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We've all been there. You're halfway home, but your body and mind have already quit. Your legs feel like jelly and the idea of continuing seems impossible. You've bonked. This guide will explain the all-too-common phenomenon and how best to avoid it.

1. Why Do Riders Bonk?
Several factors are in play when you bonk during a ride. Scientifically, it is caused by a depletion of glycogen in your body's system. High intensity workouts like long rides burn through your glycogen levels and reserves. Once that occurs, your body begins burning fat instead. And while some are looking to lose weight, burned fat doesn't give you the same level of energy and efficiency as glycogen.

Practically, bonking often occurs in unfamiliar territory. You're on vacation and the ride you've selected looks doable, but halfway through it's far more demanding than you had expected and you don't have the familiarity with the landscape and region to find a spot to rest or a shorter route home. Mentally, this can be very taxing. Remember: cycling is a mental sport. Know your routes, know your body, know when you can and cannot push yourself.


2. How To Prepare Before a Ride
2-4 hours before you leave for a ride, have a 200-500 calorie snack. Think lean proteins and complex-carbs, low in fiber or fat. An energy drink an hour before heading out is always a good idea. This will help ensure you have a full store of glycogen in your system. Mentally, try to relax as you do some pre-ride stretching and/or yoga. Have a GPS cycling computer or app with you so that you don't get lost or have to use mental energy on figuring out where you are. Bring your cellphone with you, fully charged. The last thing you want is to bonk in the middle of nowhere with no way to call for assistance.


3. What To Do During a Ride
If your ride is longer than an hour and a half, it should be considered a high intensity workout. Your glycogen levels will deplete in that course of time, so make sure to bring a snack and energy drink along with you. Sports gels, health bars and a solid carbohydrate sports drink are a great place to start. It is just as important to rest in a safe area when needed and to always listen to your body.


Follow these three simple steps, stay positive, leave your house prepared and make sure you never bonk again.