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The big Bonk(21 posts)

The big BonkJonthan Faro
May 6, 2001 12:46 PM
I bonked real bad today.I went out for a little ride. To put it in perspective I'm not the best level of fitness at the moment but on Thursday I did 20 miles in just over an hour with half into a 10/15 mph wind. All of this was after a day at college. Today after 12 hours kip last night with a full belly and really prepared I set of and had to turn back after 3 miles as my legs where like lead. I was well anoyyed. The only thing I can think of is that the cold have affected me but I was really annoyed with myself. Any ideas about what casued it.

dang, i hate when that happens.....nmdustin73
May 6, 2001 12:52 PM
probably not a bonkDog
May 6, 2001 1:14 PM
A bonk is when you deplete your body of sugars (glycogen), and you just plain run out of fuel. It usually takes at least 2-3 hours of hard riding with insufficient energy replacement to bonk. When you bonk, it becomes hard to simply maintain 12 mph on the flats, you feel depressed, your body aches, but, you are not breathing hard. That's what distinguishes a bonk from fatigue. When I bonk, I can't even force myself to pedal hard enough to breath hard. When I'm fatigued, I can push hard, breathing very hard with a high heartrate, legs burning from lactic acid, but speed slowly drops off; then, I recover my breath, and I'm good for more.

I suspect what you experienced is just fatigue and lactic acid buildup. You will avoid that by more training and/or a slower pace.

I would estimate that for most riders, it will take at least 50-80 miles to get a good bonk going. If you train for long distances a lot and eat right, you can avoid bonk indefinitely.

How to avoid fatigue? Ride more, rest well in between. That's pretty much the formula.

Agree. Not a bonk.shmoo
May 6, 2001 2:06 PM
Like Doug says, you weren't out nearly long enough for a bonk. I also agree that it was probably the previous ride that made you feel heavy in the legs. Actually, you should have stuck it out. You would have felt better in a couple of more miles. It's not uncommon to feel a previous ride in your legs at the beginning of a ride. You just have to peddle through it, and your legs will feel more or less normal after a half hour or so. You might also be interested to know that there is a name for this type of ride - it's called a recovery ride, and even the most seasoned riders do 'em. Runners have the same experience.
May 7, 2001 8:37 AM
When you feel like that at the beginning of a ride, just spin for a little while. It's like carbon deposits on spark plugs. Spinning without pushing hard makes it go away.
Bonks are special, momentous eventsAlex R
May 7, 2001 9:40 AM
I've had two, and I will never forget either one. The image of you laying on your lawn, when all the sweet sweet nourishment you need is just inside your house is great.

For me, the first symptom was vivid food fantasy. I've had those in other situations, so they don't necessarily mean I'm past the point of no return. But those two times, I started dreaming of peanut butter and five minutes later I couldn't even keep the bike tracking a straight line. Both were long rides, headwind on the return. It's the same old story - tailwind on the way out builds confidence, I go too far too fast, I don't have food with me cause I only planned to do forty. You get the picture

They're awful, but a great memory.

re: The big BonkVon Zip
May 6, 2001 2:43 PM
I've tried in the past to ride on a full stomach and this never works out. I feel old and slow. It is usually good to digest for at least a couple of hours for me before heading out. This could be part of the problem.
That aint no bonk..Dinosaur
May 6, 2001 6:12 PM
When you bonk, you totally collaspe, period. I bonked last summer when I rode in 103o heat and dehydrated. I was able to make it home by doing a lot of coasting and using my 39X25 gear. I could not summon enough energy to walk up my inclining driveway and I layed like a beached whale on our front lawn for 40 minutes untill I could muster the energy to stagger up the driveway, abandoning my Klein. I've bonked before and it was also because of dehydration and lack of fluids on a very hot day. Now I try to avoid riding in real hot weather (duh) and get my ride in early in the morning. I also pack two 21oz water bottles and another stashed in my jersey pocket. I also plan my ride where their is a water source on my route.
Sorry kid, that ain't no bonk, when you bonk you'll know it. Another thing I did was completely give up drinking beer during the summer. Alcohol can cause dehydration. Too bad, I think I might put the yuppie micro beer industry out of business...
That aint no bonk..cycleguy
May 6, 2001 7:46 PM
I would have to say there is a difference between a bonk and dehydration. One has to do with fuilds and the other with fuel. While they both are needed and to some degree they overlap you can still bonk and be hydraded (ms)? And you can be dehydraded and not bonk. Of course, that does depend on ones definition of bonk. LOL

As far as drinking beer, you just need to include an equal amount of gatoraid before bed!
That aint no bonk..Dinosaur
May 7, 2001 12:10 AM
Probably what I experienced was good old heat exhaustion if not bonking. I did everything wrong, including riding when I had a touch of the flu, during the heat of the day, and not keeping myself hydrated. I was sick for two days afterward.
Beer followed by Gatoraid? I'd be up all night peeing! But if it works for you...
Stop it Man! You're bringing back BAAAAD memories.JamesT.Kirk
May 7, 2001 1:09 PM
I had a major bonk last summer. 100+ temps, not enough water, feeling kind of tired before I even got on the bike. I was heading out for a short (25 mile) but hilly ride. About halfway through (feeling not so hot I should add) I had to stand up on a hill. BAM! I felt like someone had just pulled the plug on me. I have NEVER felt so bad. 39x23 all the way home. Just limping along. Every small bump in the road was like a mountain. Whenever a pickup would come by, I'd debate flagging down the driver, slipping them 5 bucks and getting a lift home. I finally made it, and spent the rest of the evening lying on the bed staring at the ceiling fan.
I'll make it unanimous--you were tired, not bonked.Cory
May 7, 2001 11:39 AM
20 mph is a pretty stout pace for a guy who's admittedly out of condition. I think you just overdid it. Allow a rest day or at least an easy one after a hard ride, and you'll come around.
I don't think it was tirednessJonthan Faro
May 8, 2001 11:10 AM
I still don't think it was tiredness. I did the 20mile ride at 20 mph on Thursday. The bad ride was on sunday. I rested friday and was too tired on saturday as I work in a bakery on saturdays so after getting up at 5 am I don't fancy a ride. However I got 12 hours sleep the night before. I think it could be to do with me being out of conditon. I was going to go for a ride tonight but all the new roadie lycra gear I ordered (I'm moving over to road after getting fed up with not being able to ride off road and it's great) didnt turn up depsite being ordered last Thirsday

