Cycling 122.5 km with Type-1 Diabetes

Remember last week’s post about documenting strategies, and how I was going to work on being better at it? Well folks, I di-id 😀

Last week I rode 122.5 km!!!!!!

Can we just pause here for a moment; I’m pretty freaking proud of this achievement.

122.5 km, totally no big deal 😉

This ride was my longest bike ride EVER. The furthest I’d ridden previously was 90 km.

After almost a full season of cycling I told my husband I was ready for 100 km. Apparently, he thought I was ready for 122.5 km 😉

Normally, I don’t ride with my husband. With a little at home, one of us needs to be on duty at all times.

Normally, I either ride solo or with my favourite cycling chick. And when I’m riding with others I don’t always feel comfortable saying “Hey, do you mind if we stop so I can check my blood sugars … again?”

My husband, though, he’s kinda got to stop, right ?

When we ride, we ride!

What a perfect opportunity to fully document my diabetes strategy.

I woke up at 5 a.m., 3 hours before we were set to embark. My blood sugars, which normally run lower in the morning, gave me a big fat middle finger by way of a 12.4 mmol/L reading.

Are you freaking kidding me?

I took my full breakfast bolus, plus a correction. I also increased my temp. basal by 50% for 0.5 hours as my morning BG tends to rise immediately after eating. Any other day I would have increased the basal by at least 75-95% in an effort to combat potential highs. But because I was heading out for a ride, I didn’t want to risk a premature low either, so I felt 50% was adequately conservative.

Check 1: One hour post breakfast BG: 11.7 straight arrow.

Check 2: Two hours post breakfast my BG was 9.4. I decreased my basal by 65% to try and slow down the decrease. By 7:30 though, my BG was now at 6.0 and I wasn’t confident it would stay there. I decreased my basal again to -80% and consumed 2 Swedish Fish.

Check 3: As suspected, 45 minutes into the ride my BG had plummeted to 4.0 mmol/L.

I sucked back half an applesauce pouch and kept my basal at -80%

The reason I didn’t consume the entire applesauce pouch is because I was worried I’d experience a rebound high by consuming too many simple carbs as I’d experienced on previous rides. Because I was more conservative in my fuelling, I opted at this point to check my BG every half hour instead of every 40-45 minutes.

Just another BG check over here…

Check 4: The conservative effort was not working so well for me. My BG was now 3.5 mmol/L.

I sucked back the rest of the applesauce and added 1 Swedish Fish to the mix and kept my basal at -80%.

We were less than an hour from our first snack stop destination; I was hoping the BG would survive the distance.

Check 5: Snack stop at Blacksmith Bakery in Fort Langley clocked a 4.1 mmol/L reading.

I got a tartelette because, well, I’d already burned a good amount of energy and I needed a solid sugar oomph at this point. Plus, it just looked really good!

Pretty much, heaven.

I removed the temp. basal for the entire time we were stopped and calculated the carbohydrates in the tartelette to be approximately 30 grams. My insulin dose factored in a correction for the lower BG and I subtracted 30% from the overall dose to factor in the cycling to come.

By the time we were set to leave, my BG was at 6.3. I decreased my temp. basal to -70%, which is lower than I’d usually set it for a long ride, but because I’d been fighting lows all morning I felt I needed to continue being conservative with my insulin-cycling strategy.

Check 6: Twenty five minutes post snack stop and post a long, winding hill my BG was happily sitting at 6.1.

I readjusted my temp. basal to -60%, which is a usual cycling basal for me.

Blog-Country Roads (cycling).jpg
I love the beauty of cycling country roads.

Check 7: Thirty minutes later, my BG was down to 4.9 mmol/L.

I again readjusted my temp. basal to -85% and chomped down 3 Swedish Fish.

Check 8: By 4 hours into the ride (35 minutes since my last check) my BG was up to 7.1 mmol/L.

We were coming up to a lunch stop pretty quick, so I reduced my temp. basal to -35%

Check 9: Lunch stop at Lunch Doctor in Pitt Meadows had my BG running at 5.9 mmol/L.

I removed the temp. basal for the entire time we were seated. My lunch included a huge turkey and avocado sandwich and a kombucha, to which I calculated 60g carbs for.

My husband estimated we had about 24 km left into the ride (he was wrong; we had 34 km left) so I subtracted 35% from the bolus dose.


This sandwich was a monster!

By the time we left, my BG was at 8.7 and rising.

I set a temp. basal for -65%.

Check 10: Half hour in to our final stretch and my BG was at 6.0 and dropping.

I kept my temp. basal where it was and sucked back half an applesauce.

We still had one more imminent stop and I knew I could refuel there if I needed to.

Check 11: Unfortunately, we got somewhat lost, and the imminent stop wasn’t so imminent after all. Plus, the rain had begun. My BG was 4.1.

I refuelled with a glass of beer at ABC Brewing and 2 Swedish Fish.

I did it … almost! Still had 5 km to home at this point.

Okay, so beer isn’t the best thing to fuel with, but by this point, I’d sucked back so many simple carbs, my body was craving bubbles, and the only thing on hand was beer.

Plus, by this point, we were 5 km from home, and it was a well deserved beer if I do say so myself 😉

I didn’t remove the temp. basal for the stop.

Check 12: At 122.5 km, the ride was finally done, and the last BG check was at 4.4 mmol/L.

I ate a few crackers and hummus – real food! And I increased my temp. basal by 65% for 1 hour as my BG tends to rise for about an hour or so post exercise.

Good thing I tend to overpack for rides because I needed it this time!

Conclusion: All in all it was a great day. I would have liked my BG to be a bit higher overall, but I’m glad I didn’t experience hyperglycemic or severe hypoglycemic episodes, which could have significantly tarnished or halted the adventure, and I’m glad that for the most part it was fairly well maintained.

That said, this took a LOT of diabetes diligence to monitor and that’s not always possible to do. In competitive events, the last thing I want to be doing is stopping to check my BG every 30 minutes.

Granted, It’s easier to do for running, especially with the swipe and go features of the Libre, than it is for cycling. Still, even though it only takes a short amount of time, it does take time.

I’m also loathe to stop others multiple times. We all have other commitments and families and our time on the bike is limited. I don’t want to shorten that time, so I’m quite conservative in checking my BG and try to time it right with stop lights, etc.

As such, I know that not all my sporting adventures will be as successful as this. There will be lows and there will be highs, and I will be frustrated as hell.

But still, I will keep doing it because…

This is me – with T1D.

How do you monitor your BG during sport?

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