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  1. #1
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    Why don't we see the pros "cramp out" of races?

    I mean, I guess the answer may lie in the question - they're pros. But, I can't think of a single instance where I've seen a pro get one of those 5-alarm cramps that makes it impossible to pedal.

    I thought about that this weekend after a 28-mile mtn bike race... At about mile 20, I got a bit of a calf cramp and thought "I can ignore this"... around mile 23, got the first flutter of a quad cramp and thought "I can ride through this and my calf won't matter now"... around mile 25, on a slow climb, my hamstring felt like I was hit with a taser - from the back of my knee to my crotch. I didn't complete that pedal stroke.

    I grabbed a tree, unclipped that foot and all three muscles competed for attention. My quad looked like a scene out of the movie Alien. I couldn't stretch either muscle - it just let the other ball up more. I essentially hung my leg and did Lamaze breathing for 60 seconds and got it about 50% under control... clipped in and concentrated on using the other leg to keep going.

    Does this not happen to pros? Ever? Or, is this (along with all other sub-human traits) filtered out along the way to the top level of the sport?
    Last edited by OldZaskar; 2 Weeks Ago at 12:54 PM.

  2. #2
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    I've heard about Andre Greipel cramping out in a race couple years ago. Some other pros whom I forgot the names of, had cramp while racing also. It's not unheard of.

    It happened to me bunch of times. For me, the culprit was lack of magnesium. Once I started taking the supplement, the cramping is gone.

  3. #3
    tlg
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    It happens.

    Custom Di2 & Garmin/GoPro mounts 2013 SuperSix EVO Hi-MOD Team * 2004 Klein Aura V

  4. #4
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    It happens to them.

  5. #5
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    Although we know some of the most common conditions where cramps are statistically more likely to happen we actually don't know what causes cramps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalGuy View Post
    Although we know some of the most common conditions where cramps are statistically more likely to happen we actually don't know what causes cramps.
    For any particular balance of blood flow, mineral depletion and nerve disfunction in an individual, when they repeat an intensity and duration not trained for enough times cramping happens. They will happen sooner for an untrained couch potato but, even superman will experience them. No amount of pickle juice will help.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodys737 View Post
    For any particular balance of blood flow, mineral depletion and nerve disfunction in an individual, when they repeat an intensity and duration not trained for enough times cramping happens. They will happen sooner for an untrained couch potato but, even superman will experience them. No amount of pickle juice will help.
    I agree with the recent theories (like I have any authority to disagree) that cramping is not simply a product of inadequate hydration. But, "under trained" or "untrained" are relative terms. I train a lot - more than 99% of the general public, less than 100% of pros. If a race is an all-out effort, there is no amount of training that is "enough." As Lemond said "It doesn't get easier. You just get faster."

    It seems some people can turn themselves inside-out and the limit they experience is just not going faster, cracking, etc. Others cramp (occasionally/often) - that's their limiting factor. On hard rides and races, I feel like I have a cramp threshold - I need to time the cramps to hit just after the ride/race.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar View Post
    I agree with the recent theories (like I have any authority to disagree) that cramping is not simply a product of inadequate hydration. But, "under trained" or "untrained" are relative terms. I train a lot - more than 99% of the general public, less than 100% of pros. If a race is an all-out effort, there is no amount of training that is "enough." As Lemond said "It doesn't get easier. You just get faster."

    It seems some people can turn themselves inside-out and the limit they experience is just not going faster, cracking, etc. Others cramp (occasionally/often) - that's their limiting factor. On hard rides and races, I feel like I have a cramp threshold - I need to time the cramps to hit just after the ride/race.
    I always thought the subject of cramping was interesting and I also agree with it having to do with pushing yourself beyond your current trained level no matter where you're at on the fitness curve. And could also be and probably is combined with hydration issues.

    In your case, you're training all the time and your competition is training as well and they seem to get to their limit as do you but you're the one that is suffering with cramping. For conversation sake lets say you and your competition have roughly the same level of fitness, maybe you are actually digging at least a little bit deeper than they are in the race and your body is letting you know. Even though by looking at your competition you can see their effort in their facial expressions and the talk after the race but maybe you yourself are riding harder than they are relative to each others fitness level.

