Friday Group Ride #379

Friday Group Ride #379

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

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  1. DaveinME

    Peanut M&Ms and/or almond Snickers but only after I’ve burned off all my Clif Bars, Hammer Gel and fruit. I carry a fair bit of food because I am a type one diabetic.

  2. Maxwell

    I brought my kitchen salt grinder to a 12 hour mtb race and made each bottle of water taste like the ocean. I had no cramping that day, and convinced 4 others to try it and they had good results too. I have often gotten cramps during longer rides, regardless what I consumed, but this has probably been the most effective specifically for preventing cramps. There was other food for general nutrition. I haven’t heard of using super salty water, I just thought of it. Maybe it’s well known to others?

    1. John Kopp

      During military training about 50 years ago, we added salt tablets to our water canteens on a 20 mile hike in the 100 degree Kansas sun. It helps restore electrolytes lost to prevent heat stroke.

  3. scott g.

    For the last rest stop on a hot long ride, V8 tomato juice followed a Mountain Dew.
    (V8 920mg sodium, 640mg potassium)

    Training camp exercise, “You only have $1, what do you buy at the Kwikie Mart?”
    A pack of Pop Tarts 400 calories for a buck.

  4. Scott M.

    Pickles are among the strangest. Learned that from riding the Davis Double a few times.
    While a lot of riders will proclaim the merits of the latest, trendy $5/serving cycling specific sport drink, I’ve found that there are many incredibly inexpensive items that can make a real difference between limping home with cramped out hamstrings vs. dropping the hammer on the home stretch.
    I keep a Ziploc bag in my jersey pocket stocked with a variety of pills, powders and potions. While my friends may laugh and call me the pharmacist, they are often the first ones to come begging for handouts at mile 70.
    I always carry Tumms, Ibuprofen, and Excedrin Migraine. Perhaps most importantly, I keep a couple tubes of Pedialyte powder in my baggie as well. I’ll mix two small tubes of Pedialyte powder into a large water bottle. That stuff is miraculous. It tastes great too!

  5. David B

    I have a whole list of things that work, but more important is what to avoid at all cost. At the 70 mile point two of us came out of the bodega. One with a quart of tomato juice and one with quart of chocolate milk. Both well proven effective. So of course halfway through the bottles we traded. The next 70 miles were neither fast nor pleasant. I’ll avoid going into detail.

  6. Dave

    Another vote for pedialyte – my wife is a maternity nurse and pushed it on me for years before I finally tried it. It’s great.
    The coke and snickers thing is almost a cliche. If you go into Chalet Reynard they have a huge fridge and candy stand right beside the cash register and those are the only two things in them.

  7. Les.B.

    I was at mile 110 of the 112 mile Mulholland Challenge a few year back when the pedals stopped turning and would not budge.
    I stood there and rifled through my jersey pockets and came up with 5 chocolate energy gels and a half pack of those luminescent orange peanut butter crackers — 4 crackers maybe.
    I inhaled all of the above and the pedals continued turning, enough to get me to the finish.
    I was fatigued for two weeks afterward.

  8. Fausto

    My longest ride was 130 miles to the beach and back. Bottle of water each way, only one cage on a bike back then. Boardwalk slice and a coke. The bonk breaker back then was a pop tart on the way out and a bag of Jello powder on the way back. All sugar. Worst bonk ever was cured by a Snickers though, would never eat one off the bike, but that day it saved my life. Great article.

  9. TomInAlbany

    I once overheated and walked into someone’s back yard while their kids were playing in the pool and asked if I could dunk my jersey in to cool off. The parent in charge must have sensed my distress and offered me the opportunity to dunk my whole self in which, after quickly shedding my shoes and socks, I quickly did. It didn’t take long for my core to cool. I filled my water bottle from their hose, thanked them genuinely, Remounted and finished the ride feeling so much better in body and mind.

    I’ve pulled into many driveways and asked for refills of my water bottles, always having been obliged.

    Once, at a Buckees near Freeport/Lake Jackson, TX I was so overheated that i walked in and drank a quart of gatorade BEFORE I paid for it. I sat right there on the floor and chugged it, my back up against the nice cold cooler. The clerk asked if I was OK. I nodded. I grabbed another bottle, and paid for the two and finished my ride.

  10. Arizona Guy

    Ahh – you give me a chance to tell the tale of my greatest athletic accomplishment. I’m a MOP guy and almost never sniff a podium, so real glory is beyond me – but this is the story my buddies are still talking about more than 10 years later…

    While running the JFK 50 ( the largest Ultra Marathon in the country) I was in a bad way about mile 35. At the JFK, the major aid stations are institutions, some set up as Tiki bars, some like Mardi Gras, and mile 35 was all about BBQ. I staggered in with my buddy and walked up to the grill and ordered – a chili dog! I certainly wasn’t the only taker on the day, but what moved it up to epic status was that I went back for seconds. It (They) settled in just fine and I finished the last 15 miles running strong, but it was advisable to stay upwind from me.

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