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Cycling: A Scary Bonk That Doesn’t Add Up

May 2013
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I went out for my Tuesday evening club ride, a 33 mile loop, and I bonked – bad. Now, I did a lot of things very right and a couple very wrong.

It was a warm night, somewhere in the low 80’s, but exceptionally windy and I went out a little hungry. I had plenty to drink, two full bottles, one with a Gu electrolyte tab and I had a decent lunch, chicken alfredo with extra chicken, so I figured it wouldn’t be a problem. I was mistaken.

The group fractured almost immediately when speeds rose above 25 mph. After my pull, as I fell back and got to the last in the train way too soon I thought, “where did everybody go”!  The crowd had been culled to half within two miles. I held on as long as I could but was off the back a couple of miles later.

I just didn’t have it in me to work that hard last night. It turned out that Matt and a friend of his fell of just before I did. I slowed a touch and let them catch up as we were dead into a howling wind at that point. We rode together taking shifts for almost all of the 26 remaining miles before I trailed off the back to let them have some “bro” time.  In the last mile and a half they caught up to two other guys so I, in turn, picked up the pace and caught them all to ride the last mile.

So let’s get to the bonk… I worked hard in the middle miles because it appeared that Matt’s friend wasn’t quite as strong we were and I was feeling pretty fresh.  Also, we had a tailwind for all of a handful of miles at the beginning – the rest was all cross and headwind so it was pretty tough sledding.  About 28 miles (out of the 33) I started getting hungry – not a little bit hungry, but that “oh no, I’m in trouble” hungry.  By the time I rolled into the parking lot I was famished.  I finished strong enough but I was really feeling it, and I was seriously looking forward to the after-ride dinner.  I spoke with some of the guys for a minute to be social, packed up and hit the road.  1/4 mile down the road I was hit by an incredible thirst that was worse than anything I’d ever experienced and I was shaking a little bit so I stopped at a gas station and picked up a couple of 24oz Gatorades.  The first was gone within 30 seconds and I started coming around a bit so I made a bee-line for Burger King…  This is where things got really weird.  I was so hungry that by the time I got my food, I didn’t want to eat it.  I felt nauseous, so much so that I couldn’t eat.  This is when I really started to get nervous.  I forced half of my dinner down (very slowly) and then wrapped it up and drove home, hoping the drive would give my stomach a chance to settle.  Sure enough, by the time I pulled into the driveway I felt quite a bit better so I went in, popped on the Tiger’s game and finished my dinner.

Within a half hour of finishing, I was out like a light and slept like a baby until 15 minutes before the alarm went off (first time I slept beyond 4 am all week).

I’ve spent all morning kicking around what went wrong and I’ve gotta tell you, I still can’t figure it out.  When I hit the starting line yesterday I was ready to go and I’ve ridden much better in worse conditions.  For now I’m just chalking it up to “one of those days”.

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12 Comments

  1. Laura says:

    It happens to all of us. 🙂

    • bgddyjim says:

      Right you are – what I didn’t like about this one is that I didn’t know what I did wrong.. Thanks for the support.

      • Laura says:

        Some days are just not as good as others. I’ve had those too. I’ve found it’s best to chalk it up and honor your body wherever it’s at in the moment. 🙂

  2. You know you’re onto a hiding when you reach for anything that starts Burger or Mc… next time flat coke and chocolate bars!

    • bgddyjim says:

      My diet is interesting for sure, and not recommended for anyone trying to lose weight or not put weight on… In my case, fast food is the easiest way I’ve found to keep my weight up. I don’t have the stomach capacity to eat enough without it. I can appreciate the fact that this is a rarity and I almost always make it a point to avoid misunderstanding. Without the burgers I get down to professional cyclist mountain climber weight (2 pounds per inch of height) which is too thin and comes with health problems because it’s just too lean. 😉

      • You suck. I only have to look at a burger and put at least 3kg on.

        Still thanks for the clarification 🙂

      • bgddyjim says:

        Sorry brother. I know. Believe it or not, it’s mainly about portion sizes… I’ve been eating so little for so long that I really fill up quite quickly, and therein lies the trick. I know guys that can sit down in front of a pizza and put down a whole large pie. I can’t fit any more than four pieces and I’m stuffed.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Ooohhh… I get you now…

  3. Karen says:

    I’m often not hungry immediately after a ride, and I’m not sure what that’s about either. I don’t think it’s good though. I usually do the chocolate milk ritual afterwards and then try to eat something light….but I’m almost never famished anymore. Weird.

    • bgddyjim says:

      That is an interesting one. I’m usually quite hungry within a half hour after anything more than 20 miles or so. I know plenty of other folks who can’t eat after a workout though – you’re not alone.

  4. The human body is a strange beast. Sometimes it just does things that we cannot understand no matter how good we treat it.

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