Over lunch today a few of us were talking with some first time riders about the difference between "Bike Brain" and "Bonking". First timers were confused because it seemed we were using the terms interchangeably so we started thinking about what the terms actually mean.
Here are my personal thoughts, not endorsed by ALC, just my own musings based on my own personal experience:
Bike Brain happens after a long day of riding. We're in a great mental space full of endorphins. Mentally we can transition from cycling to walking but non-biking mental skills like talking or getting undressed haven't fully returned.
Friends/roommates/partners may notice this when someone training for ALC tries to carry on a conversation after a long training ride. Simple questions like: 'how was your ride? Dinner later?' may be answered with a light laugh and some babbling about "we only did Camino Alto once. Dinner. My legs are sore."
If you live with the rider you might notice they don't answer right away. They just drop their bike, remember to remove their gloves and helmet, because we're trained to that before entering the bathroom, and walk into the shower while still wearing their bike clothes.
After a short time passes badly needed sugars leave the muscles and return to the brain so full thoughts can once again be formulated. Wet riding clothes can be hung and dinner plans can commence.
Bonking happens when riding because your brain does not get enough of the badly needed sugars to keep you going. This can lead to feeling energy deprived and depressed. The beautiful weather, camaradie with fellow riders and the easy straight aways are eclipsed by tired muscles, fear you'll never finish the Ride and many other dark thoughts.
When this happens: I try to realize it's my body asking for more fuel, pull over, have some Gu or eat a Cliff Bar-anything that will give me a sugar boost and chase it with some water and wait a few minutes for the sugar to hit my system and continue riding. If other people are around I let them know what's going on, ask them to wait a minute then ask them to ride and help keep me upbeat for a little while. If I'm riding alone, I'll wait for another rider or a TRL to come by and let them know what's up and ask them to ride with me to the next stop.
Bike Brain is natural thing experienced by all endurance athletes. Bonking however can be avoided.
Increasing my protein and fluid intake 48-72 hours before riding long and getting plenty of sleep the night before defintiely helps avoid Bonking. Properly fueling before heading out and continuing to fuel as I ride is a huge help as well.
(How do you avoid Bonking during the work day or during a hard workout? Please reply to my Facebook post from today. I'm always open to new ideas to avoid a bad workout or to get through a long work day.)
Fueling is different for every person; that's why we have training rides. Talking with other riders about how they avoid bonking and eating/drinking different things helped me learn the best way to keep myself riding even on the long, hard days.
When fabulous training rides happen I try and think what happened 48-72 hours before that made for such a great ride.
When I Bonk or have a less than ideal ride it's nice to remember: bad rides happen to good riders. It's also nice to give myself some extra love when its over and know that my next ride is a whole new day full of lots of new potential.
You can help me avoid a fundraising Bonk by donating today. My ultimate goal is to raise $5000.
In order to achieve that I've committed to raising $3000 by March 31, 2019. I'm half way to that goal. Please click the donate button on the side of this page and donate today.
You can read below to find out how your donation will benefit a great cause. Thanks for reading, sending supportive messages and donating.
I'm doing the AIDS Life Cycle Ride to LA in 2019 and I need your support.
Last year, thanks to the support of many friends like you I learned I could spend 7 days sitting on a 2 inch triangle seat and two wheels, camping out and raise $5000 for a great cause. All while having the most amazing experience riding from SF to LA on a bike.
This year I'm super excited to announce Leslie King and Patrick Vezino have agreed to take a week off work and volunteer their time to support me and 3000 of our closest cyclist friends on our trek to LA.
If you can't take a week off to donate your time, no worries. You can still participate by donating today. My goal is to raise $5000.
Why in the name of all that is crazy am I doing this? For a great cause of course. I’m raising money for the SF AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
In order to do the Ride I committed to raising $5,000: Will you please donate today to help me achieve my goal of raising $5000 for a great cause?
I know you’re thinking, “what does my money go for?” So let me break it down for you:
-Your $500 donation will provide 40 rapid HIV tests.
-Your $300 donation will provide HIV prevention counseling to 60 teens.
That’s great, you say, but does my donation help Kirk give back? Yes.
Over the last 4 years I’ve been part of an amazing program of volunteers who provide HIV Test Counseling at Magnet; a program under the SF AIDS Foundation.
Last year, thanks to donors like you volunteers like me were able to:
-Provide free HIV testing to 10,450 people.
-Help 2,863 to get on PrEP though SF AIDS Foundation programs.
-Enabled 328 HIV+ people get linked to medical care by the Health Navigation Team.
-And also helped 522 people reverse opioid overdose by using Narcan administered by the SF AIDS Foundation Syringe Access Services team.
With your help we can increase those numbers even more in 2019.
Thanks for your support. Kirk