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Thread: Did I bonk?

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    LET'S RIDE!! IndianaRecRider's Avatar
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    Did I bonk?

    So, I'm out for a ride this afternoon and about 11 miles in all of a sudden I got very shaky, lost all energy, legs turned to rubber bands and I puked all over the place. After plopping my butt down for about 30 minutes, I was feeling a wee bit better, so I got back on my bike. Got no more than 1/4 mile when I got sick all over again. Wound up having to walk back to my car, about an agonizing 1.5 miles. Felt like I was going to die by the time I made it back.

    So, was this the dreaded bonk? If not, it was darn near close to the bonk.

    It was pretty hot today (88 degrees), with a stiff west wind. Also, my route was quite hilly. More hills than I'm used to anyways. Had plenty of water and Power Ade with me. I'm thinking the wind and hills, along with not having much to eat, combined to do quite a number on me.

    If I did bonk, I pray that it never happens again. I wouldn't wish that feeling on my worst enemy.
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    Grammar Cop Condorita's Avatar
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    How long before the ride was your last meal? Yes, I'd call that a "bonk."
    That which does not kill me has made a massive tactical blunder.
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    Senior Member Chaco's Avatar
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    Unless you're in extremely bad shape, no, I don't think you bonked, even though that's what bonking feels like. You should have enough fuel in your body to last at least 90 minutes or so. The average person stores around 1,500 calories of glycogen in the body, and although not all that is available for exercise, you won't bonk until much of it is depleted. Either you're unable to store typical amounts of glycogen in your liver and muscles for some reason, or you suffered from something else. Do you have blood sugar problems?
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    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    Bonking doesn't usually happen til the 4-6hr mark of riding.

    I'd chalk what happened you to some bad food or something similar to over exerting yourself.

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    LET'S RIDE!! IndianaRecRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Condorita View Post
    How long before the ride was your last meal? Yes, I'd call that a "bonk."
    Between 5 1/2 and 6 hours. Did have a pretty good sized breakfast however.



    Quote Originally Posted by Chaco View Post
    Unless you're in extremely bad shape, no, I don't think you bonked, even though that's what bonking feels like. You should have enough fuel in your body to last at least 90 minutes or so. The average person stores around 1,500 calories of glycogen in the body, and although not all that is available for exercise, you won't bonk until much of it is depleted. Either you're unable to store typical amounts of glycogen in your liver and muscles for some reason, or you suffered from something else. Do you have blood sugar problems?
    I am a type 2 diabetic.




    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    Bonking doesn't usually happen til the 4-6hr mark of riding.

    I'd chalk what happened you to some bad food or something similar to over exerting yourself.
    Like I mentioned above, my route today had more hills than I'm used to, so perhaps I did overexert myself.

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    Senior Member Chaco's Avatar
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    Extreme fatigue is a common symptom of type 2 diabetes. Did you know that the 2nd ingredient in Power Ade is high fructose corn syrup? If your body is already having trouble with high levels of carbs, Power Ade may not be helping you. Have you tested your blood sugar, especially your glucose tolerance levels? If not, you may want to do that. If you're spiking over 140 consistently, that may have something to do with it.

    Unless you can trace your problem back to a known cause, like bad food, you may want to see your doctor about this. It sure doesn't sound like a normal bonk to me. I've had that experience, but it came after 90 miles, riding into a 95 degree headwind with nothing but warm water left in my bottles. After 11 miles, even with hills, your calorie consumption shouldn't have been much more than 400 or 500 at the most, so you should have had plenty of reserves left.
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    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    I am going to disagree with the general jist of this thread so far. Did you bonk, I doubt it. Does it take 4 plus hours to bonk, no way.

    Many things go into feeling the way you suggest. Most likely it was a hydration issue or a food issue. I dont think the exercise exceeded the bodies capacity to put out energy.

    More than likely it was a combination of heat, lack of training, lack of hydration...etc.
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    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Isn't bonking simply cyclist talk for hypoglycemia?

