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  1. #1
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    HELP! I'm getting seriously BONKED going up long steep hills! How do you avoid that?

    I'm new to real mountain biking (started a little over a month ago) and my bod is getting seriously bonked when riding up long steep hills. Its so bad that I have to resort to walking the bike...and its even worse in the heat. I'm pretty sure I've been drinking lots of water too. What do you do to avoid that?

    Thanks
    Steve

  2. #2
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    Keep riding, son, keep riding.

    It's time in the saddle. Your body will eventually adapt.

    Having said that, there are three strategies you can use to increase your hill climbing power and hopefully avoid bonking.

    The first is nutritional. You probably don't have access to your body fat stores, like most Americans, so you have to refuel when you run out of blood sugar, which is in about 45 minutes of effort at the lactate threshold. A quick fix is to eat some instant energy. A Gu, shot block, some honey, a banana, all will work. THis is short term. Long term, you want to train your body to run more on fat than on carbs. But that's another can of worms for later.

    In terms of the ride itself, you can do these two things:

    First, ride slower and easier on your climbs. Pace yourself. Do it a few times like this and see if it helps.

    Secondly, on a day when you want to test yourself, try going hard for 30 seconds, then resting for 4-5 minutes. This 'interval' training method will quickly build your power output, raise your lactate threshold, and improve performance. When I say go hard, I mean sprint. Like a dog is chasing you, or you're trying to get home because the man/woman of your dreams is waiting at your house with a bottle of Dom Perignon and a steak. Or whatever floats your boat. The point is to GO HARD. This should be at least an 8 of 10, or better, a 9 of 10 on a scale of 1-10 in perceived exertion, where 0 is standing still, and 10 is sprinting away from the zombie hordes who will eat your brains if they catch you.

    Initially, you'll only be able to do a few of these 30 second sprints. As your stamina improves, you'll be able to do more, maybe 8-10 on a ride. Don't do this more than 2-3 times a week or you'll wear yourself out. A big part of getting better as a cyclist is proper recovery.

    If this interests you, find some good books on training, periodization, etc, and read up.

    Hope it helps.

  3. #3
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    Steve, that could be the result of a lot of things. How long you have been riding, your Fitness levels, Nutrition, and much more. A few general tips; Ride more often! You stated it's only been a month. Give it a little time. Secondly, eat a proper diet. You need to fuel up before a ride. I won't deep dive on that subject here as there are many threads already, but you need fuel before the ride. Also, rest. Are you getting rest between workouts? Lastly, hydrate. You mentioned you are drinking enough water. If you are riding over an hour, you may also want to carry a drink that feeds your body electrolytes too, in addition to having water. Also, you may want to try taking some food with you like fruit, Gu Gel, Bars, something you know your stomach likes. Bottom line, do not get discouraged. It will come in time. Good luck!

  4. #4
    AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by magentawave View Post
    I'm new to real mountain biking (started a little over a month ago) and my bod is getting seriously bonked when riding up long steep hills. Its so bad that I have to resort to walking the bike...and its even worse in the heat. I'm pretty sure I've been drinking lots of water too. What do you do to avoid that?

    Thanks
    Steve



    That is not "bonk", that is "hitting the wall". Bonk is running out of fuel, whereas hitting the wall is reaching your limits of performance. Ride more and your performance will increase. Don't ignore nutrition and hydration though, as that will help maintain your performance when riding.

  5. #5
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    I doubt it - bonking usually happens when riding hard without eating for over 2 hours.
    You're probably just pushing too hard for your current fitness.
    Slow down, use lower gears.
    As people have said, as you ride more your fitness will improve.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by magentawave View Post
    I'm new to real mountain biking (started a little over a month ago) and my bod is getting seriously bonked when riding up long steep hills. Its so bad that I have to resort to walking the bike...and its even worse in the heat. I'm pretty sure I've been drinking lots of water too. What do you do to avoid that?

    Thanks
    Steve
    As others have said not a bonk...(takes maybe 1.5 hours for a biginner to bonk)

    You have just gone out to hard (anerobic) and been broken....in body and mind...don't worry even the pro's get broken at times.

    Anyway go easy on the easy parts so you can go hard on the hard parts....

    Easy means you are still able to talk....

    That and lots of riding should help.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS View Post
    That is not "bonk", that is "hitting the wall". Bonk is running out of fuel, whereas hitting the wall is reaching your limits of performance. Ride more and your performance will increase. Don't ignore nutrition and hydration though, as that will help maintain your performance when riding.
    Okay, thanks for the clarification. From my perspective, it felt like I BONKED THE WALL!

    I'm going to do that sprint and rest and sprint and rest thing. I read somewhere else that is a great way to increase endurance.

    How long do you recommend letting your body rest after a strenuous ride like yesterday until doing another serious ride? Just do the next ride when I feel rested?

    Thanks again.

    Steve

  8. #8
    AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by magentawave View Post
    Okay, thanks for the clarification. From my perspective, it felt like I BONKED THE WALL!

    I'm going to do that sprint and rest and sprint and rest thing. I read somewhere else that is a great way to increase endurance.

    How long do you recommend letting your body rest after a strenuous ride like yesterday until doing another serious ride? Just do the next ride when I feel rested?

    Thanks again.

    Steve


    At least one day of rest, I suggest easy recovery rides to help keep the legs fresh.

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