New to longer rides....bonking

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New to longer rides....bonking

Postby Wakatuki » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:10 am

Hi,
Just stepped up my cycling. Gone from 60-90min rides to 120-180 minute rides.

They typical 2hr rides see me covering 55ish k's with 500mtr gained according to Strava, but as I cycle a loop should be double that. (I think, it always halves it during upload!)

The first ride went well, I was out with two much faster riders who kindly took their MTB's instead to give me a chance. We had a coffee at 75 mins in this took about 15minutes and then we were off again. I knew the last hilly section was coming and reluctantly reached for the Gatorade bottle 300 ish ml drank, I made it home!

36 hours later I took myself out on a similar distance ride. Yes it was slightly windier, but again at 75 minutes I rested (new test saddle being fitted) I ate my banana and all was good for about 40 mins of cycling afterwards. Then I was spent.. I still had the hilly bit to go. I made it home but drained to whole water bottle of Gatorade. (Using a powder mix)

I believe the answer is more carbs, I am doing this for health and shifting those last stubborn kg's. I have dropped a kg in the week already :D

Whats your fave on the move snack...? I really want to avoid Gatorade.
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by BNA » Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:47 pm

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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby GeoffInBrisbane » Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:47 pm

More carbs is the go. A decent meal before you start helps, of course.

When it comes to energy drinks I prefer Endura, but YMMV. I find Gatorade too sweet to stomach.

Foodwise, I like a mix of energy bars, bananas and gels. Bananas are awesome and if I'm only going for a couple of hours or so that is usually all I need.

With the bars and gels, it takes a little trial and error to find ones you like and which like you. My local bike shop sells an Apple one I really like, but I can't remember the brand unfortunately. With gels I like Endura gels (which also have caffeine). A good alternative to gels are honey shotz- just well packaged small doses of honey, easy to consume and digest.

Good luck!
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby DoogleDave » Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:53 pm

Sounds like you need to intake more.

Everyone's needs are different so you need to keep trying things out during these rides so you get to know what does or doesn't work for you.

Myself, I can go about 50km's on one large bidon (or either Powerade or water), which is around 90mins of riding.
I usually also take a banana, and Endura energy bar and a gel or two on my longer rides of 80+ km's (as well as a 2nd bidon).

I generally find the warmer it is, my fluid intake increases and the hillier or harder I ride the more food intake I need (which logically makes sense).

I also try and make sure I am reasonably well fed and hydrated before starting my rides.

Fom what I have read (which may or may not be entirely correct), most people seem to have about 90-120mins of energy stores and beyond that, if you aren't topping your system up adequately then the longer you ride the closer you become to bonking, which when this happen, is really too late to do much about.
You're likely burning 700+ calories an hour, so after your coffee stop the banana probably isn't adding much to your stores, and by the time you're reaching the 2 hour mark your energy stores are running low, and with the effort required getting up the last hill (and all previous hills), you're running out.

Perhaps try eating the banana 45-60min into the ride and then try having something again at your coffee stop....and perhaps even try a gel 5-10mins before you reach the final hill as well.
If this still leaves you struggling at the end, try eating more substantial foods (sandwich, cake etc) until you find what works.

Lastly, once you get home, you need to eat and drink to restore your energy levels, or you'll feel even worse.
The first 30mins or so after finishing your ride is the perfect window to do this and by intaking the right carbs and some protein, your body will replenish its energy stores appropriately.

Although you are trying to lose some weight, that doesn't mean depriving your body of the energy it needs to keep on riding. You will still be burning way more calories than you are intaking anyway....and should still continue to lose weight.

At least, this has been my experience.

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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby GeoffInBrisbane » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:04 pm

Good post Dave. When I was starting to ride longer, I ran into issues because I was not eating enough early enough. Keep topping your fuel levels up every hour or so, and eat BEFORE you get hungry. If you get hungry, it's too late...
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby macca33 » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:18 pm

I'd tend towards fluid intake not being enough, rather than carbs - as you have used Gatorade drink/s, but may not have consumed enough fluid overall.

