Anatomy of a Bonk

I’ve wrote about bonks before, when a cyclist’s energy reserves are gone and they find themselves having a conversation with their body.  The body says, sit down under that tree, and the cyclist says, nahh I got to keep going.  For me the conversation usually becomes a negotiation, “OK body, as soon as I get to that tree up there I’ll take a 30 second break, I promise.”

Today I met up with some folks for a mountain bike ride.  I did a similar ride last week, and felt awesome.  Last week I had unending stores of energy.  I could push myself seemingly without consequence.  Today was different.  I didn’t feel great from the start but  I didn’t feel bad either, and I was having no problem with the pace.  We were riding One Horse Gap benchcut trail and it was perfect, dry trails meaning no giant bike swallowing mud holes.  But these are still far from groomed trails, 7 mph here is a good average.

matt dead

At 7.5 miles, the halfway point, I realized I was really hot, but still feeling good.  It was about 12:30, I had been up since 5AM and had consumed about 600 calories for the day so I ate some cookies.  Earlier in the ride I had experimented with a protein bar, probably the worst thing I could eat on a super hot day.   With about a mile to go I was feeling kind of weak and just a bit dizzy.  I announced I was taking a short cut because I am a TRAIL MASTER.  Me and a pal turned left and the other 5 riders went right.  I rode right past the short cut trail and started climbing the dreaded SIX SISTERS, a series of stupidly steep gravel climbs.

After the third sister I realized I had missed the trail.  At this point I was getting delirious.  I was unable to climb anything and was walking, well nearly crawling.  Bonks can be brought on by lack of calories, lack of water, lack of electrolytes, or even excessive heat, I think this bonk was caused by all four, it was a SUPER BONK.   This is how it felt:

  • Thoughts become slow, like they are butterflies and you have to catch them with a net before they can get away
  • The smallest exertion will take your breath away.
  • Your consciousness recedes deeper into your head, as if you are looking through another person’s eyes.
  • In many cases my stomach feels as if it has tied itself into a knot, especially in a heat bonk.  Drinking water seems like a necessity but it is ejected from your gut the moment it gets there.
  • You feel an exaggerated sense of doom, you may only be a quarter mile from the end of the ride, but it might as well be a 100 miles, you begin to wonder if you can be airlifted out.

My buddy who was with me, being the good pal that he is left me to ride ahead and tell the others I was on my way.  I pushed my bike up the final hill with the vehicles in sight at an excruciatingly slow pace.  When I arrived I collapsed unable to even rack my bike.  A girl who weighs half of me picked my bike off the ground and lifted it on the rack.  I put my head in my hands and simultaneously thanked God for getting me safely back, and cursed God for the massive weakness and embarrassment of becoming a giant human pile of mush.

The weekend before had been 15 degrees cooler so that probably explains how I was able to ride much faster, I also took in many more calories and fluids last week.  Also last week the calories I took in were all pure sugar based.  I think the protein bar was a bad move. This bonk was easily preventable with better nutrition, like all bonks, and I’ve had a lot, yet I never learn.

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Eclipse 2017

Well it came and it went, a year’s of anticipation gone in about 2 minutes.  Shauna had to work and thanks to the great administration at Mt. Vernon High School I had the day off. It seemed like the planned festivals and activities in our area were not drawing the crowds that were expected, but from what I could gather through the web it seems like the Shawnee National Forest was bombarded.  Friday night I encountered many out of towners in Harrisburg looking for cold ice tea.  It was reported that popular Shawnee locations like Garden of the Gods and Jackson Falls were closed due to overcrowding this weekend.


I asked my pal Moe, who works at SIU what it was like over there today, he responded,

There was large crowds at SIU and in Carbondale today. It seemed that many people made it a 1 day event. I’m not sure of the numbers, but the SIU football stadium was sold out and there were hundreds if not a few thousand people outside of the stadium on SIU grounds. The arena at SIU was also full of people. Photos from Carbondale showed many people down on the strip too. Again, no idea of numbers, but quite a few. It was a really cool scene at SIU. People from all over the world. According to the Shawnee forest FB page, there were tons of visitors in the forest lands too. I saw more people than I have ever seen at the pine hills yesterday.


I decided to go to one of my favorite spots near Harrisburg to watch the eclipse alone.  I charged up all my gear and packed it up up to my secret spot around 12:30 today.  I laid on my back with my eclipse glasses and watched the sun slowly get covered for awhile then I walked around and took a few photos.


I didn’t realize how dark it had got until noticing I could see white flashing lights on the towers and silos around me.  I looked up again and saw that the sun was nearly eclipsed.  I had my 300mm lens on my Canon T4i,  since the 1.6 crop factor and 18 mega pixels would make for the closest images.  I got the sudden idea I needed to take video, and managed to get some shaky video of the sun becoming covered and reaching totality.


