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  1. #1
    noob law_in_motion's Avatar
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    Did I bonk? or am I just out of shape?

    So I did my first metric century this past weekend with a local bike group. Up until then, the longest I've ever gone is 50-55 miles and certainly not as much climbing, maybe 3000 feet. The metric century had just under 6,000 feet of elevation gain - two major climbs. The first was about 1700 feet over 4.5 miles and the second involved 1900 feet in approx. 7.5 miles.

    By the second climb, I was slowing down dramatically and started cramping in both legs - definitely in the quads (almost in the calves - you know that feeling when you the muscle starts to seize up, but then you relax the muscle enough to prevent it from fully seizing up.) The group pretty much dropped me by then but I had to keep going to get to the regroup. I could keep the pedals turning, but just barely - maybe 50-60 rpm - and that's in my granny 30x25. Going maybe 5 - 6 mph. Made it to the regroup, only to get dropped again in the next section. Able to recover a little on a downhill stretch, but had no power. A few minor bumps to get over the rest of the way home, but I just couldn't put any power into the hills - if I even tried to stand, I'd get that "just about to cramp" sensation.

    Dinner the night before was rice, veggies, chicken. Breakfast included bowl of cereal, muffin, two bananas. I had a powerbar at 28 miles, packet of gu during the second climb, and a packet of jelly belly sport beans at the last regroup, approx. 42 miles into the ride. Two bottles of cytomax and refilled with water at the regroups.

    Anyway, what's your diagnosis? Was this a bonk? Did I not eat enough during the ride? or do I just need to put more training time in?

  2. #2
    Queen of France Indolent58's Avatar
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    Doesn't sound like a classic bonk. You would have felt much worse than you describe. Cramping and bonking don't necessarily go together. It the sounds like you are just not used to amount of prolonged climbing you did on the metric. Train,train,train.

  3. #3
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Not a bonk. You overtaxed your muscles trying, in vain, not to be dropped. You should have slowed down from the beginning and ridden the ride at a more relaxed pace. This would have helped prevent the cramps and you would have finished feeling much stronger. You may have even finished faster.

    But you did finish so that's good. It takes some practice to learn how hard you can push for longer distances.

  4. #4
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Both. The cramping is because you're not ready for that level yet. Keep at it. And you were also just plain exhausted. You weren't dehydrated. You also bonked. That's not even close to enough food. Think 250 kcal/hr, or a Clif Bar about every 45 minutes. I use a 750 kcal bottle of Sustained Energy, enough for 3 hours. On a metric century, I'd add some more from a baggie at the 40 or so mile point. I keep plain water in a Camelbak or use a bottle if you don't like that. Or just do gels on a ride that length, but a gel about every 20 minutes followed by about 6 swallows of water.

    I watch my HR. In situations like that, if I can't raise a HR over about 140, I've bonked. That means eat, eat, eat, and just settle back and pedal at whatever pace is sort of comfortable. And don't worry about it. You'll get there if you've got the food with you, and you might even recover if the ride is long enough.

  5. #5
    noob law_in_motion's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses. I'm still relatively new to cycling, or rather, I've sorta rediscovered cycling. In the past, I'd never gone longer than 30 miles and never did much in the way of climbing. I'd finish most of my rides in 1.5 - 2 hours. I guess I got away with just using up whatever energy I'd stored up. I never brought any food along with me.

    The more recent 50 mile rides have been this year with this same club. As I reflect, I went with a slower group on the long rides and we stopped for lunch, allowing time to refuel. I felt much better after those rides which were at a comfortable pace - almost a bit too slow as I kept riding off the front. This metric century was with the next faster group - but apparently they're too fast since I'm gassing myself just to stay with them. My thought was that I'd see more improvement if I rode with a faster group, but apparently I need to build up more of a base.

    As for food intake, I'll definitely have to change my old habits. Just gonna have to force myself to eat while riding. For the longest time, I've felt that was a strange concept, but after reading your comments, I guess it's just common sense. Thanks.

  6. #6
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    You will see more improvement from riding with a faster group. You want a group that drops you a little on every hill. Just don't get discouraged. Keep after them. Try to pour it on, right as you go over the top, and then hold a fast pace. Probably they will slow a good bit to recover. You don't, just keep after them. You'll usually get them back. Ride 'til the blood comes from your eyes and you see bits of lung on your shoes. After a few weeks, some might even have a little pity and wait for you, but don't count on it.

    Keep food where you can get at it. Pre-tear your bar wrappers if you are using bars. Or use Hammer Gel and take a couple of their flasks with you. I much prefer that to sticky gel wrappers. It has to be easy or you won't do it.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Doesn't sound like a bonk to me ... all you did was slow down and experience some cramping. Believe me, bonking is much worse.

