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.
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.
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.
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.