Sport with T1D trial and error efforts continue

Because sometimes, with type 1 diabetes, you’ve just got to keep on trying until you find a recipe that works for you.

Hi friends!!

It’s been awhile since I last posted.

Life has been crazy busy, but I’m back now.

Hopefully, for a good time and a long time 😉

Preach the trial and error

As some of you may recall, I am a strong preacher of trial and error when it comes to individualizing diabetes care, and this goes for my T1D care too!

So let’s talk sport and T1D trial and error.

Every Saturday my favourite cycling chick and I go for a ride. For years, I have kept my T1D strategies similar to my running strategies:

  • Get up 3-4 hours before the ride
  • Eat breakfast with a reduced bolus
  • Monitor blood sugars closely before the ride, and input a temporary basal anywhere from 60-90 minutes before

Honestly, this strategy was hit or miss. Sometimes it worked amazing, sometimes it was a struggle.

I got tired of the struggle, and figured it was time for a change.

A few weeks ago, I was out on a birthday ride with my husband; total distance was 85 km.

My insulin sensitivity was pretty strong throughout the ride. We stopped for lunch and I opted to hold off on dosing any insulin for the lunch until after we were done eating. But by the time we were done the meal, my blood sugars hadn’t budged. They were hovering in the high 4s and I was not comfortable adding insulin to the mix.

So, I didn’t.

We rode for about 20 minutes before the numbers started steadily coming up. I stopped and dosed enough insulin to cover about 25% of the meal.

And do you know what happened?

My blood sugars bottomed out so fast! I spent a good 15 minutes popping Swedish Berries and draping myself over my non-moving bike, waiting for them to rise, before I could finish the ride.

That was not optimal.

Trial and error with food and sport: eggs Benedict with salad and yogurt on a plate

I am a breakfast for lunch kind of gal – mid bike ride meal of Eggs Benedict with salad and yogurt was the perfect energy my legs, brain and belly needed!

Input the new T1D and sport strategy

So what did I do – I instituted a brand new trial and error strategy this past Saturday.

  • My ride was scheduled for 8 am
  • I woke at 7:10 am
  • Ate breakfast at 7:30 am, which had approximately 40 grams carbs total. No bolus dosed.
  • Started the ride at 8:20 am

My blood sugars when I woke were 6.9 mmol/L, and had slightly dropped to 6.2 mmol/L right before eating. At the start of the ride, they were 8.9 mmol/L. This was a good indication that the sugars were getting into the blood.

Trial and error with sport makes it easy with the Dexcom app on Garmin Edge bike computer showing blood sugars

When the Garmin Connect Dexcom app works, it works awesome with blood sugars front and centre for the whole ride!

About 20 minutes into the ride, my blood sugars had risen to 10.6 mmol/L and that arrow was now diagonal up. I micro dosed 0.40 units.

The BG arrow levelled shortly after.


I ran over a rusty nail. That sucker flatted out my tire and it was a struggle to change the flat. We sat for at least 20 minutes, which was ample time for my body to continue digesting breakfast. By the time we were ready to head out, my blood sugars were sitting at 11.4 mmol/L. This was about 75 minutes into the ride. I gave another micro bolus of 0.50 units.

My blood sugars came down to 7.6 mmol/L and the arrow was now diagonal down. I ate three Swedish Berries, which levelled my BG between 6.1-8.0 mmol/L for the remainder of the ride.


Boasting the positives and challenges

Here’s the positives:

  • I was not stressed about my diabetes before the ride or mostly during the ride. It was pretty damn freeing.
  • I did not have to do any insulin manipulations after the ride, which I typically have to do with previous strategies.
  • I was not prematurely stopped during the ride due to diabetes – amazing!!

All of those are pretty fantastic positives in my books.

Here’s the challenges:

I felt that I couldn’t eat during the ride, which wasn’t overly optimal. I felt that if I ate anything with carbs, I’d be tempting blood sugar fate.

But here’s the thing, if you’re on the road for a long time, your body requires energy. We were on the road for about 3 hours, total distance was 65 km, and energy burned (based on my Garmin) was about 1700 calories. The 40 grams carbs at breakfast was unlikely to sustain my muscles’ needs.

Proof of this: I was STARVING for the remainder of the day. And my muscles were also extremely fatigued, more so than they usually are. That could have been due to not enough air pumped into my tire post flat, but it also could have been an element of poor ride nutrition.

It would also likely be more of a challenge if I hadn’t started with optimal blood sugars right from the get-go upon waking.


It’s still a work in progress, but so far, I’m liking it.

I’ve just got to figure out how to blend both the diabetes positives with performance positives.

Person with T1D dressed in blue jersey and cycling shorts stands next to blue and white Canondale carbon fibre bike on beach with blue sky in the background

Ps. Did anyone catch my pop culture reference 😀

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