Monday, April 20, 2009

Attention cyclists: incredible new breakthrough in endurance sports performance!

Endurance athletes are all familiar with the "bonk!" Some call it "hitting the wall," or even "crashing," but regardless of the term you use to denote this phenomenon, you are no doubt familiar with the symptoms and resulting condition: light-head, diziness, total fatigue and exhaustion, you feel like you just want to lie down wherever you are and fall into a deep, deep sleep. And if you do lie down, no doubt you will soon be slumbering as your body tries to recoup. I remember one particular day i went out to ride with a group that was much faster than me. i hadn't eaten enough before the ride and worked harder than i usually do to keep up. After about three hours of riding i was done, could barely turn the pedals. I dragged myself home, set my bike against the house, and sat down in a bench in the backyard. Forty-five minutes later i woke up, still in my helmet and bike shoes sitting there on the bench. I was that tired!
Well, "what is this new breakthough?" you are probably wondering. Cyclists and other endurance athletes have often attributed bonking to a couple of different causes, most notably, not eating enough to sustain the level of sustained energy output. Simply put, if you're not eating and drinking your body won't have any fuel to keep the muscles moving and will soon enough shut down, resulting in the dreaded bonk. Any sustained efforts without food will bring the athlete to "the wall."

New evidence, however, suggests that this may not actually be the cause of bonking. Dr. L.A. (i have not revealed her name because the results of her research have not been peer-reviewed yet, and i don't want to cause too much commotion before the research has been fully vetted, but she is a Dr.—nevermind that her doctorate has nothing to do with the medical fields, let alone exercise physiology, she is a Dr.) has conducted a number of studies in which she has determined that the cause of bonking is: wait for it, wait for it . . .

air in the ears.

Yes, while not eating may exacerbate the problem, the real casue for bonking is if wind blows in your ears. Dr. L.A. knows this because last week she went for a bike ride and after the ride she felt dizzy and light headed and had to take a little nap. She's sure it was because of the air in her ears (there are a few things i have to clarify about her study, because for as long as i've known her she always puts something in her ears when she rides, so it is a tiny bit suspicious that she would have gone for a ride without cotton or headphones in the first place, so i'm wondering how she got air in her ears in the first place).
But anyway, she is looking for research subjects who would be willing to go downhill on a bike to test her hypothesis. She will be seeking both cyclists who will wear something to protect their ears from the wind, and a control group who will go downhill fast without anything in their ears (until this hypothesis can be verified, the author of this blog strongly discourages anyone from riding downhill fast without proper ear protection because of the potential health risks, which are too great to quantify).

Dr. L.A., whose identity has been concealed because of the potential brilliance of her ideas, illustrating one form of protecting ears from the potentially destructive and crippling effects of wind.

On another note, a new commrade has joined the ranks of latex-clad green lantern SUPER HEROES. Dr. Q and Dr. DB got new bikes this weekend.

Showing off the sparkly new rides.

Dr. Q started out his first day on a bike with not one, but two ascents of city creek canyon. He couldn't get enough of his new superdope ride.

Notice the technique for eating. Although cyclists have long attributed "bonking" to a lack of food, for which Dr. Q is taking preventive steps here, new fascinating research suggests that the causes of hitting the wall may actually be something else.

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