Today’s question is about legs getting tired after a rest stop on a group ride…

I am 58 and my weight is around 165. I seem to keep up with a good cadence and HR riding with the pack up until after the first rest stop of about 25 miles. After I get back on the bike, my legs were very tired and had a hard time going up hills. My cadence slowed way down and my HR slowed down as well. My legs were very tired and started hurting. Just the day before I did about 40 miles and the same thing happened. This happens alot.

Is this called BONK? I drink plenty of fluid. Drinking 1st endurance EFS and tried other’s but nothing is working. My legs seem to get tired quickly and can hardly get up hills.

Billy Bonks

Hi Billy,

Interesting question!

Generally when you bonk, you feel completely exhausted and have a hard time summoning energy to move. It usually doesn’t involve your leg muscles hurting though. (Your legs could certainly end up sore, but a bonk is more a feeling of not having the energy or desire to move your legs.)

But the slow legs and slow heartbeat could be a sign of overtraining. (In some cases, not always though.)

The fact that this happens after a rest stop is what intrigues me. Some people like to stop and rest, then get going again, but some people (like myself) usually feel worse after stopping to rest. It’s like we lose our rhythm.

It’s hard to say exactly what causes your problem. Generally the first response to something like this is either (a) you need to take 2-3 days to rest or (b) you are pushing yourself too hard for your current level of fitness.

Going only on what info I have, I would guess that you end up pushing yourself too hard on these group rides. A LOT of people train at a certain level during the week, but then they go on a group ride, and they push themselves harder than they are capable of without even realizing it (it’s easy to get caught up in the moment when riding with a pack.)

Even if the average speed and distance are similar to what you are used to, perhaps there are more frequent accelerations on the group ride? Or you push just a little too hard at the front of the pack thanks to an adrenaline rush?

It doesn’t take much to push yourself over the edge and then have a hard time the rest of the ride. Maybe you push a little too hard, then the rest stop lets the initial adrenaline rush wear off, and you can’t get back into your rhythm.

Try to take an objective look at your normal solo rides and compare the difficulty to your group rides where you have this problem. Perhaps you’ll see a difference. (Or not, in which case you’ll have to do more detective work to figure out what is going on!)

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  1. Re: 2 cent feed back on Rest stop lock up
    Sounds like Billy has isolated his muscle fiber development to cycling only out of habit.

    Experience has been that HIT cross training will raise his VO2 max thus raise his lactic thresh hold and allow him it develop additional
    connective tissue (fast and slow twitch muscle fibers) to use in reserve on longer rides.

    I think you are correct in that he may be pushing past sugar reserves out of desperation to keep up initiating lactic production which will rush to muscle sites aided by gravity while standing.

    AJ in AZ

  2. hi,
    AJ, you’ve probably answered my question, but i have a similar issue – I’m generally fit, but ride infrequently, and when i do, i can get say an hour into the ride and then same issue – legs like concrete and my speed drops 30-50% till the end of the ride. Hills also tend to kill me. even slight ones.

    i’d say its because i’m untrained, so consume all the glycogen stores, and don’t clear lactate well.

    question is- hows the best way to raise tolerance levels for this so i can join onto group rides? High intensity interval training to work on lactate clearance?

    i don’t really have time in the week for long rides, so most training will be before work, 30-60min max.

    appreciate any experienced opinions.


  3. @Jeff

    That’s likely it. You’ll need some more intensity to help make up for the shorter rides.

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