Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ohhhh... So THAT is what "bonking" is

So, I decided to hit the Des Plaines river trail on the mountain bike again.  'Cept I decided that I wanted to complete the whole southern section of the trail.  So rather than jump on the bike here at the house and head over to the path at Irving Park, I loaded the bike onto the Subaru and drove over to the forest preserve parking lot at Algonquin.  My plan was to ride south to North Av, and then turn around and head back.  Well, first of all it was a great day.  At one point, not long after I had set out, I happened onto a group of kids who were out on a nature walk with their teacher.  The cool thing was that this paticular group of kids happened to include my own beautiful daughter.  She was very excited to see me, and I think that for just a moment there, she may have actually thought that her old man was kind of cool, although she didn't come right out and say so...

After a quick chat with her and her classmates I continued on and made it to North Av. it pretty decent time.  I was feeling good and the weather was perfect, so I decided to continue south from North Av. on a surface street that paralelles the river just to see if I could pick up the trail again, which I did pretty quickly.  It was a pretty tight single track, but it was a trail.  I came to a rail road bridge that was still too muddy to pass underneath so I carried the bike up and over and then continued riding.  Then I crossed Chicago Av and continued south but not very far past that point I just completely lost the trail.  The river has been well over its banks during the winter and either I was following the wrong path to begin with, or the trail has just been washed clear.  I didn't feel right blazing a new trail, the ground was still fairly soft, and it occurred to me that had a pretty good distance to go to get back to the car.  So I felt it was a good time to turn back.  I hadn't brought any snacks (mistake #1) and I had finished off about 1/2 my water bottle by this time.  I only carry one bottle on the mountain bike, but it is a big honkin' thing so I thought I still had enough to get by (mistake #2).  Back at North Av, it occurred to me that I could stop at the drug store that is right nearby, and grab a snack and refill the water bottle, but as I was still feeling pretty good, I just continued on (mistake #3).  By the time I was about half way back to the car I was getting really tired.  And at about 3/4ths of the way I was really, really tired and out of water.  A whole new kind of ache had started in my legs.  Rather than just one or two paticular muscle groups being sore, my whole legs were aching.  I have never wanted to just lay down on the ground and take a little siesta so badly in my life.  I had tossed an apple in the car when I left the house that morning, so I just kept thinking about how delicious it was going to taste, and I just kept pedalling.  Many explitives were uttered along the way, but I made it back to the car.  And that apple was amazing.  I sat in the car and devoured it like a ravenous ferrel dog and while I did so, my legs cramped up like nobody's business.  I managed to waddle around well enough to get the bike loaded back onto the Subaru and headed for home.  Back at the house I constructed, and feasted on, a most prodigious sandwich and then went ahead and grabbed that siesta I had been fantasizing about earlier.  The whole ride only ended up being 26 miles, but I was far more tired than I had been after my longest road bike ride last season.  Poor preparation.

Here are a couple pictures I've taken with my cell phone while riding this trail:

Nifty old mountain bike near a nifty old railroad bridge

Spring on the Des Plaines River


Paul said...

Very cool, -T! The bonk is something you don't soon forget. I've had two that were so bad I just had to sit down on the side of the road. Many like you describe - a sense that you'll never make it back to the world and that the bike is the most evil form of transportation ever.

That river is looking pretty high for this time of year, no?

-T. said...

I remember you telling me about that bonk. I was pretty miserable for awhile there, but looking back it was still a really fun day, and an interesting experience. I'm hoping to repeat the ride tomorrow but this time with some snacks and stopping to refill the water bottle.

That river picture was taken from a ride I made about 3 weeks prior to the "bonk" ride. The river was still a bit high then. But it does get high quick and fairly regularly. Being surrounded by cities, I think it is forced to take too much run-off.