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  1. #1
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    I think I experienced "The Wall".

    I've been riding now for about four months (after a forty year lay off). I have brought my miles up gradually to the point that I go 20 to 25 miles at a time, I guess I average about 13 or 14 mph or so. Actually, my ride is an "out and back" with about a ten minute rest at the turn around point. Anyway, all has been going swimingly and, with the exception of sore legs and those damn hills, I am really enjoying riding. Something happened two days ago that caught me off guard though. I had gone out on my usual ride and made it to the turn around point and felt really strong and good. I stopped and rested a few minutes, had some water and then headed for the return trip. My return trip starts out with a serious hill of about 1/8 mile and I did that as I always do, standing on the pedals and grinding it out, what was differnt this time was that after this hill, I couldn't seem to recover. Up till now, whenever I do a hill, no matter how long or how hard it is, I can "recover" when I get to the top and get my wind and my heart rate down. This day, I couldn't seem to do that. It seemed that, no matter how much I slowed down, my heart was still pounding and I was really dragging. It was all I could do to make it back. In fact, I "didn't" make it back. I got back to within five miles of my house and I just knew I couldn't go any further. I stopped and called my wife and she came and picked me up.

    To me, not being able to make it back is kind of a big deal, but I honestly was a little scared that there might be something wrong. I stopped and just stood there for a few minutes and I felt a little dizzy. When my wife got there, we put the bike in the car and I went home. I felt fine when I got home, although I was quite tired. Now, today, after a day of rest, which is my routine, I tried the same route again. I have to tell you that I was more than a little nervous that something was going to happen again, but it didn't. I was fine. Went through the ride with no problems.

    I think I am allright. I'm in pretty good shape, 6-4, 205#, 62 yrs, but this kind of scared me. Today I feel very good after my ride. I only got about five hours of sleep the night before that ride, maybe that was it. I dont know.

  2. #2
    Senior Member glassman's Avatar
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    Good to hear you are ok now. This has not happened to me yet but I guess it could. Be careful and keep riding.

  3. #3
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    Could be several things. I am no Doc so what I say is worth nothing.

    Dehydration - this got me good one day

    Lack of food before the ride.

    or just a bad day happens some times. Sometimes when I start out I make it about a 100 yards and turn around, legs just don't want to work. Next day all is ok, in fact I do better following a day off.

    Get a heart rate monitor and see what your heart is doing.

    Joe
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  4. #4
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Many things can cause the wall to be confronted, and the normal one is over exertion. Perhaps with your new found fitness, you just pushed a bit too hard for this ride. It does not take much to go over the top without you realising it. 25 miles is still a good distance and for that you have to be hydrated and fed. I normally find that If I start getting near the wall, I have a warning, and that is the time to slow down, have a good drink, and get a cereal bar or some other food inside me. Another thing I have found is that over the years, my diet has modified itself so that I eat a great deal more Carbo-hydrates in my normal diet, because my body needs them. If you run out of carbs, then you will run out of energy.

    Don't be disheartened by this one event, but try to eat more carbs the day before your next ride, drink more liquid on the ride, and if possible make this one of the energy type drinks, and take it steady on your next ride. Unfortunately, If the problem does persist, then it will require a trip to the doctor to get checked out, but with ride preparation this should not be necessary
    Last edited by stapfam; 09-24-05 at 01:43 AM.

  5. #5
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    One possibility is that you pushed real hard, got your heart rate and circulation up, and stopped without cooling down. Your blood pools, and your heart rate actually increases, and you can feel faint.

    It is important after extra high exertion to slow down gradually, not all at once. Was it an especially warm day? That also would make the pooling even more significant.

