Sorry for another cramping thread and the long post, but I just cannot figure out why I cramped. There are maybe some obvious answers, but still it doesn’t make sense to me.
This weekend I did a 90 mile race and both my legs started cramping at around mile 40.
A little background; I ride 36 miles every Tuesday and Thursday early in the morning at 5:30am. This ride is always a hard effort (total riding time of about 1:30 hrs). I do this with one bottle of water for the entire ride and a small breakfast beforehand. It always feels good.
This season I have done a few 50-70 mile rides with long hard efforts and again not a problem with them. For those 2-3 hour rides what I do nutrition wise is a couple of bottles mixed with Scratch Super Fuel and electrolytes plus some extra bars. So far that has been working well.
Now, the 90 mile race had a few short hard efforts throughout the first 30 miles, but nothing extreme and overall I felt comfortable (effort wise) while in the pack. If the cramping would have been more like mile 70-80, then it would make sense to me, since that will be getting closer to my longest ride distance.
One thing to note and this might be the easiest answer as to why the cramping, I raced using my “race” bike which is different than my “daily” bike . This (race) bike I have used many times before, but only for races and nothing that has lasted more than 1:30 hours. For those really hard efforts of up to 1:30 hours, I have never had a problem with that bike.
As far as my normal routine I use my daily bike for my weekly group rides and training. To eliminate the possibility of having any issues to do with bike fit, I have done my best to replicate the saddle position on both bikes. Also, both have the same saddle and same crank length (link to both bikes fit geometry if interested). The reach position I cannot replicate due to the headtube length and one piece handlebar.
Of course the first thing that came to mind, was that I was too tired, plus the race stress of being around many riders and many riding sketchy, and finally carrying additional “life” stress. (We recently moved to a new house). However, I would not think that it will show as soon as 40 miles, since my body is well used to that distance.
The main cause that I’m thinking is maybe my shoes and cleat position? I used a different pair of shoes (nothing new to me though), I have used these shoes many times before in races, but again not my everyday pair.
The reason I’m thinking it was maybe the cleat position, is because at mile 40ish when I started to get that awful feeling that you’re about to cramp, I was able to minimize the cramping to a minimum by just moving my legs/feet a little bit. That worked until mile 70 when we hit a crosswind and had to put a big effort to stay with the group. Then, I cramped badly to the point that I had to get off my bike and stop moving.
I’m sure as it is always the case with cramping, it is virtually impossible to pinpoint a cause, and it is a combination of everything, but what has me puzzled is that it started showing that early in the race.
If it is of any help I’m happy to share my calendar to show my training beforehand.