I Bonked, and I’m Back: Cycling Update, Unexpected allies and third base

Bonk : Hitting a wall, In endurance sports such as cycling and runninghitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. Milder instances can be remedied by brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates. The condition can usually be avoided by ensuring that glycogen levels are high when the exercise begins, maintaining glucose levels during exercise by eating or drinking carbohydrate-rich substances, or by reducing exercise intensity. (Source Wikipedia)

I’ve learned that nothing kills my personal enthusiasm for cycling like having a hot flash while riding my bike in triple digit weather. Puking at the top of the hill in front of my husband and the cars passing by on Sheridan Road is a moment I will not soon forget. Neither will anyone else, I’m sure.

Star date – 360 something since I bought my first road bike, and I’m still learning. I’m a newbie in the cycling world and I spend a lot of time trying out new things, asking questions and following teams and cyclists on blogs and twitter. ALL of my cycling friends are male. I do not know a single female cyclist. Even so, my hope is to one day run with the big dogs, or at the very least keep up with my friends who are already road warriors in my opinion. The problem with only knowing male cyclists is they don’t have the female answers I sometimes need. Or so I think. Men don’t have hot flashes while riding, and being able to relieve the call of nature anywhere they want, personal restroom stops are not as important. Cutting back on fluid intake because I’m unsure of where the bathrooms are, is not smart and can put you in the ER with a bladder infection if you are not careful. Don’t ask how I know that.

I want to learn and therefore I read whatever I can find, and since I can only find male bloggers about cycling, I read them. While I do receive instructional benefit regarding diet, and how to avoid bonking I must confess, if I read one more cycling blog on the benefits of “man-scaping” for cyclists, I’m going to throw up again. While I realize that male cyclists who blog about cycling need to cover all bases, I really wish they’d leave third base out of it. But they can’t because it’s important to their over all health.

In my pursuit of cycling knowledge, I discovered that the universe is shrinking. I know this because I once saw my gyn’s name fly across my twitter screen. It seems he is an avid cyclist and I was following his racing team without knowing it was his team. Once I cleared the coffee spray off my screen, neurotic un-following and mass apologies quickly followed. Chalk one up for neurotic boundaries. I’ve been flying solo ever since and that journey has had more ups and downs than the hills on the trail I ride.

My husband purchased a bike this summer and I’m excited to have a riding buddy. He’s also taught me about shifting gears and powering through hills. The only real downside is the only time we could ride together was for 30 minutes in the morning. I push harder when I ride with him and I built muscle riding the hills. The downside is losing out on the cardio benefit with those short rides. While I haven’t lost weight, I have gone down a full clothing size. That’s a plus. Now that it’s too dark to ride before work, I’m back riding solo. Not wishing to ride alone, I got pissy and blew off September. Not surprisingly, my weight has plateaued again.

A friend from Colorado reminded me that if it’s important to me, I’ll find a way, if not I’ll find excuses.  It’s time to get back on the bike. For safety purposes, I’m hitting Riverside trails where there are people. Safety in numbers and all.

I’m also back to reading blogs, and asking questions.

Of all the people I thought to ask questions of, my doctor was the last person on the list. I didn’t know how to start the conversation – oh yeah I saw you on twitter and found out you ride — (that just sounded creepy to me) and I wasn’t sure that I want him in my personal life. I mean, he’s seen me naked, you know?

We run in adjacent social circles, have for years. How we’ve never run into each other is beyond me. Now that I’m cycling, our circles are intersecting more and more. I was worried that I’d crossed a personal boundary by following his team and tried to extract myself as discreetly as possible. Turns out I was worried for nothing. Having a doctor who is a cycling enthusiast can be an asset. At least, it’s an asset when I’m not being whiny or trying to make him laugh.

I do not suggest telling a man who just completed a 400 mile bike tour that you are working your butt off and still not losing weight as it’s all laughably relative at that point and it just sounds whiny. Just sayin.

Opening up and telling him what I’m attempting has been beyond beneficial. It also turns out that third base is important, especially if I want to ride more than ten miles at a stretch.

Three things I did wrong my first year out:

1. Hydration Hydration Hydration. — If I’m avoiding fluids because I’m afraid of being a water hazard he can fix that. I’m not alone on this issue. Many women wrongly adjust to their circumstances by cutting back on fluids and that is the worst thing you can do to yourself and your body. And trust me on this Bonking sucks.

2. Get fitted for your bike. – Form is important. Bikes are not a one size fits all. There needs to be a balance between the seat and hand rails in order to take pressure off your spine, shoulders and nether regions. A good bike shop will do this for you in no time at all.

3. Wear the right clothes. I’ll be honest, I avoided cycling shorts for obvious reasons. I think they look ridiculous and I’m attached to looking “cute” while I sweat and puke. Good quality cycling shorts come with much-needed padding in the right places if you know what I mean. Your seat is important. Chaffing can be avoided with the right gear. Your thighs will thank you. The right shorts make all the difference in how far I can ride. Being comfortable has now outweighed the whole “do these make my butt look big” issues in my brain; of course they do, accept that and move on. The trick to remember is don’t wear panties with these or you defeat the purpose and get out of those shorts as soon as possible after the ride to avoid unnecessary infections. Also a good chamois cream with anti-bacterial ingredients does not hurt.

Lastly doc put me on an estrogen patch to help with those hot flashes and night sweats. I presently believe that an estrogen patch is to menopause what a morphine drip is to pain — No more insomnia, hot flashes or night sweats. Does wonders for our married life as well. The mood swings, however, have more to do with my personal temperament than my hormones though so I need to work on that.  Comes with being a redhead.

Getting and staying in motion is important to my overall health. It impacts me physically, emotionally, and spiritually and that is a good thing.

Happy riding you guys!

2 thoughts on “I Bonked, and I’m Back: Cycling Update, Unexpected allies and third base

  1. I really like this post! Cycling is a male-dominated sport in general and I also don’t have any female friends who cycle. That’s exactly why I started my blog!! So I’m glad to see other women blogging about cycling! Glad to hear the patch is working so far!!


    • Nice to meet you! Thank you so much for commenting. Yes, cycling is very male dominated. I got into it because of a male friend who started riding at 62 and can still best me three years later. he is very much my inspiration. Very happy to meet you.


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