    Likely just one of those anomalies of life, though.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 09-24-05 at 06:38 AM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  6. #6
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Lots of good "probable causes" listed here by other posters! I'd suspect that it was a unique event caused by one or more of these causes. Don't let it worry you too much unless it happens again. At that point, analyze your day (looking for common causes that might have affected you on the original event AND the subsequent one). If you find something in common, eliminate that cause and see if the problem is cured. If the wall happens again despite your efforts to troubleshoot - it's time to see your doctor.

    Congratulations on your fitness! You're doing the right thing to take care of yourself.

  7. #7
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Lots of good "probable causes" listed here by other posters! I'd suspect that it was a unique event caused by one or more of these causes. Don't let it worry you too much unless it happens again. At that point, analyze your day (looking for common causes that might have affected you on the original event AND the subsequent one). If you find something in common, eliminate that cause and see if the problem is cured. If the wall happens again despite your efforts to troubleshoot - it's time to see your doctor.

    Congratulations on your fitness! You're doing the right thing to take care of yourself.
    Good advice here, mate. While no one of "mature" age wants to admit it bad things can, and do,
    happen to cause us to.........well, you know.

    So if you even feel a little "odd" during one of your rides.....slow down......stop......call for
    help.......now.

  8. #8
    Elite Fred mollusk's Avatar
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    Point of order!

    Not to belittle the difficulties that the OP described, but I think it is very likely that he "blew up" or "cracked", rather than (to use the runners' term) "hit the wall". Us pedalers normally call "hitting the wall" bonking (with apologies to some other Anglophones where that activity is much more pleasurable. )

    "Bonking"means that you have depleted all of your available glycogen and the only way to recover is to eat and wait for your body to restore its "premium" fuel. "Blowing up" means that you have exceeded your aerobic threshold for too long and your body needs to recover from the effort. These are very different things! Recovery from "blowing up" is as simple as getting your level of effort below your anerobic threshold for a period of time, i.e. slowing down or resting. The period of time required depends on your fitness and how long you were pushing yourself too hard. On the other hand "bonking" requires a very prolonged effort, usually much longer than the type of ride described by the OP. After bonking you have to eat and let your body change the food into glycogen. If you keep going after bonking you will become a zombie and start to consume your lean tissue (muscle) to go on. It will be VERY painful and VERY slow. Trust me, you do not want to go there!

    Both of these results (bonking and blowing up) are not enjoyable, but they are very different beasts.

  9. #9
    just over the next hill cruzMOKS's Avatar
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    What happened to Taylor8 also happened to me. Riding a few 100 feet I knew I wasn’t
    going to do good so I took the day off from bicycling.

    Hills and heat make it a lot tougher. I do a lot of hills as I circle my neighborhood, and
    keep climbing more until I feel my energy level drain.

    I have been riding for 5 weeks and plan on doing an easy week every 3 or 4 weeks.
    Enjoy the ride.
    Bianchi Volpe 2006; Fuji Tahoe 1990

  10. #10
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    I think 'mollusk' hit the nail on the head - you either cracked or bonked. Make sure you drink plenty of water or sports drink when you ride, even if you don't feel thirsty, and also take along some power bars, grapes, nuts, granola, whatever you like to munch on, and eat a little on your break.

    I see a lot of people who try to diet and workout on a bike at the same time, thinking they will lose weight and get in shape faster that way...bad idea. Your body needs energy, you need to eat to supply that energy by eating...not pigging out, but rather by eating just enough to take the edge off anytime you feel hungry or low on energy.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  11. #11
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    Thanks, all, for the help and support. I feel fine. No problems since this one episode. It was a beautiful day, in the upper sixties. Not hot. As I said before, I felt good on the outbound leg and perhaps I might have been pushing it because of that. I felt good when I stopped and I drank some water. Only drank about one third of my bottle though (perhaps not enough). I felt ok and I started back and went up my kick ass hill and felt good but after I got up the hill, I couldn't seem to "recover". It felt like someone had sneaked up and hooked a cement sled onto my bike. I tried slowing down but that didn't even work. My heart was still pounding and I was dragging, just to keep going. It was like that until I finally stopped and called my wife. I dont think my heart was doing anything weird. It was firing away but it was working way to hard just to keep me going. After I stopped, I felt fine after the ride home (about 10 minutes)

    Anyway, I will keep at it and I am going to start bringing something to eat and to change my drink from water to some kind of energy drink (MGD?)