    Hypoglycemia, especially for diabetics, doesn't follow hard and fast rules about how long and how much effort you put on the bike before a blood sugar drop can happen. Most of the time it comes from long rides, high enough intensities and not enough food. But it doesn't have to. A person could go for a ride, have a lunch high in protein and fat, get back on the bike and bonk. When diabetic you have to think about what time of day you ride, your blood glucose when you start, whether you were sick recently or don't feel well, intensity of your exercise, whether you are dehydrated, effect of medications.

    Heat exhaustion and hypoglycemia may be hard to tell apart. And heat can impair your ability to regulate blood sugar.

    Be sure to carry fast absorbing carbs with you just in case.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 06-11-13 at 08:16 PM.

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    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaRecRider View Post
    Between 5 1/2 and 6 hours. Did have a pretty good sized breakfast however.


    I am a type 2 diabetic.


    Like I mentioned above, my route today had more hills than I'm used to, so perhaps I did overexert myself.

    No, you did not "bonk" in the traditional sense. As jsigone says, it takes a few hours, (normally). However, it was so long since you had a meal when you started riding, you had no easy energy fuel for your body to use. I really recommend you have a chat with your doctor about the frequency of eating and diabetes. Have him explain eating and the glucose curve. Ideally, us diabetics should eat five or six small meals throughout the day, about once every three or so hours. Just mini-meals. And, when riding, we should always keep an emergency fuel source with us. One of those little GU gel packs work perfectly. Don't use one unless you start feeling weak. Again, don't take my advice ... go with your doctor's counsel.

    I think I've bonked three times in my life. First time was back in 1967 when I was running the first annual Palos Verdes Pennensula marathon. I was just 16 at the time and was never a distance runner. At the 20-mile marker, I just couldn't move anymore. The legs just didn't want to move.

    Net time was a few years later, (1969), when I was riding the San Diego bi-centennial anniversary ride. That was a 200 mile ride. Other time was last year when I was in the middle of a self-supported century ride and pulling a monster grade in 104 degree temperature. In both cycling cases, my bonking manifested itself in my body not wanting to move anymore. I was just too pooped to go on ... but I had to. No other way to get home.

    Bonking is an awful thing, and I always go out with several gel packs in the "emergency pack" and make sure eat at least a minimum of one or two hundred calories every 20-25 miles. Usually Clif bars, but I'm really starting to hate those because they require so much water to get down. When I ride in the desert, there are long distances between watering holes and I try to conserve as much as possible while riding safely and not putting my body in danger.

    What happened to you is scary stuff. Talk to your doctor. It's not "normal".
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    If you're a diabetic, you definitely need to talk to your doctor. Period. He won't tell you not to exercise, but he will help you understand how your body may be different from others, how to manage it responsibly, and etc.

    I've only bonked one time in my life, on the Slick Rock Trail in Moab on a particularly hot day back in the late 1990's. It was miserable and the reason I think I've never done it since is that I now watch out for it and prepare for it.

    That said, depending on how long you've been cycling, you can definitely hit an exhaustion wall. I went out the other day and intentionally pushed myself. I went to a ride that was 10 miles, where about 75% of the distance is uphill (some steep, some gradual). I pushed it hard. It was Noon, 98 degrees, and about 2 miles in I hit a huge headwind that actually blew me to a stop on one of the few downhill stretches I had. The wind lasted, without relenting, for the rest of the ride.

    I was intentionally pushing myself. But by the time I made it 10 miles, I was absolutely beat. I didn't puke or feel as if I couldn't go on, but it was a really brutal fatigue. It felt great in it's own way, actually, but it would have been tough to turn around and do it again and I bet I would have reached a wall.

    I've done 10 mile rides lately, though, that I barely even noticed. Not even a warmup.

    So the combination of heat, hills, pushing yourself, and wind can definitely get to you on the wrong day. It's just the way it works. Add in the diabetes and you definitely need to have a good backup plan for yourself, and be aware of when you are provoking your real and serious limitations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    Isn't bonking simply cyclist talk for hypoglycemia?
    Bonking is when your glycogen supplies in your muscles become depleted. Your body has to begin burning some other fuel source, such as fat. Fat is harder to burn. I think you can have an adequate blood sugar level and still be bonking.

