Doing Things, The Wrong Way – The Bad diabetic!

I’ve been rather torn on this one for a long while. Do I write something about it, don’t I. I don’t know. Part of me just wants to bury everything and the other just wants to get a few things out there and to say to hell with it all and just throw some of my how to be an utterly terrible diabetic wittering’s out there. This has sat as a draft for a long time in one form or another, but what the hell now…

A lot of this goes back to the days before blood testers, back then we peed on strips, and before that into test tubes with fizzy tablets which made you pee change colour and you used something like a Dulux chart to tell your BG within the accuracy of about 4mmol. Not like you changed doses or anything as it was all rigid diets and rigid doses. Anyhow, in the mid-1980’s my parents got me a “lovely” BG meter. It came in a very fetching maroon leather case with brass buckles on it…the ideal thing for a kid to take to school and never receive grief for! Not like I did, as I simply refused to use it due to the hideous thing which came with it, a lancet device which pretty much fired a map pin into your finger after retracting it in a half circle before it fired it at you. The thing could bruise a finger for a good week at a time and as such was something I avoided. Utterly!

Before I left primary school, the GP I had who originally diagnosed me retired and his replacement was this evil strict nasty lady (mental picture at the time). For many years she utterly terrified me and I would literally run and hide in shop doorways to avoid her. Why? Because right from the off she changed everything. My parents, or more precisely my mam wasn’t allowed to get involved with my diabetic care. It was all mine to deal with, and I would have to deal with it myself. Inject, dose, everything. Yes, this seems harsh and was very much so at the time. In hindsight, it was a really good thing for me, toughened me up no end and this amazing doctor actually became a very influential person in my life (yes, a big jump from evil strict nasty!). Having all this power though as they say should really come with responsibility. Sadly though, in my hands maybe not so much…

By the 90’s and my teens, I had this sorted! It was so easy, I had those BG record books, a couple of different colour pens and on the way to the hospital for a check-up could just fill in the boxes with lots of random numbers that matched what my HbA1c is roughly so it all looked good. The different ink was handy to make it look a bit more mixed too. Throw in some nodding, keeping teenage quiet, and generally looking like you didn’t want to be there and all good. They would ask questions every so often and fiddle with doses but it mostly seemed like they just wanted to fiddle and could be ignored. No one asked too many questions and you could be soon out of the place.

During my teens was also a moment which came to scare me, even to today. I had gone to the clinic for my check-up and these were the days when the consultants themselves did blood tests instead of letting professionals do it (the nurses). The doctor I had always used to like me to stand in the middle of the room and look at the corner of the ceiling while he did whatever. Had done this many times before and never thought anything of it. Mid-way through this huge black crack seems to shatter its way across the ceiling tiles. I murmur to the doctor a “urmm doc..” as the crack stops as it reaches the far wall. Very odd. A second or so later it cracks down the far wall. “DOC!!”, I look down to see what he was fumbling at and squirt right over his paperwork on his desk, the crack on the far wall starts to run down…ohhhh THUD and I hit the floor out cold. Ever since that day I’ve always had issues with blood tests, well publicly anyhow. Truthfully though I’ve had major issues with needles ever since, all needles, which as a T1 could be rather problematic.

Come my late teens and twenties I still avoided testing. Gone this far without it so why should I change now? Injecting had become a huge problem now though. It was kind of a combination of when I had to do an injection of sitting in a toilet for 30-40 minutes quaking in fear over injecting and the other being that I had started to discover that nothing much happened if I did skip the odd injection. I was still here the following day, what’s the problem! And it meant I didn’t have to face another needle. I hadn’t given up completely, but I was finding I could easily skip one per day. A little win every day, right?

Come 2000 the clinic I was going to had a wonderful idea to save money of discharging all its patients. Yay, I’m cured! It was a strange day going to the clinic and instead of seeing the nurses for a blood test as normal just seeing a consultant with a clipboard handing out a bit of pink paper saying go to reception and you are now solely under the care of your GP. My GP, of course, wasn’t happy about this at all. She complained many times to no avail and even showed me some of the letters and responses she received. One was a lovely one saying I didn’t warrant a clinic as I was non-cooperative. Me?! Never! See, my HbA1c and fake BG results all say I am good! This rattled on for a while and sadly came to an end when my GP retired.

There are other issues of course, well one main one. Women! I was single, utterly alone or so it felt and hadn’t a clue how to speak to members of the opposite sex. Ok yes, I still don’t which is probably also why I’m still single. Although now I don’t really care about it as much. Frankly, I was desperate and would do some utterly stupid things just to talk to someone I liked. This have course also had effects on my diabetes care. One of the daft things which I had started doing was trying to chat up various waitresses, bar staff and the ladies in sandwich shops and the like. It would be the usual thing of making sure I would go in practically every day just to order something even if it meant multiple trips each day for “a drink”. That might not have been so bad if someone actually took a bolus for what he was eating, but not a chance in that! I was on the pull or so it seemed in my head. I ate, I skipped injections, I overdid injections if I felt a bit off, just winged things totally. But as you might guess my control HA! If you could call it that was pretty much a mess.

