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Old 09-02-08, 01:34 PM   #1
one_beatnik
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I bonked! Boy do I feel stupid!

Sunday evening my family and I drove 65 miles to visit my sister in law and meet her new fiance. I planned on spending the night and riding home. The first 20 miles was a bike path around the south edge of Omaha, then a few on hiways and then more on trails through Council Bluffs. Good so far. At that point was about 40 miles. I definitely was feeling it. After another 30 miles I was gone. If I had ridden the full distance, it would have been my first century this year. I called my teen son to come get me. I finished 85. Here last week I did and 80 day, then a 90 day and then a 50 mile day pulling a loaded BOB. Yesterday was just me on the bike.

Lesson learned. EAT!! That's what it got down to. The eating places along my route were not the choicest of places. I ended up with a couple breakfast burritos/coffee in the morning, then a burger and shake at lunch. That was it. I know better than that too. I went right past one grocery store and could have stocked up on all kinds of good stuff. That was probably my most demoralizing day of biking in years. More because it was my own stupidity that caused it.
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Old 09-02-08, 01:40 PM   #2
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Well, look at the side. You can do stupid things and still get away with it. So many stupid things to do and so little time.
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Old 09-02-08, 01:40 PM   #3
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I learned the same lesson the hard way. The upside is that the next time you go on an extended ride, you are going to be MUCH better prepared.
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Old 09-02-08, 02:58 PM   #4
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1. I bet you don't make that mistake again.

2. You were generous enough to share your experience with all of us.

Thanks,
Jeff - still fat
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Old 09-02-08, 03:26 PM   #5
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it is only stupid if you do not learn from the experience. thank you for sharing and reminding us.

be well,

jim
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Old 09-02-08, 04:15 PM   #6
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I have to learn the same thing over and over again. Just because you're feeling good does not mean you shouldn't stop. The only way to do a long ride is to make a plan and stick to it. Stopping to eat and stretch about every 20 miles is what I need to do to go a full century, no matter how good I feel at each waypoint. If you wait until you're feeling it, you're too late.
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Old 09-02-08, 04:16 PM   #7
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The amount you listed that you ate is probably about all I would have eaten on the ride. Are you sure it was eating or was it the liquids. Lots of water along with Gatorade or something of that sort makes more difference to me than eating any more than you did. But, everyone's body is different and has different requirements.
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Old 09-02-08, 04:56 PM   #8
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Happens in the best of families

I bonked going up my favorite mountain after having had a burger and a shake!

For long rides, I drink a lot of gatorade before and during the ride, and I eat granola bars, clif bars, and a little jerky.

Live and learn. Ride on!
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Old 09-02-08, 06:57 PM   #9
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Try to put down at least 300 calories per hour (or 15 miles - which ever comes first).
I usually carry two drinks on my rides, Nuun and Gatoraide. The Nuun provides me better hydration and is easier to take than a sweet drink. But I can tell when I am running too low - if I take a long drag on the gatoraide and I get a big boost then I am missing sugars and carbs, at that point I will grab a Guu. Monday I did a 75 mile ride - I had a big slab of Lasagna for lunch about an hour before leaving, that held me well for 2 hours, then I went through 3 trail mix bars, 3 Guu, 1 apple and two bottles of gatoraide and two bottles of Nuun as well as a full hydration pack of ice water (about 900 calories on the ride itself and probably 600 before) during the remainder of the ride, stopping three times on the ride for short stretch and brief walk. Got back and was tired but not bonked. Wife ordered a pile of Chinese food so I pigged out on recovery food when I got back. Averaged well over 17MPH for the ride.
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Old 09-03-08, 08:04 AM   #10
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Happens in the best of families

I bonked going up my favorite mountain after having had a burger and a shake!

For long rides, I drink a lot of gatorade before and during the ride, and I eat granola bars, clif bars, and a little jerky.

Live and learn. Ride on!
+1, I usually hydrate the day before, go with gatorade, water and energy bars on the day of the ride. My problem is I ride solo, so I tend not to stop often enough and don't spend enough time at each break. On a recent 90 miler I went through 3 twenty-four ounce bottles of liquid and still felt a bit dehydrated at the end of the ride. Lesson learned, stop more often, drink more often and stick to the plan.
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Old 09-03-08, 09:01 AM   #11
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I do not worry about bonking on 25 mi / 40 km or shorter rides, but for anything beyond that I have to be very careful about hydration and nutrition.
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Old 09-03-08, 10:09 AM   #12
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I drank plenty of water on this ride; I'm convinced I just didn't eat right. It's not the amount, but what was/wasn't eaten. No where near enough carbs here. Even if I'd grabbed some granola bars or even a donut or 2 would have made a lot of difference. Sometimes it's just a mind thing too. I had 20 mph cross winds for most of this and near 90 degrees. Again, the mind does things to you too.

Nope, it had to be the food!
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Old 09-03-08, 01:22 PM   #13
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May I completely and almost vehemently disagree on the stupidity accusation? A better fuel strategy would have been good, but going out on a longish ride without perhaps the best plans in place and the like is just part life well lived. Stupidity would be not riding or just doing short rides.
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Old 09-03-08, 01:45 PM   #14
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The worst that happened to me was because of not enough fluids. I had only two bottles and there was no where to refill along the way. It was 110 degree weather and I knew it was coming - I felt it. I had the right mind though to call someone to come get me.

I was pretty much out of it by the time I got "rescued". I couldn't really talk or think right. I was weak and in a delirious state. It took me about 5 days to be okay again.