    Thanks for the help and support. By the way, when I stopped that day, a road biker saw me and stopped to check on me. I thought that was a decent thing to do and I told him so.

  12. #12
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I think mollusk is correct. I have never "cracked," but I have "bonked" on a couple of occasions. I have always been able to make it home with a normal aerobic heart rate, albeit slowly and in a much lower-than-normal gear. In fact, this is one of the main reasons I bother to carry any gears in the low 40s. (The other is an occasional very steep hill, usually only a block or two long, which I could always walk if I had to.)

    It sounds as though you need to work on pacing yourself. Keep at it!
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  13. #13
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    Sounds like you did "hit the wall". When I ride I "top up" with a granola bar every 45-60 min. of riding, I also take a sip of water every 10-15 min., I find if you drink too much too fast I feel bloated. I have never hit the wall with this strategy. Many times though I feel that I am dragging my a$$, feels like my brakes are dragging, I contribute this to little rest the night before, or too hard a ride the previous day, should have stayed off the bike those days. The other very important thing for us at our age is to warm down, when you get off the bike walk around a few minutes until your heart rate slows down, and then sit and rest. If you do not warm down the blood will pool in your legs which makes your heart work harder because there is "less" blood to pump. I use this same strategy after climbing a big hill, after I get to the top with my heart rate at the redline I do not coast down the other side, I continue to pedal at a very slow cadence hardly putting any force on the pedals just to keep the blood circulating to the leg muscles, preventing the blood to pool.

  14. #14
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by JEgan712
    ...change my drink from water to some kind of energy drink...
    Do y'all like the "energy drinks?" I find that I'm just as happy with electrolyte replacement stuff. My current fave is "Sqwincher." The juice I use keeps my water from tasting like the bottle, keeps me from getting cramps, and adds minimum calories. What are the pros/cons of energy drinks vs. electrolyte replacers?

  15. #15
    You know you want to. Eatadonut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    One possibility is that you pushed real hard, got your heart rate and circulation up, and stopped without cooling down. Your blood pools, and your heart rate actually increases, and you can feel faint.

    It is important after extra high exertion to slow down gradually, not all at once. Was it an especially warm day? That also would make the pooling even more significant.

    Likely just one of those anomalies of life, though.

    I've had that happen to me a couple times, though not recently. I feel good, push myself too far, and think I should hop off and take a quick squat by the side of the road to cool down. Took me a while to figure out why that always made me feel worse.
    Weather today: Hot. Humid. Potholes.

  16. #16
    What's the speed of dark?
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    I Think Mullosk knows what he's about. I remember watching an Ironman triathalon when one of the female participants completely fell apart very close to the end of the marathon run. She was falling down, lost control of her bowles and was pretty much incoherent. I rode 135 miles with a young man in July who "bonked". 80 miles into the ride I had to badger him to keep himself hydraded. 35 miles out he was completely out of water in 95 degree weather and tried to bypass a chance to get more water. I had to twist his arm to replenish his water supply. Even after than I had to tell him when to drink. Towards the end he literally didn't even know where he was ( I think what tipped me off was when he said "where am I"). I had to keep him in front of me to ensure his saftey. He finally called his wife to come get him as I rode on to finish the ride.

    The point is that you don't really "bonk" or "hit the wall" on a 25 mile ride. There's not enough time or expenditure of body chemicals to bonk. But you can blow up. I have, and probably most people who push their limits probably have, pushed myself beyond my physical conditioning. I wouldn't be too concerned about this episode. But if you are aware of your condition and it happpens again go straight to the doctor!

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