I don’t recommend biking without following proper nutrition. I went for a 39 mile road bike ride today, like I do most Saturday mornings, but I didn’t have anything for breakfast before the ride. I normally try to eat a granola bar just to get a few calories and carbs into my system. But my stomach was a bit upset so I couldn’t even look at food this morning. I have been dealing with IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, for years and some days are better than others.
I made sure I had a package of electrolyte blocks with me so I could eat those during the rest stop. But stupid me forgot to put them in my bike jersey when I got to the ride start. I felt pretty good the first half of the ride and was taking my turn pulling in the pace line.
When we stopped at the half way point I realized I had forgotten my package of Sharkies - they are shark-shaped, gummy electrolyte blocks. Sort of like a Clif Shot Block but smaller, and shark shaped. See my article, Instant Bike Nutrition, for details on various sports blocks, bars and beans you can eat during your rides. I thought, no worries, I have plenty of gas in the tank. Well, starting the second half of the ride we had a bit of a headwind. Then a friend of mine caught up to our group at a red light - I tried to keep up on the sprint, but my lack of breakfast and sharkies was already starting to have an effect. The rest of the riders in my group caught up to me and passed me like I wasn’t even moving.
So that meant I got to do the rest of the ride by myself, with a headwind, with no one to draft behind. I normally wouldn’t have a problem riding by myself, I occasionally go on short rides during the week by myself. But I started to bonk with 14 miles left to go. I sure wish I had eaten something for breakfast before heading out. I had to stop 3 times on my way back. My heart rate was sky high (180’s), I couldn’t freakin breath and I started getting sort of light-headed and dizzy. The last 4 miles of the ride were pure hell, I kept putting my head down and I was weaving all over the place.
I should have stopped riding and called someone to come pick me up. But I also have a problem with being a bit stubborn. I’ve ridden with other riders that have had this same problem. I made them stop riding and take the SAG wagon back to their car. Once you get to this stage, you are a danger to yourself (you could drift into the road and end up as road kill) and to other riders (not cool to zig zag all over the place while in the pace line). But I didn’t have the luxury of SAG support so I slugged along on my own.
When I got back to the parking lot where my van was parked I was like the drunken sailor. I could barely stand up straight while I was taking off my bike shoes. I threw my bike into the van and headed straight for the cafe that was there. Two of the other riders were sitting outside waiting for their breakfast to be served. I went inside and got a raspberry iced tea and a fresh fruit salad. I took this outside to sit with the other bikers. They were looking at me funny, asking if I was okay. They could see that I was shaking - guess my blood sugar/carbohydrate reserves were totally depleted.
After eating a bit of the fruit and feeling less shaky I drove myself back home. I ate a whole bagel with cream cheese and started feeling a bit better. After my shower I decided to be a semi-couch potato - that’s where I am now, writing this post.
Here’s the word on bonking according to the Lance Armstrong Performance Program: “Symptoms of bonking can include a heavy feeling in the legs, difficulty maintaining pedal cadence, dizziness, severe headache, disorientation, and sometimes hallucination. The remedy is to eat immediately.” Where was Lance when I needed him this morning? He could have pulled me back to my van. And another Lance gospel: “A common mistake is skipping breakfast. This puts your body in a caloric deficit and hampers your ability to train properly.” WORD
Okay, and finally I can blame my husband. He decided to play with his mountain bike today instead of road riding. So I didn’t have him there to drag my a*s back home the last few miles. And he can also be a bit like a drill sergent in the morning “you gotta eat something on the way to the ride.” Yeah, yeah, yeah - you and your cast iron stomach can bite me! He actually would make a good coach - oh yeah, this fall he will be coaching the Palm Beach County TNT (Team in Training) cycle team as they train for the Intracoastal Century Ride in Cocoa Beach - cool!