If you've done at least one long ride or have been training with a group, you've heard of "bonking". You've more than likely experienced it--admit it! ;-)
You've also probably heard it referred to as "hitting the wall". In scientific terms, it's the depletion of the glycogen stores in your liver and muscles. You know it's happening when, all of a sudden, you can't pedal another stroke or run or swim another stroke.
It happens even to the most experienced cyclists, runners, swimmers or other endurance athletes. We do what we can to prevent it, mainly with proper nutrition and rest. But every once in a while, some condition we didn't anticipate--such as a change in weather or a detour up a mountain (Yes, that's happened to me!)--presents itself. Or, something causes changes in our metabolism or other bodily function or condition.
Today I felt myself "bonking" after just a few miles. The ride wasn't difficult and, although I was trying to give myself a workout, I wasn't riding at an exceptional pace. The temperature and humidity were, if anything, a bit lower than one might expect at this time of year. And a scrim of cirrocumulous filtered the midday sun.
I don't think my sudden fatigue had anything to do with food, or lack thereof: I'd eaten shortly before I started riding. I can only wonder whether it had something to do with whatever trauma, however mild, my body experienced from my accident on Saturday. I'm still feeling a pretty fair amount of pain on my left side, below my rib cage, though it's not quite as bad as it was yesterday or the day before. And the bruises are more noticeable than they had been.
Hmm...Maybe it took my body a few miles to figure out that it was still hurting, still in shock. After all, this ride--I did about 20 miles (32km) in all--was my first since the accident.
Whatever I was experiencing, I find it amusing that it might be described with a term ("bonking") that the British use as a less-rude synonym to "shagging" or the f-word.