Things as you might have guessed finally start catching up with me. It took long enough, didn’t it?! Going stiff as a board during sleeping and managing to pull the muscles in my back so I can’t walk for three days. Hypo’s all over the place, and yes I know, odd considering I was skipping insulin, but then taking random doses when I felt “off”. Being glazed half the time. Getting picked up by paramedics over and over again. Drink, women, food, no insulin, loads of insulin, loathing work and having a boss piling grief and hassle all day long for the wonders of what would these days be far below minimum wage, then returning to a dark room of a night to descend into stupidly long online gaming sessions to escape the mess that was the world. Epic memory loss hypo’s, being found face planted in shop windows, missing involving police searches, laying out cold on train platform benches, destroying toilet blocks, racing wheelie office chairs down main streets, dancing with grannies around the Post Office, destroying Easter egg displays in supermarkets. Things caught up with me!

I don’t think I was, at least at the beginning anyhow not taking my injections as a way to lose weight. It did come in from time to time later on though mostly due to looking at the pictures from my brother’s wedding. I was round, a fat lil bastard and no wonder I was alone. This picture also pushed something else in me…I needed to change.

Secretly running up a nearby hill in the evening to hide being seen. It hurt like hell! That soon got binned. Me being the nerd that I am needed another solution. I scoured eBay for parts and got lots of components to make a mountain bike. Some of them even fitted kind of together! Many others didn’t! It was a hard lesson in the standards of bicycle parts but eventually with help from my local bike shop a bike was formed and I used it daily for getting to and from work. I could do 2 miles! 5 miles! 10 miles! 20 miles! I was super fit now, I had lost 3 stone in only 6 months thanks to this wonderful machine…the continued skipping of insulin, of course, didn’t have any contribution to this did it?!

Things kind of came to a head when one of the paramedics who kept scraping me up flipped. She asked everyone else out of the room and tore into me with a threat that if she ever saw me again she would section me. I was doing nothing wrong though! It just happened that things kept going wrong is all! My GP now tried over and over to get me back to the clinic. I assume the paramedic’s report had really got his attention to get something sorted. But the response from the clinic was that I didn’t warrant seeing a DSN or Consultant as “his diabetes wasn’t severe enough” … My Hba1c was still magically in an acceptable range somehow. In the end, he transferred me out of the county to another clinic.

Something changed within me. I have no idea what it was. Was it pushing myself harder on the bike, I had just bought a new drop bar bike which was soooo much faster than my old mountain bike. It was pushing me harder, faster, and further and I had set myself a goal to take part in a new local sportive thing over 46 miles. I started testing! I had a goal. I still refused to use a lancet device and made do with using my pen needles as they were sharp and thin. But they drew blood and I was testing for the first time in nearly thirty years. It might have been the fact I was soon going to see a new clinic and I knew I needed help somewhere deep down. I have no idea, I was doing things kind of properly again. Still skipping injections, but adjusting to some degree for it now.

The new clinic ripped up my old static dosing I was on, yes, I was still doing that! Adjusted everything closely, tested, monitored and were actually very nice to talk to about things. I could talk bikes, what it did to me. I hid many of my other issues behind the bike and it hid them very well. But it was strange that ever since that day I haven’t had a hypo I haven’t treated myself. How did I manage to live this long with seemingly no complications? Even today a further ten years later, I haven’t the foggiest! Luck?! Do I still have my desires to skip doses? Well yes but I haven’t gone back to it, and again I don’t know why I haven’t. I feel a major part may well be that my BG is now at a “better” level of control and my mental health has improved due to it. Has sorting my BG almost aided what was causing my lack of control? I don’t know and probably never will. I wouldn’t be surprised if part of what caused it is also what causes me to push my infusion sets now to 4-5-6-10 days at a time, pushing the boundaries again. I know I shouldn’t but do still do it. It is probably also part of why I utterly loathe the low-carb brigade and their agenda to make all diabetics the same. Frankly just wish they would simply fuck off and leave us all alone and go look after themselves and shut the hell up. We all have our own paths, and this is mine so far. Is it perfect?! HA! Not in the slightest but I am still here and doing things my way. If anything even more entrenched into doing things my way after the battles so far.

The Final Push!

And so the final push, little sleep really due to the ferry but think I made a couple of hours.

Finally on French soil and what a cycle path. It’s basically an old railway line, like so many. The difference is the surface, wide, flat, very very few roots, trees are mostly set back to prevent this, cafes, bars, bbq spots and picnic areas line the route. Works really well. Most interesting was the no e-bike sign on it. Asking a local basically they got banned as people were being Muppets and de-restricting them, it was becoming lethal on the route with them flying up and down when it comes to busy times. Idiots spoiling the fun of others always a shame.

Pressing on the heat was really becoming a problem. The forecast said about 25C but riding I was baked. Insulin off and shoveling in fuel want helping and levels were being a pain (pump is off but levels are being drained like silly things). Blood meter kept overheating and hiding it in a pannier helped a bit… No so easy to access though. Even the phone went crazy with temperature warnings and refusing to run more than one app at a time due to heat and even shutting down for a while. It was hot. I needed more drinks and food as I had depleted my supply of gels, Shotblocks, and Cliff Bars. So I followed the signs for a Carrefour and restocked filling the bags with chocolate brownies, it’s the same as an energy bar right? And a load of bananas and Pringles, need the salt of course! Sitting in the car park under a tree refilling my bottles and getting some lunch in. Was nice actually if it raised a few eyebrows.

