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Is this considered a "bonk"?(17 posts)

Is this considered a "bonk"?taar44
Aug 11, 2002 1:27 PM
Typically at about the 40-45 mile marker, i notice that i cannot breathe as deep as i could before i started the ride. It sometimes takes 24 hours before my deep breathing returns to normal. At the 50-55 mile stage, my back really starts to hurt and one of the only remedies is to get out of the saddle and occassionally hammer it. This somewhat improves my average. My legs are fine until the 60-65 mile marker. Is all the above what is meant by "bonking"? Thanks.
re: Is this considered a "bonk"?OffTheBack
Aug 11, 2002 1:51 PM
I think what is usually meant by "bonking" has to do with blood sugar. If you ride without eating or drinking anything with calories, after about 1.5 - 2 hours (your mileage may vary) the glycogen stored in your blood is depleted, and your body has to start metabolizing protein for energy. For me, the symptoms are light-headedness and a big drop in strength that occur suddenly and simultaneously.

I don't usually associate bonking with breathing difficulty. I don't know what's causing that. The back pain is another issue altogether. If it's just muscle fatigue, you may just need to vary your position on the bike a bit (switch from riding on hoods to bar tops to drops, etc.) and maybe stop to stretch. If it's really orthopedic pain, that is more serious, and you should probably get a coach or sports doc to evaluate your riding position.
I have been there and backKillerQuads
Aug 11, 2002 2:24 PM
You will know what bonking is like if it ever happens to you. It is total agony and you think you are going to die.

A long time ago, I left the house for a ride headed East. I felt very strong so I kept going until I was 40 miles out. I turned around and found out why I felt so good, I was now facing a fierce head wind. I was 40 miles from home with only one bottle of water, no food, and no money. I started back and was able to get some water, but had not eaten for hours. The last 10 miles were agony and only the spinning wheels and momentum kept me upright. The last few miles I could not pedal more than 20 rotations at a time and had to coast or stop completely. I felt profoundly weak and light headed. I made it back and ate 3 meals all in one sitting. Amazingly, I was fully recovered by the next day.

Since then, I always carry money in my tool bag.
I have been there and backbear
Aug 11, 2002 4:28 PM
I dont know exactly why but since I started drinking GATO type drinks insted of plain water some of the symptons you have when away! Is probably becasue I am replacing mineral like salt. I did 121 miles last week and 50 this morning no problems, is like I am a new rider. I do feel fatige but is not the pain in my legs and back I use to. I feel so much stronger!,,2-20oz bottle every 25 miles or so works for me. I got this advise from RAAM articles and 12 and 24 hrs racers who write in the RAAM mag.
A true bonk has a mental effect ...Humma Hah
Aug 11, 2002 4:57 PM
An honest grand-mal bonk is a blood sugar drop that typically involves both profound weakness and mental confusion. I once took it to the point of developing tunnel vision, and nearly passed out.

The symptoms you describe, on the other hand, bring to mind the term "exercise-induced asthma." It is a far-too-common complaint among cyclists, but I'm certainly not qualified to diagnose it. Treatment may be possible, and lots of people with the condition find a way to ride very well.
exercise induced asthma..cyclejim
Aug 11, 2002 8:27 PM
Your post got my curious so I went and checked out a few web sites about this and here are the symptoms:

Symptoms and triggers
If you have exercise-induced asthma, you may experience breathing difficulty within 5-20 minutes after exertion begins. Symptoms may include wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and chest pain. Other EIA symptoms include prolonged shortness of breath, often beginning 5-10 minutes after brief exercise.
A true bonk has a mental effect ...Diamondback
Aug 11, 2002 10:02 PM
I have only bonked once and it was in a triathlon. Never want that to happen again. Same as the other messages, I had not taken in enough calories and suffered from dropping blood sugar levels with very profound weakness (could hardly lift my legs to run), developed tunnel vision and had a difficult time concentrating. I tried to go through the multiplication tables in my head to refocus (worked before when I was hurting)and couldn't get past about 4x4. This is really bad because I have a degree in Finance! After reaching the finish line, I ate everything in sight and was Ok about an hour or two later, but when I bonked, I felt like I was about to die right there. Scary stuff. The breathing problem sounds like exercise induced asthma or starting off too hard and not bonking. You will never mistaken bonking for anything else once you experience it. I would see your Doctor just to be positive though.
Bonk = 12-15 mph, max.Kerry
Aug 11, 2002 5:39 PM
The bonk means you have run out of sugar (muscle glycogen, liver glycogen, stomach contents, blood sugar) and now must run on fat and protein for power. You can't get much more than 300 calories per hour from these sources, about half the caloric expenditure you would make in a typical "moderate-hard" effort. More typical for a fit but not super-fit rider would be 200). This amount of energy will allow you to go no more than 15 mph on the flats, and probably more like 12-13 mph. You'll likely be feeling light headed as well. You can recover from the bonk during a ride, but it takes time and plenty of fast calories - sugar!
Bonk First Aidfirstrax
Aug 11, 2002 8:04 PM
I carry these in my seat bag just in case.
fast acting and they can store for over a year without spoiling.
Available for free at pancake houses everywhere.
Bonk First AidKillerQuads
Aug 11, 2002 8:17 PM
Simple sugars don't work for everyone. Once I was a little fatigued on the way home from a 30 mile ride so I drank a Coke (non-diet) at a gas station 2 miles from home. Getting back on the bike I felt weaker and could hardly pedal. I think the sugar made my insulin jump and dropped my blood sugar even lower.

