What to do when bonking on the mountains?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by TAGHeuer13, Jul 12, 2006.

  1. TAGHeuer13

    TAGHeuer13 New Member

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    I wouldn't say I am a novice rider but I wouldn't say I was a good one either, I am somewhere in the middle. For most the time I have been training I have been riding on the flats/hills. The goal for me has always been distance but lately I have been taking on the mountains. There is one mountain road I always try to climb and it always seems that about 3/4 the way up I bonk. In my lowest gear, my legs just won't produce and I end up going so slow it is impossible to stay on the bike. I usually just turn around and recover on the way down. Do you guys know of any tricks to prevent this bonking? I mean I have done this mountain for a week now and still the same stuff happens. This is very frustrating!
     
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  2. WarrenG

    WarrenG New Member

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    To start with, bonking is a sustantial depletion of glycogen stores and low blood sugar-not something you recover from in less than 20-30 minutes without getting sugars into your bloodstream. The symptoms can be light headedness, seeing spots, unable to think clearly, inability to pedal much more than 10mph, on the flat...
     
  3. TAGHeuer13

    TAGHeuer13 New Member

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    Yeah, pretty sure thats what is happening. Like I said, I get to the point where my body will not pedal anymore and I usually go at a really really slow pace all the way home. I just got back from that same ride just now and the same thing happened. I do feel that drinking grape juice along with water helps me get back to my senses. Are you suggesting I eat more sugars before the ride?
     
  4. WarrenG

    WarrenG New Member

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    It is probably about the amount of time and effort you're making before you feel bad. It could happen on the flat with similar time and effort.

    You didn't say how long you ride before this happens.

    Grape juice is high in the sugars that will help you. Try eating a bit more carbs before the ride and then around one bottle per hour of a sports drink or your grape juice-maybe dilute the grape juice with ~25% water to get the sugars concentration closer to what you can absorb quickest (~5-8%), or alternate drinking grape juice with drinking water during the ride.
     
  5. TAGHeuer13

    TAGHeuer13 New Member

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    I'd say this mountain road is about 2 miles long but really steep right away. It doesn't gradually go into an incline like other mountain roads. So at 1.5 miles, I just fall apart. Haven't really timed myself yet but doesn't take me that long to hit 1.5 miles but still I use a lot of energy and spend most of the ride out of the saddle.
     
  6. teamgomez

    teamgomez New Member

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    Sounds more like fatigue than bonking....how big is the hill (feet climbed over distance?).


    When I bonk, I feel like I could eat roadkill...recovery doesn't come quickly and only after a good shot of carbs.
     
  7. WarrenG

    WarrenG New Member

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    Normally you have enough glycogen and blood sugar in you (without consuming any during the ride) to get you through AT LEAST an hour of moderately hard cycling before you might bonk.

    Try a google search on lactate threshold, anaerobic threshold, anaerobic. Pay most attention in your readings to what is going on when you go over those thresholds.
     
  8. eisel

    eisel New Member

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    You are not bonking you just don't have an easy enough gear to get up this hill at the current time. This or you are not choosing the right gear to spin up the incline. Either way just hit the hill only twice a week and give it all you got. you'll get up it soon enough. Also slow down a bit on your other rides save your energy to conquer this incline.
     
  9. FrankBattle

    FrankBattle New Member

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    Doesn't sound like bonking. I agree that it sounds like just fatigue. Just keep riding up the hill(s). Pick a gearing that will allow you to maintain your effort the longest. It will get easier over time ..

    Bonking is a whole 'nother deal. It normally comes after a few hours of riding and not eating properly. Once you've bonked, yes, you may get light headed, your stomach will start to churn .. you may not be able to hold anything down (liquid or solid) .. your brain tries to tell your legs to pedal, but it's hard .. you won't even have energy to wonder or care why your legs aren't responding to what you think you are doing .. it's just a bad feeling. And it takes more than coasting downhill to recover from it.


    It aint nuthin nice.
     
  10. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    I would NOT suggest pilates. ;)
     
  11. dm69

    dm69 New Member

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    first of all a 2mile climb isn't a mountain.

    You just aren't fit enough at the moment, try spinning really small gears at the start of the hill and keep some energy to get over the top. Plenty of carbs before hand and you should be fine. If you still can't get over the hill train on the flat more often to get yourself upto an OK fitness level.
     
  12. dm69

    dm69 New Member

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    I have only bonked once and that was in the 40 degree heat. I hadn't eaten all day and about 15km's into the ride I couldn't push the pedals at all. I stopped at the side of the road, crawled into the bushes ate all my food then limped back home. It isn't necessarily painful but you're body just can't function properly.

