I don’t believe I was actually bonking in the chip aisle of the grocery store last night, BUT it had been a long stretch since lunch. I’d come home to realize we were short on groceries, and I needed to sandwich in a trip (see what I did there?) to the food-a-rama before I picked kids up from soccer practice. So, that I found myself in the chip aisle was not entirely unfortunate coincidence. I gazed up to see a small stack of dark brown bags, Kettle Chips Himalayan Salt fried in Avocado Oil, that stimulated something almost Proustian in my frenzied mind.
It was New England spring, and I was bumping along in the passenger seat of my buddy Jon’s car. We’d ridden Rasputitsa in the morning, a churning, gurning, 3-hour sufferfest whose name means ‘mud season’ in Russian. In the wake of the race, I’d contemplated the taco buffet only to find nausea rising in my throat. I retreated to the car so as not to toss my cookies in front of those basking in their morning victory, and managed to soothe the barfy beast within, but I knew, also, that I needed to get calories in. I was bonking just sitting still.
Quite how I arrived at Kettle Chips Himalayan Salt flavor is a mystery best chalked up to under-firing of necessary neurons and the desperation that only gas station food shopping can produce.
That’s when the miracle happened. Halfway into the bag, salt and bits of chip stuck to my hands and face, I began to feel markedly better. A liter of seltzer disappeared. I closed my eyes and felt the car sliding south, toward home.
It was not the first time salvation came from a gas station, and from an unexpected source.
Sometimes, bonk is actually dehydration. I discovered this on a company ride up to New Hampshire four or five summers ago. I’d gone out with the fast guys, which was a mistake, and then under fed and watered myself. Not surprisingly I got dropped like a buttered bowling ball with something like 15 miles to go, and then wobbled along pathetically for a while before finding a convenience store flanked by picnic tables. I ought to have eaten something. I ought to have sucked down a Coke, but instead I opted for a seltzer, which was both wet and fizzy in a way that seems to burn off the noxious vapors of ride-related collapse.
I felt better. A crew of those who had dropped me pulled in. They’d failed to navigate accurately and were circling back, a few of them much worse for the extra miles they’d done. I led them the rest of the way. Resurrected.
This week’s Group Ride asks, what unexpected aids have delivered you to cycling salvation? What is your go-to when the pedaling gets thick? What is the strangest thing you’ve resorted to?
Image: Alabama Horse Council