How much do you perspire during exercise?
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby Pravda » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:27 pm

Oft repeated, but rightly so.

"Eat before you are hungry. Drink before you are thirsty. Rest before you are tired. Cover up before you are cold. Peel off before you are hot. Don't drink or smoke on tour. Never ride just to prove yourself." -- Paul de Vivie

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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby RonK » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:29 pm

Wakatuki wrote:They typical 2hr rides see me covering 55ish k's with 500mtr gained according to Strava, but as I cycle a loop should be double that. (I think, it always halves it during upload!).

I think your problem is more to do with your fitness and endurance than your food intake. The only way to improve these is to continue to ride these distances regularly and perhaps gradually increase the distance or pace.

It's too easy to overcompensate with food, and if you do, further weight loss will be difficult to achieve. I can easily to a 60km ride without any food intake at all. But if I do a 100km ride I know I'll need a food stop soon after 60km - Powerade and a sticky bun.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby trailgumby » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:33 pm

For that length ride you need to be taking on carbs from about the 15 minute mark, with a view to consuming 0.8-1.2g per kg of bodyweight per hour. If you don't, you *will* bonk if you are riding at your aerobic limit. Once your reserves are depleted on a ride there is no quick fix, and you don't ever get back to your pre-bonk output unless you slow dramatically.

For me at roughly 80kg, that looks like 1 x 750ml bidon of Endura or equivalent (I use High5) mixed at isotonic concentration AND one gel per hour. Immediately after the ride I consume 600ml of low fat iced coffee and a piece of fruit for recovery.

I find by doing this I can ride harder over the length of the ride and recover better for the next ride, and I avoid getting sick because it keeps my immune system from getting suppressed, which is a side effect of emptying the tank completely.

It also avoids the urge to binge eat afterwards, which is another side-effect that is likely to compromise your weight loss goals.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby trailgumby » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:44 pm

As to avoiding Gatorade, I agree. That stuff is mass-market junk. On a long ride at race training pace the sweetness is over the top and the thought of it turns my stomach after the first hour. The carbs are all table sugar (sucrose), which gives you a massive insulin spike and then dumps you.

Sports science has been advising the avoidance of pure sugar for carbs before and during efforts since at least the early 90s.

Endura, High5, Hammer, et al have the majority of their carbs from maltodextrin, a starch. There is still a small proportion of fructose/sucrose/glucose (depending on brand) to give the athlete a quick boost to get them back up while the malto kicks in. Malto gives a slower-burning, more sustainable replenishment of muscle glycogen.

In the 20-30minute post-exercise window, the no-sucrose rule can be relaxed. In that timeframe, it aids transportation of protein to the muscles apparently, which is why low-fat chocolate milk has legendary status as a recovery drink. It needs t be low fat as the fat is reported to interfere with protein absorbtion in the gut.

Well, that's the sports science as I understand it. If I've misrepresented anything, hopefully Alex will be along to set me straight. :)
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby JohnJoyner » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:47 pm

I agree with Trailgumby.
I am similar in that I have started doing longer rides. I have always commuted, 21km each way, but have started going for the longer rides.
I take 2 drinks. One Endura Isotonic mix & 1 water, plus a gel or 2. A banana before I set off.
First time I did the longer ride without the above, I ran out of gas. Then when I changed to the above routine I found I could push just as hard for the final half of the ride as the first half.
Definitely makes the rides more enjoyable when the legs don't start protesting & you're not Jensy & can simply tell them to shut up.. :lol:
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby iaintas » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:11 pm

I can usually get away without eating up till about 80Km or so on flat, and under 100km its usually a banana and fruit cake if its a fairly flat ride. When i started riding i thought i was "bonking" with anything over about 40km, turns out i was unfit!

