Friday Group Ride #211

Friday Group Ride #211

I skipped dinner. I was working. It was not the best idea, but I rationalized that a juice and a coffee would get me by, and going to bed hungry would aid my early season death march back to fitness.

Someone once told me they heard Bjarne Riis’ race diet plan was: Ride hard all day. Go home. Drink two liters of seltzer and take two sleeping pills. Get in bed. The next morning, drink a coffee and get on your bike and ride hard all day.
This may or may not be fiction.

So I was working late, doing an event at a local shop. I “settled” my nerves with the coffee, talked for about 2 and 1/2 hours, and then drank the juice in the car on the way home. Back at the house, I prepped my bike for the morning, filled some water bottles, took a shower and went to bed.

When the alarm went off at 5:30 and I stumbled into my bibs, I could have eaten my chamois I was so hungry. Blasting across town to the meet up, I stopped at the coffee shop for another dose of dark courage and a pastry, thinking to put something in the tank so as not to bonk inside the first five miles.

So I didn’t bonk. I felt fine-ish. I mean, I felt as fine as I’m going to feel after a winter like we’ve had and too much work leading into the season. My form is nowhere. Fitness is a vague memory. What did it feel like?

No, don’t tell me. I love surprises.

The ride finished at the office, and I drank another cup of coffee that had gone cold on my desk before trying to work the helmet lines out of my hair. I used the deodorant I keep in my drawer, and I made some instant oatmeal, and then tore into the morning’s email.

Then I think I bonked.

Can you bonk, sitting at your desk? Is that even possible? It came on like any bonk does, I was rolling along thinking everything was harder than it really was…and then I was enraged. Everything was wrong. Everyone was an asshole. Except they weren’t. I was. And that’s usually how I know I’ve bonked. That’s the tell.

This week’s Group Ride asks, what is the strangest experience you’ve had with the fringale, the man with the hammer? Where were you? How did you get yourself into that situation? And how did you get out?

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  1. ScottyCycles62

    My worst was extreme tunnel vision tunneled down to about a 12 inch patch of road a few feet in front of me. I had to get to the side of the road and climb off for a few minutes. After a few minutes rest my vision returned but I was gassed. I rode the mile to the nearest 7-Eleven and got a Coke and a Snickers bar, after that I was able to ride the 7 miles home.

  2. Andrew

    Mine wasn’t on the bike , and it may have been dehydration mostly. Summer of ’87, living in Burlington, painting houses and working at a bar. Doing a ton of running. Big heat wave with huge t storms, they closed the parks along the lake for bad water quality, turned off all the water. I didn’t know this when it set off on a 20 mile run with no water, no food since breakfast. By the time I got back to Burlington I was totally irrational, and went to city hall to bang on Bernie sanders door and vent. Thankfully it was like 7pm, he was long gone, and the janitor pointed me in the direction of the water fountain. Went home and ate a dove bar and got a massive reflex hypoglycemia, almost passed out. My housemates found me wandering aimlessly around and fed and watered me back to coherence.

  3. Wisco

    I was at mile 105 or so of a planned 120 mile day. It was hot and my shorts resembled a salt like. I started having conversations with inanimate objects like a DNA purification robot we had at work, as well as Elvis. I rolled into a rest stop to get some food and drink and the medical staff sat me down and did not let me continue… I was that bad. Did I mention Elvis?

  4. Peter Leach

    My strangest experience riding with ‘the man with the hammer’ was entirely self-inflicted.
    Two words: “Diet pills”.
    Dramatic sweats after about 20 – 30 minutes riding, then totally flat. Drank a full bidon with no real effect. 30 minutes of ‘crawl along’ riding later I was almost human and able to finish my ride.
    Lesson learned. lose weight by natural attrition: “Move more, eat less”.

  5. Rod

    I am into self-experimentation. So during inconsequential rides I’ll often undereat to “test” things. As an example, I know I can ride 2 h at a moderate intensity after an 18 h fast (1600 kJ). But not 3 h.

    First bonk: reverse route on a hilly ride that pushed the limits of my early developing fitness back then. Hot day, some climbing efforts. Seemed ok until about 15 km from home on a steep, short hill. Pushed about 10 km/h on the way back. That was an accident, unremarkable, similar to many other riders.

    Indoor bonk: trying a longish ride at sub-TH intensity on the trainer. After about 30 minutes started feeling lightheaded. Quite alarming. My wife handed me a glass of orange juice and within 10 minutes I was back to normal.

    Stupidest and oddest bonk: after a long day at work, riding the trainer with some artificial, no calorie drink. That crap you put in your bottled water (Mio, but I think this was specifically Dasani watermelon drops). Maybe not a traditional bonk, but within 15 minutes of drinking 1/3 of a bottle I felt horrible. Fortuitously, I had to stop to soothe a crying baby upstairs. I came back down, started riding again, finished the rest of the bottle and collapsed gloriously in 5 minutes. Light-headed, cold sweats, unable to concentrate on the movie, the works. It took about 40 minutes to wear off after consuming an actual sports drink. Oddly, other no-calorie electrolyte drinks (Nuun) have been very good on super hot long days. But I don’t use the flavour drops anymore.

