I always get a kick out of the term “putting some cycles in.” It’s a term my boss uses as a unit of time measurement when referring to projects and things, rather than just saying how much time it takes. “I’ve spent a lot of cycles working on this…” Love it! But my title mostly refers to an actual cycle, or bicycle. With the warmer weather kicking it into high gear and the snow having apparently made a disappearing act for the season in Saskatchewan, getting my bike out and prepped for as many kilometres as my body will permit has become my seasonal challenge.
Since my trips out on the bike can often reach the hundreds of kilometres in one sitting (I only achieved 100kms on one occasion, it’s usually closer to 60-80 kms), I’ve many people Diabetic or not, ask me how I manage such distances, in the heat, without severely low blood sugar levels and avoiding dehydration. I did this last year but I thought I would provide the list of things I ensure I carry with me when going out on the bike.
First, I should point out that I have a couple of attachable bags on my bike frame; one that sits up beneath the seat and one that sits on the top bar of the frame in front of me. The one underneath the seat carries a small, basic travel first aid kits with gauze, disinfectant and bandages (and band-aids) because you never quite know when you’ll fall off the bike and cause minor injuries that shouldn’t sit untreated, especially if you’re far from home. this small pouch also carries at least one version of fast-acting carbs, which for me, means jellybeans or Swedish berries. If I have room after all that, I’ll also jam a couple of granola bars and some protein. This location is great for all of that because being under the seat keeps it all out of the sun so it stays cooler, for the most part (it also keeps the chocolate chips in my granola bars from melting).
The pouch on the top bar has a windowed cover, which is supposed to allow me to display my iPhone. this is so that I can watch the mounting mileage counting on the screen. The two issues I’ve found with this, is the summer heat will often cause the phone to overheat and stop functioning until it cools or will outright kill the battery. The issue with the former is that I’m stuck either sitting still in the summer heat until my phone cools down or I keep peddling, all the while not logging the right amount of distance due to the phone cancelling out. So now, I just keep the phone blanked and hidden inside the pouch.
I also keep my wallet or at minimum, SOME form of identification in the event I’m in an accident or get lost, etc. I usually bring my debit card in the event I need to purchase further food or transportation home if I get sick or something of the sort. If I’m using a source of music that can’t be clipped on my clothing, it also sits inside this top pouch. Last but not least, I carry a bottle of water on a bottle rack on the frame as well as a bottle of water on a belt pouch around my waist, equally to roughly a litre of liquids to stay hydrated.
Some people don’t find this to be a lot but the reality is that even on a long-distance ride, you need to find that sweet spot between staying hydrated, not filling your gut to the point it starts sloshing around in your belly and preventing the intake of TOO much water while simultaneously losing mineral salts through excess sweating. This causes a condition known as hyponatramia. This is where you have too much hydration versus the amount of mineral salts in your body. That’s why electrolyte drinks can be useful. I generally keep a bottle of water and a bottle of sugar-free Gatorade and alternate between the two.
Spending the nicer seasons out on a bike can be liberating and it’s great exercise. But whether you have Type-1 Diabetes or not, it’s important to be prepared, especially if you plan on being out for a significant distance. proper preparation (say THAT three times fast) can mean the difference between a fun ride in the sun or a potentially harmful medical situation. Happy cycling! ☯️