In the past I have spent several evenings on this hill photographing the sun going down. The shift from full light to dusk that would normally take an hour or more happened in seconds.  I took several still images of the sun, but struggled with the Rebel T4i that I’m still not accustomed to using.  I wanted to shoot several bracketed images and put together a composite but I was too slow with the cameras controls.


It occurred to me I should look around, and I did so.  The lights of Harrisburg were on, I could hear far away people screaming and hollering.  The roads and highways were mostly empty though I did see the occasional headlights.  I went to grab my other camera and started snapping photos, but had it set at ISO 200 and it was too dark for hand held images.  I looked around one last time and then the light returned, it felt like the shortest 2 minutes of my life.  I went back to my tripod mounted Rebel and shot a few images of the sun returning which proved to be my favorite of the day.


Once it was fully light I took a few more pictures, loaded up my gear and walked back to the car.  I was in Harrisburg at 2 PM and saw a river of traffic heading North through town most of the cars with Wisconsin and Michigan license plates.  These people had to have jumped into their cars moments after the eclipse to get from the Shawnee to Harrisburg in 20 minutes.  It was reported that the traffic leaving Southern Illinois was wall to wall.


As usual I have mixed feelings about the event, I created a few once in a lifetime images, and enjoyed seeing the eclipse from a vantage point that no one else saw.  At the same time I wasn’t really prepared, and struggled with the settings on my Rebel T4i.  I regret not bringing a second tripod to video the eclipse while I used telephoto to take totality photos.

Good news is I get a second chance in 7 years.

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Vassago Burning

I tried holding a  funeral prye for my long dead Vassago Bandersnatch frame.  A bike I loved so much I couldn’t just take the the scrapyard.

bandersnatch burning

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The Big Pensacola Florida Trip

Shauna and I have been thinking about some kind of camping trip this summer for awhile now, we had a few days last week to make it happen but we had no idea where we were going.  The original idea was Missouri where we could snorkel and float in the clear waters, but temperatures have been really high lately.  The next idea was up North to Lake Michigan but the day before I started comparing temperatures and according to forecasts temps in the Florida gulf were only going to be a couple degrees warmer.  I presented my idea to go to Pensacola and Shauna was all for it.


There’s a bit of history here, see for the 20 years we’ve been together she’s wanted to go to Florida on vacation, but because of the drive, and the fact that I used to hate water I always vetoed the idea.  It was selfish, but I had ear problems that drove me crazy if I got in the water, so at least there was a medical reason.  Now that’s fixed and I’ve been having a great time snorkeling I was all for a beach trip.  Shauna did not let me forget this easily.

beach 1

So since we had the van and it’s not cheap to stay in a room on the beach we were going to camp at Fort Pickens, which is right on the ocean.  There were only a handful of spots left and I got us one for Wednesday and Thursday night.  It was a rough 11 hour drive and we did it nearly non stop to arrive at the campground around 5:30PM.  The first thing we did was take the short walk to the ocean and jump in.

beach 2


The next day we woke up before dawn and went to the bayside beach and I took some sunrise photographs.  I planned to do lots of photography on this trip but I wasn’t able to, just not enough time.  By 7 AM we were exploring Fort Pickens which was interesting.  It had many cool passageways, arches, and creepy old architecture.

fort pickens 1

Next we went to a beach that google maps recommended for snorkeling.  It was getting really hot and sunny but in the water was really nice, I snorkeled way out and found the barrier reef things and checked them out.  There were lots of people snorkeling and spear fishing.  Everyone was really friendly and I had a great time out there.




Shauna stayed closer to the beach but I returned and loaned her my mask and she trolled up and down the beach collecting shells and having fun.  After that we went to the Pensacola Beach boardwalk and hung out checking out the boutiques, shops, and considered parasailing.  I think we both wanted to try it but were a bit afraid of the height and definitely afraid of the price.  Before we could decide if we wanted to para-sail a storm rolled in and we went to another beach and watched it.  We returned to our campground at 5:30 PM in a massive storm and sit in the van as our site flooded, luckily we had nothing there.

camping rain

Camping that night was a drag as we were pretty much restricted to the van, which was cramped with the two of us, and we were both sunburned from the day at the beach.  We were both more than a little jealous of everyone else’s huge RVs and air conditioning.  The next morning we went swimming again before heading home.

fuzzy beach 1

We stopped in Nashville at Sushi Train, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant like that is popular in Japan.  It was really neat and very delicious.  Since we had barely ate all day we took great advantage of their all you can eat special.  If we were paying regular prices we would have paid nearly 60 dollars worth of Sushi.

sushitrain 1

sushitrain 2


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Tour de Pharmacy Review

I like Andy Samtour de pharmacyberg and I was highly anticipating “Tour de Pharmacy” after seeing the trailers for it.  I have to admit that I was kind of let down.  Sure it had some funny bits, but ultimately I just found it kind blah, and don’t think I have a problem with them making fun of cycling.  In fact I laughed the hardest when Jeff Goldblum says, “there are literally hundreds of dollars in prize money, dozens of fans, the stakes a medium,” I couldn’t help but crack up even though I’d already seen that bit.

