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I did a tough 60K race today - over gravel roads, farm fields and single track. Climbs were short but steep, up to 20%, and there were several stretches of pavement where we were hammering to gain position. I and others were afflicted with some pretty bad cramps in the legs. What causes these? Is there a way to prevent?

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Calciun helps, You cab also use heed from hammer it has a lactic acid buffer. I find those helpfull.
Thanks. I used HEED in a double century last month and had no issues. Will try it for this kind of racing.
I find most of my leg cramps are due to loss of electrolytes. The only time I ever get leg cramps is in the summer when the heat is up and I'm sweating a lot. If I don't pay close attention the day before and during a long hot ride I suffer pretty badly. I've started using Nuun, and found it helps a lot.
Thanks. I suspect that could be part of the issue. Was eating bananas, using Nuun, etc. etc. but probably was depleted going into the ride.
hey joe b,

cramps suck! suffer from many different kinds most of my life, especially ETAP - not a true cramp, but curious whether it was quad, hams, or calves? I ask cuz I used to get hamstring cramps a lot but have raised my seat quite a bit and moved it forward a little (I was too low before) and that's helped a ton with hamstrings. just fyi. positioning might be able to address this stuff along with all the good nutritional advice you've gotten.
From my running days I learned that ETAP (side stitch) is usually an issue of too much food/water in the gut (straining the diaphragm).

My cramps were in calves, then quads/hams. I had gotten a Charley horse a few nights before the race on the right side and sure enough, that was the first place to go.

I suspect that the real answer is to do more intense lactic acid threshold work to try to improve the body's ability to clear out the lactic acid.

Or just resign myself that this is a painful sport and there's no avoiding that.
i'd agree if it all started to fail, training + nutrition would help.

for me, for ETAP, it's certainly not that simple. been skipping breakfast (and lunch for afternoon races) and still get it. pretty hard to race hungry but it helps but isn't the magic cure. but every year I learn more and find a little improvement. i suppose 30 years of suffering from the same thing you'll pretty much try anything. I even bought this ebook recently!

good luck joe.
Sorry to hear that Andrew. I suppose you have thought about this, but what about a program to strengthen core muscles (yoga/Pilates is my choice).
yeah - yoga, a bunch of xc skiing (when in boston) and many years of bodyboarding all didn't seem to help, but based on that ebook i might try those structured exercises as i've certainly never put that type of structured work in to make sure everything is balanced.

thanks!
Interesting discussion. I started getting calf cramps two years ago. They seem to be related to sprinting, as I get them when I really mash down on the pedals. I've tried changing nutrition to include more electros, Heed, etc., but I believe it might have to do with my fit. I moved my seat back, and so far so good.

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