Well, that’s half way to Paris (from the ferry) and the heat is a killer (25C). Pumps off but levels are being drained like silly things. So having lunch in a Carrefour and filling the bags with chocolate brownies, it’s the same as an energy bar right? And a load of bananas and Pringles, need the salt of course!

Venturing on the route for very weird, thank you again Google! It started off fine avoiding main roads, then through back roads which were nice, then through little tracks which started to feel like yesterday going all cyclocross again, before it ends in a middle of a field with nothing but wheat for miles and three tractor tracks. Google note maps tractor tracks and uses them as cycle routes?! Alternative route offered by the Garmin was a further 50 odd miles so that was out. Rattle, rattle, rattle this isn’t fun, rattle, BOOM, what the!! Some blinkin’ yakka (for those who don’t speak Cumbrian a yakka is another term for farmer) was taking pot shots, feck, feck, feck, did set a Strava time if seems, phew!

So I finally reach Clergy, on the doorstep of Paris. The wonders of Googles, I’ll find a faster way through here was a slight snag (not like it wasn’t earlier). As ever it did it’s best to find a route which doesn’t put you on roads. Great!? Not so much when it sends you on diversions through a total warren of tunnels in a tower block nightmare. Up and down ramps and places, at least I blended in so well in this surrounding no one noticed me 😛

Upon escaping using the Garmin find the Eiffel Tower search it found a nice road route away from the tower blocks. Paris traffic is interesting, you get cars, bikes, buses, scooters, lorries and pedestrians seemingly just making things up as they go. But oddly no one seems to get hurt. The more you ride it, the more it kind of makes sense. Red lights are optional for all, but if someone stops you all must. Bus and bike lanes can be used by anyone. And bikes can use anywhere they feel like, just as can pedestrians. Total sense!

Eventually, I made my way to the tower and got a few pics. Say for an hour almost just admiring the view and the long fight to get here on the trip. But I best get to the hotel… *facepalm* it’s 12km away!

On the way to the hotel, when sitting in a bike lane with actual bikes in it, I get chatting to a lad who Kickstartered his own bike brand. He designs the frames, then ordered in from abroad to be built in France. All city bikes mind, but interesting to hear how he started it. Then we got onto Lancet and we were still blocking traffic 20mins later.

Messy Day

A messy day today. The “original plan”, dreamed up last night, was to wake up super early and blast (yes that might be also a slight issue when riding the bicycle equivalent of a super tanker) down the “empty” main roads. Lights charged, all set for it. Slept in! So that utterly went out the window. Eventually got going and decided on the lovely cycle path down the canal…It was a foot wide single-track! Think next time I’ll use the Marathon Touring Plus tyres as they have some side knobblies and deeper tread which could of been handy today. With the weight of my kit it was a very dicey ride and it was nice to get onto National Route 6. Wow, it’s amazing (well this bit was but later learned it was just a good bit of it) wide, smooth, lines of trees both sides of the route perfectly placed. While a beautiful ride it was really destroying my progress and I needed to get on with things. Although the whole getting going thing wasn’t wanting to happen much as felt very fatigued. Although it may of been more related to the next issue.

Eventually got going and decided on the lovely cycle path down the canal…It was a foot wide single-track! Think next time I’ll use the Marathon Touring Plus tyres as they have some side knobblies and deeper tread which could of been handy today. With the weight of my kit it was a very dicey ride and it was nice to get onto National Route 6. Wow, it’s amazing (well this bit was but later learned it was just a good bit of it) wide, smooth, lines of trees both sides of the route perfectly placed. While a beautiful ride it was really destroying my progress and I needed to get on with things. Although the whole getting going thing wasn’t wanting to happen much as felt very fatigued. Although it may of been more related to the next issue. Bloods decided to play silly things, sky high all day and throwing insulin at it to no avail. Became more a case of wack-a-mole with BGs. 2x, 3x, 4x the insulin and the sods wouldn’t get into single figures. Not even needing to throw any food into the mix, I knew I needed food, but couldn’t with the

Bloods decided to play silly things, sky high all day and throwing insulin at it to no avail. Became more a case of whack-a-mole with BGs. 2x, 3x, 4x the insulin and the sods wouldn’t get into single figures. Not even needing to throw any food into the mix, I knew I needed food, but couldn’t with the bloods up there. So find a nice spot for a roadside infusion set change. Sorted!

Next problem, food! Saw a pub so thought great. Pubs seem to be a huge rarity down here. Seen more closed ones, for sale ones, or looking for lease ones than open pubs! So dropped in and out was packed, huge beer garden, barbecue bar (think a shed that had been creatively modified to cook food outside with a good selection of drinks), or the bar itself which had beams which scraped my head on! The barman was huge, well over 6 foot and was crawling around the place. Great lunch! Back on with the afternoon I may have got involved in a Sportive somehow. Was clattering my way downhill and got on the back of a small group just add we went through the camera… So somewhere there’s going to be pics of a loon on the back of this group… Will have to work out which it was!

