Fed up with these bloody cramps

ralphy1967 Posts: 40
edited March 2013 in Road general
A little bit of history about myself first.

Until November last year i rode mountain bikes for around 6 years on roads and cycle paths. I have cycled over 100+ miles in a day a few times and not suffered too bad with cramps and if i did it would either happen in my calf or front and back of my thigh. I've never used cleats while riding a mountain bike. I must admit i would normally only cycle between the months of April - November because the weather isn't brill in the North East.

Last November i bought my first road bike with cleats and though i'm not as fit and getting older (46yr old) i'm still quite a fit lad. My heart rate is under 60bpm while resting and can fly up banks and hills. I also got professionally fitted for my bike

I'm in training to do the c2c (130 miles Whitehaven to Sunderland) in a day in May. I am up to 70 miles in training at the mo but the cramps i get are terrible or i can feel the cramps are pending so it spoils my day out. I eat and drink correctly and sufficently before and while riding.

The areas where i get the cramps is the muscle just above the kneecaps, this is the first for me.

Could the problem be that i'm just not developed enough in that muscle area because i'm used to using full pedals with straps but now i'm using cleats.

When i cycle i feel fine until a food/cafe stop, so obviously i'm cooling down then i will jump on my bike and away i go so maybe i need to do some stretching after i stop and then before i start again. I had a cafe stop 30 mile into my ride and the cramps started around the 40 mile mark so i'm unsure if this will help.

I'm a bit of a softy when it comes to cold weather and where i go (Northumberland Moors) it's bloody freezing though i do where wind proof clothing so i'm fairly warm when cycling and i change my base layer when i stop.

Thanks for reading this and if anyone has had this problem in the past or if you feel one or more of my reasons are creditable please reply.


  • ellj22
    ellj22 Posts: 122
    I used to cramp really bad, I found hydration salts help and stretching/shacking off every hour or so whilst on the bike. Cleats probably make things worse as your using different muscles in new ways. If you stop at a cafe try to keep stretching and moving your legs and take some time when you get back on the bike to warm up again.

    I also find riding shortens muscles in your legs and gave me lots of trouble running. Stretching is key but I also find going for a walk the evening after a long ride really helps.

    It may be worth seeing a doctor if it continues and see if they recommend any changes to your diet.
  • cheers for your reply
  • b4ssy
    b4ssy Posts: 27
    I too suffer with cramps in the top half of my legs from time to time.

    This normally happens when I have had a period of inactivity or when I am pushing myself harder than normal.

    Best advice I can offer is to increase your fitness and ensure that you are hydrating properly. I regularly empty 2 75cl bottles on a 3 hour ride ( water and hi 5 electrolyte tabs ).

    Also, stretching after each ride will help.
  • I have increased my liquid intake both on & off the bike lately, I try to take in 500 ml./ 25 mile ( hi 5 electrolite tabs.) it's hard as I never used to drink a lot. A recent DVT. episode & nagging daughter soon changed that so increasing fluid plus stretching may help with your cramps.
  • Bordersroadie
    Bordersroadie Posts: 1,052
    Ralphy, I'm 49 and ride close to you, in the Borders. I ride all year round, sometimes in sub zero temps, commuting and training and doing long hilly Sportives.

    I used to get cramps a lot, calves and thigh tops (quads). Two solutions worked for me. I moved my cleats back in my shoes to a position behind the ball of the feet, just a 5mm adjustment. Overnight, the calf problem disappeared. Second, I started to add High5 Zero tablets (AKA salt tablets) in my drinks bottles (added to an existing carb drink, in the same bottle). Problems pretty much solved.

    I always obsessively hydrate (500ml per hour as a rule of thumb) which eliminates the usual culprit for cramp. I still get cramp but now only very occasionally and almost solely when pushing myself hard over a long ride with cold legs especially temps below 5 degrees.
  • Garz
    Garz Posts: 1,155
    Whilst the stretching advice is sound, I would focus on adjusting your position till you found a comfortable period of minimal cramps.

    The only time I suffer is when I am sat at a desk or in bed but know from other sports it can be triggered from pushing too hard or cold weather.

    Good luck and keep pursuing it till you control the problem - I hate cramps!
  • gryfon23
    gryfon23 Posts: 64
    Alongside the other suggestions you could try something like this.....

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Better-Magnesiu ... B002VPDX4W

    Apply to your legs before riding. If it works you can buy the magnesium chloride crystals yourself and just mix it with water, works out miles cheaper. It may tingle/sting a fraction when you first start to use it.
    I have had good results with it.

    Good luck.
  • izza
    izza Posts: 1,561
    Like others I found it was hydration - for bigger rides/sportives I now start taking hydration salts 1-2 days before the event.

    In addition I add electrolyte powders to my drinks.
  • Cheers for all the advice, i've taken them all on board. I've bought some rehydration salts and may be interested in the magnesium spray.

    As for drinking will cycling i go through 2lt Science in Sport GO Electrolyte every 30 miles so no problems there

    cheers all and happy cycling
  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    After checking the hydration, I'd say have a look at your cadence, maybe try spinning up a bit as part of your training, or building some intervals in to increase muscle fitness.