I am glad that you made it okay. At least we learned some valuable lessons. You've learned to eat better and I've learned not to ride in that kind of weather!
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Old 09-03-08, 02:09 PM   #15
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I had 20 mph cross winds for most of this and near 90 degrees.
You really can't go by distance, you have to go by time and output. A 20 MPH wind (from almost any direction except square at your tail) is going to increase your energy output, whcih means that you need to increse your energy input.

There is also the rate of energy output to consider. You can bonk just because you body can't process the fuel fast enough. You might consume plenty of calories, but if they're all in a form that it takes your body too long to convert to glycogen, you're screwed.

Been there, Done that. Pain is a good teacher, isn't it?
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Old 09-03-08, 02:14 PM   #16
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Take it this is your first Bonk so you will recognise the signs of it coming on in the future. That will be the time to slow down and eat and drink. In my saddle wedge- I keep a gel pack. In fact on the longer rides I also put another couple in my rear pocket. They are not miracle bars- but they give you just enough time to recover and find a rest point to grab some extra carbs at.
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Old 09-04-08, 06:29 AM   #17
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I think most everyone feels that way on their first (hopefully last) bonk. I know my first (only) I certainly didn't feel too smart! We were in W.Va., riding a rail-trail, had a light breakfast. Turns out didn't take enough fluids (and it was a hot day) and no food. Riding along just fine until a little past mile 40 or so on the way back. Started feeling tired (riding our 31 lb.mtn bikes), then all of a sudden the "bonk" just seemed to hit, legs didn't want to move. Sat down for about 10 minutes or so, then rode the remaining 4 miles back to the truck. Turned on the AC and just relaxed for a few before leaving. Hasn't happened since, always take more fluids than I think I'll need, and a few "energy bars" if I plan on a ride on any length now.
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Old 09-04-08, 08:33 AM   #18
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I think my "stupid" comment comes from the fact that I've done RAGBRAI several times and have done 1850 miles this summer so far. This was just not thinking on my part. I know better than this and still did it. That's not inexperience. That's pride and stupidity. My best friend has a saying that's good for much of life: live and learn and hope you can afford your mistakes.
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Old 09-04-08, 08:45 AM   #19
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You're in good company. In addition to many folks here at the 50+ Forum who have bonked (myself included), didn't Lance Armstrong bonk in the 2000 TdF? I'd be kinder to myself and consider that being human means making mistakes.
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Old 09-04-08, 11:22 AM   #20
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As I've said before, using this forum to give us all gentle reminders about the obvious and basic is very helpful. Yesterday, our 60 mile ride turned into a 75 mile ride and I sure was glad I stuck that extra energy bar in my pocket.
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Old 09-04-08, 04:01 PM   #21
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For long, unnsupported rides I now take a 3-hour bottle of Hammer Perpetuem for the last half of the ride. It's amazing how fast this stuff goes into your system. Within minutes of taking 2 or three swigs I feel re-powered. It's somewhat expensive, so for centuries and long organized rides with good support every 20-30 miles I depend on what they provide with a few energy bars and gels in my jersey just in case. And yes I have bonked. In Mexico I took off up into the mountains once and wound up losing 7 lbs. I didn't realize I had bonked until I got home and discovered how dizzy and out of energy I was when I got off the bike. I probably couldn't have gone another 5 miles.
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Old 09-04-08, 06:51 PM   #22
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You're in good company. Lance bonked in the TDF one year.

Seriously, all serious riders have bonked more than once. It's a learning experience that the wise riders learn from. Good luck and thanks for sharing.
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Old 09-05-08, 10:55 PM   #23
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have you bonked before?

If you had not bonked before then you would not have full appreciationi for what it is, and you might think "it can't happen to me".

I bonked once, long ago before I rode my first century. Since then I've studied it and learned more about it. I've tried to explain the concept of bonking to other people but I know that since they aren't athletic they will never fully appreciate what it is. When I first bonked I had ridden about 50 miles. I had not eaten, and did not have any food or money with me. I was hallucinating about stopping along the side of the road and eating grass or weeds. I got to a point where I couldn't ride the bike anymore so I got off and walked. Then in a mile or 2 I got to where I couldn't even hold the bike up as I walked, so I hid it behind some high grass and walked across a field to an apartment complex. I layed on their lawn for an hour almost like a zombie. I walked another couple of blocks to a convenience store and thankfully I had a quarter so I could call my wife to come and get me. At that point I was within a couple of miles of home. My wife was worried because I was late in getting home. She came with the neighbor in his pickup and they were surprised that I was sitting there without my bike. We backtracked the route and got my bike. That was a learning experience and later that year I rode my first century.

That was 25 years ago and I've done a lot of training and riding since. I've learned how I respond to training and how to work up my distance. I've also learned that taking sports drinks on longer training rides is very helpful.

Another bonking story- about 15 years ago I had a young coworker that was interested in cycling and started training for longer rides. He and I went to a metric century in a town about 80 miles away, I rode with him in his car. I finished the 62 miles, medium difficulty because it was windy for the second half of the ride, and wondered where my friend was. After about a half hour I saw him come in on the sag wagon. He had bonked pretty badly. He couldn't drive so I drove us back home, and we stopped about 20 miles away for a drink at a fast food place. I worked on my drink pretty well but he just sat there like a zombie looking at his. He was a young single guy, and had a hot date that night, but he had to call and cancel his date. He said he just layed on the couch all afternoon. I thought the whole thing was somewhat funny but also illustrates what the bonk can do to even a young athletic guy that thinks he is in good shape.
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