  6. Brian

    Mine was at Climb to The Clouds in MA. My first ever century. 90+ degrees, don’t remember miles 70-finish. Should have taken advice of website, warned that it was for advanced riders, not good for first timers. Oh well, I survived. Now I love that ride!

  7. Bill

    My bonk was the first day on a multi-day tour. We in Colorado on a tour organized by an experienced friend form my local bike club. We were riding from Boulder to I believe Rustic through Poudre Canyon The ride was billed as about 60-miles I think it ended up being more like 100. But it was a beautiful ride through the canyon portion. I managed to burn every carb in my body on the ride. At dinner I could hardly eat it seemed like I had a dry version of acid reflux. I did get some food in and ate a good breakfast. The trip got better from there and I made sure I did not bonk again so I could enjoy it all.

  8. MarkP

    I was visiting my friends blue feather and gray wolf in Bozeman. Drove up there with just my bike and a change of clothes. I’d never been there before. Slept on the sofa. Breakfast? They offered oatmeal. I was polite and didn’t ask for more. Bike ride? Sure. I had no idea what “we’ll go on a really nice ride” entailed. I think I had 1 power bar and 1 bottle. I started getting a little nervous when we got way the heck out of town. I vaguely remember some interesting factoids about Lewis and Clark. It must have been really beautiful there, but hunger and thirst were casting it in sort of a desperate kind of light. We passed no stores on the way out. I’m not exactly sure how my friends stayed so energized, but I cratered somewhere about half way back. They became spots up the road. Then they were just gone. Did I mention I had never been there before? Fortunately there were no “” road signs. My beyond bonk state of mind would have left me stuck there trying to decide. But I just followed the road and eventually made it back. Don’t remember much else from that day. It’s possible (probable) that I didn’t have money with me, so I probably limped back to their house and groveled for food.

  9. Roman

    I get blood sugar crashes pretty regularly if I skip a meal. Luckily no bad crashes or bonks on a bike yet so the worst bonk I had was off bike. I taught all day and missed lunch due to things popping up all day long. After I was done, went and had a bowl of pho. Felt blood sugar crash while eating. Hoped the meal would get me back to normal. Nope! While driving back home (42 mi. each way commute) started bonking. profuse cold sweating, tunnel vision, my body getting restless so I kept shifting and turning my body in the seat while stuck in rush hour traffic on the highway going 5mph, stop and start. Then the worst part was the extremities getting a tingling sensation. never felt that before. I kept balling my hand into fists and stomping my feet on the floor of the car. I finally got home, luckily without causing any car crashes, chugged juice and went to bed nauseated and with a bad headache.

  10. Vicki Thomas

    My first bonk was in the mid-90’s during the Ontario Provincial road championships. It was an extremely hot August day – the road race started at around 2 p.m. There was no shade. I had made the split and then into a break. I was ecstatic and freaked out – the first time this had ever happened. I just concentrated on staying with break and not screwing up. Oh but I did screw up – I was so excited that I neglected to drink. After a while of rolling in the crazy heat and sun I noticed goosebumps on my arms, then I got dropped, then I felt cold, then I woke up in a grassy ditch with someone yanking my helmet off my head… The rest of the day was spent in a hospital hooked up to an I.V pole…. It should be noted that my calorie choices for the day likely weren’t the best either – two plums… which I ended up crushing during said hospital visit… It took a good week to recover from this experience.

  11. Pat O'Brien

    With sites like RKP and others educating me, along with reading and referencing the book “Sport Nutrition” by Monique Ryan, I have managed to avoid bonking. However, I have underestimated the effect of a 4000 foot gain in elevation that turned a 15 mile mountain bike ride into a real challenge.

  12. jorgensen

    First and most frustrating bonk was in a race, Tecate to Ensenada, early 1976. I made the break, things were starting to come apart just after we turned down the Coast Highway outside of Ensenada. Paul Deem made his move and I latched on, I pulled through twice and it was over. I was doing everything I could to keep going and minimize the damage. 7or 8 got past. It is bad when you can’t count. I was happy to have made the break and made a decent showing, had I consumed more during the race things would have been better, but lesson learned. It took a frustratingly long time to feel right after. My reward was a lecture by the USCF rep Robert Enright a week later advising that I get an international license and don’t race any more races over 50 miles, and He should suspend me. I was fortunate I was liked and I think he was a bit impressed. I had just turned 16. Now decades later, I am very careful hydrate before, and during and start eating by 45 minute mark should it be a long ride. Some glucose pills at the ready too.

  13. christopheru

    @Derek: No 🙂

    Worst bonk I can remember was a few years back after I returned to cycling from a bit of a break. It was cold. It was raining. We were doing a long ride on a gravel rail trail – not exactly challenging – when I simply succumbed to the cold, wet, and out of shape body. I was completely fried. A friend of mine who was with me on the ride towed me back at about 15kmph. I could barely keep up.

  14. Les Borean

    Mulholland Challenge ’12. Was at mile 111 of a 112 mile ride. Legs just stoPPed.

    Fortunately I had read about bonking, or I’d a really freaked out.

    Rifled thru my jersey pockets, found 5 Accelerade chocolate gels and 2 iridescent-orange peanut butter crackers.
    Decided I’d swallow one gel and polish off the crackers.

    What I did was inhale the 5 gels and wolf down the crackers. Was enough to get me to the finish where FOOD awaited.

    Took couple of weeks to recover.

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