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  1. #1
    Senior Member mtbcyclist's Avatar
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    Apr 2004
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    Sever cramps due to previous bonk? (how to prevent)

    Something weird has happened to me this week. Last satuday I put in 80 miles and severly bonked at 70 miles. 80 miles is pushing it for me this season. Normally when I am pooped from a long ride my legs are very tired but this time my whole body was screaming at me to quite riding. I have done several centuries including a century in the mountians before. Not trying to brag, just trying to provide backround.

    Fast forward to Wednesday morning. Did my normal Pilates routine for abs and back. Trying to to that to strengthen my back because back pain is really taking the fun out of Mountian biking, but does not effect my road riding. I did a simple sit up motion and pulled a few muscles in the middle of my back.

    Friday night after work I get on the bike for an easy 25 mile ride. Have not ridden since Saturdays 80 mile bonk fest. Crap up with in the first mile. Severe cramps in left quad and right hamstring. Hurts so bad that I almost turn back and head home. I ride it out going very slow (16 mph, normal solo pace is about 19 mph) and by the time the ride is 60% over I am feeling pretty normal but the muscles are sore due to the exteme cramps.

    This happened to me one time before and that was the day after a huge college party about 15 years ago. I attribute that to dehydration since the beer the night before probably sucked all of the fluids out of my body.

    The current instance I can't explain. I did not drink any alochol he night before I cramped or pulled muscles. It had been days since the bonk fest. I started taking multi-vitamins to try and fix a possible depletion of minerals and vitamins. It would seem to me that the cramps and the back muscle pulls may be related but how? Maybe I am grasping at straws for an explination.

    On my long Saturday ride I think I got a bit dehdrated. I was drinking water, acclerade and ate a hammer gel and a powerbar. My trialathete buddy said I most likely got a bit dehydrated and I did not get enough calories befoe the event as the body burns more fuel then it can consume during extended endurance events. I ate some tums after the event too to try and get some minerals my body sweats out.

    Is it possible that my bonking could have been the onset to the muscle cramps and back pulling? (Makes no sense as time span is many days after the bonk)

    Anybody else every have this issue?

    How do you prevent it as I am obviously stumped?

    How do you tell if your body is getting the right nutrients?

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
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    OK, let's clear a few things up ...

    First, bonking. Bonking is when you run out of fuel. It's when your blood sugar level drops too low -- exactly like an insulin reaction in a diabetic or severe hypoglycemia.

    Bonking has a pretty set list of symptoms:

    1. "mental" difficulties - you become irritable with little things like all of a sudden your jersey isn't comfortable or something the person riding with you says annoys you ... you start to have trouble concentrating and if you're performing mathematical calculations as you ride, like I do, all of a sudden it becomes hard to add ... you cease conversing with the people you're riding with because all of a sudden it becomes too hard to carry on a conversation.

    2. hunger - maybe. I rarely feel hungry when I ride so I miss this symptom all together, but others experience it.

    3. dizziness and weakness - you'll feel light headed, it's hard to focus, your legs just don't have the same power they had.

    4. exhaustion - you feel really tired and you've got no energy to turn those pedals.

    5. nausea - all of a sudden you just don't want to eat anymore, you feel sick and you just want to lie down somewhere.

    6. vomiting, diarhea - you're well into a bonk at this point and if you've reached this point, it is very difficult to recover. But if you ever reach this point, you've got to try to get some calories inside or your situation will get much worse.

    Ideally about the time you start feeling irritable, and especially by the time the dizziness and weakness set in, you should eat or drink something with calories ... and keep it up regularly for the next hour or so.

    But sometimes the symptoms can come on fast and furious and before you know it, you're into the nausea stage. If you ever reach that stage, start by drinking your calories - sports drinks, sugared pop, sweet iced tea - whatever you can take in. Do that for a while - sips every few minutes, then try gels - again sips every few minutes, then if you can stomach solid food start nibbling small bites about every 10 minutes ... and you might have to keep doing that for a number of hours before you start to feel more like yourself again.

    It's a good idea to consume 250-300 calories per hour (from solid food and/or sports drinks) in order to ward off bonking. It doesn't sound like you ate anywhere near enough.

    Second, cramping. The leading cause of cramping is dehydration. If you were dehydrated on Saturday's ride, and then didn't properly rehydrate through the week, then it is no wonder you cramped. While you are on your rides, you need to drink one 750 ml (3 cup) bottle every 1 to 1.5 hours.

    Also, if you happen to be a heavy coffee or tea drinker, and if that is your main source of liquid during the week, you are just dehydrating yourself even more. Try drinking 8 glasses of water tomorrow to build up your hydration levels again.

    Incidentally, dehydration can also cause a lack of energy, but that's different from bonking.

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