Back on with the afternoon I may have got involved in a Sportive somehow. Was clattering my way downhill and got on the back of a small group just add we went through the camera… So somewhere there’s going to be pics of a loon on the back of this group… Will have to work out which it was! Interesting thing (and yes very odd to comment on) for the day, the drains in Windsor are recessed into the kerbs. Not into the road at all. Very American in style and not sure if they do it for the horses here, lots of deposits left by them on the roads, but it makes for a car better road surface for everyone, cars, and bikes as there’s no sinking wheel breaking death pits in the road. Wish all our roads used them.

The interesting thing (and yes very odd to comment on) for the day, the drains in Windsor are recessed into the kerbs. Not into the road at all. Very American in style and not sure if they do it for the horses here, lots of deposits left by them on the roads, but it makes for a car better road surface for everyone, cars, and bikes as there’s no sinking wheel breaking death pits in the road. Wish all our roads used them. Had some nice chats with people, was this old grandad Sikh

Had some nice chats with people, was this old grandad Sikh with with niece in Slough. We got chatting about the ride and all the tech. He was fascinated by a bike having a “Tomtom” and was amazed by the radar. I skipped on the other bits as I could still be there. Also met another Chris. This one came alongside while riding through a forest and had a chat about the kit and the charity. Tomorrow is

Tomorrow is rest day…Yay! By that I mean I only have to ride 48 miles and have to get to the ferry for 11pm. So should have plenty of time to have a mooch in the Evans I saw nearby (if it’s like the one in Glasgow I spent 15mins roaming the place and no one even said hello), this is totally out of checking out the competition you understand, and also get a good breakfast in I also noticed nearby. Then off to Brighton to nose around for the afternoon, early evening before the boat and leaving Blighty.

mHealth Grant Tour – Brussels to Paris to Geneva

On Thursday 20th August, I received a telephone call from the JDRF enquiring if I would like to do a ride for them. Answering yes without thinking about it, they went on to explain they needed a Type 1 who rode a bicycle for a research project….to ride from Brussels, to Paris and then on to Geneva. A 1500km journey taking in over 22,000m of ascent. Oh and by the way it would be starting in two weeks to the day!

The Tour started at the Triumphal Arch of the Cinquantenaire in Brussels with the riders being escorted by police through the busy city before heading south to Cambrai in France. There was something of military theme to the day as it passed through the 1815 Waterloo battle field before heading to the ‘Western Front’ at Mons, the location of the last fighting on the Western front on 11th November 1918. The day finished with three sections of the famous Paris-Roubaix pavé of Northern France which made it all the more “fun” as it had started lashing down rain which made it feel very much like home! Riding the pavé in the wet bit though, giving me blisters on my hands, and also getting a couple of punctures, rattling off a CO2 can, and braking my drinks holders, and also rattling off my rear light (a very expensive experience), Not an ideal start to a tour really!

Come the following morning my rear tyre was flat again, and after a lot of poking around a small bit of flint was found. In far too much a hurry which resulted in me pinching the tube which promptly exploded waking up a load of the other riders, it didn’t make for a good following morning. After the mornings medical tests and questionnaires (research project remember!) It was off to Reims, the heart of the champagne region of France. Continuing the military theme as the route roughly followed the line of the Western Front past St Quentin and the River Aisne and pausing at the American Somme Graveyard. It is actually one of those places which is hard to put into words due to the sheer scale and numbers (over 50,000 graves), and this was just one of such graveyards in the area. The numbers of graves can’t really be put into words without seeing such memorials. The tour moved on along mainly quite rural roads and open ‘rolling’ countryside. Wind turbines blowing in the wind highlighted the windy conditions as the tour headed into the champagne vineyards! Sadly though no free samples much to the disappointment of all the riders.

From Reims it was on to Paris. Or would have been if not for waking to yet another puncture. This time on the front though! Riding once more through the region’s vineyards roughly following La Marne River which meets La Seine in Paris. There wasn’t any really significant climbs but the day was far from flat as it made it’s way to Paris following more quiet country roads and then into the city using a combination of quiet country roads and cycle paths along the canal which had a rather pungent aroma to it although is very beautiful to look at (definitely not to smell though). The hotel in Paris was nice, although just to add a bit more fun they had forgotten to book me a room. Lots of room shuffling later I was sharing with the Dexcom representative who was a really nice guy.

The next day was the only rest day of the Tour. A nice day in Paris to see the sights. Visiting the Eiffel Tower, ride around the Arc d’Triumph and down the Champs-Élysées. To watch it on the television doesn’t do just how cobbled and bumpy the road is! But it was one of those places which has to be ridden when in Paris. The Arc d’Triumph was total craziness with cars everywhere. and once on the centre it is best described as some weird velodrome crossed with a spinning top. Round and round you ride trapped in by the layers of cars around you until you find a gap and off you go flying off down one of the side roads.

Heading east from Paris along the Marne River using quiet roads and cycle paths again, and once past the Bastille, these allowed us to avoid the worst of the traffic from the Monday morning rush hour. Clear of Paris it was on to Coulommiers the home of Brie cheese, before going onto Provins which is a beautiful fortified medieval town and a world heritage site. Then heading onto Troyes which is described in the Lonely Planet guide as “one of the finest ensembles of half-timbered houses and Gothic churches in France”, or very much like parts of Cheshire in my book :stuck_out_tongue: The amazing old forts and Roman fortifications where quite staggering.

