A Guide to Bonking

Renaissance DaughterNutrition, Peak Pedaler

I’m somewhat of an expert in dehydration and glycogen depletion.  It takes a special kind of idiot to let it happen repeatedly, as I have. Not to brag.

The condition has many names: bonking, hitting the wall, hunger knock (it’s British), and blowing up. It’s like running a car out of gas. Except worse, because you can’t immediately refuel.

Your body needs a steady supply of carbohydrates, especially when you’re cycling with intensity (say, riding your bike over a mountain), or long durations (for example, a whole week in June). So listen up.

How not to bonk.

How not to bonk.

The first time I really landed on my face, was Ride The Rockies 2006. I rode with my friend Darcy and we were killing it: every aid station, we would dutifully split a Clif Bar, top off our water bottles and forge ahead. Suddenly, without warning I was unable to pedal my bike. I had lost power. Even my extreme determination, iron will, and the great engine of humiliating shame, could not bring back the juice. Darcy crammed about 7 bananas in my mouth while I laid in the dirt. I coasted into town, found a vending machine and ate a Twix like a wild animal, possibly swallowing the wrapper. We found an Italian restaurant where I ordered the whole menu and ate it like Garfield and his lasagna. That night was filled with desperate sleep and midnight Chinese food delivery. By morning, I won’t say I was “fine”, but I did get back on my bike and press forth.

How was Darcy, you ask? She hit no such wall. You see, I’m a touch Amazon, and she’s a teeny tiny pixie fairy. Half a Clif Bar and some water was enough for her, but not for me.

Bananas and donuts? YES!

Bananas and donuts? YES!

Wendy’s Guide to Better Bike Eating

1.)  Know thine own body. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re not? Nibble. You don’t have a fuel gauge, so you’re going to have to wise up about keeping some gas in the tank. I assure you that your human body will fail you if you don’t replenish.

2.)  What you eat has nothing to do with what your friend eats. Not only are bigger riders going to need more energy, but all riders are unique in their needs. One guy might be recovering from a previous bonk, another might be nauseated and relying on gels. Me? I will be double-fisting bagels and fajitas.

3.)  You’re not on a diet; you’re on a bike tour. Your normal eating routine doesn’t apply on Ride The Rockies. Take it from a woman who once ate a Twix in a hotel lobby while making zombie noises and then passing out. You can pick up where you left off on the diet when you get home.

 Greg Update

Greg is upping his mileage, losing more weight, and wore out a set of tires this week.  Dare he contemplate clipless pedals? His tenacity is blowing everyone away!