Calf cramps on the road

Been training on TR since January, did LVSSB 1+2, finishing general build (LV), supplemented with some extra workouts and outside rides now that the weather is helping along. First hard outside ride today (the lunch outing with the boys), an hour of paceline, three of us, felt just like an over-under session (over in the front, under when behind). So far so good. Apart from the pouring rain, but you can’t win them all.

Got cramps in both calves, about 40 minutes into the ride. I typically get those when I’m over - when I’m pushing more than I can deliver. Nutrition was ok (ate half my lunch 90 mins before), hydration was ok. Only variable I can identify as a difference between my road ride and my training is positioning - it’s not the same bike, and I can’t set the training bike the same way as the road one (geo limitations). Seat/cleat/crank setup is identical (same crank length, same pedals with same shoes, same seat, same positioning up-down and fore-aft relative to crankset); the difference is in cockpit height, quite a bit lower on my road bike than on the trainer, so my hip angle is lower.

So - felt ok RPE-wise (I don’t have a powermeter on the road bike), but those cramps were for real. Am I on the right track to attack the issue by training more often/longer in the drops on the trainer bike, which will drop me in a position more in line with my road ride? Or am I missing something else?

Just a WAG…Try adjusting whatever needs to be adjusted to not pedal so toes down.

1 Like

Another WAG would be cleat position being shoved far forward loading the calves up. Might not bother in controlled trainer environment but be amplified in surging conditions.

1 Like

@Landis @kurt.braeckel
What is “WAG”?

Wild Ass Guess.

1 Like


Not a bad WAG. Doesn’t cost much to try it.

I offer that one from personal experience. Long ago I had mine shoved pretty far forward seeking more “explosive power”. What I got was “explosive calf cramping”. For the last decade, my cleats have been pretty far back, not quite pegged at the back end, but pretty close. I feel the pressure of the pedals at the back end of the ball of my foot.

I’ve used the guideline of centering on the line between the wide point of foot inside and foot outside (sorry for very weak medical terms). This places the axle behind the base of the big toe. I can certainly go further back.

1 Like

Might be worth a shot. Kind of like the old Slowtwitch joke about “Your saddle is too high,” I’ve found comfort in moving my cleat position further back, and tend to err on that side when there’s a question. There are studies out there from fitters where they’ve tried cleat positions as far back as midfoot and found them efficient. Anyway, I’d give it a try and see if that helps.

When making adjustments, move just a few mm at a time. Then try the new position for at least 2 or 3 days before making another adjustment. A large adjustment might do damage to your knee or another joint. On cleats mark your starting position with tipex marker fluid or similar.

1 Like