The emotional rollercoaster that is bonking

Boom I’m off out on the bike!

I woke up this morning to an email notifying me my 9am-1 pm clinical physiology lecture was cancelled.


Once I had taken care of a few loose ends coaching wise and kissed the missus goodbye as she skipped off to work, it was straight out on the bike.

The old saying, “make hay while the sun shines springs to mind”.

So I met Anthony who had a few hours planned before work.

I decided I’d have breakfast on the go this morning and ate only a small amount before leaving.

Anto done the same thing, so at least we were on the same page hunger wise.

It got us talking about some of our hardest times on the bike and various stages of complete hallucination we had previously faced.

I’ve always believed the stages of the knock, bonking, hitting the wall – (basically being completely bollixed to the stage you’d consider looking for a soft spot in the next ditch) to be like the well-researched stages of injury.

Number 1 …

“You alright Aaron you’re looking a bit ragged”?

To which I’d reply…

“You can talk Walsh, the mad looking hobo head on ya”

You see this is the denial stage or in other words the “nah I’m grand” stage.

This is where we completely fuck up (not including the not eating enough before getting to this point stage).

You see if there’s any hope of stopping the purple elephants blurring your vision at this stage, it requires a lack of denial and getting a butt load of grub in – rapid.

Along with backing off for a period to refuel – particularly if your training, it’s essentially game over if you’re racing!

Number two…

My favourite stage – Anger.

“If that tosser keeps half wheeling I’ll hop a bottle off him”

“Why’s he chewing so loud”?

“I’m sick of this fucking wind”

“If that taxi driver pulls in-front of me again…”

Ect. Ect. Ect.

I’m famous in these parts for the anger stage so if I’ve ever abused you in a race it was probably hunger and I do apologise.

Number 3…

This is the point when you’d sell your granny for a mars bar.

You beg people to back off and ask them to check for any form of calories in their pockets.

You’re essentially fully out of glycogen here.

Similarly to when you’re injured you reach a stage where it doesn’t matter what it takes, you just need fixing – fast.

This stage is known as bargaining.

Number 4…

You start sobbing.

You may have guessed it.

It’s the depression stage.

Oh yes I’ve cried on a bike and a lot more than once too.

I remember once in Australia riding home after a big 6-hour plus day, I made it to the depression stage and started sobbing like a little girl…

The difference was not only did I have no food left I was out of drink too and while I was crying there was no tears…

Tear ducts were bone dry.

Wasn’t a good day.

The 5th and final stage  

Accepting fate…

Hopefully at this stage when you accept the fact you are a complete mess and that you’re in-fact stupid for not fuelling properly.

You finally make it to a shop.

Busting by ‘oul ones’ at the check out, you finally get some sugar in and it’s like you just won the lotto.

You couldn’t care less if civil war kicked off outside the shop.

There are times I haven’t even made it to the cashier and just brought him the wrappers and apologised.

Just to be clear, depending on the severity of the bonk and how long you’re without food, you will yoyo between stages and spend longer at one over another.

Exactly the same as you do with injury!

You’ll eat your porridge tomorrow,

However, bonking is like falling off the bike in a way.

It’s inevitable and part of bike riding, so it will happen again.

In hindsight though, it makes for great character building and even better stories!

Aaron B.

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