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Long distance cycling

Discussion in 'Sports and Athletics' started by geekguyandy, Dec 20, 2009.

  1. geekguyandy

    geekguyandy Approved members

    Apr 24, 2008
    I see that posts are fairly infrequent on the sports page, but I thought I would just say a few things here in case other cyclists want to chat.

    After college (about 1.5 years ago), I entered the real world and decided that I wasn't going to commute to work by car. I bought my first road bike and was soon riding 40mi a week for the commute. I quickly got interested in riding full days with a local cycling club, and in the past year I've rode 5,000 miles. Being a type 1 diabetic, I knew this would teach me new tricks to managing my diabetes. When I started cycling, I had a1cs around 6.8-7.5, and my most recent was 6.1.

    The commute:
    My commute is 4 miles each way, but I live on one hill and work on another, so it takes 17-20 minutes. This means I climb 900 feet each day which took some time to get used to. The morning commute is great for my blood sugar levels, because I typically eat 80g carbs for breakfast. I have my basals set to give a few extra units as I'm waking up, but I used to consistently have morning highs due to big breakfasts that's a not so much of a problem anymore with this exercise.

    The races:
    This past summer I was racing 2-3 times a month with a local club. The races are 10-18 miles long, and speeds averaged around 22mph depending on which hills we raced on. I got in a habit of testing an hour before racing and trying to make my corrections early. I would then test just before racing, mostly as a confirmation that my sugar level was okay. During the races, I usually had one waterbottle with water, and another with flattened soda in case I needed sugar quick. I would get some comments because I always had a trunk bag on a rack behind my seat which would carry my food, meter, and the necessary minor bike repair tools - No one else races with that sort of stuff in tow. But I was racing for fun, and a few pounds of gear to keep me from passing out and to keep me from walking home if something broke seems well worth the tiny bit of drag it adds. In bike racing, when you run out of sugar they call it "bonking." During these events I would occasionally feel this start to come on, but I think as a diabetic and being used to lows, I was actually catching this faster than most others would. Of course with <20 mile races, bonking is pretty rare unless someone had skipped lunch that day. This would be much more important on major races that last a few hours or more, but I haven't done those yet.

    The weekends:
    Once I found a cycling club in town, I joined in knowing that they would be far above my level, but that it was worth a try in hopes that I could keep up. The first 2 rides I did were 40 miles, so only a few hours long and I was able to keep up although it wasn't easy. By the third ride, these guys were doing 85+ mile rides averaging 17mph. You can do the math, but this means 5 hours of riding, plus some extra time for breaks which they don't stop often for. This was a major struggle for me when I started in the early fall that year. Winter came and I was riding much less, but come early spring I jumped right back into it with my longest riding days yet. On 2 weekends in March 2009, I rode 125 and 137 mile days. I left as the sun was rising, and got home as the sun set. It was grueling, but I felt so strong and so empowered by being able to accomplish that much without diabetes slowing me down. For an example of my diet, here's a typical day of food during one of these all-day rides:
    big bowl of cereal, apple, pear, 3 cups granola mix, 2 clif bars, 2 candy bars, 48oz soda or juice, 48oz gatorade, 24oz water, and after I got home: a heaping bowl of pasta, box of crackers, and bowl of ice cream. All together that's about 400-600 grams of carbs in a day! In the past year, I've have done 10 rides over 100 miles that had diets similar to that, as well as many other rides in the 40-100 mile range to add up my 5,000 miles this year.

    I've already started planning a bit for 2010, and I'm fairly confident that it will include more racing, more weekend rides, a week-long tour around Lake Erie and a few 3-4 days tours in the Catskills and Adirondacks. I recently got a Dexcom 7+, and I have plans on finding a way to mount this to my handlebars. Having a CGM means I'll be able to actually enjoy my breaks, instead of needing them in order to check my sugar levels. I'm hoping that it also means on long days of riding I can know exactly when to start eating to avoid those lows.

    If there are other cyclists out there, I'd love hear how diabetes fits in and share tips. Feel free to reply here or send me a message.

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