Cheers anyway Guys

bonking is beautifulpeloton
May 7, 2001 11:45 AM
It's really a rite of passage for any serious cyclist. Everyone should experience it once, although I would not go out of my way to precipitate a bonk. I've been lucky enough to bonk on more than one occasion.

My favorite occured in a MTB race a few years back. It was a really hot day on a course with lots of climbing. I took off at the gun and led for the first 50% of the race, feeling strong. So strong I forgot to eat or drink enough for the effort I was putting out. My teammates who weren't in my class were yelling at me every time I went through the feed zone to slow down and pace myself. When the bonk hit me, I was at the top of a climb in the scorching heat. I had slowed down so much I had been passed by a good 10 to 15 guys on that climb alone. I can remember laying down and just wanting to be anywhere else than where I was. My teammates ragged on my so bad for going out so hard.

Yes, bonking is great
flirting with bonkDog
May 7, 2001 12:24 PM
I think there is a benefit to bonking, or at least flirting with it -- getting to the ragged edge and then not going over. In my experience, at least, it seems that when I do that, my body adapts and my endurance improves. Can't back it up scientifically, but I've noticed a pattern.

Lately I've gone on 100 mile training rides, keeping it aerobic, eating nothing along the way. While training for long events certainly requires you to learn to eat while riding hard, I think you also need to teach your body to get by with less, and learn how to ride to avoid bonking. It's a theory, anyway.

flirting with bonkpeloton
May 7, 2001 12:34 PM
There may be some merit to your theory. There would seem to be a definite boost in your mental toughness from conditioning yourself to riding through adversity, in this case, not eating. From my experience, the human mind will almost always give up before the body does. It takes a special mindset to push the body to it's physical limit where it will no longer go on. Just knowing that you can ride long distances without eating would certainly boost your performance.

Perhaps there is also a conditioning of the body's ability to call upon stored energy reserves that comes from your kind of training as well. By not fueling the body with aduequate energy for the task at hand forces the body to call upon calories stored as fat for fuel. Perhaps this process could be made more efficient by conditioning.

I'm studying exercise science, Doug. Maybe you gave me something to research for my thesis!
flirting with bonklook271
May 7, 2001 5:54 PM
I've been trying something along these lines as well, but not to the extent as Doug. I have always consumed LOTS of liquid while riding to the point that it is a real PITA. (2 large H2o bottles gone in 2 hrs.) I've bee gradually decreasing that amount to the point where I have at least reduced it to them stretching for about 2.5 - 3 hrs. I've not noticed any loss of stamina so far. We'll have to see what happens when it gets real hot outside.
flirting with bonkpeloton
May 7, 2001 7:07 PM
I have seen surveys that discredit the idea of 'training' one's body to fuction with less water during periods of exertion. It makes sense that it would be easier for the body to fuction without food than it would be able to do the same without water. The reason for this is that you have stores of calories in body fat to nourish the body if a food source is not availible. Your body has a much more finite store of water, and can survive for a much lesser period of time before this is depleted. A loss of one or two percent of the body's weight in water results in a drastic decrease in athletic ability. A corresponding loss of body fat would not cause a similar loss of athletic ability.

It used to be a theory in cycling circles back in the day that you could condition the body to work with less water. I have heard stories of riders back in the day going on crazy rides with very limited supplies of water. Modern tests have shown that this can even be a dangerous practice. You could put yourself at risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion and stroke, and even injuring yourself due to a lapse in judgement or balance that you wouldn't have made with proper hydration.

I'm intrigued by the idea of conditioning one's body to become more efficient at utilizing the stores of energy within it's self. I would be afraid at reccomending that anyone try to do the same with water. You really can't hydrate too much. Although at the level you are talking about, it may not be enough to really impair you except if exertion, heat, and or humidity were enough to require greater hydration. Be careful with your water intake. Just don't push it too far.
May 8, 2001 10:51 AM
flirting with bonkLLSmith
May 7, 2001 1:49 PM
What are you eating before you ride? While riding do you drink anything other than water? What are you eating when your ride is complete? I was thinking you would be pretty darn hungry when complete. Larry Smith
There's just nothing quite like....shmoo
May 7, 2001 1:43 PM
...sweatless chills in 100 degrees...trying to get home going all out at 50rpm in something near your granny gear...trying to decide while in a mental fog if you should drink that last swallow of water or spray it into your helmet...sitting in a clump under somebody's tree watching the rest of the ride go by through glazed unfocused eyes...that out of body thing that happens sometimes...not being able to hold a line to save your life (but it really doesn't mater 'cause you're only going 9mph anyway)...