Wednesday, December 28, 2005


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.


  1. I've only bonked once and it taught me a lesson. ALWAY carry plenty of food or money to buy food on long rides.

    I was on our local rail trail and bonked 20 miles from my car with no food or money and no cellphone.

    I ended up riding in my granny gear at something like 8 mph for a LONG time until I got back to my car.

    Wow, you folks have 30 degree weather? That must be a heat wave this time of year:-)

  2. Jill, I like reading your blog. It motivates me to ride more. One thing though, if you are so tired, your body is probably telling you to REST. So make sure are getting plenty of rest in between all your training and eating.

  3. One thing I learned when I was racing was how increased mileage and intensity and stress (physical or mental, the body treats them the same) W/O increased rest will hit about a week later.

    Look back over your past two weeks. If you increased activity or intensity more than 10% a week w/o increasing your rest during the same time, your body will react.

    Be aware of over-training :-]

    Good luck!

  4. Jill have you ever heard of ? It's an online journal to keep track of all your rides ;)
    You also were at my webpage and posted "nice video" which video are you talking about??? :)

  5. Cool (no pun intended) blog. I've always wanted to go to Alaska, and bike more. I'll do the latter more next year -- no excuses (esp. 'cause it's not 35 degrees where I am). Happy new year.


  6. of the most important things about training is RESTING....and if you really want to know what it means to BONK, run a marathon and just wait -- just wait -- until mile 24.

  7. Bonking?

    Funny american neighbours, I can assure you that my owners use this term to describe their making of the beast with two backs.

    But each to their own. As a cat, I am superior in any case.

  8. Yes. You'd want to be careful using that term in Australia. "Bonking" means something entirely different...

  9. This poor woman freezing in her mukluks and being savaged by 2 heatcrazed aussies who cannot see that this biker 'bonked' means (as ours does) that you are totally F*c*ED.

    ha ha and my word verification is kiz spwit

  10. The bonk is the strangest feeling. You want to move your legs, you know you have to in order to get home, but they just won't move any faster than 5 or 6 mph. It's nuts. Oddly enough, the bonk is one of the reasons I ride. It gives the sensation of "I'm not going to make it home," which is ridiculous because you're going to make it home, but it provides excitement and a feeling of death-defiance to the ride. If your training rides exceed 3 hours and 50 miles, you'll bonk someday. Just wait.


Feedback is always appreciated!