Roger Marolt: Bonking out in my protest against Lycra | AspenTimes.com

Roger Marolt: Bonking out in my protest against Lycra

Roger Marolt
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In my defense, I think it was more of a push back against the pervading Aspen culture that imaginarily boosts basic recreational activities to pretend levels of world-class professional sports — see a scowling, middle-age man in a logo-plastered cycling uniform wrapped with a heart rate monitor on a $15,000 custom bike banking a turn through the roundabout on his way to Maroon Lake at rush hour, flipping the bird to a yielding RFTA bus and you get the picture.

A valid counterpoint is that I was acting like a St. Francis of Assisi wannabe.

The fact is I headed out on a long mountain bike ride with only a bottle of water and a pocket full of almonds. And, yes, you are correct: Lycra bike shorts don't have pockets. I wore a Texas Longhorn cotton T-shirt to complete the orchestrated, overly casual-looking ensemble.

What happened is that I bonked. … Or became dehydrated. … Or, got dehydrated and then bonked. Whatever, I ran severely short of something, maybe several things.

Many years ago, I swore this would never happen again. It was the end of a long, hot ride in Moab when I got light-headed and weak. We came around a corner into town and there was a beautiful, cool, lush green park right there. My body gave out at the sight. I pulled over and collapsed on that lawn. I dry-heaved and hyperventilated and cramped and hallucinated, all the while crying for mommy.

I was good and careful about avoiding a repeat for the next quarter century.

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Do you remember the bonking craze? It was a '90s thing. Everybody seemed to be doing it. People were constantly bonking on the Pass, up at Ashcroft, while running the Golden Leaf, even in events where you wouldn't think bonking is possible, like the Motherlode volleyball tournament. Maybe it was only a local fad.

I think its popularity came to an end when they made Powerbars taste more like a Snickers, nutritional supplements became the locally preferred multi-level marketing product, and personal trainers began outnumbering real estate brokers here.

As a refresher, then, bonking is not simply getting tired. It's not about boredom. It's not laziness. It is miserable, self-inflicted, hard exercise-induced misery.

Let me give you a driving analogy. It's like you are motoring along a charming country road, the scenery is beautiful. After awhile you notice the engine might be running a little hot and you are a bit surprised at how much gasoline you are using. Ten minutes later, your car is fried. You're out of gas, there's no oil, the radiator has boiled dry, there is no transmission or power steering fluid left, even the windshield wiper fluid has evaporated. Oh, and all four tires are flat. Not even the emergency blinkers work.

You convince yourself that home is close and, what the heck? You can muscle through. You get out and start pushing. You realize you are on a slight uphill grade. You double your effort with little result. Gravity takes over. The car starts rolling backward. It runs you over. You cry for mommy.

Back to the present: Somehow I wobble back to my house after five hours on the trail and crash into my front yard while the neighbors work pleasantly in their yards. I stumble through the garage, grab a Gatorade from the fridge, and slither into the kitchen. My wife is at the dining room table on her laptop. I stagger to a chair across from her and plop down as nonchalantly as I can.

"How was your ride?" she asks, not looking up.

"Great," I say, my voice high and thready.

"What's the matter?" She's looking at me now.

"Nothing," I weakly squeak.

My wife doesn't like it when I do stupid things. For this reason, I try to hide them. It is really hard to mask anxiety when you are out of your mind exhausted and getting grilled. I did OK for a while. The severe leg cramps were my undoing — both legs simultaneously, thighs and calves.

I rolled onto the floor, moaning and writhing, gasping for my next breath, biting deeply into the leg of the stool next to my head. OK, the biting thing I only wanted to do, but everything else was actually worse than I make it sound.

"Where did you go?" She asked casually.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, I guess after I got over being all serious about not being serious about my ride, the whole thing seems kind of funny.

Roger Marolt is looking seriously into those straws you can use to sip safely from a mountain stream. Email at roger@maroltllp.com.