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  1. #1
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    Ride through a bonk, or give up?

    I was riding my SS today and I hit "the wall" hard enough to leave a mark on my forehead, and it got me thinking. Are we better off riding through it, with the heavy legs and empty lungs, or should we call it a day if possible? 20 minutes into the ride and I knew I was in trouble.

    Are we doing more harm than good to suffer through it? My body was revolting, should I have listened? Looking forward to your comments.

  2. #2
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    You did not eat enough. Make sure you eat a good meal and that you are plenty hydrated before going on *any* ride. Then during the ride drink every 15 minutes and take a gel shot at least once an hour. I have bonked many times. So I know from experience how to get through it.

  3. #3
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    I'm too stubborn to hit the wall.

  4. #4
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    I eat a snack and push push push. Never stop never give up
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by wjphillips
    You did not eat enough. Make sure you eat a good meal and that you are plenty hydrated before going on *any* ride. Then during the ride drink every 15 minutes and take a gel shot at least once an hour. I have bonked many times. So I know from experience how to get through it.

    That was my thought too, been eating like shat lately (healthy, but scarce). I guess my concern isn't the mental aspect of it as I rode through it for a good 25 miles anyway, but the physical side. Being that I under ate, was my body feeding on itself through muscle loss? Sorta remember muscle being the easiest for your body to transfer into fuel. Did I do my body more harm than good today?

  6. #6
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    Gotta fight through that **** brother and keep on pushing.
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  7. #7
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    Sorta remember muscle being the easiest for your body to transfer into fuel. Did I do my body more harm than good today?
    You're correct on one part. When the body runs out of fuel to feed on it goes into survival mode and starts feeding on the muscles first. As far as doing harm to your body, I don't think any long term damage was done. WJ is right, you need to eat and drink more, mountain biking is a very cardiovascular engaging activity.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kcaz
    I was riding my SS today and I hit "the wall" hard enough to leave a mark on my forehead, and it got me thinking. Are we better off riding through it, with the heavy legs and empty lungs, or should we call it a day if possible? 20 minutes into the ride and I knew I was in trouble.

    Are we doing more harm than good to suffer through it? My body was revolting, should I have listened? Looking forward to your comments.

    I was training for long distance speed....

    It occurred to me that since you can only process some 250 to 300 cal/hr through your gut..and you have a limited amount of glycogen stores...

    The better your liver works the longer and faster you can go...

    So I would bonk pretty reliably at 2 hours on one particular ride...

    I kept riding the ride right out to the bonk, but I would slow just before I totally lost it, and just push on....

    After a while I managed to extent the time till bonk way out to 2:30 hours so a 25% increase not bad at all...

    But my god did it hurt.

  9. #9
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    dont push through it without calories. you may find yourself in a ditch unconcience. It's best to eat before the bonk.

  10. #10
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    I'll keep pushing and pushing. I have always been so stubborn once I get going. I will easily give up, but once I get that first real sweat going I just keep moving. I have personally noticed myself getting strong while riding SS. As said in Braveheart "We didn't get dressed up for nothin."
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  11. #11
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    that's not the wall.
    maybe a bit of step-up.
    the wall, the bonk? that's unable to stand under your own power.
    when you hit it you don't ride through it, you don't even circle your pedals again.... you fall down and your legs shake violently, see stars, maybe vomit a bit.

    and yeah everyone else is pretty much bang-on, you will NOT proceed until calories get into your body.
    hit it, hated it, don't remember much but others have stories to tell about me.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by byknuts
    that's not the wall.
    maybe a bit of step-up.
    the wall, the bonk? that's unable to stand under your own power.
    when you hit it you don't ride through it, you don't even circle your pedals again.... you fall down and your legs shake violently, see stars, maybe vomit a bit.

    and yeah everyone else is pretty much bang-on, you will NOT proceed until calories get into your body.
    hit it, hated it, don't remember much but others have stories to tell about me.
    yea, your definition of the wall is what i was refering to. I've bonked so hard durring a race that i fell down a few times trying to walk. I got some calories in me at the next aid station, but it was too late, the damage was done. If only i had a beer before that race....

  13. #13
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    IIRC demattei used to carry a bottle of flat coca cola during her races, besides her hydration bottle.
    I'd like to know how to tell when the wall's getting close, but a quick shot of coca cola would be enough to get your a couple miles down the trail I figure...
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  14. #14
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    Yea once you really bonk you aren't going anywhere fast. Best to slow down a bit if you have no food or goo, because a bad bonk is hard as hell to recover from until you get some food in you.
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    Even if you can keep going...you're only going to hurt yourself by pushing it further and risk falling/crashing hard...or really bonking later on.

