Another Bonk — From An Inadequate Breakfast

“See ya,” I called to my wife as I left for the Sunday club ride.

“What did you have for breakfast?” she asked.

“Coupla pieces of toast and jelly, orange juice and coffee,” I replied.

“That’s not enough,” she said. “You need more.”

“It was fine yesterday,” I answered. “Did 30 miles [really 28] with no trouble.”

She looked doubtful, but I headed out.

Now,  I usually do eat a decent breakfast on club ride days. But our stove was on the fritz today, and I couldn’t do my usual eggs. I had been pleased the previous day that toast and coffee fueled me adequately for my ride that included some decent little hills. I figured I’d just repeat that today.

The club ride was deliberately routed south and east, to avoid traffic. The Republic of Texas — or ROT — Rally is in town this weekend. It’s a huge motorcycle event, and we wanted to avoid roads that we knew would get heavy motorcycle use.

We made a tight-knit peloton as we rode through suburban streets to get out to the main ride area. Twenty-one riders showed up today. We didn’t schedule a separate B ride, although about five or six B riders were in the group — we just went as one big club ride. Although the A’s separated from us on the road to Buda, they waited at a parking lot there and we all regrouped.

The ride leader took us through some Buda streets we hadn’t used before, so we got a look at some new stuff (Frankly, not much to see). We rolled down a side street at about a 17 mph pace, and Laura regaled me with a story about some bubbas who once took a swing at her former husband with brass knuckles, when he protested their pickup passing too close to him while he was on his bike. The cops — WHAM! Up ahead in the pack, a rider lost control and took a bad spill. We all stopped, and avoided any more mishaps. The fallen rider was Donald, whose front wheel had apparently nipped the rear wheel of the bike ahead of him.

We milled around making concerned noises as Donald checked himself out. He didn’t look to be too much the worse for wear.

“Are you bloody?” asked Mike, who just happens to be an emergency room doctor.

“Bloody mad,” replied Donald, our resident Brit, in his best received English accent.

Donald had some derailleur issues, and had to nurse his bike back home. We continued on. I noted with some satisfaction that I had done the 15-mile ride to Buda faster than I ever had before. I’m not crazy about riding in a pack, for the very thing that happened to Donald, but I had to admit that the group does pull one along nicely.

Out in the country, passing slapped-up apartment complexes, double-wides, and an occasional nice housing development, we hit some extended rollers. I was in my customary position, at the back of the pack, but feeling good. However, I could see I was not going to acquit myself well on the rollers today.

I crested a hill, only to see dots in the distance. I was falling farther behind the group on every ascent. By the time the route started turning, I had to stop to fish the cue sheet out of my pocket and see which way to turn. My speed was falling fast. I knew of a convenience store up ahead, and made a beeline for it (if you consider riding slow enough to be passed by a guy in everyday clothes on a hybrid to be making a beeline for anything).

At the store, I plopped on a bench, downed an energy gel, and ate part of a Clif Bar. I finished off one bottle of water and started on another. I just happened to look up, and saw a bunch of our B riders pass by. Ah ha! I knew what happened — they had diverged from the written cue sheet and gone to the store in Creedmoor to refill water bottles. I got my stuff together as quickly as possible in hopes of catching up to them.

It wasn’t to be. The caffeine-laced GU gel gave me a boost for a short time, but I got stuck at two stoplights, and they were already around a corner well ahead. I pedaled on alone, slower and slower. Finally, just a mile from the finish, I stopped in the shade of a large tree and sat on the curb. I remembered the bonk feeling — physically, I felt all right, but I was simply unable to turn the pedals. I finished off my Clif Bar and my water, and finally got back up on the bike. I made it to Starbucks, where Donald was telling the group about his fall.

I took stock of my situation. The toast I’d had the day before was spread with peanut butter, which no doubt provided a little extra nourishment for a ride that lasted less than two hours. The toast I had today was spread with strawberry jelly. Good, but not enough to sustain me for a 42-mile ride.

When I reached the house, Pat told me she’d had a great ride — after making herself a breakfast of oatmeal. She got the stove to work, too, jack of all trades that she is. I took a two-hour nap.

I know better — I’ve even visited this topic in the past. I pledge to eat better before rides from here on out. What do you recommend for breakfast?


  1. Rick says

    I usually blend fruit and vegetables into a smoothie to drink for Penny and I and scramble up eggs and veggies into an Austin-style breakfast taco. It makes those Saturday and Sunday club expeditions, which often exceed 50 mies, a lot easier.The last of that breakfast smoothie offers some quick recovery after returning home.

  2. says

    I usually have about a cup of fresh pineapple, about a half cup of blueberries with ground cinnamon sprinkled over the bowl. At this time, since peaches are in season, I often add a peach. Two cups of coffee with a little honey and some nondairy creamer top it all off.

  3. says

    The bonk is such a nasty feeling! For me porridge (or oatmeal as you call it over the pond) is an essential pre-ride breakfast food. Lots of lovely slow release energy – a decent bowl will keep me happy for a 40 with no other food.

    Oh and if you still have problems with your stove i’ve discovered you can make it really easily in the microwave. Here’s how i do it:

    • says

      I’m glad you checked in, James. I found your porridge post shortly after I put up mine. I have never been a big fan of oatmeal, but I think I’m going to learn to love it.

  4. says

    I’m not a big oatmeal fan either, but it does make a good pre-ride breakfast. Instead of trying to make it all sugary and cinnamonny I use kosher salt instead. It freaks some people out, but I tell them to think of it as more like lumpy mashed potatoes instead of a sickly sweet concoction. Considering how much I sweat on any given ride, the added salt doesn’t hurt either.

    • says

      Jeez! Everyone listen up for a minute!

      The average resident of the US of A already gets about 3 ( three, tres, trois, drei, שלוש !!!) TIMES the rda of sodium chloride. But we are often (usually, in fact ) deficient of OTHER salts.

      Seriously! Consider using a professionally developed electrolyte suppliment when engaging in an endurance sport in the summer in TEXAS!

      I have after years of trying everything from the low-end stuff like NUUN to the over-sugared stuff like Gatorade to exotic tropc fruits and the one standout positive and never let me down product with which I have nearly a decade of success with is Endurolytes ( REI carries them or you can order directly from Hammer online ). Oh yeah, I even tried the salt tablets we used to get in Boy Scouts (not successful )… awful stuff.

      I am currently trying a different Hammer product which adds carbs and proteins and so far am finding that it works well, though once every couple of hours I seem to benefit from a single Endurolyte or at most 2 of them.

      But quit screwing yourselves up with straight sodium chloride salt.

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