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Cold, out of shape, or both?(13 posts)

Cold, out of shape, or both?Humma Hah
Nov 9, 2003 1:16 PM
I developed full leg-lock on a little-bitty hill about 35 miles into a ride yesterday. I was totally paralyzed for several minutes.

So, here's the long list of mistakes that lead to this unfortunate situation. First, I hardly rode at all in October. Lots of excuses, mostly bad. I managed about only 4 rides in September, but those were 100 miles each, or close to it, miles each, plus a few short commutes. I entered that month after a pathetic August, with no ill effects, and started September with a 90-miler on the same trail that killed me yesterday.

I used plain water on the first half of this ride. I usually use an electrolyte drink on long rides, but figured water would do for this little 50-miler.

And it was pretty cold. On the ride home, it dropped to about 45 F, and we had a hard freeze overnight. I was wearing my long jersey and tights, but I'd sweated some on the first half of the ride, and any stop was chilling me quickly.

So there I was pedaling out of DC on the Custis/W&OD trails on the Paramount fixie. The Custis has some short but steep climbs, one after another, and the Paramount is geared for relatively flat ground. On several of those climbs, my quads were barking, threatening to cramp, so I stopped and put electrolytes in the hydration flask. But a few miles later, on a little residential street climb in Falls Church, both legs felt like they were about to sieze up. I stopped, put one leg down, and it instantly cramped when I straightened it. The other did the same. It hurt too much to bend either one, either direction, so I just stood there astride the top tube for several minutes until it passed. The pain was concentrated in the lower tips of the vastus medialis (inner quads) on either side ... I've noticed the fixie has been developing these rather aggressively.

Finally, it passed, and I stretched a bit to limber up. The rest of the ride featured only gentle grades, and I survived, but was VERY tired, cold, and sore at the end, and for the rest of the day.

Anyway, I was surprised by this ... normally, I can do 50 miles without any prep at all, even if out of shape. This blind-sided me, and I'm wondering how much the low temps contributed to it. Any thoughts?
Definitelly cold , got similar felling yesterday / nmkfatschor
Nov 9, 2003 2:08 PM
scratch that-wht about lunar eclipse vs ride quality / nmkfatschor
Nov 9, 2003 2:11 PM
Nah, this was over two hours BEFORE the eclipse.Humma Hah
Nov 9, 2003 2:18 PM
... The moon didn't even rise until about an hour later, and the eclipse started over an hour after that.

I was acutely aware, though, of the sun setting. Where the trail was in shadow, it was getting pretty unpleasant.
Cold weather + low humidity = Dehydration!GeoCyclist
Nov 9, 2003 3:56 PM
Did you drink enough before your ride, and what about during? If the humidity is low, you will dehydrate without even knowing it!
Kept having to stop to get rid of it ...Humma Hah
Nov 9, 2003 5:15 PM
... which either means I was plenty hydrated, or the cold was causing the need to, thus dehydrating me further. I think I was adequately hydrated, not sure I had a good electrolyte balance. The dose of ERG I put in the flask did seem to help, but not in time to prevent that bad cramping session.
I'd vote for over-exertion...The Walrus
Nov 9, 2003 4:49 PM
I had much the same experience a couple of months back when, after 20+ miles of short, steep climbs (and descents) in the middle of a 50-miler, my right quad cramped so badly on the last hill that I nearly crashed. Started to massage it, and could feel a 6" ridge in my thigh--felt like someone had slipped a dowel under the skin. I managed to walk it off, and finished the ride with no further problem. Can't blame cold weather, since it was 85*. Don't think it was hydration (went through a 70 oz bladder of water in my CamelBak) or electrolytes (16 oz of Cytomax). I think it was just a combination of too much climbing and big-gear mashing, and not enough recent riding.

