Tuesday, December 27, 2005

"Bonked"

Date: Dec. 27
Mileage: 16.4 (plus one hour on the trainer)
December mileage: 305.8
Temperature upon departure: 35

Cyclists have their own term for the special, fluffy sort of feeling one experiences when their blood depletes entirely of sugar, when their legs go AWOL and they begin to see imaginary bunnies darting in front of them - they call it "bonking," and it basically means you've gone as far as you're gonna.

I've never bonked before, although I have many experiences where I think I may have been on the precipice. Either way, bonking is definitely something I fear, and training for the Susitna 100 is as much about preparing for the psychological warfare of bonking as it is about building up my quads.

Today I was so, so tired when I stumbled home from work just before 3 p.m. I don't know why. Getting to bed late and waking up early wasn't exactly it, either. My whole body was on the riot path. Since Tuesday is the one day of the week when I can reliably return home while there's still a smidgen of daylight, I try to get out first thing. I went upstairs and commenced the layering process, pulling on a pair of fleece pants and socks, and then just stopped - for no reason - and stared into space for the longest time.

When I finally got out the front door, there was a driving sleet coating everything as it hit - my front steps, the packed snow, my jacket, my bike. Official sunset wasn't for another hour, but a dark mist soaked the sky with all the monotony of night. Every bit of common sense I have been blessed with was yelling, "this is not the kind of day for a bicycle ride." But one of my New Year's resolutions is to no longer allow myself the luxury to decide that.

I did the slow climb to Ohlson Mountain Road and back, bouncing over then rock-hard snowbanks along the way and trying to push harder, but mostly forgetting to do so. I came home feeling full to my waist in lactic acid and, well, sort of fluffy too. It wasn't even a hard ride, so I was frustrated with myself. I made some dinner, cleaned up, and began to think about how I hadn't tried hard enough.

I don't know why I kept going. It was 7 p.m. and all I wanted to do was sleep; I'd just felt off and I had been that way all day. Just one of those days. But I got on the trainer. I had to see what it felt like. I had to know. Also, it seemed like the perfect time to finally get around to watching "Teen Wolf Too" (a friend in Idaho gave me the DVD before I moved to Alaska because he thinks I'm in love with Jason Bateman. Whether or not that's true, it still has to be one of the worst teen movies ever made - and that's saying something.) Anyway, as I pedaled and willed myself to push harder and tried to keep from wincing at the dialogue, I began to feel better. I put in 65 minutes before deciding I had successfully conquered the creeping "bonk." Now I feel a lot more energized - go figure.