Troyes to Langres was possibly the quietest days riding in France! The area was very pretty with a mix of lakes, forests, open countryside and sleepy villages. Charles de Galle came from the area and the Viaduct at Chaumont is an impressive three story railway bridge with over 50 arches and spanning 600 metres. And then yet again it happened, another puncture! This time right in the middle of Chaumont and right after avoiding an anti-mayor protest by the localsn (protests in France? who would of thought it!). There wasn’t many of them but they had a good group of instruments playing as they protested the town hall. The locals were very interested in what was going on with the ride and in my very broken French was able to get across most of what they were doing with the ride to Geneva before getting underway again. Most though just loved the chance to get close to NF (all my bikes have named btw) and asked lots of questions about her. Langres is an old fortified hill top town which made for a grinding 650m at 15% into the castle at the top of the hill an epic finish for the day. And a great place for the town inside the walls on the top of the hill. Amazing place and very beautiful!

With the Tour occupied every hotel and guest house inside the town, the following morning ate the town dry. A thing to note about cycling like this is that we are burning over 6000 calories a day, and we eat like crazy things. A bare minimum of 150g+ for breakfast with most on around 200g with a mix of cereal, breads, eggs, meats, cheeses, and fruits. The first sitting cleaned out the lunch room so much so the chef almost had a stroke and went off on a rant about how much we were eating. Was a scene right out of fawlty towers it was so funny as he sent the staff off around town to raid the bakers as fast as possible to get more supplies. As Langres is a hill fort the day started with a lovely downhill. But this was going into also the longest day of the tour at over 190km and also had the first big climbs involved. Starting with the Col De Croix and then onto the Col du Ballon d’Alsace which was also first official climb of the Tour de France in 1905 and has been included in the Tour de France no less than 20 times. To climb something this large after you’ve already ridden over 100 miles was something which reminded your legs of what you were doing in the Tour. A amazing climb and one where I paired up with my climbing partner for the majority of the rides to come meeting up with Annemarie from Team Novo Nordisk. It was an incredible experience to ride something so relentless and unforgiving, or so I thought until the next day! The 30km long descent into Belfort made a great end to the very long day and also made for some frozen solid knees and feet. Any footage from that speed camera of someone in JDRF colours on a black and white bike is just coincidental though even if they were 18km over the speed limit whistles innocently.

Heading south from Belfort, and crossing the Jura mountains and into Switzerland for the first time. This had quite a fair amount of climbing for the day, although the highest peak was only just over 1100m or ascent. The town of La Chaux-de-Fonds is another World Heritage site and also a center of the Swiss watch making industry. The town is referred to by Karl Marx in Das Kapital and was birthplace of the architect Le Corbusier, who is to blame for dreaming up the tower block which is probably why the town is one of the ugliest Swiss towns ridden through on the Tour (yes, it is full of nothing but concrete blocks). From here the Tour headed down into the spa town of Yverdon-Les-Bains. or so was the plan. With less than 30km to go and arriving at the final food stop of the day my blood sugars were getting high (cooked my insulin off). Taking plenty of water and having a discussion about it I pressed on up the final climb before the long descent to the hotel. 6km in I started vomiting due to my high levels which continued to raise out of control so decided the best action would be to ride back to the food stop for a change of insulin. Unfortunately the insulin had already been moved on to the hotel which resulted in my retirement from that days ride much to my utter annoyance and immense frustration (even the jokers of the group the physio’s saw how big a mood I was in at losing to D and kept out of my way). Once back at the hotel with insulin changed things were soon back to normal I was not a happy bunny all night. I almost went out and rode the final climb again but got a telling off for even contemplating it from the organisers. While it did feel like losing I was going to get revenge on something!

The following day we rode on through Montreaux and into the Alps. There was two options for the day, an ‘easy’ option to ride directly to the hotel in Morzine, or for the climbers there was the opportunity to add the Avoriaz climb (big ski slope) onto the route when we arrived in Morzine. This added a further 30 km (14km long climb) to the day. This climb had also been a stage finish of the Tour de France with a record set by Bernard Hinault of 33 minutes to the top! After the disaster at the end of the previous day, Avoriaz was something which was like a huge flashing beacon that had to be done if only to make sure the annoyance of diabetes could be put firmly back into it’s box for the problems it had caused the day before! It was something which had to be defeated and after getting back to the hotel in pretty good time with Annemarie again it was one of those things they both had plans to do, and with just enough time to spare to get back to the hotel for the evenings medical tests before dinner!

The next day started off with the famous Col De Jeux Plane. Moving on to the Col De La Ramaz (quiet a famous TdF mountain involving he who can’t be named) with some incredible views looking onto Mount Blanc with it’s fantastic glacier. Next after that was the Col de la Croisette and finally Le Saleve. And just to add a bit more fun it was against the clock as the riders had to meet the Swiss police for the escort which was waiting for them at the border outpost. The final descent which had 48, 28% corner ramps on it which was made even more treacherous thanks to a thunderstorm which started. The nature of the descent and the weather resulted in four minor falls with grazes, another resulting in a dislocated shoulder blade, and one where they ran into the back of the peloton and caused massive damage to one of the bikes. Quiet a messy final descent really!

