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I remember reading the forums before last years RAGBRAI about drinking pickle juice and thinking GROSS!! Then on the 1st day there were actualy vendors on the side of the road selling pickles and pickle juice. I chuckled to myself until 5 miles from the first overnight town I bonked. That last 5 miles I crawled into town. When I got to camp (PBV) one of the staff realized I was in pain and got me a cup of pickle juice. I drank it and 30 min later I felt 100% better. I was drinking tons of water but still bonked.
The rest of the Days I stopped halfway on the route, had a pickle and drank some pickle juice. I never cramped up again. This will be my RAGBRAI tradition from now on.

Anybody else have this same experience? Opinions?

32 Replies

KenH, February 17, 2017 at 7:53 am

Well you know, if I were having trouble with cramping, any trouble at all, and pickle juice was the one and only solution then of course I would force myself to overcome my natural revulsion over anything and everything related to pickles and drink pickle juice. But that is not the case. Water. Endurolytes. No cramping. Ever.

Thus I continue to live my blissfully pickle free existence!


Gthomp0419, February 17, 2017 at 8:04 am

I feel that way about Liver and Onions!!!!!


Luv 2 Ski, February 17, 2017 at 9:43 am


My one son can not do most sports drinks due to the sugar. But he is able to drink the Hammer products. They have hardly any compared to most sports drinks and the stuff really works.


jwsknk, February 17, 2017 at 10:26 am

I always have a plain bottle of water on the bike and one bottle with a Electrolyte tablets dissolved in it ( I prefer Camelback) you get pretty much what is in sport drinks but without the added sugar. A kosher baby dill or two are fine, but not the giant ones and not just sitting down to drink a glass if pickle juice for me.


KenH, February 17, 2017 at 10:45 am

I like having the electrolytes in capsule form because it lets me carry just water on the bike and add electrolytes as needed, without sugar. I’m all the time hearing people telling their riding partners that they are out of water or their sports drink because they carry a bottle of each and whichever one they want most dearly right now is dry. I carry a week’s worth of electrolytes in an old Tic-Tac package and if I pay any attention at all to my water supply I never run out of that.

I have no objections to sugar, I partake liberally during RAGBRAI in the form of pie and ice cream!


Michrider !!!, February 17, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Ken, I agree and use Endurolytes before and during rides. I started using pickle juice, after one painful night on RAGBRAI 2008, when I suffered from severe legs cramps during the night!!! Since that time, when I drink pickle after the ride, I am free form cramping!!! It’s not for everyone but it works for me and others!!!!

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!


Brian Wallenburg, February 17, 2017 at 4:24 pm

…and all it takes is 1 or 2 ounces, not a whole glass full. The acidity of the vinegar makes it work faster (for relieving cramps not avoiding them) than most anything else. All of the other products out there that are electrolyte rich will actually work just as good, if not better to avoid cramping. It shouldn’t be intended to overcome dehydration.


John L, February 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

Let It Snow, thanks for the tip! I am not a “hammer” style biker but I will sure try it! KenH I love sugar…too! I just have to watch that I don’t do a lot without some protein rich source to ensure that I don’t bonk when the sugar runs out. tons of great advise out there!


Nico ZZZ, February 18, 2017 at 6:39 am

I don’t do the pickle juice, but my teammate Panama was hitting the Pickle stand every day last year on the ride. I take a number of supplements in the morning including magnesium, glucosamine, B12, etc, and then use NUUN tablets in my water, as they have less sugar than Gatorade and similar. I like to get my sugar intake on Ragbrai in the pie and ice cream! (I also get my vitamin C every day of riding with a Bloody Mary at the first chance on the route! After the ride each day, I use magnesium oil topically – never cramp and no aches and pains, and I’m no spring chicken (where did the years go? sniff sniff). I swear by the magnesium oil and NUUN.
Ride On!


T. Gap Woo, February 20, 2017 at 10:38 am

Amanda: Would sweet pickle juice work too or is it just dill?

Princess Amanda,

You raise an interesting issue!

Grammy Woo used to put up all types of pickles back in the day: Dill (kosher and not); Bread-and-butter; Garlic; Sweet Gherkin; Sour; Hot; Candied; Salt; and, No salt were some of her specialties. The different spices and other ingredients gave the pickles their special flavor. Which of those ingredients were most beneficial in addressing the muscle cramp issue? Darned if I know!

I’m thinking that the common ingredients in her recipes were primarily the vinegar and secondarily the salt. Based on other comments in this thread, I think it is the vinegar and salt in the juice that counts. I don’t think the type of pickle makes any difference. The flavor of the pickle is just a matter of personal taste and preference. My own preference is the Sweet Gherkin — who needs to be a sourpuss with garlic breath??

BTW, when I was a teenager many moons ago (don’t ask, ’cause I ain’t telling!), Pickle Juice was our slang for any alcoholic beverage that would get one “pickled” but I don’t think that’s what this thread is referring to. At least I hope not!

See you along the I-O-Way in July.


Rick, February 28, 2017 at 5:51 am

Some evidence it’s not electrolytes so much as ‘motor neurons in the back of the throat.’


LawnchairMan, March 4, 2017 at 8:39 pm

My solution for cramping is stretching before and after my rides. The one time I cramped was on a century ride when I hurried to get to the start. I skipped my stretches that morning.

I stretch my calves by leaning into a wall with one knee bent and put my weight on the straight leg. I hold this for about 35 seconds. For my hamstrings I put one foot on a bed, chair, or stairs so my leg is horizontal or close. I then lean forward and try to touch my toes with the same side hand as the raised leg. I hold this for about sixty seconds, or more if I can. During this time I usually start by touching the end of my pants, and slowly creep up to my toes. Finally, I stretch my quads by holding a wall, or what ever is handy, and stand on one leg. I grab the other foot and pull my leg back so my heel touches my rump. I try to get my knee to point straight down. Hold for 35 seconds.

I do other stretches when I get up, because I never find time during the rest of thee day. I have heard that stretching before a ride can do something bad. Like pulling a muscle? Not sure. I have had no problem with my pre-ride stretches.

Of course I try to stay hydrated with water during the ride and Powerade after. I also use electrolyte chews, and get lots of carbs in the evening for the next day’s ride. If I’m lucky during the ride, I find corn on the cob with plenty of salt!

Good thing this works for me as I can’t stand pickles or vinegar! But more power to those who like them.


GeorgeKline, March 5, 2017 at 5:57 am

Lawnchairman, static stretching can cause a injury. They suggest doing dynamic stretches before a workout now, or just take it easy for the first 20-30 minutes.
I learned this to late and still have a torn ACL to remind me!


Michrider !!!, March 5, 2017 at 6:25 am

GeorgeKline: Lawnchairman, static stretching can cause a injury. They suggest doing dynamic stretches before a workout now, or just take it easy for the first 20-30 minutes.

I like your “take it easy” approach! However, I try to take it easy all day, not just for 30 minutes!!!!

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!


Nico ZZZ, March 5, 2017 at 8:04 am

I did four month’s of core training before last year’s ride and it always started with 10 minutes on a treadmill at 3.5 mph at max incline, followed by foam rolling and then lots of stretches. So at last year’s ride I packed a small foam roller. I replaced the treadmill with the stroll to the KYBO and back to the tent, then foam rolled and did 5-8 minutes of stretching in my tent. Felt great everyday. I am a HUGE fan of foam rolling and stretching, and it will always be a part of my RAGBRAI routine (along with Bloody Mary at the first chance, pie and ice cream, root beer floats, meat, meat and more meat, Iowa Craft beer, afternoon vodka lemonade…….


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