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"My Best Bonk" Contest Entry - Mark Campbell
By:  Mark Campbell   (2005/03/03)


Although i have many of my own, my favorite bonk story is my buddy Dave O'Neil's ski training - but i was involved/responsible:

My buddy Shawn Amirault, who i had long nicknamed 'Sugar Coat', for his version of reality when he wants his friends to join him for something, myself, and Dave O'Neil, set out for our skate ski training on the Nova Scotia snowmobile trails 1 hr from Halifax in the Wentworth Valley. With no real nordic center or grooming this is our only real distance training option, and trails are usually decent for hard core skate technique and have plenty of long tough hills, but often with powdery snow.

Sugar Coat informs us of this "great 30 minute extra loop" he saw on the map that we could add on to our 32 km circle we tend to do in about 2 hrs, and it being a weekday afternoon, we would see little or no snowmobiles. Sugar Coat and i had plenty of skiing under our belts and were headed to Keskinada for the 50k, but Dave was doing his first ski of the year. The snow was loose and tough going, but when we reached the turn where we could do the extra, or head back and only have about 1hr to go, we let Sugar Coat convince us that it will only be 30 minute extra (even though he had never been there or skied it). We followed like lemmings and Sugar Coat skied way out front of us and out of yelling range, i presume to avoid discussions about turning around and ruining his plan. so we blindly follow him and ski directly away from the direction of the car. 25 minutes of solid skiing later, we reach the trail that 'he thinks' will actually turn us back.

Sugar Coat says if it is a reasonably straight shot back it would be 'less than an hour extra'. Already suffering, Dave bought this and agreed to continue. Right off the hop, the trail is a 3 km blazing fast twisty downhill, that included a snowless bridge that was invisible to the last second and necessitated a 6 ft jump to cross. Sugar Coat and i both have downhill ski backgrounds and loved it despite crashing on the opposite side when we landed. Dave - not so much! (Especially since this was all elevation we would have to gain back again.)

Almost immedietely Dave's pace slowed even more and he was eating everything we could give him. He was spent, and we were no where near getting back to the original loop. i am known for bringing little or no food or drink, and having given up what little i had, i was beginning to bonk too. Sugar Coat decided it best to go on ahead as darkness was becoming an unexpected factor and he could bring his Outback up the first 4k of trail, or as far as he could. i skied with Dave and encouraged him, trying to block any wind when i could, but he would fall back immedietely even at the slowest of paces and we slowed to a crawl with frequent stops. eventually we take our skis off and walk the hills (read: any elevation gain whatsoever).

After almost 5 hrs, darkness long upon us, and many hours of talking and imagining any and every kind of food and a warm car, we reach the intersection where Sugar Coat was hoping to get to meet us. Dave is completely done, but Sugar Coat is there with the car. Its over!.........except for one small hitch - Sugar Coat has managed to get his wheels off the edge of the snowmobile trail and into the loose unpacked snow and we are stuck in the dark, back on a deserted snowmobile trail and we haven't seen one other human the whole afternoon/night!

After 20 minutes of struggling and pushing in the powdery deep snow in ski boots (i had come directly from work and other option was my dress shoes) we manage to get the car back on the harder snow and are home free. we all enjoy a few cans of icy coke from the case i had left in the car, and Dave sleeps it off, but surprisingly never trusts us again!

Story #2

If a bonk can count as 'bonking' off the parkway then i have a one from 2004 at last years 50k skate at keski:

i was having my best race to date, having improved steadily every year since my 504th place debut in 1999 and was headed for a top 50 result for the first time.

with about 15k to go i was still feeling strong. the temperature dropped slightly during the race and was about -25 celsius, but i hadn't thought to wear a wind proof layer or vest as i tend to not need alot warm clothing. given the course profile you only really get long downhills in the last third of the race.

so with my clothes soaked with sweat, i tucked the entire longest downhill section and when i got to the bottom i stood up and the entire front of me as well as my back was frozen absolutely solid. i was freezing and could hardly move my arms to make a pole stroke as my clothing was like concrete.

without another skier for 50 mtrs in front or behind me and on the wide open parkway, i managed to then trip on my own pole and slammed my 200lb self hard to the ground. when i finally got undazed and upright, i realized i had trimmed about 12-16 inches off the bottom of my left pole.

for the remainder of my very lopsided kilometers, i lost many spots, was still freezing, and my shortened (but now lighter) pole would randomly go deep into the snow, sapping what was left of my energy. just for added misery, on the last climb where the snow was softer and my energy completely gone, the pole slid deep on almost every pole plant.

the good news was that the pole was more aero without the basket on the last short downhill. i limped home for 64th place, knowing the only solution to prevent this from happening again is to get stronger poles (and perhaps wear a vest)!

(for the record i also never drank a drop of anything, other than maybe a few drips from the 'snot-cicles' on my goatee, the entire race.)

bottoms up!
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