Tag Archives: cramps

Sir Crampalot

A little help here, people. I’m having an issue for which I would like to find an answer before this weekend. Actually, not just an answer, but a mediating solution.

Last week I rushed home from work to join Nathan Guerra as he was completing a 5-hour epic trainer ride on Zwift. He was raising money for a program that uses bicycles and racing for youth. My plan was to help him along for his last hour.

Well, I did make it on the trainer in time to join him. He was coming around the island and I was spinning trying to get loose before he caught me. I knew once he did, I was going to have to ramp it up to stay with him, much less give him some pulls.

Unfortunately, he caught me a little too soon! I was not adequately warmed up. However, I did my best to not only stay with him, but give him some drafting help along the way.

I have to admit that I was very happy when he reached the end of his ride. I was feeling pretty rough. Soon after we said our goodbyes, I started to cramp in my calf muscles.

I limped around a bit the next day and then began to feel a bit better, but there was the underlying tightness that hung around. I tried to spin it out on the trainer by going easy. I felt some relief once my legs warmed up, but back in the office the next day the tightness had definitely returned.

Then in the race on Saturday, the cramp in my left calf hit me hard. It was in the exact spot — to the upper outside portion of my calf muscle — as the cramps from my ride with Nathan. On Sunday I could still feel the knot.

I have been rolling the affected spots. I have been trying to warm up more and stretch more after my rides. I have drank electrolytes and water. Still, as I sit here I can still feel that tightness.

I’d like to race again this Saturday morning. However, it is going to be a crit-like race and that means a lot of sprinting. If I can’t get this thing worked out, I’m not sure if I can make it through the 45 minutes or so of the event.

Suggestions? How can I keep this from happening? How can I get ready as much as possible for the Saturday? Help!

Felled by a cramp

I tried my the Pait’s Place to Paris segment again Tuesday. This time I stopped the clock at the intersections. It didn’t make much of a difference.

Actually, I shouldn’t be too down about it. I still managed to land a 32 minute flat time. That is my third fastest all time. I guess I just hoped that I would do a bit better since I was pausing the clock and I had also rested up a little before making the attempt.

Putting that behind me I descended to Krieger Drive. As I spun along I started to feel a little better and began to contemplate a try at a nearby KOM. It is called the “Little Texas Rd Grunt 1&2.” John James and I were battling out last summer for the top spot.

I had no idea how I would do this time. It is a pretty tough segment. At just under a mile, it has an average grade of 3.7%. It starts with a climb averaging over 10% and then plateaus before a second over 10% climb to a shorter plateau. There is one final short pop up at over 8% until there is a final sprint to the finish.

You grind it up the climbs wearing yourself out and then have to change your cadence to handle the plateaus. By the time you reach the final flat section your body doesn’t know what you are trying to do to it. I’ve completed the segment in 2:18. John currently holds the record with 2:17.

I headed down Little Texas up to Clearview Road where I turned around to begin my attempt. The road descends to a creek and then kicks back up to begin the segment at East Scenic Lane. I would find out where I stood in a few minutes.

It didn’t take more than 30 seconds. I hit the line spinning in my small ring in hopes that it would allow me to keep momentum and keep my muscles from binding up. What I didn’t expect where the cramps that attacked both my calf muscles.

I shut it down before I even reached the first plateau. I’m sure it was due to not enough hydration. I had not consumed many liquids that morning had not had anything to drink during the 40 minute effort since the start of my ride. I was paying for it on the climb.

Still, I have time to bring things around. This is one of those challenges that include not only physical fitness, but an understanding of how to properly use your gearing and timing your effort to the terrain. I’d like to at least beat my own time there before the summer is done.

Hear that, Mr. James?

Okay, that just looked weird

I headed out to Donaldson Center a little late.  The bike came out of the car in a rush.  The helmet got slapped on my head and the shoes on my feet.  The tires were just going to have to make the ride on the air I had put in the night before.  I DID NOT want to get left behind by the A group.

The group was just finishing up listening to the announcements as I pulled my bike up to the front.  After having a few seconds to say hello to some of the riders around me, we heard that wonderful sound of “click. click. click.” as riders mounted their bikes for a fun 35 mile ride around Perimeter Road.  The weather was beautiful and the group was large.

There was a good contingent of POA Cycling riders in the group and as we began the ride we took some time to catch up a bit.  This was great, but I was a little uncomfortable.  It wasn’t because of the guys.  It was because of the bike.

This was only the second ride on the road for me and the Giant TCR Advanced.  My muscle memory was still treating this new bike like the Specialized Tarmac Pro.  With the Tarmac, my movements could be rather abrupt and the reaction of the bike would soften my actions.

With the TCR each movement would cause a quick reaction.  Now, that isn’t a bad thing — it is a good thing.  The only problem is I needed to learn this new bike and riding in tight formation is not a comfortable thing when you are unfamiliar with the sted you are astride!  I didn’t want to take out my teammates!

