You know when they show those crazy stunts on TV and put up the disclaimer that the following stunts are performed by trained professionals and should not be tried at home? Well, that sort of applies to the following, but I sort of encourage you to maybe give this a shot if you find yourself in similar circumstances.
So what's the big deal? I am sure you have all been there, but to refresh your memory, have you ever been on a ride and started to bonk? You know, that feeling of lack of both physical and mental acuity which can happen if you are out of fuel and still trying to go hard. The body, more specifically the brain, needs glucose to function properly. If you have depleted all your glycogen stores and have not been eating enough during a ride, if you go into glucose depletion, you can certainly bonk. And the more depleted of glucose you are, the harder you bonk.
Well, this past weekend, I found myself bonking coming up the final climb of my ride. This was due in part to the recent closing of my friend's grocery store in La Honda, the Pioneer Market. After twenty years in business, John and his wife were forced out and one of my key food stops is no longer. So, I missed a key feed and I was paying the price.
To be totally honest, I had a Clif Bar in my jersey, but I had been going hard all day and now, into the fifth hour of my ride in the Santa Cruz mountains, with a bonk coming on hard, I had a decision to make. The route I was riding is a popular one with me. I ride it at least once a month, sometimes every week. So, I know the route intimately and I know what is necessary to get me back home safely.
Because of this, I felt comfortable experimenting to see how I would respond as the bonk got more serious. I wasn't going to let myself pass out and crash into oncoming traffic, but I wanted to see what the more serious stages of a bonk might bring in case I am ever in the position where I was out of food and had to deal with it. I ride a lot of remote dirt roads where re-supply of both food and water is sketchy at best so I took the opportunity to see what might happen if I stretched myself a bit.
The most important thing I noticed was that if I concentrated really hard on just riding my bike, I could keep my speed up. To stay safe I had to be careful not to ignore traffic and other road hazards, but it was interesting that how really focusing on the task at hand allowed me to stave off the early stages of the bonk.
I don't really know how deep I really went, but when I topped out on the climb, it was all I could do to stagger into the store in Skylonda and buy a soda(non-diet) and a candy bar. After 10 minutes or so, I was back to normal and the ensuing descent was not a problem.
Again, If you do decide to take it to the limit, please do so responsibly. Knowing where the limit is can open up possibilities and allow you to accomplish rides that you wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. But, please be careful.