    To help illustrate this point you mention in your original post that the cramp you experienced in your mountain bike race started in your calf, then worked its way up to your quad then ended at your hamstring when then you finally said you couldn't go any further. All of this occurred in roughly 5 miles of riding in the mountains. The cramps alone are a lot of suffering for 5 miles in the woods let alone at race pace.

    We'd probably have to get into specifics on your training regiment to see how much time you spend in all your zones combined with age and how long you've been riding but in short it seems like you are pretty good at suffering and probably lean on the competitive side of cycling. And who knows, maybe start chugging more Gatorade.

    And I agree, you dont hear a lot about pro's suffering from cramps. Im sure it does happen but the percentage of pro's who get them is probably pretty low due to a combo of things like accurate smart training, many years of doing it and nutrition and also really being in tune with the body and mind. But no doubt most athletes get caught with the knot at some point in time.

  9. #9
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    jrider05... it's like you were there ;-) Yeah, like lots (most) of us here, I'm probably on the competitive side. I was certain I was on the podium early in the race - kind of in that "maintain the pace, don't make mistakes" mode. My HR graph for the 3 hours looks like a table - 160 avg, with very little variance. I joked later that If I'd kept a 159 avg, I'd have been fine.

    I'm 50. Been riding forever; racing off and on for years.

    I may play a bit with supplements, different drink mixes, etc.

    Thanks guys!

  10. #10
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    I've never had one in either a race, or while training. There was a friend of a friend who used to come on rides with our group, and was always complaining about cramps. He was the type of guy who always showed up for a ride, three minutes after the ride start time. Because of this, one time I gave him a line about how Professionals used Midol to prevent leg cramps. The next week, I let him know that I was pulling his leg....He wasn't happy.....
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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    Wait... Midol works? ;-)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MR_GRUMPY View Post
    I've never had one in either a race, or while training. There was a friend of a friend who used to come on rides with our group, and was always complaining about cramps. He was the type of guy who always showed up for a ride, three minutes after the ride start time. Because of this, one time I gave him a line about how Professionals used Midol to prevent leg cramps. The next week, I let him know that I was pulling his leg....He wasn't happy.....
    Chapeau! That is awesome!

  13. #13
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    Not only would he show up a few minutes late, he'd had to pump up his tires, and take another 10 minutes to get ready to roll. This one route we took had a house with two German Shepherds, on the left that would always come out and chase us. He would never remember, so we would always position him mid road, and be ready to jump hard, at the first bark. We set him up to be the "sandwich" for the dogs. Hard as it is to believe, we must have pulled that bit on him 15 times.
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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    If Jesus had a gun, he'd be alive today!

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    Too funny. He must have either been a natural or just super unpredictable in a race...

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    It happens.
    I don't know, that looks and sounds more like hamstring pull. Name:  Emoticon-Think.gif
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  16. #16
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    in the recent U23 World Road Race at Innbruck, one of the guys in the breakaway cramped out and got dropped. He did manage to recover and continue on with the race though. But pros do cramp too just like any humans would when pushing to the limits. In running this happens a lot more than in cycling because you can't really coast and rest t in running like you can in cycling

  17. #17
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    We don't see it because the cameras are mostly focussed on those at the head of the race and riding well, not those struggling out the back of the convoy and who are on the edge of major cramping episode.

    But minor cramps at end of long hard races are not unusual for the pros. Anyone with no sprint left and/or unable to stay out of the saddle for example is probably dealing with some cramp, just not the major type. e.g. Michael Woods at the world champs road race cramped in the finale. Hung on for bronze though.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_Simmons/RST View Post
    We don't see it because the cameras are mostly focussed on those at the head of the race and riding well, not those struggling out the back of the convoy and who are on the edge of major cramping episode.
    Unless the rider's name is Peter... something and just crashed and got his shirt, shorts, skin scraped / bleeding .

  19. #19
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    https://www.velonews.com/2018/10/new...-jersey_479812


    I unfortunately missed my final bottle, and I cramped up super hard, Woods said in an interview.
    Too old to ride plastic

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