Learn To Move The Load Around Your Myofascia To Fix Quad Cramps On The Bike, And Other Cycling Tips

Hi folks! Thanks for stopping by!

Model goose

I was a silly goose with respect to the Los Cabos Ironman, 2013. I was undertrained for hill climb. This is a little model goose (el ganso) left in our room in the Hotel El Ganzo during our stay for this great Ironman race in Mexico.

Fear is a great motivator, and I’m scared of hill number two on the Mountains of Misery 200k Double Header Bike Ride, which is only two weeks away, so I’m working on bike hill climb and distance riding. Of course, this is all preparation for the Lake Placid Ironman in July, but that ride, and especially hill #2, can be pretty intimidating. The only answer is conditioning, which means hours on the road or a trainer bike, in order to condition your (1) legs, (2) cardiovascular system, (3) butt, and most important of all, (4) your mind.

Here are a few biking tips that occurred to me during a recent trainer ride, which may interest the neophyte triathlete.

View from FitOldDog's trainer bike showing details related to this blog post on training tips.

View from my trainer as I look down: (1) Computrainer watt meter, (2) Chamois Butter aka butt butter, (3) great Dinotte lights, (4) Aquaphor, (5) location of my quad cramp 59 minutes into a 2 hour ride at 250 watts, low cadence, as a hill climb simulation.

(1) Become aware of your wattage: you can assess your load, and thus conserve everything you will need later in a race, by carefully parsing your effort level. This can be achieved by watching your wattage, heart rate or perceived effort. The latter is the best guide, but it requires extensive use of the first two before the appropriate level of perception is achieved. A wattmeter is a critical triathlon-training tool in my opinion.

(3) When riding the roads protect your life with bright lights: I recently wrote about this topic, and I strongly recommend that you consider the Dinotte (‘Die Not!’) or equivalent lighting system. Don’t know why I waited so long to put them on my bike.

Turtle on a wet trail,

Please rescue turtles on the road, even if you are in a hurry!

(2 and 4) Butt chafing can ruin your fun and your race: as you increase distance, risk of saddle-induced chafing increases. I like to race in running shorts (one less thing to change in transition), so I train that way most of the time, increasing my risk of chafing. I always carry ‘butt lubricants’ that are both water soluble (washes off in the rain, butt most effective) Chamois Butter and water resistant Aquaphor (look in the diaper rash section in your local pharmacy) when increasing my training distance on the bike. A small rash can turn into a blister, then an infection and lots of pain, so don’t go there!

(5) Learn to shift the load around if you encounter muscle (well, myofascial really) strain on the bike: if there is one thing I really learned from my years of studying the Feldenkrais Method under the skilled tutelage of Karen Dold, is the fact that there are many ways to achieve any body movement or effort.

Karen Dold, FitOldDog's great Feldenkrais instructor.

Karen Dold, FitOldDog’s great Feldenkrais instructor.

During a recent hill climb simulation of 2 hours at 200-250 watts, cadence 55, heart rate steady between 125 and 130, I developed a medial thigh (medial quad, vastus medialis) cramp in my left leg. If this occurs on the bike it can stop you dead, or worse still it will devastate your run off of the bike, especially in hot weather. So shift the load away from the affected quad. On the bike this is readily achieved by (a) moving the load to the other leg, BAD IDEA, or (b) increasing engagement of your gluts  (butt muscles, which are actually bigger and stronger than your quads!) in both legs, by pushing back into your bike shoes with your heels. Works like a charm every time, and it doesn’t unduly strain the other leg.

How about them apples?

That’s it for now, and please wish me luck on hill #2 – it’s like riding your bike through a wall!

-k @FitOldDog



  1. I like the ganso picture.

  2. You have to stop thinking of it as a hill.

  3. OK! I’ll think of it as a mountain, would that work? When I have long hill-climb simulations on the trainer I imagine the climbs in Mountains of Misery, and it is interesting. To each his own. I tried to imagine I was riding downhill at 250 watts, and I just couldn’t pull it off.

  4. A dog that eats his own tail will soon be hungry.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.