Running Out of Gas
When you don't eat all day and then go "all out" on a trail
So the other day, I wasn't prepared for a ride... and by this I mean that I had no idea I was going for a ride, much less doing anything at all that day. What this means for my ride is that I had not eaten, and I had stayed up late the night before.
Now, I don't know about y'all, but I had never ridden without at least eating a snack beforehand. However, I was still determined to give the ride my all, and I did just that. I rode all day in some of my hardest gears and pushed myself past everything I had ever done before.
This may seem like a good thing, but what it meant for me is that in the last mile of the ride... I hit a wall.
Not a literal wall, but a wall of resistance unlike any other: a hunger wall. A hunger wall can sneak up on you, because if you are moving and keeping active, it usually doesn't come in the form of hunger pains, but exhaustion because your muscles have nothing to replenish their energy. In that last mile, I was considering not only quitting the ride but also quitting life; I was just going to crawl under shade somewhere and die.
My muscles were so craving energy, some form of external input, that I almost couldn't move anymore.
If not for my riding partner showing up a little later with energy chews, I'm not sure if I would have made it...
My reaction time had diminished, my legs felt like they weighed a ton each time I tried to move them, my mindset had completely shifted: small obstacles now seemed impossible. Getting to this point is VERY dangerous. I could have had severe cramps or gotten lightheaded/dizzy and fell over; I could have even passed out. All of these things, while riding a mountain bike are preposterous to even think about.
Riding without proper preparation can be disastrous! Be prepared, and if you're not, take the time to get prepared.
Being prepared, at the rudimentary level, includes things like:
- know how long you are going to ride
- know stretches for each of the main muscles you use while biking
- pack a little more food/snacks and water than you plan on using, just in case
- for a list of good snacks to bring out on the trail with you, check out this article Endurance and Recovery Products, Tested and Reviewed
- when you get to the point where your reactions are slowing, take a break, even if you are only one mile from your car, Take a Break. Your body is exhausted; sit down and just breathe for a minute, preferably in the shade because you might also be overheating.
All said and done, I did not die that day. The value of being prepared was drilled into my skull so that I won't ever forget it again. And now I am sharing this with you guys in hopes that you won't be unprepared, or at least as unprepared as I was when you venture out to the trails next time.