    However, to ward off the cramping, keep training, and don't forget to drink. Aim for about 750 ml of water and/or sports drink every 1 to 1.5 hours. If you start to feel like you're cramping while riding, slow down, stop pushing, just relax and spin for a while ... and drink! And if your beverage of choice is water, don't forget to take in some salt now and then too ... in an electrolyte pill, or sports drink, or food.

    To ensure that you don't bonk, aim for 250 calories per hour, or so. I use a Bento bag to keep my food right in front of me ... it works very well.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by law_in_motion
    So I did my first metric century this past weekend with a local bike group. Up until then, the longest I've ever gone is 50-55 miles and certainly not as much climbing, maybe 3000 feet. The metric century had just under 6,000 feet of elevation gain - two major climbs. The first was about 1700 feet over 4.5 miles and the second involved 1900 feet in approx. 7.5 miles.

    By the second climb, I was slowing down dramatically and started cramping in both legs - definitely in the quads (almost in the calves - you know that feeling when you the muscle starts to seize up, but then you relax the muscle enough to prevent it from fully seizing up.) The group pretty much dropped me by then but I had to keep going to get to the regroup. I could keep the pedals turning, but just barely - maybe 50-60 rpm - and that's in my granny 30x25. Going maybe 5 - 6 mph. Made it to the regroup, only to get dropped again in the next section. Able to recover a little on a downhill stretch, but had no power. A few minor bumps to get over the rest of the way home, but I just couldn't put any power into the hills - if I even tried to stand, I'd get that "just about to cramp" sensation.

    Dinner the night before was rice, veggies, chicken. Breakfast included bowl of cereal, muffin, two bananas. I had a powerbar at 28 miles, packet of gu during the second climb, and a packet of jelly belly sport beans at the last regroup, approx. 42 miles into the ride. Two bottles of cytomax and refilled with water at the regroups.

    Anyway, what's your diagnosis? Was this a bonk? Did I not eat enough during the ride? or do I just need to put more training time in?
    You don't mention how long the ride was, but it sounds like you had a fair amount of calories during the ride, so I'd be surprised if you bonked.

    The sensations you describe imply that you overtaxed your legs, and they were protesting.

    A typical bonk doesn't get you in the legs, and it doesn't result in you riding 5-6 MPH on the climbs. 10 MPH on the flat, that's a bonk. Looking for a place to lie down, that's a bonk.
    Eric

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  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericgu
    You don't mention how long the ride was, but it sounds like you had a fair amount of calories during the ride, so I'd be surprised if you bonked.

    The sensations you describe imply that you overtaxed your legs, and they were protesting.

    A typical bonk doesn't get you in the legs, and it doesn't result in you riding 5-6 MPH on the climbs. 10 MPH on the flat, that's a bonk. Looking for a place to lie down, that's a bonk.
    He did a metric century (100 kms).

    You make a good point though ... a typical bonk gets you in the head (so to speak) before the legs ever get involved. It usually starts with things like irritability, difficulty in concentration, inability to do simple calculations in your head, trouble carrying on conversations .... and then moves into dizziness, shakiness, etc. ...................... and all the while your legs are still pedalling away, much like a chicken with its head cut off.

    All of the above usually takes a while, and if you're paying attention, having a few good swigs of your energy drink, knocking back a gel, and/or eating your choice of solid food will ward off any further feelings of the early stages of a bonk. If you're not paying attention, you may eventually move into the more uncomfortable stages of a bonk.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    So I did my first metric century this past weekend with a local bike group. Up until then, the longest I've ever gone is 50-55 miles and certainly not as much climbing, maybe 3000 feet. The metric century had just under 6,000 feet of elevation gain - two major climbs. The first was about 1700 feet over 4.5 miles and the second involved 1900 feet in approx. 7.5 miles.
    Hmm, let's see, 6000 feet divided by 62 miles, yeah about 970 feet of climbing per mile......

    What a great selection for your "longest ride yet."

    Yeah, I'd say you're bonkers, yeah definitely bonkers.......

  11. #11
    noob law_in_motion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    Hmm, let's see, 6000 feet divided by 62 miles, yeah about 970 feet of climbing per mile......

    What a great selection for your "longest ride yet."

    Yeah, I'd say you're bonkers, yeah definitely bonkers.......
    by my calculation, it's really more like 97 feet per mile or 1.8% average grade over the entire ride. not so bonkers after all.

  12. #12
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    Hmm, let's see, 6000 feet divided by 62 miles, yeah about 970 feet of climbing per mile......

    What a great selection for your "longest ride yet."

    Yeah, I'd say you're bonkers, yeah definitely bonkers.......
    Right. 1 mile = 5,280 feet

    The first was about 1700 feet over 4.5 miles and the second involved 1900 feet in approx. 7.5 miles.

    For these 2 climbs:

    1700 feet over 4.5 miles = 7%

    1900 feet over 7.5 miles = 4.8%
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

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