Eventually making it to the escort and riding through the storm to meet the Mayor beside the Lake. It was a shame the weather decided to become as nasty as it did but even the storm couldn’t damped the spirits of the riders after the Tour. The support provided by all the sponsors and staff along the Tour was truly a fantastic experience, and hopefully the research done over the Tour will prove beneficial in years to come. Lead sponsor Orange Healthcare who along with the other sponsors Dexcom, Samsung, GSMA, Intel, and TapCheck where brilliant throughout and thanks for their support.

A little ride around Yorkshire! (Tour de France Stage 1)

Been a little quiet, but thought I would bring everyone up to date with the infamous Tour ride.

Well, the night before I have no idea what was going on with me, sky high levels all night. I had acquired a CGM for the ride off my DSN (CDE) and the alarm was driving me up the wall every hour waking me up. Ran corrections all night long and even changed my infusion set. Took till 5am to get them down to 162 (in US money)…but for most the night was over 280, very annoyed but all I could guess was it was nerves. Just what I didn’t need!

Only went for a light small breakfast and did a full bolus for it, not the normal reduction due to the bus to the start taking an hour and a half. Didn’t help though, by the time I reached the start was over 300 in the bloods. Wonderful way to begin (and yes before anyone states I know doing any kind of exercise at this kind of level is dangerous, but there was no way in hell I was going to be delayed) and the doctor accompanying the team wasn’t happy at all about my levels, but she kind of just grinned and muttered and left me too it thankfully.

Start of the ride we kept a nice steady pace in the low 20’s mph and we kept nailing in the miles. We began losing a few from the group and were soon left with just four of us. Bloods kept on coming down over the first 65miles nicely and got to a bit more respectable 160 by the time we got to the first major hill. You have to wonder about our bodies at times like this, surely a lovely big hill would send me lower, but nope. Got to love our random diabetic bodies when the liver decides to kick in and sends be back up to 250 grr. Not a happy bunny about it at all.

Temperature was getting up now and we broke 30C (86f) in the sun and I decided it was best to let the two leading riders go and focus more on getting my levels to play better. I began riding with the doc again after a break at a feed station and she was still muttering her concerns about my bloods, and I did a half correction dose to see what that would do. We kept on riding together until the next climb where I and left her in the hopes of catching the lead two riders. But to no real avail and as such I pretty much carried on for the next 20 or so miles on my own with the only minor entertainment coming from me riding to close to the edge of the roadside and getting a nettle sting across my fingers.

Approaching what was said to be the big climb of the day ” Côte de Buttertubs” I came across other JDRF riders who I kept with until the foot of the climb. We had been warned the bottom part was meant to be the hardest up to the first cattle grid, then a steady climb to the second and a small dip and steep rise again to the third and the summit. Climbing rapidly the others dropped off and I saw others in front approaching the first cattle grid and some even walking. Think I must of seriously annoyed them how fast they got dispatched, one after another over the climb, mid way up slipping into the big ring and disappearing up to the summit and catching many other groups, and dispatching them equally as fast. Discovered at this point that I seemed oddly good at hill climbs, much to the surprise of everyone else on the road and they pushed their bikes up, or painfully ground on up collapsed over the handlebars as some lunatic diabetic took off past them like he had an engine attached (later GPS logs showed I passed the steepest part with the majority of the walkers at 11mph and took the summit at 22mph).

The descent had a few sharp corners, and high hedges so tried to be cagey on it as I didn’t know the road at all so only got to 42mph on the downhill. Chatting to one of the local riders he had seen people clock nearly 60 on the downhill. At the foot of the hill we got our lunch stop finally, and my bloods were finally playing ball as well (might also of explained why the climb went so well) reading in at 110. As I started my lunch the leaders were leaving, so got a little annoyed and it was a good 15-20mins till I was back on the road after them. And again on my own.

The next 15 or so miles was just beautiful rolling hills, the occasional waterfall, and beautiful little villages. Soon I was on the final hill of the day, the “Côte de Grinton Moor”. This was a much more challenging climb I found. Nothing really where I could build up a lot of speed but more one just to keep on piling in the power over the climb. It was a very open area over the moorland with only the sheep for company and seeing a rider in the distance to give a goal to chase down. Eventually I caught him at what appeared to be the summit. Looking down at the road it said 1km to summit. I guess there’s more. And sure enough, around enough corner more hill came into view. This hide and seek of where more hill is hiding became quite the constant with this climb.

Approaching the top I see a small group of JDRF riders. The leaders and a few from shorter distance groups. Finally! I pulled up just as they set off and waved hi. Grabbed a quick drink and dropped my visor on my helmet for the first time that day. Went flat on the bars and pointed downhill.

Soon catching the group and fly past the first half of them and am fast approaching the front of them when BANG. My front inner tube explodes and blows my front tyre off my wheel. Not a good thing to occur at any speed, let alone on a downhill section when some lunatic was really on one at the time.

As the group disappeared I sat there changing my inner tube and checking the bike over for damage. Luckily none, but still annoying though. I cruised down from the Moor wearing my destroyed inner tube as a trophy wrapped around me, and rode quiet gingerly trying to avoid anything which could burst my tyres now. I latched onto a couple of other riders and rode with them till the final food stop. My bloods where now down to 63 so time to hit the supplies at the stop. The group I arrived with hung on a bit at the stop so I followed out another rider for the final 25 miles to the end.