    Dehydration was a big factor aswell although I have ridden when severly dehydrated aswell and it ain't nearly as bad. Atleast when I am dehydrated I find I can still cruise along comfortably at 30-32 km/h on the flats but you can't do anything intense and your body cant regulate its temperature at all. Cold one minute, freezing the next, then boiling after that, needless to say peeing is a scary sight, very very rich colours.
     
  13. tyler1212

    tyler1212 New Member

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    The first time I bonked, I was seventeen. I'm not sure it was her first though..
     
  14. jjiam25

    jjiam25 New Member

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    I have a similar problem, but I'm not sure I recover very quickly, I have the same symptoms as he has said, light headiness, spots etc, but I take hammer gel, and drink plenty of water. Maybe it is the heat I ride in, I ride in 100+ heat in the daytime, when I get up, I eat maybe pb+j slice of bread, or half a clif bar. This is right after I sleep. I work night shift from 8PM-4AM. I sleep until like 12 or so and ride like half hour later. So am I bonking on mtns, I ride like 25-30 miles, 3 times a week, but man after a huge mtn not even long, I just can't recover. Must I eat more before I ride, or just take more high sugar, like grape juice?
     
  15. DJA

    DJA New Member

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    how far are you riding before the hill?
    How steep is the hill?
    what gear ratio do you have?
    How long have you been riding?
    Whats your weekly mileage?
    Need this info before I put in my 2cents worth.
     
  16. DJA

    DJA New Member

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    Try more carbs (rice or pasta) about 2Hr before your ride to give your body time to digest it. and drink heaps of water/ sports drinks before, during and after your rides. At 36+ degrees dehydration is a big problem and if your body overheats you can do permanent damage to yourself. Be very careful. Just look back to early iron man race in Hawaii, not a pretty site what some athletes have done to themselves.
     
  17. ewan52

    ewan52 New Member

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    you could consider a 2mile climb a mountain if it is really steep, the basques refer to steep 4km climbs as mountains and they know a thing or two about climbing;)
     
  18. Blademun

    Blademun New Member

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    Don't take my word(and I'll probably get flamed for this) but you could try putting your gear up, not down around the 1 mile mark of the climb. Drop your cadence real low and grind down hard on the pedals in long, slow strokes. Do that until you get tired, then drop gears and start spinning again.

    What your doing is alternating between your fast and slow twitch muscles. Don't take this as expert advise, I learned this from my coach in highschool; Fast twitch muscles are responsible for fast movements, like punching or throwing something. They don't produce alot of torque, just speed. Slow twitch muscles do not contract quickly, but produce lots of torque. They are their own, individual muscle fibers..so, if all you do is spin at very low gears, your ignoring a entire set of muscles..
     
  19. dm69

    dm69 New Member

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    2 mile's aint a mountain:p
     
  20. Lonnie Utah

    Lonnie Utah Banned

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    Location: Port Richey, Florida

    I'm not sure I'd really take this advice, I'm not sure it's even possible. We all are born with a certain percentage of fast twitch/slow twitch muscle fibers. They are both incorporated in all of our major muscle groups. Without getting too technical, their primary difference is their internal compostion to determine what their primary energy source is. I think what this poster is trying to say is you should incorporate difference muscle GROUPS while climbing, not Fast/Slow twitch, but I'm not really sure.

    Back to the original guestion, as others have said, this most likely isn't a nutrition problem. "Bonking" has a specific meaning for endurance athletes. It means that your available glycogen stores have been depleted to a point where you are having to rely on your liver and other organs to metabolize fat into glycogen for muscular energy. Your exertion rate at that point is limited by the rate that this metabolism can go (which is usually 65-70%) of "normal". To get to the stage where you "bonk" in this sense of the word, take multiple hours of exercise. Usually 3+. So, it is therefore unlikely that your are truly "bonking" on these rides, unless you've put in a ton of miles before you arive at the base of this hill.

    The most likely, you are just unfit for this type of riding. I suggest thinking about pacing going up. If you have a heartrate monitor, try to stay in the 85%+/- range. Do this even if you have to go VERY slow. It's OK to go over for a bit, but don't run yourself in the red zone too long. This is where staying in the saddle also helps (if you can). You use an extra 10%+/- of energy when you climb while standing. The reason is your body has to now support more of it's weight. It's OK to alternate to incorporate different muscle groups (not fast twitch/slow twitch like the previous poster stated), but unless you specifically are training it, I wouldn't try to stand the whole way. I like 2-3 mins in the saddle, and 30 sec to 1 min standing. But that's just me, individual results may vary.
     
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