In the Tour de France, many riders drank those two gulp mini Cokes. But they don't work for me. A granola bar or banana has more complex carbohydrates for slower absorbtion.
Bonk 2nd Aidfirstrax
Aug 11, 2002 8:41 PM
In case the honey does not work. Should cover the cost of a balance or (granola) bar.
re: I get the same thing...cyclejim
Aug 11, 2002 8:18 PM
but I dont believe this is considered a bonk. As several people have mentioned when you bonk you basically feel almost completely without power or strength to continue on and can only pedal very slowly until you have had something to eat to replenish your glycogen stores.

After this happens you mentioned it can take 24 hrs for your breathing returns to normal. Do you also feel sort of a..(very hard to describe this) cardio buzz... like your lungs just feel like they got a great workout and are recovering? I get this exact feeling when Ive went for a fairly long 35-50 mile ride but without bonking. Not sure what causes this or even if this is exercise induced asthma... I dont think thats what it is.
re: I get the same thing...cyclejim
Aug 11, 2002 8:25 PM
but I dont believe this is considered a bonk. As several people have mentioned you basically feel almost completely without power or strength to continue on and can only pedal very slowly until you have had something to eat to replenish your glycogen stores.

After this happens you mentioned it can take 24 hrs for your breathing returns to normal. Do you also feel sort of a..(very hard to describe this) cardio buzz... like your lungs just feel like they got a great workout and are recovering? I get this exact feeling when Ive went for a fairly long 35-50 mile ride but without bonking. Not sure what causes this or even if this is exercise induced asthma... I dont think thats what it is.
Bonking is like an orgasm...mmquest
Aug 11, 2002 9:04 PM
really hard to explain, but you will know what it is as soon as you have experienced it. Try this, don't eat much one day and then go for a ride 25% longer than you are used to...then you will know what bonking is!
The absolute worst bonk I ever experienced....aliensporebomb
Aug 12, 2002 2:49 AM
was when I tried to do a century on a season with no training, I was totally
out of shape and at my worst point had a guy with a recumbent tow me using
shoelaces.

It was terrible, I resolved not to ever be that badly out of shape again. It was
truly horrible.
re: Is this considered a "bonk"?Geardaddy
Aug 12, 2002 12:01 PM
That's not a bonk. That's just lack of training for the longer workout efforts. You're fine. You just need to pace yourself to work up to doing the longer rides. Possibly add in some weight training to deal with the back-tiring issue.

A bonk is a very definite feeling that the "tank is out of gas". You'll simply feel wasted and unable to put out a hard effort at all. The strange thing about it is that you won't necessarily be breathing hard, rather your legs just won't have any zip. Psycholigically, you'll just feel really down, almost depressed.

A bonk is not the end of the world though. If you do, find a rest stop, slam some gatorade or something, and get some quick energy food like a candy bar. I guarantee you'll feel 200% better in 15 or 20 minutes. You still won't be back to top form, but the ride home will at least be tolerable.

It could be a really bad idea to continue to push if you do bonk, as the condition can get much worse, including dizziness, tunnel vision, and basically the signs of heat exhaustion. Not good.

Believe me, I've bonked many times [unfortunately]. The most memorable was when I was having a great day of X-C skiing, where I'd done some killer amount Ks, but I wasn't keeping up with the water/food. In the last 2K of one loop, the energy just all went away. I felt like getting down on my hands and knees and crawling the rest of the way. People were passing me and saying "You allright? You look kind of pale!".

Some signs that I look for in anticipating a bonk are:
1) When you drink water and it really tastes good, that's a sign that you
need to catch up on your water intake. If you're getting a headache,
It's probably too late.
2) A bit of an "empty pit" feeling in your stomach.
3) Unusual light-headed feeling.
4) Feeling flush and warm, like a sort of "hot-flash".
bonk=you can only think of creme-filled chocolate donuts. nmJS Haiku Shop
Aug 12, 2002 12:05 PM