Cramping Question???


New Member
May 25, 2012
This past weekend I was riding a century and began to feel the onset of cramps in my legs. I know it was not a hydration issue because I was having to take "nature breaks". I had electrolyte drinks(Gatorade) in my water bottles. I utilized Sport Beans throughout the ride, but at about mile 80 or so I could feel the legs begin to tighten. I am wondering The group I was with completed the century in about 5 hours and 50 minutes. SO we had a decent pace, but obviously not killing each other. Any advice??
Really hard to say why, how many breaks did you take? Did you stretch a bit with each break? When doing a century you are spending many hours in the saddle so if you do not rest enough and stretch a bit you will experience cramps. Simply an issue of pressure on the nerve for too long a period of time.

The other issue is nutrition but you have seemed to rule it out.

How often do you ride for 6 hours? Just the fact that you're probably exercising for a lot longer than you might be used to would be enough to do it...
Could be temperature. Could be a fluke.

I have ridden 4-5 of the same centuries and average ~4,500 miles every season for the past 3 (on 4th now). Never had cramps on the bike prior to a hot, hilly (6-7K vert) century last October, and haven't had them since. The temps on that October day were unusually warm - 85+. Normally we start out in the low/mid 30's and top out around 65. I hydrated probably 2x normal and around 90 miles in cramped in my right hamstring when stepping it up on a steeper pitch. Shortly thereafter, my left hamstring started cramping when I tried to hold pace above 20mph on flat ground. When I backed off to 18-19 all was good. Every time I tried to push the pace the cramps returned, so I backed off for the final 8 miles or so. I stopped at 50 miles for about 5 min and again at 75 for about 10 min. Elapsed time was 5:18, which is about normal for me on that ride. I was confused - never had happened before and hasn't since. Maybe just a fluke for you too?

A friend cramps every year on the same ride, regardless of temperature, fuel, or hydration. Also occasionally on some hard training rides in heat, but otherwise not.. He experiments with fuels and hydration each year but still hasn't found a solution.
I ride for 4 and 5 hour time frames quite a bit lately. I have actually been able to "create" time to train. I have a 1500 mile ride that I am planning to do in 2015 in remembrance of my Mom, so therefore I have started the training and stuff now. 
It was a hot day and in the second half there was a great headwind to work against...15mph...was just loads of fun. Thank you for your input
took a a decent amount of breaks. Stretched on and off of the bike as well. I am leaning more towards a salt issue more than any thing else.

Cramping during long rides can be a real bummer, but there are a few potential causes and solutions you might consider. Even though you mentioned hydration and electrolytes, it's still possible that your body needed more of those elements. Gatorade is a good start, but it might not be enough for a century ride. You could try using electrolyte tablets or supplements, which often contain higher concentrations of essential salts.

Another possible cause of cramping is muscle fatigue. When you're climbing hills or maintaining a fast pace, your muscles work harder and tire more quickly. To prevent this, you could incorporate more hill training into your routine to build up your endurance. Additionally, consider varying your pace throughout the ride to give your muscles a break.

Lastly, it's important to ensure that you're fueling your body properly before, during, and after the ride. Make sure you're eating enough carbohydrates and protein to sustain your energy levels and aid in muscle recovery.

Hope this helps, and happy riding!