But then, maybe it
i was
the cold weather aggravating the strain you were putting in your quads....
Wind?ms
Nov 9, 2003 5:28 PM
I did the longest 78 mile ride I ever have done yesterday. When I was analyzing why, I came to the conclusion that besides my being out of shape (lack of recent, long rides) and cold temperatures for the first time this season, wind was a major factor. In Central Maryland (Baltimore, Carroll and Frederick Counties) there was a constant 15-20 mph wind from the north and northwest all day yesterday. Most of my ride, back and forth, was on an east-west road -- thus, I had a sidewind for most of my ride and virtually no tailwind for any part of it. Did you have the same windy conditions in Virginia yesterday?
Brakes.Humma Hah
Nov 10, 2003 7:02 AM
I was fighting some wind on parts of the ride, but I don't think it was a factor on the hills.

But I put the bike on the stand last night and discovered the rear brake was dragging rather badly. The cold temperatures evidently caused a little differential contraction that tightened them. It probably was not happening on the first half of the ride, but did occur in the colder late afternoon.
re: Cold, out of shape, or both?rwbadley
Nov 9, 2003 7:38 PM
Sorry to hear this, Humma.

Whenever I grumble about this sort of thing, my kid always likes to remind me I 'am no spring chicken' anymore. Funny guy.

Low temps? hmmm maybe.

I 've noticed more tendency to cramp. My grandad used to take calcium or something to reduce his. You may look into supplements, if you can rule out dehydration as a factor.
Your kid . . .ms
Nov 10, 2003 7:06 AM
Last night at dinner the conversation somehow came to the subject of heart rates (don't ask me how we got from Iraq, to the latest spats among my daughters' classmates to heart rates). I mentioned the post about your son's elevated recovery heart rate and the responses suggesting various reasons parents don't want to hear (marijuana, blood doping, performance drugs). My 14-year-old daughter (14 going on 25 in her mind) almost was rolling on the floor laughing. Her verdict: No person who was doing drugs would go for a run with his father in the first place and even if he did go for a run, there is no way that a person doing drugs would let his father see his heart rate. When I asked her how she was such an expert on such things, he comment was that "everyone knows" that kids that are doing things that they shouldn't don't hang out with their parents and are secretive. I hardly would consider a 14-year-old an expert on the activities of 17-year-olds, but, she is closer to the situation than most of us are.

BTW: My stock response to my kids when they make some smart comment about me or my wife is: "The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree." You may not like being reminded that you no longer are a spring chicken, but suggesting that your children may turn out to have your foibles or faults is a good come back.
There's calcium in my electrolyte drink ...Humma Hah
Nov 10, 2003 7:07 AM
... but I didn't start drinking it soon enough, evidently.

I suspect it was a whole bunch of things working together. Cold probably contributed in a couple of ways, weakening me and making me lose banked fluids. I was not using the electrolytes early in the ride (so I'll have to disagree with Kerry Irons on the issue of water being enough). I was out of shape on a fixed-gear bike not geared for climbing, with the rear brake dragging like a sumbitch, in a headwind.

I could probably have dealt with any two of these, but not all of them together.

Sure made me FEEL like I was getting old.
it sounds like the 'perfect storm' hit you...rwbadley
Nov 10, 2003 7:57 AM
I agree, it seems the ride just came together in such a way that you're lucky the only negative was the cramping.

ms, that is a good retort for the young 'uns. Some of my favorites are "You either get older, or you don't" and "someday lad, all this will be yours" (to this he responds with "What, the curtains?" a reference to a Monty Python line)and "If you're lucky, you'll be older someday, but first you have to make it out of today alive" (with added bonus of ;)menacing gestures;)

Speaking of heart rates. We tried the run again and this time ran two miles then ran up to the point of the store entrance, walked in and he took the first turn at the monitor, it read 141, my turn at 96. We walked around the store for five minutes then mine was 95, his was still in the 130 area. So this confirmed the situation, and the doc will be set up asap. Thanks for all the help and free advice we could handle.