    You can definitely bonk in less that 5-6 hrs. I don't think the OP bonked as that term is understood.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    Bonking is when your glycogen supplies in your muscles become depleted. Your body has to begin burning some other fuel source, such as fat. Fat is harder to burn. I think you can have an adequate blood sugar level and still be bonking.
    No, you can't. Fat is not "harder to burn." When riding at moderate intensities you burn mostly fat even with a normal blood sugar level. This is why it is possible to ride for many, many hours even though one is burning more calories than one can ingest in the time.

    However, you still need glycogen. You "bonk" when it's gone.

    You can definitely bonk in less that 5-6 hrs. I don't think the OP bonked as that term is understood.
    With this, I agree.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    That's what it feels like but, for me anyway, I was over 2 hrs into the ride both times.

    On both occasions I had failed to eat my standard 1/4 PB & honey sandwich every 16 miles. I was riding over my fitness level and got so consumed with keeping up that I didn't eat. This is one of the reasons I've switched to liquid nutrition for rides over 30 miles.

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    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    Bonking is when your glycogen supplies in your muscles become depleted. Your body has to begin burning some other fuel source, such as fat. Fat is harder to burn. I think you can have an adequate blood sugar level and still be bonking.

    You can definitely bonk in less that 5-6 hrs. I don't think the OP bonked as that term is understood.
    I poked around some more and it looks like many in the cycling and running press anyway uses bonking synonymous with hypoglycemia.
    http://www.meetup.com/Tourdecurepdxv...w_Blood_Sugar)
    http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/E...g-The-Wall.htm
    http://surfskiracing.org/2010/01/end...-erik-borgnes/

    Others are more nuanced and say that there are different ways to bonk: http://www.ultrarunning.com/ultra/9/...the-bonk.shtml and http://www.runnersworld.com/nutritio...ng?page=single. Inotherwords, you can have low blood sugar even if there are stores of glycogen in the muscles. At a point your brain tells your body no more. This is driven by blood glucose. But you can push along with low muscle glycogen provided that you keep fueling which will keep your blood sugar up. But the end result is that you

    I even saw references to "dehydration bonk" which would be a whole 'nother way to not be able to continue cycling because your body gives out.

    Of course, since "bonk" isn't a scientific term but a term of art for cyclists it will be a bit muddy. Given that, I say the OP bonked.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 06-12-13 at 09:29 AM.

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    It could be a bonk, or it could have been severe dehydration (symptoms are similar), some sort of diabetic issue or bad food. Generaly you don't puke when bonking so I suspect dehydration (which can cause vomiting) or something else. Take it easy next time you ride. Make sure you are drinking lots of fluids, especially water. Stay away from any sugarery stuff like energy drinks etc. Also and I cannot emphasize this enough, never ride on an empty stomach. Try to take in some calories at least an hour before your ride (2 hours is better - gives food a chance to rpocess into energy). Without something in your stomach, liquids are not retained and or easily lost.

    A true bonk is an energy loss... legs and arms weak, maybe a slight headache, maybe some cramping... just hard to move.
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    Senior Member msujmccorm's Avatar
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    Did you stop sweating at any time? Possible heat exhaustion?

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msujmccorm View Post
    Did you stop sweating at any time? Possible heat exhaustion?
    That or one of the other heat related issue is what I would think.

    Vomiting is not a symptom of bonking. It sure is of heat exhaustion, heatstroke or just dehydration.

    Bonking is simply running out of gas. In my experience no huge terrible symptoms other than the engine has little to no power and that refueling is the only cure. Unlike a car a human takes some time to refuel.
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    To the OP: Are you male or female? My wife used to get sick all the time during mild exercise on our 2nd child in the first 15 weeks or so pregnancy. She was gestationally diabetic.

