New Cramping Issues. Help!

Hi all. Beginning approximately one year ago I started to cramp after 30ish miles of riding. I had never experienced cramps before (other than some mild/temporary calf cramps) despite regularly doing relatively long 50-80 mile gravel rides in the hot, humid Midwest summer heat. The cramps typically start in my quads (both legs start to cramp at the same time) and get progressively worse. I have been able to fight through the cramps and limp to the finish in past gravel races. However, this past weekend the cramps began earlier than usual (appx. 23 miles into a 57 mile race). I was feeling great, strong right up until the cramps set in. I was hydrating properly (had been all week leading up to the race) and was consuming electrolytes, so I do not believe that was the issue. By mile 40 my quads and hamstrings were fully locked up and spasming. It was extremely painful as there was no way to stretch out the quad/hamstring without causing the other muscle to tighten. I had to abandon the race (first time ever). I do not believe fitness is the issue as I am much fitter/stronger than I was before the cramping started. I did lose appx. 20 lbs. before the cramping, but I am struggling to link that to the cramps as I am much stronger rider now (as least until the cramps appear). I am 33, 6’1 and weigh 172lbs.

Wondering if anyone has similarly experienced a relatively sudden increase in cramping and, if so, how were you able to address the issue. Thanks!

Not sure what to suggest you do before a ride but during a hot weather ride I will eat some chalky indigestion tablets. They seem to stave off cramps for me,

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I would recommend getting some bloods done if it’s available to you. While you mention consuming electrolytes, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all at sufficient levels- without knowing intake relative to losses for both fluid and electrolytes that doesn’t mean a lot, and sodium and potassium in particular acts to sort of “balance each other out” so overconsumption of one can lead to issues with the other. (Sports nutrition products tend to contain predominantly sodium, and while that’s appropriate for their purpose it still necessitates adequate calcium/potassium/magnesium consumption largely through diet.)
There are also a fair few other nutritional deficiencies that can lead to muscle cramps, which both endurance sport and caloric deficits can put you at a slightly increased risk of.

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