My hilly rides are often a bit of a different story, i usually aim to take food if i am going for 2 hours or more, eat some fruit cake or banana each hour. Only drink water not powerade, and don't touch gels as they often make me feel sick initially then hungry and flat about 20min post. Personally woolies fruit cake is my drug of choice, its like taking a hit of EPO. However water is key, and usually about 500ml an hour, although long rides with not many water stops becomes troublesome.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby Wakatuki » Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:25 pm

Great advice everyone,

If I always carry 2 bottles if I know I am out for 2 or more hours.
The last ride I did not get too sweaty to the touch but I think the wind may have played tricks on me... Keeping me drier than I probably was.

I think the bananas and fruit cakes sound more to my liking, with gels in reserve.

I currently weigh, 99kg down from 120kg last June. The reason for my bonking concern was that I can climb Montville road 3 times, although I am very slow on the 3rd run and not super fast on the first 2 I can still do it. (4.1 k's avg 5% PR 21.11 =129/140 - happy with my downhill though 4.8k's PR 5.52 6/132 :D) It's probably due to that training I was able to get home whilst loosing all energy.
Every destination from where I live results in a climb to get out and climb to get back! :twisted:

After a proper mountain climb or a two hour plus ride I have a low carb protein shake if its a night ride, if its a daytime ride I will have a chicken/tuna wrap, or brown rice dish after it and the shake to wash it down.
If I am going on a ride I generally have Oats, banana and a honey drizzle for breakfast. Or brown rice n steak/chicken for the evening.This particular ride I had a peanut butter, banana and egg pancake, it was my first one; it will be my last!

Keep the advice coming, I am out again Friday night, weather permitting, let you know.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby Tim » Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:42 pm

RonK wrote:I think your problem is more to do with your fitness and endurance than your food intake. The only way to improve these is to continue to ride these distances regularly and perhaps gradually increase the distance or pace.


That about sums it up.
You have upped (doubled) the mileage too quickly and your fitness hasn't caught up.
It is generally recommended that increases in distance, speed, time or intensity should only be in the order of about 10 percent per week or month.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby Philipthelam » Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:21 pm

Tim wrote:
RonK wrote:I think your problem is more to do with your fitness and endurance than your food intake. The only way to improve these is to continue to ride these distances regularly and perhaps gradually increase the distance or pace.


That about sums it up.
You have upped (doubled) the mileage too quickly and your fitness hasn't caught up.
It is generally recommended that increases in distance, speed, time or intensity should only be in the order of about 10 percent per week or month.


I have always wondered this. How do you know if you are bonking or if you are just not fit enough for the distance?
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby iaintas » Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:43 pm

I have to say i have only felt i have "bonked" once 140km in mid thirty degrees with a 45km race in the middle. I ate a bit of fruit cake and banana mid ride.

Personally i always find that when i "bonk" its usually a hydration thing, i can usually keep going without food for a good few hours, might have lower power output and feel a bit crap on climbs, but have never felt like dropping off the bike. We as humans have enough fat supplies for several thousand kilometers (even the skinny ones), but we need proper hydration for this and to maintain our electrolytes at optimal levels. IMHO This is something cyclists are probably poor at!

Hydration is a tricky thing, overdo it and that can kill you!
under do it and that can kill you!
drink before your thirsty but dont drink to much, there is heaps of information on getting the balance right for endurance althletes.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby wombatK » Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:52 pm

Philipthelam wrote:I have always wondered this. How do you know if you are bonking or if you are just not fit enough for the distance?

Without the right fuel, your body simply isn't "fit enough for the distance" and you will hit a wall (or bonk). Get your nutrition and hydration right, then if you've still got problems it's conditioning or other fitness issue.

The OP reports he has been doing 60 to 90 minute rides, and lost 30 kg, and that suggests his conditioning is good and fitness isn't a major shortfall.