    I was still ~10 miles from the end of the day when I hit the wall a few weeks ago. My friends were cool with me sitting around for 30 minutes to get some food/gels in me. Let them settle in and I was pretty much good to go...just at a slower pace. No reason to push through it without getting something in your system.

    If you ride with anyone smart/respectable, they'll understand your situation and help you out. Don't let being manly push you too far. You can always ride tomorrow.

    And to add to post #13...I typically bring a soda with me for lunch/meal breaks. I found that it really does help me. Flat soda though...no way! Coca-cola (maybe other sodas too) are supposedly helpful in muscle recovery after rides too...kinda like chocolate milk, I guess. I should do some internet sleuthing on that.

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  16. #16
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    last time i bonked, i passed out. i got all the gatorade i wanted at the finish line and free ride back to the staging area. i did miss the killer decent though.

  17. #17
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    Excellent advice everyone, I truly appreciate. it. I've been riding ~10 years and never felt that way before, and to think I use to pay for that feeling in college.

    You're right about now going anywhere without getting calories in you. I tried to fight through the wall, got dizzy a few times, had to take a knee more than once, but I only felt better after GU and resting 10 minutes. At that point I pretty much knew it was lack of food the night before that killed me.

    Well, lesson learned.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kcaz
    I was riding my SS today and I hit "the wall" hard enough to leave a mark on my forehead, and it got me thinking. Are we better off riding through it, with the heavy legs and empty lungs, or should we call it a day if possible? 20 minutes into the ride and I knew I was in trouble.

    Are we doing more harm than good to suffer through it? My body was revolting, should I have listened? Looking forward to your comments.
    You bonked after 20 minutes? Ooof.

    When you really bonk you're done for the day. Not much choice in the matter.

  19. #19
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    No. Your body does not consume it's own muscles until you've been starving for at least a week. What you experienced was low blood sugar. This is due to a lack of calories while your body works very hard.

    What you need is Gatorade, Heed or Cytomax during the ride then gel shots once and hour (or sooner depending on the intensity of your workout). Also, eat bananas. The potassium is great for recovery.

    If you experience this 20 minutes into a ride, then you are definitely not eating right. You should eat a good balance of carbs and protein before, during and after the ride.

    One time I had a similar experience and I didn't have any food with me. I stopped at the store and ate 4 snickers bars and gatorade, a sandwich and a banana. It was like someone turned on a switch. I completely recovered in about half an hour.

    Diet (and sleep) is the most important part of any exercise routine.

  20. #20
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    Generally most people have about 2 hours worth of glycogen stored in the liver, blood and muscles. So, depending on how hard you are pushing and your level of conditioning you can get a little less or a little more. Personally I don't bother with nutrition on any ride less than 1.5 hours because I just don't want the extra calories. However I do drink about 200 calories of something afterwards. If you can, experiment with what your body can take. I discovered that I don't really need water on anything less than an hour.. unless it is very hot or the pace is being pushed. I do drink at least 16oz before though.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by wjphillips
    No. Your body does not consume it's own muscles until you've been starving for at least a week. What you experienced was low blood sugar. This is due to a lack of calories while your body works very hard.

    What you need is Gatorade, Heed or Cytomax during the ride then gel shots once and hour (or sooner depending on the intensity of your workout). Also, eat bananas. The potassium is great for recovery.

    If you experience this 20 minutes into a ride, then you are definitely not eating right. You should eat a good balance of carbs and protein before, during and after the ride.

    One time I had a similar experience and I didn't have any food with me. I stopped at the store and ate 4 snickers bars and gatorade, a sandwich and a banana. It was like someone turned on a switch. I completely recovered in about half an hour.

    Diet (and sleep) is the most important part of any exercise routine.
    There are some good resources around here concerning how much energy you can store, how much you use, and how much you can consume during an endurance event. Bottom line, you can not eat fast enough to resupply. In addition, protein (muscle) is depleted.