I met the fourth member of the starting breakaway from the beginning of the ride and rode in with him to Harrogate. It surprised me the way many of the cars waved us through on the roundabouts on the major roads as we came in. Really was great! Coming into the town centre and nearing the finish I stop at a red light and wait. Setting off again I don’t clip in, crank spins around and whack…a huge swollen lump on my leg, bruise and blood to match. A great ending! I ride over the finish line and feel oddly good. Bloods are now on 80 so overall not to bad a ride.

There was a large group of riders at the finish, as well as the JDRF reps and dignitaries, family and the likes. Really did enjoy meeting everyone. A little bit of a shame that our of all the riders only five where actually diabetics, and there was only one crazy one who did the entire Stage 1 course. But everyone had a connection though. Really enjoyed meeting everyone, all are total stars!

So stats for the ride: 131 miles ride, 2470m climbed, max heart 198bpm, max bg 18.4, min 3.5, 23 finger blood tests, 3470 calories burnt, 398g carbs consumed, on 4.03u Novorapid.

Highs and Lows

The plan was sound, another solid day like yesterday along some A roads. It started well with a fantastic breakfast also and a very nice fruit salad. And the road to Glastonbury was pretty good considering the festival starts in a couple of days. Lots of people going with materials for the festival.

It was also good to start seeing other people doing the End2End again, even if they all were going in the opposite direction. But you could really tell the difference in styles of riders. There were the locals, maybe a dayglo jacket and a mountain bike usually. Then there was the End2Enders who had all the kit, bags usually all loaded perfectly, proper jackets on, helmets, gloves etc. Then there was the booking festival goer. Most could be considered “a bike” usually vaguely from how battered they seemed to be. Bags don’t seem to be part of their kit, but throwing everything into the bike and bungeeing it on did. Helmets seemed to be  a no no also. And clothing? It seemed baggy as possible and the more they liked like rejects from the 70s the better. And me? Smelly bag busy polluting the air behind, and a blooded up knee and my blue and white JDRF colours,  and buried under bags.

Next up came Taunton. But getting there became harder than expected. The wind was the same as earlier, not the no wind first predicted but still about 11mph according to the Met Office.

It all started with an odd high, which I put down to breakfast being slow to digest and kicking in late. I did a smaller than needed correction (due to the fact I was riding still) but to no effect. I did another, and another, then crash out fell, so I had something to eat. Blood was now back up to 11′s and climbing. Tried to correct, again to no change. This continued till it was over 25 (for those none diabetics “normal” is meant to be 6.2, over 12 and exercise isn’t “recommended”). I had being trying to trundle along slowly but in the end have up and say on the rid side trying to get control of the highs. In the end to no avail I end up having to  change my canula and infusion set beefier things come under control again.

I press on but sadly the A road turns into the M5 and that’s scuppered that idea. So a quick switch to Route 3 and follow the canal to Tiverton. Bloods started behaving again which was good, but the excessive time navigating around Taunton used up quite a lot of my power.

Considered pressing on, but deciding against it due to the lack of power so the final decision for the day after finding no lodgings ahead of me. Anywhere would of done really where I could plug in some chargers. I was considering just riding on and using my headlight but the lack of power for my navigation / phone was a concern for a place where I have utterly no idea where I’m going.

So safe in a hotel again. Get to many high blood sugar parts today, and get too few miles. An early start tomorrow and I hope to maybe finish this. Long day, but should hopefully be possible.

And so it begins

Waking up in the early morning with the usual swings and roundabouts of a 3.3 (59) after a lovely crash back down after my stonking high off the Coke. A quick rummage through my food bag soon fixed that though. Outside dawn was just breaking and it was a beautiful sunrise coming up over Stroma. The red and orange’s looked fantastic. With breakfast still over three hours away I went back to bed.

It’s Raining!Sunrise over John O’Groats

Waking up properly this time, and my blood back where it should be I packed up and made my way to breakfast. It was now pouring down and you could now only just see jut over the road. Nothing to fancy for breakfast, I did my usual of stacking up on milk for the protein and muscle repair though. Seems there was quite a few in about to set off. A large group of six guys from down south, and also a guy I bumped into at the train station in Thurso who was having problems finding his orientation on his map. Guess it’s typical for a large group of blokes but the southerners were annoyingly loud.

Loading up LM as the group in all their team kits, half Sky and the rest random teams loaded all their kit into a van, with two guys in support crew shirts. Turns out they are taking turns in the van when one starts flagging. I got chatting to one and we chuckled a bit about the sheer amount of kit I was packing but guess we’ll see on that in the long run. There they were, all dressed in team stuff, no bags and race bikes. And me loaded to the hilt, buried under waterproofs carrying everything including the kitchen sink. But I was off down to the harbour.

I trundled around a bit looking for the sign to but no avail before asking this lass at the fish stall. The sign was actually right behind me it turned out but there is a bit of local trouble going on about it. Seems that the old guy who owns it has taken to taking off the name arrows as he was annoyed at people turning up at all hours. The locals got fed up with this so built a new sign, not an arrow pointy one but a big sign anyhow saying the Last Sign in Scotland. We laughed about it, and how it all sounds all too familiar before I made my way off into the murk waving goodbye to the group and the guy from the station who were just arriving.