I drifted to the back to avoid being a danger to anyone and stayed there for about a lap and a half until I started to not think about how the bike felt and movements became more of a second nature.  By the end of the second lap, I wasn’t thinking about the bike anymore.

Well, except for one thing.  I had ridden the first lap in the small ring.  When I moved up to the big ring I started having all kinds of trouble with the chain slipping.  My cables must have stretched and shifting was a mess!

On the second and third lap I was fighting the gearing.  I would shift for climbing and could not get power because the chain kept slipping.  The group would gap me and then I would have to work to catch back on.  Finally, I found that if I rode the big ring and stayed in about three of my smaller rear gears, I could avoid the slippage.

Going into the fourth lap, I was feeling pretty good.  As we came by the golf course and started up the next climb, I noticed an attack.  I moved to cover it because it was a rather large group and I did not want them to get away.  For a bit I dangled near the rear just to look back and see I had the main field right behind me.

At this point I realized that the next lap was going to see a pick up in speed.  If I was in the same state I was in at this point, I was going to get killed.  So, I eased up and moved over to let the field come by.  I figured I could recover a bit and then work my way back to the front.

A little over half the field came by when John James passed me and said, “Stay up here.”  I was feeling better by this point, so I moved back into the group and decided to work my way back up to John.  By the time we reached the fire station, I was able to tap John’s back to let him know I was there.

The bad news at that point was that while my lungs and quads were feeling good, my right calve muscle was twitching on that final climb.  I was able to spin through it and as we passed the start finish line, I was thinking things were looking good.  Maybe my first Donaldson Center ride of the year would be a good one!

As we made the first turn after the start finish line, I heard John say, “Let’s go!”  He took off and I just hung onto his wheel.  By the time we reached the golf course we had reached the front of the field.  Hey!  If I could just be smart here, I would have a really good finish!

Just about that time the cramp returned.  This time with a vegence!  As we made the sweeping left hander by the golf course, my calve just pretty much locked up.  I couldn’t spin out of it.  My ankle wouldn’t bend!  I motioned that I was moving to the right and unclipped so I could try to shake it out.

The entire field moved past me.  I tried to catch back on up the climb and into the next right turn.  It was no use.  I was right on the edge of another one of those cramps.  Then the same thing started on the left leg.  It was weird!  I could look down at my leg and actually see the cramp “rolling” up my calve muscles.

I just had to get out of this big ring!  I dropped the chain once, but was able to pull it back on without stopping.  I did my best to keep from locking up the muscles again and by the time I reached the railroad track, I was putting out about 280 watts again.  Still, all the way to the car, I could feel that “just about to seize” feeling.

Overall, it was a good ride.  I checked my numbers and the ride at Donaldson Center took more work than my 4th place finish at River Falls earlier this month!  If I can hang out around the front of the pack going around Donaldson this year, I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble being there at the end of a Category 4 race.

My take aways? 1) I have simply got to hydrate more leading up to the ride.  Sure, drinking during the ride is good, but I need to have it in my system as well. 2) Patience.  It was obvious that I pretty much could have conserved a lot of energy and still been there at the end.  The fact that John pulled me all the way to the front from near the back proves that.  That move to bridge the gap was actually a stupid one.

On the positive side, I ended up feeling very comfortable and happy with the handling of the bike.  I just need to have a tune-up — which is to be expected.  I also worked through those times when it feels like you are going to explode and then you come out on the other side feeling ready to take on the world.  Without the cramp I was in a very good position for a front of the pack finish.

Maybe next time.

Upstate Windy Bicycle League

Maybe I should wait until I’ve had a good night sleep before I do a ride report here at LowCadence.com for my Upstate Winter Bicycle League ride today.  The legs are pretty stiff and sore.  I can smell the roast the beautiful redhead is cooking for dinner and I’m having to restrain myself from going in there and eating half cooked!

The day started with great promise!  By the time we rolled out the temperature was probably 50 degrees and the forecast called for a high in the upper sixties.  Without a cloud in the sky, it was going to be beautiful.

The first hint that things could get interesting on the road was the fact that there weren’t as many riders as usual.  A number of those fewer riders were pros.  Typically, that means things are going to be fast.

My plan for the day was to participate in two sprints – the Princeton Hill and Dunklin Bridge sprints.  The plan for the final sprint of the day was to just finish the ride in the pack.  I didn’t have any plans on winning one!  I just wanted to hang in there as long as possible to get some good video to show how the sprint progressed.

It wasn’t long after we got out of town that a new element was going to enter the picture — wind.  If you were tucked in, you could still feel the turbulence.  If you got out of line, it was at times buffeting.  At other times, you could be in a pace line and still feel the crosswind.

The only positive thing in my mind was the fact that I wasn’t the only one having to ride through it.  Still, I was well aware that there are some riders out there that know better how to position themselves.  It’s another one of those things I still need to learn.

