We know that everyone who has enjoyed the sport of cycling has bonked at one point or another and maybe some folks did not even know what was going on at the time. A true Bonk will take even the strongest riders out of commission and leave them dreaming of cereal infused with Starburst.
Wikipedia defines bonking as: general weakness, fatigue, and manifestations of hypoglycemia, such as dizziness and even hallucinations. This dangerous condition will not be relieved by brief periods of rest.
My all time worst bonk session came just after one of my all time greatest Hazel Del moments. It was 1990 and I made the attrition split on 'the del' with Brent Marks, Brian Marks, Daryl Price, Hal Worthington, Shane Kleopfer, Greg Shapleigh, and I think Danny Sullivan, Kev Mcgill and Colin Brant. Needless to say, this group was putting a lot of power to the pedals and I was simply following wheels as best I could.
We rolled into Corralitos and I was feeling really really really good almost too good, so good in fact I turned down an opportunity to get food and water from the market. Who needed the calories when you were feeling like this? Brent Marks Cat-1 super flahute rallied us all to do the canyon with him.
We hit the first section of climbing on the canyon and I was surprising myself with how much energy I had. It was like I could do no wrong on the bike. It was a good thing that I did not have any food, water and money with me because those were useless items to someone who felt so strong on the bike. I knew what I was doing, I was almost road riding and racing for two years now and no one was going to drop this 16 year old today.
This was a true statement until we hit Dove Ln which begins the first bumpy gravely steeper section of the climb (you all know the section I am talking about). At this point it was as if someone turned out the lights on me and I went from dreams of the TdF to dreams of eating 25 snicker bars at once wrapped in a peanut butter powerbar and dipped in Nuttela and washing it all down with a root beer from Togos (because they had crushed ice).
I went off the back so fast that they sent Kev Mcgill back to check on me. I did not even have to say a word to him as he knew exactly what was going on the minute he laid eyes on me. I don't think he knew just how bad I was. It started off like any bonk with the occasional visual disturbance, complete lack of power to the pedals, thoughts of vulnerability, and the insane fixation on sugar.
I somehow ended up at Casalegnos market and Brent Marks flips me a 5 spot. It was like I just won the freaking lottery. You are so hyper-focused on food that literally nothing else matters in your life at the moment. Someone could have said, "hey, can I have your Bottechia?" I would have gladly given it up for a coke and said, "sure".
In those days you could buy 5 snickers bars for 5 bucks and walk out with some change in your pocket and that's exactly what I did. Brent was trying not to laugh at me as I downed 3 of them right there. It must have looked like I dislocated my jaw and simply swallowed them. When your bonked this bad you are actually concentrating on the next ten items that you plan to eat not what your eating at the moment. I was dreaming of my moms pumpkin pie, chicken soup with bastina, and spaghetti. Brent said his pleasantries and then set off on Laural Glen to do some "interval work". I got the perfunctory invite to join him, however knowing that I was practically incapable of holding a conversation he rolled without the Jakester on this one.
The snickers barely got me back to 142 Via Medici (it was ugly) and I clicked clacked my way up to the kitchen and started to eat anything I could get my hands on. I was still so bonked that I started worrying if this feeling was ever going to go away. Your jaw starts to hurt after a while because your chewing and ingesting so many calories that the messages to the brain to stop eating are so slow that they don't connect until way after the sufficient amount of food has entered the body.
The glucose started pumping through the body and I was feeling a little more human again. It is amazing how the mind will block out pain and suffering because I was starting to think about what climb I was going to do that week after school with Kev and AC. When ever someone asks you for some food on a ride, give it to them for crying out loud. Otherwise you might end up babysitting what is equivalent to an infant. I had to do that for Bob Simpson and Ian Carver (same ride).
For the record:
The second worst Bonk session of my life snuck up on me while skim boarding (3 miles N, 3 miles S) with Julian Secon and Jordan Brownly at Camp St. Francis. I was dreaming of cereal with Starbursts.
Please share your worst or best bonk story with us.