... eat tons of rice, pasta, potatoes etc. If you are not already doing this (carbo loading) give it a test run over the weekend and see how it works for ya...
 

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Dirt Whore
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PAmtbiker said:
If by that you mean beard... then yes. I was riding a white Epic. I was cramping pretty hard.
Ok, yeah, i was looking at the link you had in your sig, and cross referencing the results I think i caught up to you on the 5th Lap , I think you were taking a break.

I had a few cramping issues also, I think for my level of Fitness, i should have taken a few more breaks earlier, If i Recall I dont think i stopped untill lap 4, after some severe cramping. After the break I think I had a better Lap 5 then Lap 4..Also i may have went out a bit to hard in the begining. The one hike a bike hill after the mud bath was pretty rough on the legs and led to severe cramping everytime after lap 3.

I use the endurolytes, but maybe you could try these http://www.nuun.com I have not heard much about them, but they were in the new product section of Dirt Rag.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks guys...

Your advice is great. I am going to try to get on the bike more and experiment more with my hydration/ carb intake before the next enduro (Harve De Grasse???). I hope to be a little more ready for that. Thanks again.
 

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Ride, Sleep, Work
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I also had a problem with cramping until I startd using Elete Water(eletewater.com).You can mix it in you pack or your bottles, it has no flavor or odor. I have used Elete Water during two 24 hour races, four 12 hour races, the Durango 100,and four 6 hour races were the temp. averages between 90-100 and I have not had cramps since i have been using it. If you are needing something that I think works try Elete Water!!!!
 

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eletewater.com read that article Hyponatremia: Maintaining the Delicate Balance Between Electrolytes and Fluids.
This looks like about the best advice. Pure water can be dangerous in high amounts without sodium replacement. Too much sodium can raise blood pressure. The chemical balance is very important in blood to keep the electric chemical reaction balanced in the muscles.
Note you can watch your legs and tell when you are pre-cramping. (just watch the tiny musculature spasms on the side of the leg and monitor the severity progression of those spasms, when they get severe; cramping is eminent.) Note a nasty quick fix is a quick dose of sodium with antacids. (your stomach will freak.) Not a good solution in a race, but after; in an that emergency cramping thing.
 

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I just did a 33 mile race (just over 3 hours) and on the last lap my legs cramped bad. Took me from 2nd place to 6th. Pissed me off. Like you, I don't understand why. I've ridden 26 miles with no issues.

I drank so much water starting 2 days before. I drank a ton the morning of, including 20oz of gatorade. During the race I had 4 bananas, 3 bottles of water, 2 bottles of accerlerade adn 1 bottle of heed. Also, 6 endurolytes and 3 gel packs.

The course was the hardest I've ever ridden. There were no areas to rest. Even taking a drink from the bottle was a challenge. Considering everything I took in, the only think really left is conditioning. Maybe I didn't stretch enough or maybe my body can do 26 miles, but after that no so much.
 

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Why so uptite?
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Do you consitantly have trouble with cramping in these longer events?

Muscle cramping is usually due to a reduction or diminished avalibility of electrolytes. Below is an article about Muscle Cramping and the science behind it:

Muscle Cramping

I have had a few problems with cramping on long training rides and really hot rides. I started suplimenting with Endurolytes and have not had a problem since. I take 1-2 capsules before i start riding, and then 1-2 capsules every 2hrs or so in these more difficult conditions (high heat, etc..) :)

Enduroltyes

Use the link in my sig if you want a discount on them.:thumbsup:
 
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