    Jsut an example from one article:
    Exercise stimulates protein synthesis but it also increases the rate of protein breakdown. Researchers at Maastricht University (The Netherlands) examined protein balance in endurance athletes during six hours of cycling/running(2). When carbohydrate was consumed at 30-minute intervals throughout exercise, protein balance remained in a negative state throughout exercise and during four hours of post-exercise recovery. However, when a mix of carbohydrate and protein was consumed during the exercise, protein synthesis was increased and protein breakdown was decreased, resulting in a positive protein balance during and following exercise (see figure 2). This study suggests that even with adequate carbohydrate consumption, endurance training can create a catabolic state for the muscles if protein intake is not adequate. So, consuming some protein along with your carbohydrates during/following long endurance events can improve your protein balance.
    the article implies you can prevent muscle breakdown, but I have seen other evidense that it can not be prevent 100% with protein consumption during exorcise.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by byknuts
    that's not the wall.
    maybe a bit of step-up.
    the wall, the bonk? that's unable to stand under your own power.
    when you hit it you don't ride through it, you don't even circle your pedals again.... you fall down and your legs shake violently, see stars, maybe vomit a bit.

    and yeah everyone else is pretty much bang-on, you will NOT proceed until calories get into your body.
    hit it, hated it, don't remember much but others have stories to tell about me.
    Agree 100%. I used to throw the term "bonk" around pretty loosely when I'd feel really worn down toward the end of a hard ride. Then one day I had a true bonk and ever since then I use the term much more spareingly. Just as you describe, see stars, legs shake, fingers start to tingle, hard time even standing up. IMO, with a true bonk you're not going anywhere without relaxing for a while and taking in some electrolites and calories.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by a528126
    Generally most people have about 2 hours worth of glycogen stored in the liver, blood and muscles. So, depending on how hard you are pushing and your level of conditioning you can get a little less or a little more. Personally I don't bother with nutrition on any ride less than 1.5 hours because I just don't want the extra calories. However I do drink about 200 calories of something afterwords. If you can, experiment with what your body can take. I discovered that I don't really need water on anything less than an hour.. unless it is very hot or the pace is being pushed. I do drink at least 16oz before though.
    I'm pretty much the same way. Hydrating and eating before a ride is key, and there's no point to doing it durring shorter rides. Preventative maintenance. You don't lube your chain after it already broke, or change your car's oil after you already spun a rod bearing, do you? Gotta do the same for your body.
    And a post ride beer is great for recovery, IMO.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stahr_Nut
    Agree 100%. I used to throw the term "bonk" around pretty loosely when I'd feel really worn down toward the end of a hard ride. Then one day I had a true bonk and ever since then I use the term much more spareingly. Just as you describe, see stars, legs shake, fingers start to tingle, hard time even standing up. IMO, with a true bonk you're not going anywhere without relaxing for a while and taking in some electrolites and calories.
    Yeah, he didn't bonk. He just got tired.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ISuckAtRiding
    I'm pretty much the same way. Hydrating and eating before a ride is key, and there's no point to doing it durring shorter rides. Preventative maintenance. You don't lube your chain after it already broke, or change your car's oil after you already spun a rod bearing, do you? Gotta do the same for your body.
    And a post ride beer is great for recovery, IMO.
    I commented on this article, and then on queue, I go out and within 30 minutes, I realized I did not eat enough through the day. I was dragging ass, and my legs were dead. I stopped and ate a powerbar, drank some water, and then completed the ride. It was painful, but it wasn't a bonk.

    PS. We used to say "a Coke will get you home". One of the few times I will drink a Coka Cola is when I am bonking.

  26. #26
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    Dunno 'bout you fellas, but down here in Oz, "bonk" can have a totally different meaning. You know...when a man and a woman come together...

    Geez, it's funny reading some of these posts with that in mind.
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    I bonked yesterday as a matter of fact. However, it was only my 5th ride back out on a bike so I expect to be bonking for a little while. But I can say that I did not eat as well though I felt good going into the ride. The trail I rode was not that difficult but I started dieing about about 15 minutes (once on the trail-probably 25 minutes of riding time as I rode to the trails). It was horrible. I started taking brakes at the tops of climbs and only walked up one as took a bad line and spun out. It was odd though because last week I easily rode for twice as long on more difficult trails and did not have these same symptoms. I will say that I was planning this ride the night before and forced myself to drink Gatorade all day and ate a ton of food prior to it. Yesterday was a different story though. You know, the normal run around at work, grab food when you can and still thinking about riding as soon as I got out of there. Next time I will be more prepared.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevob
    Dunno 'bout you fellas, but down here in Oz, "bonk" can have a totally different meaning. You know...when a man and a woman come together...

    Geez, it's funny reading some of these posts with that in mind.
    Thanks, now this thread is informative AND entertaining!

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevob
    Dunno 'bout you fellas, but down here in Oz, "bonk" can have a totally different meaning. You know...when a man and a woman come together...

    Geez, it's funny reading some of these posts with that in mind.
    That being said, I bonked this morning then. Hoping to do it again this afternoon!

    But here in the states when speaking in bike terms, bonked pretty much means hitting the all (as you already know) Regardless, I am hoping to go out and do that again this afternoon as well. Well maybe not hit a wall but at least get in a better ride anyway.

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