I suppose my actual problem with the movie is that all too often it jumped over the line from clever to stupid.  I think I would have really found much of the material hilarious 10-15 years ago.  I was expecting something more along the lines of “This is Spinal Tap,” and less like a drawn out R rated SNL sketch.  There is so much that is ridiculous in professional cycling that it shouldn’t be hard to fill a feature film, and “Tour de Pharmacy” is only 50 minutes.

I suppose I went into the film with far to high expectations, I was expecting something like a comedy version of “A Sunday in Hell,” but instead got a series of mostly unrelated “dick and fart jokes” to borrow a phrase from Kevin Smith.

Maybe my love of cycling does tarnish my take on the movie, critics loved it and it has a 92% at rotten tomatoes.  If you get a chance watch it and let me know what you think.

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The Hit and Run Video and My Opinion

Cycling has been in the news alot this week, and not for a good reason.  The hit and run on the Natchez Trace that went viral and ended up in just about everyone’s facebook feed has demonstrated the real danger that cyclist face, and the real ironic thing: The danger on a road that is primarily there for cycling and sightseeing.  The Natchez trace is a national parkway, and has special rules for cyclists, such as the fact that they are legally allowed to take up their entire lane and ride two abreast.

I’m not going to post the video, I’m sure you’ve seen it.  I’m at a loss for words after watching it and I just can’t understand, but after watching it something I believe has been reinforced, people do things behind the wheel that they probably wouldn’t do if they weren’t driving, and that society is changing.

The following is just an opinion, it could be wrong but it’s what I think.  I think the cyclist Tyler Noe in that video was stuck on purpose.  I believe that the driver, Marshall Grant Neely, had been held up for a period of time behind two cyclists who were taking up the lane.  I believe the driver probably drove this road on a regular basis and had developed a deep hatred of cyclists, especially those who ride two abreast.

I believe the driver had probably decided that he needed to take action against the cyclists who were, in his mind, ruining his life and the lives of others, by holding him up behind them.  I believe the driver decided he would “bump” the cyclist perhaps knock him down.  The driver then developed a story claiming how the cyclist threw his bike at him, it would be his word against thier word.  Instead he is now on TV.

Now here’s where I’m going to get weird, so bare with me.

I believe that our current society has more or less abandoned the idea of truth and objective morality.  Instead it has devolved into a tribal form of subjective morality.  I believe that society will separate into two camps on almost any issue and construct their own truth about any given situation.  An objective person can see this happening in our politics, society forms two tribes that each completely ignore the flaws of their candidate and develop their own reality of any given situation.

Donald Trump understood this better than anyone, he is a master of manipulating reality.  His obsession with polling and ratings is a dead giveaway.  He understands that truth is only what his tribe will believe.   He realized that to his followers what he said was reality, as long as it sounded even remotely truthful.  He also realized that in our society today consequences for behavior are as subjective as reality has become.

Marshall Grant Neely will face consequences for his behavior, but likely not serious life altering consequences, he will not serve time.  And why should he?  In fact to many he is a a hero, in fact I would estimate if a poll was taken the cyclist would be the one to blame.  In fact a poll was taken, look at the comments in the video, the comments that blame the cyclist are far outvoted then the comments supporting the cyclist.

Here’s a good example.

“clearly this asshole on the bike is riding next to his other asshole buddy just so these piece of shit fag boys can talk. I’m tired of these fucks ruling the roads that built for cars not bikes. Best of luck to the guy in the car, I stand with you. Yes, I am very angry about this. I live near the beach and see this too often. These fucks don’t stop at the stop signs and get away with it just so they don’t have to stop and have to start up again. Fuuuuuu-Q!!!!”

This particular comment was the most highly upvoted comment on that particular video.  In the past I would just write it off as internet trolls, but that is no longer an option.  The internet trolls are now running the country.

So… as cyclists we must understand that we are the minority, and that there are people, a small but likely growing number, who will hit us with their vehicles if we are riding in such a way as they feel is incorrect.

This is my advice.  Treat all cars as if they are driven by poorly designed robots that will run you over if you get in their way.  Do not ride in the robot car’s path, as many robots are lacking empathy programming.  If you are riding two abreast and a car is approaching line up on the edge of the road as fast as possible.

Do not trust that ridiculous 3 feet laws will protect you.  They do not really exist.

Maybe I’m way off, maybe Marshal Grant Neely really didn’t the cyclist, really didn’t notice he’d hit one, and really thought a cyclist threw their bike at his car.

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Happy Birthday from Lance and Willie

Even though I’ve got an awesome photo printer I usually just buy dollar greeting cards, but no more.  My Dad’s birthday was yesterday and I made him a custom card.  I guess I’ve been watching Lance’s STAGES podcast so I’ve got Lance on the brain.  I also included another folk hero, Willie Nelson.



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