To get nutrition and hydration right, see the recommendations from the Sports Dietitians of Australia web site:
http://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/factsheets/ and particularly Fluids in Sport

Some previous posts agree with it. It's worth noting that for exercise under an hours duration, you generally don't
need to do anything specific during exercise. As you lengthen your sessions, you need to get on top of "eating
before being hungry" and "drinking before being thirsty". For cycling, you can lose a lot of water without raising an apparent sweat due to the evaporative effect of the wind.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby Howzat » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:26 pm

Philipthelam wrote:I have always wondered this. How do you know if you are bonking or if you are just not fit enough for the distance?

I've only had it once - I just ran out of energy and stopped entirely. Could hardly walk the bike. It's much more severe and complete exhaustion than just feeling puffed or tired due to lack of general fitness.

They used to call it hungerknock.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby Wakatuki » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:32 pm

wombatK wrote:The OP reports he has been doing 60 to 90 minute rides, and lost 30 kg, and that suggests his conditioning is good and fitness isn't a major shortfall.


21kgs lost so far but 30 is the goal!
60-90 min rides 3x per week, off bike days is other strength training, sit up, press up, squats, pull up. 1 day off!

My fitness level for a 40 yr. old was enough to recently pass the QLD police recruiting test. Without a donut in sight!
I continue the fitness because I want to, if I am successful with the police or not. Strava shows me that on the flats I am generally in the top 50% overall ratings. I want to get faster and fitter, tuff mudder comes up in August too!

I have used Atkins to get the bulk off, I have now changed to a lower fat diet with good carbs and a reduction on the overall protein amount from the original Atkins. I am now very eager to get my body fat down from 27.4% to 15%! Dropped it to 26.3% in a week. My bone density is 8.4% and water hovers around 53%. If the scales are to be believed.

I will take on board what has been said, but it felt like running out of energy, the legs hurt a bit, but the lungs and heart were fine, my heart was not beating hard at all. Starving when I got home and legs were fine as soon as I got home and stopped.

Thanks again.

P.s. all was fine till I started pushing over 90 mins rides. A 1hr jog is fine too.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby moosterbounce » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:21 pm

I recently discovered the 32gi tabs. There are accelerate and endure models depending on requirements. They come in a tube of 10 and don't need dissolving. I can't yet vouch for their effectiveness, but mr moo tried them on his last commute - 90kms after 6 months of only riding about 10 times max length of 40km. He made it home so they must have helped!! Seriously though, I've not done the level of exercise to need them, but hopefully in the near future i'll have some personal experience - MRI and surgeon speak pending :(

One thing I liked about them was they tasted fine to me, didn't cause insulin spike, didn't need dissolving, and I could easily grab one from my life jacket pocket when paddling. I can't stand gels which are annoying to open in wet gloves, so these seemed like a good alternative.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby trailgumby » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:49 pm

wombatK wrote:To get nutrition and hydration right, see the recommendations from the Sports Dietitians of Australia web site:
http://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/factsheets/ and particularly Fluids in Sport

Some previous posts agree with it. It's worth noting that for exercise under an hours duration, you generally don't
need to do anything specific during exercise. As you lengthen your sessions, you need to get on top of "eating
before being hungry" and "drinking before being thirsty". For cycling, you can lose a lot of water without raising an apparent sweat due to the evaporative effect of the wind.

+1. Under an hour, not normally an issue, although I still use hydration product so that I don't arrive at work with an empty tank and can't then perform.

It also helps me keep to a policy of only eating what I expect to burn over the next few hours.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby durianrider » Fri Jun 07, 2013 8:30 pm

How tall are you Wakatuki?

Do you think I have the energy to ride 515km solo cos I eat low carb or high carb?
Do you think I have the energy from my diet and lifestyle or caffeine?
Do you think Im 6ft (AT) 65kg cos I eat like a bloated bodybuilder or a lean Japanese rice farmer in regards to food groups chosen?
Guess what diet my clinically obese mother eats? Hint: Its opposite to what I eat.

Every time you bonk on a ride, you really give your immune system a knock. If you want to be fit, leaner and healthier in 5 years time I suggest dropping the fad diet and crash training mentality and stick with fundamentals that work longterm.