    The other thing to consider is that there are many forms of Type 2 diabetics. Some produce deficient amounts of insulin, so their blood sugar is not well regulated but usually high. There are those that are insulin resistant and make lots of it. As you exercise and lose weight, but insulin response is still high, you might become less insulin resistant and after a big meal (like breakfast), the onslaught of too much insulin gets you hypoglycemic and you may just bonk. In fact, you might fall asleep driving to work in the morning. So it's important to monitor often if this becomes more than an isolated incident. Eat small meals, more frequently and this should help even out sugar levels. But 11 miles might burn about 400 - 500 calories for the average clyde, so it's unlikely you're at any deficit due to lack of food.
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    LET'S RIDE!! IndianaRecRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msujmccorm View Post
    Did you stop sweating at any time? Possible heat exhaustion?
    No, I was sweating profusely for pretty much the entire time. Had plenty of water, and Power Ade, although I neglected to mention in the OP that the PA was of the Zero variety.
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    LET'S RIDE!! IndianaRecRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gyozadude View Post
    To the OP: Are you male or female? My wife used to get sick all the time during mild exercise on our 2nd child in the first 15 weeks or so pregnancy. She was gestationally diabetic.

    The other thing to consider is that there are many forms of Type 2 diabetics. Some produce deficient amounts of insulin, so their blood sugar is not well regulated but usually high. There are those that are insulin resistant and make lots of it. As you exercise and lose weight, but insulin response is still high, you might become less insulin resistant and after a big meal (like breakfast), the onslaught of too much insulin gets you hypoglycemic and you may just bonk. In fact, you might fall asleep driving to work in the morning. So it's important to monitor often if this becomes more than an isolated incident. Eat small meals, more frequently and this should help even out sugar levels. But 11 miles might burn about 400 - 500 calories for the average clyde, so it's unlikely you're at any deficit due to lack of food.
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    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaRecRider View Post
    No, I was sweating profusely for pretty much the entire time. Had plenty of water, and Power Ade, although I neglected to mention in the OP that the PA was of the Zero variety.
    Still sounds like hypoglycemia to me. (And from talking to the more knowledgeable person next to me on the couch.)

    And yes, according to my couch mate hypoglycemia can cause vomiting.

    Did you eat anything after your ride? Did it make you feel better?
    Last edited by goldfinch; 06-13-13 at 10:14 PM.

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    LET'S RIDE!! IndianaRecRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    Still sounds like hypoglycemia to me. (And from talking to the more knowledgeable person next to me on the couch.)

    And yes, according to my couch mate hypoglycemia can cause vomiting.

    Did you eat anything after your ride? Did it make you feel better?
    My diabetes is of the hyperglycemia variety, but due to the fact that I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast and the Powerade was of the no carb/no sugar variety, perhaps my sugar did drop. Since I was feeling like death warmed over, I didn't think to test myself. I did finally eat, but it was at least 90 minutes later. By that time, I had begun to feel a wee bit better.
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    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    OP, was it a diabetes thing? Something else?
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    LET'S RIDE!! IndianaRecRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chitown_Mike View Post
    OP, was it a diabetes thing? Something else?
    To be honest, I don't know anymore. I started this thread thinking I had bonked, but then dehydration was tossed into the mix, as was diabetes related issues, and now I'm more confused than when I started all this.

    To show the contrast, I did a 14 mile ride today and had no problems. Granted, the ride was flat as a pancake, it was a lot cooler than the other day and I ate about two hours before the ride. I'm just hoping that what happened the other day was just a fluke. With the successful ride I had today, it is looking more like a fluke.
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    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    Are you on insulin treatment? External insulin will create hypos during excercise if regular fueling is not followed. It sounds to me like a hypoglycemia attack, although they seem to be rare in type 2's who are not on insulin. High effort will increase your insulin sensitivity radically so if you have abundance of insulin production then a hypo is a very real possibility.

    The nasty thing about excercise induced hypoglycemias is that you might not notice them before it's way too late. Normally a person will notice the symptoms at 4mol (it's what we use in europe. Look up conversions. I'm on my cellphone so it's too much of a hassle). At 3mol the symptoms are really bad and at 2mol you will feel like sitting down or going to sleep is a really good idea. Under two normally means unconciousness. But when excersizing i've gone as low as 2.4 without noticing anything until it hit me like a sledgehammer to the face. So i need some other markers which by now are pretty surefire.
    When riding a bike when my lower back starts to ache it's time to eat lots fast. Lower back pain usually happens in the 3-4 region. For reference 5 is normal and 7 is highish.
    So try to measure more often and find the ques and hints your body gives you before you bonk.

    I'm a type 1 if anyone is wondering so external insulin for life. Not so bad when you know how to use it. Mad muscle growth bro

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