I had the camera in my hand and tried to move it to my helmet in anticipation of the upcoming sprint.  I just could not get it on and was fearful I would cause an accident!  We approached a stop sign and I hoped I could stop, get it on the helmet, and then catch back on.

STUPID!  I did get the camera on and then realized they moved through the intersection much more quickly than I anticipated.  Thankfully, I thought I heard someone say, “Hold up for Jonathan.”  Even with them slowing the gap was pretty big.  Another good thing was I caught up with one of the Revolution riders who was also trailing.  Once I caught him, I was able to draft off him as we caught the group.

The worse thing about all this was we stopped soon after to wait on the SAG vehicle!  I did all the work for absolutely nothing.  Next time I’ll ask.

The next thing on the agenda was the sprint.  We turned off onto Princeton Hill road.  The good thing was we had a tailwind as we started.  The bad thing was the road was extremely rough and I knew that up ahead was 12% grade.

The road was so rough that I noticed the base of my Garmin was rotating on my stem.  Also, the roughness of the road coupled with the variated light of the sun coming through the trees caused my camera to freeze up!  I wasn’t able to record the entire sprint.

The way it unfolded was that I stayed with the leaders for a good portion of the attack.  I was feeling pretty good about myself when we crossed over a bridge and then the road kicked up.  I even managed to hang on at that point as well.

Once over the climb I knew there would be an attack and attempted to position myself to go with it.  Things split up at that point though.  Boyd and Andy were off the front and the other heavy hitters followed.  Then there was the group I was with close behind.

I ended up sliding off the back of that group by about 20 yards and was there when the riders behind me came up.  I jumped on that train and came into the finish with them.  I’m never satisfied with my sprints, but to hang as long as I did was a positive.

Next thing for us was the store stop.  The B group was waiting for us.  I got some Gatorade and some Fig Newtons.  Then it was time to roll out to the next attack zone.  However, before we got there, Mr. Sperry decided to take us on an adventure.

I saw him move up in front of the group and then motion for us all to take a left turn.  That turn sent us right into a dirt and gravel road!  Thankfully, I was at the front when this happened so I didn’t have a lot of traffic around me.  I kept waiting for my tire to explode on some sharp gravel.  One tire of a rider just behind me did blow.

That lead us to a very nice newly paved road.  The next intersection of Dunklin Bridge.  Get ready to rumble!

I was riding near Steve during this time and was listening to him talk to the other GlobalBike riders on the radio.  It caused me to stop focusing on the attack and just listen to the instructions he was giving.  Next thing I knew, I was sitting on the front with a single rider trying to form a gap.  I wasn’t going after him!

Several other riders attacked.  When I saw who they were, I knew it was doomed.  I slowed hoping that the group would come around me.  Then things really started hopping and I was moving within the group trying as much as I could to conserve in the midst of the wind.

I stayed in there with the main group until it became obvious I was simply going to wear myself down for no reason since the leaders were now out of sight.  However, the thing I learned was that to be a bandit (a single rider without a team) in an attack like this is pretty hard.  The pros in the group could pull it off, but the rank and file rider isn’t going to get a win without help.

The beautiful day continued, but I wasn’t seeing a lot of it as I had my hands down in the drops and was just following the wheel in front of me.  I’m not sure what was wrong with me.  Maybe part of it was that I had only ridden once in the week, had not consumed enough fluids in the days before the ride, and I had been fighting the wind all day.

Even so, by the time the final sprint rolled around, I was feeling much better.  It even crossed my mind that I might get pulled right along in it because the group was moving very slow.  Then I glanced ahead and saw the Steve Sperry was off the front with a pretty good gap!

The pace picked up slowly, but it did increase.  I was so proud of myself!  The pack wasn’t pulling away.  We passed Matt Tebbetts.  He was going back fast.  It concerned me because he had been having some hip issues.  I hesitated and a gap formed.  When my leg came down to accelerate, I felt a cramp hit my right quad that felt like a balloon expanding.

I eased up and started trying to spin it out.  The gap to the riders behind me started to close and I held up to wait for Matt.  He came by pulling the group!  Later I learned as we rode together that his hip bothered him most climbing.

We rode together until we reached Hwy. 20.  Once again I started feeling my strength coming back.  I started to pull with the riders around me.  Then I gapped them and was riding alone.  I managed to hold 230 to 250 watts to the track.

As we got to each stop light we picked up more riders so that by the time we reached Carolina Triathlon the group was pretty much back together.  As I swung my leg over the bike, the cramps arrived.  Oh boy, I still had to make a five mile trip home with some climbing involved.

Sure enough as I made the mild climb up East North Street from Stone Avenue every muscle in my upper legs started cramping — all at one time!  I have never had that happen before.  Still, I started spinning and mentally relaxed.  They cleared and I made it home.

Sorry for the long post.  It was a long day.