John O’Groats SignAlternative Sign

It was pretty slow going at first, until my legs warmed up. But it was nice to be under way. I pulled off the road to have one of my routine stops for drinks and blood checking on this drive by some farm buildings overlooking the North Sea. This guy comes out, broad Scottish as you would expect and introduced himself. It all turned out he’s a stone cutter, and was in the process of making an archway. It was great seeing the work going into carving up these stone blocks to make these arches which seemed very church window size and shape. Before I set off he gave me his own weather prediction which actually differed from the weather radar… His turned out to be correct!

On I went and as I climbed this lovely big hill, came across a group of Royal Marines going the other direction. We cheered each other on, and they shook their heads at my packs, with them carrying nothing but some lightweight race bikes and I must say, a very nifty looking Royal Marines race kit.

Then came the first big climb, a long 13% grind after a high bridge which my vertigo wasn’t too happy about, even more so with the cross wind. On the way up I passed two students pushing their bikes up, both also fairly loaded. I made my way to the top and got changed from my waterproofs as I was cooking after the climb and chatted with the two of them as we continued on. It all turns out Tommy and his friend who I’ve sadly forgotten her name, had just finished Uni. in Preston and had decided to do something different. They had already decided against the full route, and instead were heading back to Preston, but 30 or 40 miles in on the first day and they were already looking for the nearest train station. Hope they kept going and stuck at it though.

View over the North SeaThis was possibly not quiet as fresh as I was hoping…

Then in lay-by who do I find, the group with a van. No idea where they passed me though, think they have been on a different route. I keep on going, wave to them and head on to Helmsdeep, as I renamed Helmsdale anyhow in the way that I do. Had lunch, and looked at the very impressive war memorial on the hillside. The number of memorials around here is amazing. Right along the coast, large graveyards, and some very intricate detail on them all. Most from the 1st World War, which seems to of hit the area incredibly badly.

Stopping again for bloods and a drink the group of southerners overtake. And so it kicked off. They were nailing it, but I kept catching them between blood stops. In the end my brain decided it was best to leave them for now and head to one of the towns I looked at staying at and turned off to follow a close road against the sea to Dornoch. Pausing again for bloods, they had now dropped to the low 2′s (40′s) once more so I looked around for some more supplies and felt a bar of something in my jacket pocket. Handy! a Snickers bar, it looked a bit battered but it would do. A quick bite into it and crunch…rather solid. Not like that’ll stop me, so it soon disappeared before bothering to read the best before date of 05/12. Oopsy, a bit late now.

View over the North SeaThis was possibly not quiet as fresh as I was hoping…

It was turning 4pm and my legs felt great, so I decided to plough on. And who do I find unloading their van in the village? Yep the group of southerners making camp at one of the bed and breakfasts in town. I waved and was definitely going further tonight now!

I crossed the Dornoch Firth bridge, cross winds battering me, focused on the white line to keep my vertigo at bay. And I go on to Alness where I find a nice place for the night. A pretty good first day really. Bloods weren’t too bad thanks to my constant drinking of carbs throughout the ride. Mileage for the day wasn’t to bad at just over 100 miles, and carb intake at 640g for 9.2u TDD (total daily dose). But it would be the recharge which could be interesting for the night and the following day.

And off up North we go

Well,  now on a train and whizzing the way up to Glasgow. LM my trustly steed is purring like a content little kitten as I had a quick little test ride earlier. Sadly though my bloods are far from playing by the rules. I am mostly blaming the apprehension and the adrenalin kicking in and messing things up, but woke up at 2.4 and the CGM (constant glucose monitor I got fitted yesterday) bleeping at me. But in the usual swings and roundabouts have now bounced up to 17.9… Ah the fun little diabetic things to keep you on your toes and remind you no matter what is going on it will try to get involved.

Colds Meh!

Still got my cold, although it seems to be abating a little bit anyhow. Bloods have been silly numbers all weekend and done nothing but fire in correction injections to lower it to “normal”. Not to much luck either. Tonight got it down to the high 8′s so thought good enough, time to get a ride in. So a nice quick ride around the lake. Nothing major and just a little bit of rain.

By the time I got to Grange my bloods we’re really happy with being out! Well if a 1.8 (6.2 is where it’s meant to be at) can be called happy that is. No wonder my legs were feeling drained. Suspended my pump completely as I was probably still running off the insulin from dinner time anyhow, so no need to have even a little bit more. Downed a load of energy drink and pootled trying not to push things hard back home with the bloods back up to 8.0 by the time I got home.

Still sniffling and suffering a stuffed nose. But at least for the moment the bloods are hovering around normal levels for now.

Making an ass of myself with my ass

Well, decided it was time to rotate the injection sites around a bit. My stomachs a mess to be honest, and my legs have suffered a bit due to getting the wear and tear instead. Far too many bruises to avoid for now. So after trying my arms, of which there is no meat on them at all, have ended up using my ass. Yes I know, lots of material for jokes, but it’s a reasonable sized target and it’s possible to pinch and inject as opposed to with your arms easily.

Injecting is fine, no problems other than the usual stings with it being a new area. But sheesh the absorption is totally different. Am going through the floor with how it’s effected my levels. 1.9, 2.8, 2.2 to name a few over the last couple of days since this change. Have even had to change my ratio’s to try and fix it. Guess will be a couple more days till I know for certain if I’ve got the changes sorted. But sheesh some scary moments just by moving injection sites!