Winter Miles and Bonking in Essex

Today was perfect for some long, steady winter miles. The air was crisp and cold but the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I’ve missed a couple of sessions from my training plan this week (due to work commitments), so today was a good chance to pack in some distance and make amends. Nothing crazy; just some fresh air and a bit of leg- and lung-burn.

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I met some of the East London Velo (ELV) guys at 8am and we headed out onto the lanes, taking in the late autumn/early winter colours and chatting our way through familiar picture-postcard villages until we arrived at Hatfield Heath, just in time to pay our respects at the Remembrance Day service held by the war memorial on the green.

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All was going well, but on the way home I bonked. I bonked really hard. It was my first bonk in months, maybe even years.

For the benefit of any non-cyclists who might be unfamiliar with the term “bonk” (or, at least, its meaning in the cycling world), I should clarify.

“Bonking” is a strange, cycling-specific phenomenon. A cycling bonk is a sudden loss of energy and a feeling of complete and utter exhaustion, often rendering the victim (however fit or strong under normal circumstances) barely able to turn the pedals. It’s usually accompanied by a craving to scoff unhealthy food like pre-packaged savoury snacks, chocolate bars, and fizzy drinks.

And that’s why, when I bonked today close to Blackmore in Essex, I made a bee-line for the nearest Co-op supermarket and spent my emergency fiver on a can of Coke, a Ginster’s cornish pasty and a double-pack of Oreo doughnuts.

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Put simply, a bonk happens when you don’t fuel sufficiently for your ride.

We all know the rules – plenty of carbs in the 48 hours before a big ride, top up little and often during the ride itself, and keep hydrated – but every now and then we get it wrong. I got it spectacularly wrong today by eating barely anything on a long, cold day out.

May the image of my post-ride binge be a warning to you all.

 

 

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