23 September 2006


Exhaustion does not kill a paradigm, it merely signals it has lost the ascendancy.

I don’t much believe in witches though I’ve sought their council – involuntarily – as early as the age of one. It was an alleged issue of life and death, my Mom explained once, though I don’t recall the actual witchcraft that was performed on me. And indeed there is a saying in my land that pronounces: “I don’t believe in witches, but witches there are aplenty.”

Not too long ago I was talking to Bill on the list about bonking: that physical low experienced during hard physical activity. A weak definition, really, by any account, since the real feeling is that type of awful that dictionaries can’t handle in definitions, not without pictures and groaning sound effects. And so I was telling Bill, who apparently recently bonked and found himself helpless alongside some mountain road until a kind motorist came to his assistance (because some drivers are nice in spite of bicycles), that one ought to avoid those bonking things by resting right, eating properly, hydrating, you know all those little things that make us wise bike riders. Mind you, I said all of that with a certain degree of authority because I bonked once and that made me, well, a bonking authority.

This is where the witchcraft comes in: no more than a couple of days after Bill raises the bonking issue that I bonk after a mere three hour ride. And once again – as happened the first time – I didn’t think I’d done anything unusual; after all I had done this particular 64 kilometer loop before at a 19.7 km/hr. pace. Nothing unusual, I thought.

I should’ve gotten a hint that things weren’t right as I climbed my first hill – the Bicycle Eater, as my son calls it – and I was nearly out of breath at the top of it. That was only 4 kilometers into the ride. I felt very tired. (A little voice told me to turn around but I failed to hear it.) So I pushed on and apparently convinced myself that things ought to get better.


I’m not so sure whether things went better or worse…they just went. Somehow I maintained my normal pace and drank my two liters of energy drink, though I had this strange desire to make it home quick.

I bonked as soon as I got through the garage door; sat down without one wink of energy and no desire to do a thing. I ate and drank like a desperate man soon as I could and then slept for two hours – killing most of the afternoon, ‘cause the morning had killed me – until I began to feel slightly normal again. I thought I had a fever or a cold. My legs were cramping. I was dead tired.

Then I thought about it. What happened? It was the bonkers spell again. The night before I had had no dinner, which is very unusual for me; instead I had two beers. And then again, for some strange reason I had a light breakfast. Only one toast and a cup of coffee: European cup of coffee-thingy, small, tiny. Again, fairly unusual for me. (Nowhere in European etiquette – not even in the most hermetic French baguette circles – does it say that you cannot have 3 tiny thingies to make up for one normal real thingy.)

So I should’ve listened to my advice to Bill: you’ve got to fuel properly and rest properly. That’s what I told him just a couple of days ago, lest you want the bonk to get you. Almost sounds like a spell, doesn’t it?


the old bag said...


no wonder the witch was waitin' around the corner!

A.R.B. said...

That’s right. One measly toast – leftover from my kid’s breakfast. Which teaches us why God thought that toasters ought to work with pairs. Toasters don’t make one toast; they don’t make three. They make two or four and that’s what I should’ve eaten!

Shawn Kielty said...

More beer might have helped -- especially if it was good beer.

Jill said...

Shawn makes a good point.

Although sometimes the bonk is unavoidable, no matter how much you try.

Just like witches.

Shawn Kielty said...

Alberto -- did you drink too much of the beer -- my friend -- where have you gone?

I had this lover in grad school and she was a painter -- she painted a schoolgirl's poofy armed dress ... imagine that.

My friend and roommate Fernando Hernandez asked -- "why are you painting this toast?" He was thinking the schoolgirl dress was a piece of toast. Imagine that.

A.R.B. said...

Shawn – You’re right. More beer would’ve made me make the right choice: stay in bed the rest of that wretched day!

Jill – Good to see you in these warmer parts! I’d just like to know who put the bonkers spell on me! Gad-awful feeling.