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High gear calf problems?

Gav888Gav888 Posts: 946

This is probably because my legs are not used to cycling, having only returned to cycling the last few months with a 15 years gap prior, but last night I was riding around on the small chain ring (its a double) at the front and middle rear at about 15mph, cadence about 80rpm, this was about 10 miles into the ride and I got to a nice flat bit of road and changed to the big ring at the front and left the rear and went for it and got to steady a 19mph.... then 10 seconds later my calf muscles almost cramped and were killing me, so I stopped pedalling and change to the small ring again at the front and I was still in pain. Neadless to say I had to turn round and limp the 10 miles home, which was very slow and painful, and today I can hardly walk!!

Is this normal when you are not used to using the big ring, I watch alot of people riding my way cycling on MTB and road bikes and they all use the big ring when on a flat road, but all my riding the last few months has been on the small ring, should I be using the big ring on flat roads?

Ive also just started using road shoes - Shimano SPD-SL and last night was my second time using them, they feel comfortable and the cleats aligned properly. Seat height is correct and I was drinking a pint of water an hour prior and had consumed drink on the ride to keep hydrated, so apart from lack of training im not sure what else it could be.

Any advise?
Cycling never gets any easier, you just go faster - Greg LeMond


  • Short answer: Stick to the easier cassette ratios while in the larg chainring for now! :wink:

    Long answer: Since returning to cyling via a work commute for the past two years, on and off, I've barely used the 50T chainring on my Felt. Combined with doing very little aerobic exercise for several years in the low '00s, my leg strength is pityful now when compared to when I did a lot of sport in the mid 90s. Consquently, I have had to be patient with my return to cycling, adopting a much higher cadence technique than I have used in the past. So much so, that I hardly ever use the 11-15 cassette gears, hence my replacement cassette is a 16-27.

    With my car now off the road, it has forced me to cycle commute every day for three weeks, which is a good thing. I now regularly use the 50T chainring with the 21T and 19T (second and third largest cassette gears) when travelling down gentle slopes. As each day passes, my legs are getting used to the extra demand put on them by the 50T chainring.

    A gradual adoption of the higher gear ratios supplied by your bike's large chainring may give your legs chance to build up strength without getting what sounds like bad muscle cramps! Eating more banannas may help too, building up your muscle's potassium reserves.
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  • It's a fitness thing. Basically you just need more time in the saddle.

    It not the big ring per se but the fact that you were attempting to ride at a higher power than your legs were capable of sustaining.

    Just keep riding and build up the miles and intensity steadily.
  • dilemnadilemna Posts: 2,187
    your mind is willing but your flesh weak.
    keep your cadence high and don't push heavy gears.
    Life is like a roll of toilet paper; long and useful, but always ends at the wrong moment. Anon.
    Think how stupid the average person is.......
    half of them are even more stupid than you first thought.
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