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  1. #1
    Mrs. DataJunkie Luddite's Avatar
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    Bonking: what does it feel like?

    By bonking, I am referring to the bad thing that happens while cycling, not the good thing that happens in the sack.

    Anyway, I chased down this big MOFO on a MTB that passed me going uphill, I stayed ahead of him for a bit but my legs suddenly went totally wobbly, I was kinda shaking all over, like I was gonna lose control or something. Energy went to poop. Was this the dreaded "Bonk?" I was only 2 km into my maybe 6km ride home from work, I thought bonking happens after epic long rides? I ate several times today, though breakfast was an apricot, a milkless cup of tea and later a Mars bar. I had some vegetarian "burger" patties for lunch, another apricot and another mars bar. FYI, I had no time to pack a "real" lunch and I needed food so I grabbed a couple mars bars from the giant box my mom bought. I choked the second one down, wishing it was real food, Blech.

    Anyway, I digress. Did I bonk? What does bonking feel like?

  2. #2
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Sounds like your illusory abundance of carbohydrates - from sugar in your culinary decisions - wore off in a big hurry. Thing is these carbs were hollow carbs with very little real value as a food. Eat better.
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    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Mars bars............mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
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    Senior Member travelmama's Avatar
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    Your commute was too short for you to bonk. When you bonk you will feel VERY tired after a long ride and very little food stored. You will have lost a lot of salt by this time. You will then have to stop and consume some salt and foods as well as drink/electrolytes before regaining your energy. You are like a car coming to a stop for gas, fueling up and taking off.
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  5. #5
    the dream shall never die galyons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite View Post
    By bonking, I am referring to the bad thing that happens while cycling, not the good thing that happens in the sack.

    Anyway, I chased down this big MOFO on a MTB that passed me going uphill, I stayed ahead of him for a bit but my legs suddenly went totally wobbly, I was kinda shaking all over, like I was gonna lose control or something. Energy went to poop. Was this the dreaded "Bonk?"
    Bonk? No, Karma... (Or the cumulative results of a series of immature decisions.)
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    Sounds like a bonk to me -- and no, it doesn't take an epic ride, just insufficient fueling up, starting with the evening before.

    The "bonk" is the red warning light by your gas gauge, the stuttering of the engine when gas is about to run out, and it feels pretty much just like that. The best cure is pasta, within 30 minutes of getting home. 4get the rest, get those complex carbs in ya!

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If you are eating regular meals you should have about 2000 calories in storage in your body, so you should be able to ride for an absolute minimum of 2 hours on those stored calories without bonking. An experienced long distance cyclist can last longer on their stored calories because they've essentially trained their bodies to function properly.

    When your stored calories are gone, if you've done nothing to replace them, that's when you bonk. A bonk starts with a feeling of irritability and vague confusion. Things just don't seem right. You may experience hunger ... some people do, some don't (I usually don't). Gradually you start to feel like you're losing energy ... like you just can't pedal as fast as you did. Eventually you reach the shaky and dizzy stage ... and then move into the "I've got to stop and lie down" and nausea stage.

    A Mars bar just before your ride is about 250 calories, and should have been enough to take you about 30 minutes before you needed to tap into your stored calories. Two of them should have taken you about an hour.

    What happened to you is likely that you pushed yourself harder than usual. Not really a bonk because you likely still had enough calories to work with. Probably more that you didn't have a proper warm-up before blasting off after someone.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    My symptoms are:
    - Irritable as h*ll; Every little thing makes me mad.
    - Energy level goes so low I can't pedal more than 12 mph.
    - All I can think about is food.

    And this happens *hours* into a ride, not minutes.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    My symptoms are:
    - Irritable as h*ll; Every little thing makes me mad.
    - Energy level goes so low I can't pedal more than 12 mph.
    - All I can think about is food.

    And this happens *hours* into a ride, not minutes.

    Yep ... that irritability thing hits me when I'm starting to bonk. It can be something as simple as all of a sudden my previously comfortable jersey doesn't seem to fit quite right, or I start arguing something really silly with my cycling partner, or I can suddenly hear a faint squeak or click from my cycling partner's bicycle and it starts to drive me crazy ..... just little things like that. I've had good cycling partners over the years who have recognized what's going on when I start to get edgy and suggest I have something to eat ... and that usually solves the problem.

    The other thing I'll notice when I'm heading into a bonk is difficulty in doing simple math. When I ride I calculate ... if I've done 54 km of a 162 km ride, I'm 1/3 of the way through the ride, etc. But if I'm struggling to do those calculations, I know I need to eat something.

