the bonk

In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy.

Yesterday we set out on a four hour ride through the spectacular surroundings of Banff National Park. We started with nine riders down the legacy trail, around the Minnewanka loop, up Norquay, up Sunshine then back to Canmore with the remaining five. All said and told, a ride of about 120 km and 1300 m of climbing; nothing out of the ordinary.

What was not ordinary was my energy stores and the pace of the ride was a touch higher than I anticipated. I was expecting a zone 2 ride which would draw more energy from fat but the pace was a tad higher or it felt that way at least and I landed up riding at or near threshold. Having been eating a mostly paleo diet for the past fifteen days I learned that rides in excess of two hours require some forthought in fueling or you will bonk. I have never felt so thrashed from a ride as I did yesterday and it wasn’t an extraoridary ride by any means but when you deplete your glycogen stores without proper fuels on board you’re doomed. Normally the bottles would have fuel and some gels would be kept handy but I thought the ride would only call for a couple of Lara Bars.

I just thought I was thrashed from a lack of riding on the way back to Canmore and the sentiment was shared with a fellow rider from the Club but the reality is that I had no sugar left in the system and probably didn’t have much at the start. I bonked.

Lesson learned.

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About James Kendal

From finding form to building form
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