Monday, 29 July 2013

In which I talk about bonking...

Cycling. As a sport, it's just about the toughest in the world. As a hobby it can run from gentle to exhilarating to infinitely challenging. It's a sport in which it's possible to burn so much energy that your body uses up every calorie you've given it on the ride, every calorie it has stored in previous days, and begins liquifying fat in a desperate attempt to meet the demands you're placing upon it. And what do we call that spell during which your body has no more calories left? When your eyes go blank, your muscles tremble, and your bike weaves? That moment that has cost champions their crown and lesser riders their ability to keep pedalling?



Leaving aside the fact that anyone who was a teenager in the late eighties/early nineties is sniggering childishly behind their hands, it's hardly a word that sums up the heroic lengths that lead to it occurring. After all, calorie debt might be a catastrophic mistake, but it's one you have to be very tough and hard working to make. And you can't rename it. Hunger Knock? No one uses that. I've seen people trying to steal the term Hitting the Wall from Marathon running as well, and it never catches on. It's always bonking. "Can I borrow a gel? I'm bonking" "Attack now, he's bonked." 

Everyone is talking about bonking right now, partly to speculate about what might have happened to Chris Froome if he hadn't grabbed a few illegal energy gels from Richie Porte in the Tour, and partly due to Frank Strack's assertion in the latest issue of Cyclist that "Riding through a bonk is a rite of passage that each cyclist should strive for."

Now, I've got a confession to make. I'm pretty sure I've never bonked (stop giggling at the back). I've been exhausted on the bike, reduced to painfully turning the pedals over, weaving even on pretty flat roads, but whenever that's happened it's always been at the end of a very long and calorie filled day. I might be wrong, but I'm inclined to think that my worst times on a bike have come from fatiguing my leg muscles rather than failing to fuel them.

With that in mind, I'm setting out tomorrow to bonk, deliberately. This blog pretty much came into being to document an amusing cycling misadventure, and it seems like high time to document another. I shall be heading for Richmond Park, rather than the open roads, and I will attempt to ride myself into calorie debt for the sake of science, or an amusing blog post, whichever seems likely to be more fun. Naturally, I will have some pies in my jersey to alleviate the knock once it occurs. Watch this space.

EDIT: Ok, might take a little longer to do this than expected. Ever since switching from SPDs to Look pedals, I've been having a bit of bother with my knees. Turns out a bit of bother becomes a lot of bother when you spend a couple of hours chugging up the local molehills, and with a big ride coming up next week, it's no time to be crocked.

Never fear, I shall take some Nurofen today, raise my saddle tomorrow, and ruin myself for your amusement early next week.

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