Bonk of a Lifetime

A few weeks ago I got a job working at Yellowbelly, a restaurant specializing in healthy-style fried chicken. It’s famous within the cycling community and caters a lot of events. I’d never eaten there before, like an idiot, but one of the owners, Michael, offered me the job a few days after a ride during which he’d heard that I was looking for work. The food was/is delicious, and caters to my new gluten free diet. However, I only lasted a week because good things happen in twos. I was hired to work for a law-writing company just a week later. I can work from home now, which offers a lot of time to go train, which is good because I might start training sometime in the next couple years.

Anyways, Adelaide and I have two friends, Sid and Mikkela, who have worked for the company for a number of years now. When the owner was looking to hire, they both gave me a good recommendation for some odd reason. I’m super grateful to have the job and I’ve been working as a law blog and website content writer for the past month, which is why I haven’t been writing anything in here. In fact, I’ve already written far too much today to want to write much more, which is why this blog post is sucking so much right now. I’m all worded out. Besides, the only thing I’m good at writing anymore is law SEO jargon and filler. Furthermore, experienced attorney, liability, negligent, however, duty to act with care, damages, injuries sustained, big ass lawyers and shit.

In even more important news than being able to make a living once again, last week was my first week of pre training. The pre means that I’m just goin out and havin a good time and gettin a little exercise in the sun. Not pushing it hard or anything at all.

My usual pre training period begins about two weeks after the previous season ends. This year? Not quite. I took almost two months off to let my thyroid do its stupid thing. I also tried to get fat. It sort of worked, then I got the flu and lost almost all the weight, which isn’t coming back. Anyways, as with any proper pre training period, for my first ride I went out and completely fucked myself up the ass with a jagged sharp stick. I’m talking about giving myself biggest bonk of my young life.

Normally I can do a 2 to 2.5 hour flat ride without any food, no problem. Factor in two months on the couch, a breakfast of just 250 calories, and an EXCITED KENNETT and you get the sort of bonk that makes you consider quietly laying down on the shoulder of the road to die a peaceful death.

Like any normal ride, I started out pretty much as hard as I thought I could go, or thereabouts. My eager and frequent glances down at the power meter told me that I was actually feeling good. Good! Me! Feeling! The words shit or cracked weren’t in there anywhere. The extended period of rest and approximately twice the dose of thyroid meds that I’d originally been prescribed (as well as adequate time for the meds to kick in) had seemed to cuore my sluggishness. I hammered along happily at 260 watts, seeing the gray brown scenery of highway 36 pass slightly faster than I’ve become accustomed to. Then I remembered that 260 isn’t that fast at all (though it’s 100 more than I was doing in the summer), and that I should probably be trying to do more like 300 watts. Check. Attempted check anyways.

An hour and fifteen minutes in, I ate my one gel, knowing very well that I should have brought more food. I had just started to feel a bit fatigued but I figured the gel might hold off anything too catastrophic until I got close enough to home, assuming I slowed down. I did not slow down. I mean, I did slow down, but not intentionally. At that point I had an average power goal in mind and the issue of running out of energy wasn’t really playing into my calculations at that point.

At Lyons, heading back home on 36, I had a sudden oh shit I’m about to bonk moment. I’d felt it coming for a few miles, and had tried to ride a bit faster to get home before it hit. You know, sort of like speeding in a car to get to the gas station before you run out of gas. Makes perfect sense. It’s worked every time for me in the past, except twice.

I rarely bonk anymore. Even when I’m dead and truly fucked, I just get real real tired. I don’t bonk. But if I do bonk, it’s usually the first ride of the year.

There was no in-between moment with this bonk. No “Oh man I’m getting hungry and weak but I think I can hold it together for about 20 minutes before I really fall apart.” That did not occur. One minute I was riding fairly hard, the next I was at a near stand still.

The next six miles from Lyons to Boulder would take me 38 minutes, and I would average 111 watts. It was sheer agony. My vision began to fade and cross, I couldn’t keep my head up, I couldn’t steer straight, and I had to stop pedaling at every flat and downhill section. Despite it being about 35 degrees out, cold sweat beaded out of every pour while goosebumps angrily sprouted up in retaliation. I looked at my Garmin. Fuck. Only 0.3 miles down.

I got so tired that I actually considered getting off and walking. I luckily, yet barely, had the wherewithal to know that I wouldn’t be able to start again if I did that. I desperately hoped that someone I knew would pass me and I could ask for food. I imagined Nick Traggis driving up in the team car to hand me a bottle of pure, unadulterated corn syrup. Two bottles. And a pizza or three.

My body began shaking from fatigue and I whimpered in agony for motivation. I was unable to scream or grunt for power, which are my usual go-to acoustics. I considered hitchhiking, but during my constant calculations over time, I decided that I’d still be okay just suffering another 20 minutes home. Or to Cuore, which is a cycling clothing company about half a mile out of town (and half a mile from my house).

They have snacks there, I told myself. Good snacks.

When you watch a Himalayans climbing movie and you see the dumb climber lie down to sleep (die) in the middle of a white out, you think to yourself, “I would never do that. I would keep on going until I fell over dead to get to my damn tent (snacks at the tent). And I definitely wouldn’t take my clothes off in a hypothermic/altitude fatigued state of stupor.” Well, I seriously considered lying down on the pavement to rest. I was that tired and out of it. I pictured how good it would feel to just peacefully fall off my bike, I was only going five miles an hour, and not get up until I’d had a good nap. I would have frozen to death if I’d actually done this, assuming no cars stopped to check on me.

In the minutes leading up to Cuore, I lost even more vision and control of my bike. It was taking all the concentration I had to stay two fee to the left of the white line. No right. Or is it left? Shit, it doesn’t matter I can’t do either. I missed Cuore by a few hundred feet, passing it by accident because I didn’t recognize where I was. I stopped and somehow crossed 36 without killing myself, then made it to Cuore. I said hi to my ex teammate Robin, who works there, and who was talking outside on his phone. It wasn’t Robin. It was Steven, a former coworker and also someone I’ve known for about three years. I couldn’t see for shit. I practically fell into Cuore as I opened the door.

I spent the next 15 or 20 minutes eating bars and candy and drinking soda on the couch. Rick kept bringing the food and drink and it was all I could do to open the packages. Apparently I wasn’t talking at all. I was just staring off into space eating in silence without being able to sit upright. I learned this later. At the time, I thought I was carrying out a detailed, energetic conversations with everyone. The guys later told me that I had been acting really strange. More stoned than anyone they’d ever encountered. The food didn’t help me all that much. I tried to get up to leave and almost fell over.

Robin drove me the half mile back to my house.

I got in the shower and ate Clif Bloks I found in the garage.

First ride of the season…success.