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    Sprockette wabbit's Avatar
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    i once had a terrible bonk and dehydration...mostly it felt like my legs just woudln't move and I totally began to lose altitude. I barely made it home... my own fault, i didn't have enough gatorade. I was so parched when i got home i just guzzled water. The next day I felt like a squished lemon and looked like the label of an iodine bottle!
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  11. #11
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    It just sounds like you used all the gas you had in the tank and that your lactate /anaerobic may have been reached.

    You seem to have had the fuel you needed but your body just has to learn how to use it.

    This threshold can be increased through training.

    As for bonking (the bad kind)...

    I also get very irritable and cannot concentrate and as I have a very fast metabolism I burn a lot of calories even when I am doing very little... I eat numerous small meals through the day and when riding any distance make sure I am consuming adequate calories.

    I eat far more than a person my size should.

  12. #12
    crazy bike girl msincredible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    The other thing I'll notice when I'm heading into a bonk is difficulty in doing simple math. When I ride I calculate ... if I've done 54 km of a 162 km ride, I'm 1/3 of the way through the ride, etc. But if I'm struggling to do those calculations, I know I need to eat something.
    I normally have an excellent sense of direction, but I tend to get lost easily when I'm bonking, that's a good sign for me to get some food.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    My symptoms are:
    - Irritable as h*ll; Every little thing makes me mad.
    - Energy level goes so low I can't pedal more than 12 mph.
    - All I can think about is food.

    And this happens *hours* into a ride, not minutes.
    i had this happen on the way home from work- i couldn't pedal for anything and got so irritable i actually considered stopping and throwing my bike into the ditch at the side of the road. you could hear me cursing up a storm until i was able to stop and grab a handful of trail mix
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  14. #14
    Pro Paper Plane Pilot wunderkind's Avatar
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    Do share why are you chasing down this MOFO in a MTB? What did he do??
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    Grammar Cop Condorita's Avatar
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    I felt a bit faint and found myself trying to remember the symptoms of heart attacks in women. And that was only 17 miles into a 50-miler I should have been able to do quite easily. Too little breakfast too soon before the event. By the time I'd had one of my nutrition bars, a bunch more water, some banana chunks (and I really despise overripe bananas!), a ShotBlok, and a ride back to the start, I felt fine. I was not foolish enough to restart the event. And will plan better for next year's.
    That which does not kill me has made a massive tactical blunder.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member frymaster's Avatar
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    there are two types of bonk -- the muscle-glycogen bonk and the liver glucose bonk.

    on the muscle-glycogen one your muscles run out of fuel: you just suddenly feel incredibly tired and, although your mostly clearheaded, you just can't make your legs go. on the liver-glucose bonk, your brain runs out of fuel: this is the cranky-feeling, can't-do-simple-math bonk. if you really bonk out on this one you can get hallucinations or even delirium.
    Last edited by frymaster; 08-12-09 at 08:10 PM. Reason: spelling fixes
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  17. #17
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite View Post
    By bonking, I am referring to the bad thing that happens while cycling, not the good thing that happens in the sack.

    Anyway, I chased down this big MOFO on a MTB that passed me going uphill, I stayed ahead of him for a bit but my legs suddenly went totally wobbly, I was kinda shaking all over, like I was gonna lose control or something. Energy went to poop. Was this the dreaded "Bonk?" I was only 2 km into my maybe 6km ride home from work, I thought bonking happens after epic long rides? I ate several times today, though breakfast was an apricot, a milkless cup of tea and later a Mars bar. I had some vegetarian "burger" patties for lunch, another apricot and another mars bar. FYI, I had no time to pack a "real" lunch and I needed food so I grabbed a couple mars bars from the giant box my mom bought. I choked the second one down, wishing it was real food, Blech.

    Anyway, I digress. Did I bonk? What does bonking feel like?
    It sounds like you might have had lactic acid overload. Did you leg muscles feel like they were burning? Did the feeling go away after a little bit of rest?

    I have only bonked once (during a marathon) and it was a feeling of complete exhaustion. I could hardly move my legs, my muscles kept tightening up and I had to stop and stretch every 10 minutes. I felt like death warmed over and it took several hours for the feeling to go away.
    Last edited by CbadRider; 08-12-09 at 10:05 PM.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    My symptoms are:
    - Irritable as h*ll; Every little thing makes me mad.
    - Energy level goes so low I can't pedal more than 12 mph.
    - All I can think about is food.

    And this happens *hours* into a ride, not minutes.

    Sounds like my ex wife.

  19. #19
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    [QUOTE=Luddite;9466519]By bonking, I am referring to the bad thing that happens while cycling, not the good thing that happens in the sack.
    QUOTE]

    I've never heard about "bonking" before, but after reading this sentence, I thought you were talking bout bonking the jewels on the frame or seat. So I was gonna say something like grow a set and I'll come over and kick you in the junk if you really wanna know what it feels like.

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