A New Experience: Cycling with Diabetes

I am better known for running for many miles in a day, or running the UK… certainly not going out and cycling! However, I’ve decided to get into it for a World Diabetes Day weekend / GBR 30/30 Challenge reunion challenge!

bike imageOver the past two weekends I decided to go out on the bike with my Old Man – who does this most weekends, and pedal a good number of miles in training to see how I get on physically as well as in controlling my diabetes!

Controlling Blood Sugar Levels Whilst Cycling

What would be my approach? I always like to have a good plan, yet, with limited experience in terms of cycling as opposed to running I had to make a decision to get it right. I do believe with sports and diabetes a lot of the time it is very much trial and error to learn how your body copes – there are definite guidelines that work for everyone, such as Marathon Running is always going to gradually lower your blood sugar levels downwards and the background insulin will need to be much lowered. Ultra Marathon running, however, depends on the route as I found on the 30/30 challenge – with 500ft hills going up and down and the change of speeds that I had, levels could rise just as sharp as they dropped at times! That was the extreme effects of running for 30 days added in too though, on the whole it is most likely to have blood sugar levels lower in long distance runs where on average you keep a similar pace going.

That was my estimate on the bike too. If it were a sport such as football, completely different, where you stop start and burning sudden energy and then jog slowly for a spell before sprinting for the ball… that will most often rise levels with an adrenaline effect and then lower them later on through the amount of burned energy. The cycle was more similar to running long distance I gathered, background insulin being essential as someone who injects and a decent number of carbohydrates on hand would be required.

My first cycle was 27 miles on a route with the Old Man around the London and Kent borders, which actually (to my surprise) went by some country lanes and nice views. I came to dislike country lanes when running – I’d be stuck along them for hours during 30/30! Lamb shank became first choice on the menus! But on a bike it is more soothing, you can pedal a bit more and get out of there quicker, once the views have been admired…

For this cycle my starting blood level was at 8.3mml/l and I was happy with that. I wasn’t happy with the fact it was around 7am in the morning but that’s another matter… My plan was to have my long acting basal Levemir Insulin in the evening a little later than usual, so that I did not inject my morning dosage until I got back – meaning that there was a small amount of background insulin in my system remaining but not too much to crash my levels. I ate a banana before starting.

6 miles in my levels were at 6.5 so a slight decrease. I consumed two gluco tabs, which is 8gs of carbohydrates.14 miles in I found myself at 6.8, which I was happy with as it was better controlled than a normal day at the 6s! It was around the halfway mark and therefore I decided to have more of a snack at this point, fueling up! I consumed an orange, a few swigs of lucozade energy and a chocolate bar.

22 miles in and back in the built up areas nearing home, I found myself at 6.2 – a slight drop but nothing to worry about. In fact three readings of blood sugars in the 6s I was delighted! I should do this every day…

I topped up with two more glucose tabs and had popped one more in my mouth some point between the 14th mile and 22nd mile. Before finishing I decided to have another tablet so after registering the 6.2 I had 12gs of carbohydrates. The Old Man was pedaling ahead of me (he has a road bike) and I was doing my utmost to keep up, but struggling for pace most of the time. This is the only sport I can say that would be the case with my Old Man…

However, in true Wiggo style, champions never quit! I pedaled hard and caught him up towards the final bend on the home straight and managed to pip him to it to the finish line! My final Blood Sugars were at 8.2 – all in all it is start level 8.3 finish 8.2, great job! I could get used to this cycling lark if it wasn’t for my backside being absolutely battered by the seat for a couple of hours! With that slight rise in levels I think it was partly also down to the adrenaline rush at the end, but all in all I was very pleased.

The 100 Mile Cycle for Diabetes

On 16th and 17th November I will be back in the West Country – my first trip back there since running 30/30 earlier in the year. I’ll be joined by Jeff Astle on the bike whose daughter Mimi has type 1 and the pair played a great part during 30/30 when I went by their area – Jeff running 2 days! The Old Man is getting on his bike and also there will be Gary Gunner, otherwise known by us as ‘Wheres Wally’ and the answer is more often than not – The Pub! Gary cycled 7 days of 30/30 & previously also cycled in support of me during the Hastings to Brighton JDRF challenge in 2012. I’ll stay at my Auntie Jayne’s for a night, support driver for the final 30/30 week and hopefully will see Chris Huke and his son Alfie who has type 1 when in Bristol!

The 100 mile route goes from Mark to Cheddar, Bristol and Saltford on Day 1 and then onto Bath, Wells, Glastonbury and back into Mark on Day 2. We are supporting Diabetes UK and JDRF UK by doing this, continuing on from the fundraising earlier in the year of my UK 900 mile success – anyone who wishes to donate please see: GBR30/30


(right to left: Gary Gunner, the Old Man and myself at Dunbar on the 30/30 challenge)

Where's WallyWhere’s Wally?


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