You are worth living and eating well mate. :)

PS: Gatorade is full of chemical crap. Make your own with organic sugar from coles/woolies (AT) around 80g of sugar per bottle per hour. Add in salt if you want to carry that water retention up the climbs and the next day.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby Wakatuki » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:21 pm

durianrider wrote:How tall are you Wakatuki?

Do you think I have the energy to ride 515km solo cos I eat low carb or high carb?
Do you think I have the energy from my diet and lifestyle or caffeine?
Do you think Im 6ft (AT) 65kg cos I eat like a bloated bodybuilder or a lean Japanese rice farmer in regards to food groups chosen?
Guess what diet my clinically obese mother eats? Hint: Its opposite to what I eat.

Every time you bonk on a ride, you really give your immune system a knock. If you want to be fit, leaner and healthier in 5 years time I suggest dropping the fad diet and crash training mentality and stick with fundamentals that work longterm.

You are worth living and eating well mate. :)

PS: Gatorade is full of chemical crap. Make your own with organic sugar from coles/woolies (AT) around 80g of sugar per bottle per hour. Add in salt if you want to carry that water retention up the climbs and the next day.


Hi DR,
I'm 6'2" or 188cm in new money.
I have dropped to 98kg already this (7am today) week fat is down to 26% this morning this is my lowest weight since I was 22! This is down from 99kg and 27.4% this Thursday.
DR please note I have dropped the Atkins diet and adding more fruit n veg and good carbs (oats, brown rice etc) Balanced I think is the word.
As I said I am not happy with using G-ade. It was all I had to hand. I will try your suggested drink, it sounds preferable.
I am one year into my life change with exercise and diet. I am sure in 4 years time all will be very different.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby singlespeedscott » Sat Jun 08, 2013 3:59 pm

I think it all comes down to fitness. The more distance you ride the more efficient your body becomes at using energy.

I am no stellar athlete but these days on any ride under 90km and 130 of ascent I usually just take a single bidden of water. A few years ago a 2 hr ride had me wrecked. The key is time in the saddle.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby wombatK » Sat Jun 08, 2013 4:08 pm

durianrider wrote:PS: Gatorade is full of chemical crap. Make your own with organic sugar from coles/woolies (AT) around 80g of sugar per bottle per hour. Add in salt if you want to carry that water retention up the climbs and the next day.

So you think salt and sugar are not chemicals ? Excess intake of both have been strongly associated with adverse cardiac outcomes. They are chemicals (NaCl and C12H22O11 respectively), and not harmless.

Adding salt to your drinks is an old wives tale, not supported by current evidence based dietary advice. Gatorade was the first sports drink, and was developed from a University of Florida research project which was trying to assist players in Florida's Gator NFL team. It literally launched the sports drink industry, and was found to make such a radical improvement to NFL players endurance that it was very quickly widely adopted (within a couple of seasons). There is good evidence to support its use - the "chemicals" (specifically, electrolytes) work.

The official position of the Sports Dietitians of Australia (see my previous links), is that there is also good evidence to support use of other sports drinks which have been subsequently developed. They too have the beneficial "chemicals".

I don't work for any companies associated with Gatorade or other sports drinks, and have no association with SDA. Just found their advice works for me too, and think its unreasonable to disparage products that work for lots of people.
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Re: New to longer rides....bonking

Postby toolonglegs » Sat Jun 08, 2013 4:20 pm

^^^^ He is saying don't add in salt.
I agree if you can be bothered making your own sports drinks then do it, it is always going to have least artificial additives... personally I can't be arsed.
Half the guys that I know who race 200kms a day do it on a strong mix of cordial... I don't think there's that much rocket science in it... if you are going to ride long at low intensity then your body can probably produce enough energy to keep up with the pace, if your body is trained to do such a thing, ie get used to doing longer k's by building up to longer k's. If you want to do 100-150kms at 40kmph then you are probably going to have to have some carbs during the ride whether from food or drink.
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