JDRF Type 1 Discovery Day – Newcastle

I received an invite off the JDRF to go to Newcastle to speak about riding a bike on my crazy rides and handling it being T1D at the Newcastle Type 1 Discovery Day. Being the nervous around people nerd who would rather hide behind a monitor or disappear on a bike than face people, let alone talk to a crowd, I was somewhat nervous about all this!

The day came around so proudly wearing the blues again I was up at silly hours to get the train to Carlisle and then on to Newcastle. It was the first snow I’d seen this winter and it was a cold morning but the trip was smooth and on time. And plenty of tea to keep me warm all was good. The weather made it easier to be pleased at the fact I wasn’t on a bike as I had originally planned to ride to the station and then take NF, or possibly LM as a nice prop for the chat. But snow, sleet and slush. Along with icy roads and a cold wind I really think a nice comfy train was a better idea for once.

After doing a lap of the building as Google Maps had decided the entrance was the rear fire escape I do eventually find my way in and see the JDRF banners. It was great to see what they do with the D community on days like this. I saw Chris the Northern Representative who I’ve met a few times now, and also Sadie who I had been chatting with about this, and recognised me from the Tour de Type 1…ok not quiet true, she recognised NF and then remembered I was the one lucky enough to be her pilot for the tour. My attempts at socialising was my usual nerd like self of worried and let’s grab another brew and hide while I supped it.

Fortunatly Ian, one of my fellow riders from the mHealth Grand Tour in September also came to the day with his wife. It was great to see someone I knew and we could catch up on what had been happening of late.

First up was Dr Lamb who was doing a presentation about our conditions and also current research. This soon turned into more a question and answers session which was brilliant. We learned a lot about the various implant systems under development and also some good discussions on BG equipment like the Libre and CGM’s. Must admit I never knew that we were only meant to do a BG calibration when our BG’s are flat and stable as when they are actively going up or down it messes up the calibration! Good to know though. He also went into the details on why we are “meant” to change infusion sets every 3 days *whistles innocently* which of course we all do! Basically the skin can get used to things being in it, and our immune systems can start to wall off the area around it meaning out doses go to hell, although as with many of us it seems it depends on the infusion set and the person as some peoples immune system can wall it off in a few hours, others take far longer (I guess my ten days out of an infusion set honest once just shows I’m a bigger freak than I thought). The discussions on CGM and why the Medtronic is so bad compared to the Dexcom was interesting as well, but in brief it’s a cheap design using only one electroid compared to the two on the Dexcom and thus meaning it can’t handle skipping things like a calibration as easily. It was also good to see on the Medtronic devices how the Isig value can be used to calculate the BG value etc. Always good knowing some of the maths behind our kit.

After the doc was a short break before they got some loonatic cyclist on stage. Eek, that’s me! Throughtout the doc’s talk my BG was slowly ramping up and up due to my oncoming panic of what I was about to do. A quick test before the talk and it was in the low teens resulting in a massive correction, and off I go.

I tried to bring up as much as possible, and cover who I was, my younger days at school and growing up. My teens and then into my twenties. Getting discharged, getting rather porky and looking at myself and thinking “you fat “^”%!&S” and deciding I’d get fit and thus we are here today with a bunch of bikes. In my usual panic mode I go for the laughs, and I hope it worked. Got a fair few chuckles and digs in at docs, nurses, testing and medical companies (sorry we love you really!). Discussed a bit about my hypo issues but sadly looking back missed out of the really crazy hypo tails grr. Brought in all my rides and made a major point of the mHealth and Orange’s fantastic support on it along with all the sponsors. And finished off with my utter failure on my London to Paris ride last month.

Outside the lecture hall it was nice to chat with people and have a chuckle about some of the tails. And brilliant to get to chat with a couple of families. The whole “you can do anything as T1D” chatting with parents and the kids really does touch me. Everyone thought I was nuts, but it was really fantastic to hope that they’ll always be able to go out their and do whatever they want to do and D won’t stop them. I really hope we all can do that!

When Great Ideas End Up In Utter Failure!

It’s going to be a very memorable birthday (and yes it was a big one) is probably the best way to describe it. The plan, midnight to midnight, Big Ben to Eiffel Tower in under 24hours. 313.3km in total, 1 diabetic, 1 bike, 1 day (I like the use of one’s you might of noticed last time). It all started well enough, rode to the station, train down no real problems. Thinking back though it was probably my first error as lunch was my last proper meal and only snaked for dinner and before the ride. Got to Euston and got utterly lost trying to get to Big Ben. Was having a few issue with the GPS trying to “help” by using alternative routes not the one it was meant to use. In the end I did get there with half an hour spare. Ended up getting bothered by Romanian beggars though which is difficult to cope with.

Once going in central London with even at that time of night a lot of traffic the GPS continued to be a pain until good ol’ turn it off and on again and all sorted. Then made good time escaping the city. It was quiet surprising seeing so many foxes. Counted 9 of them which is so odd when up here I’ve only seen 1 in the last couple of years. The first 50km or so was foggy out of the city, and it proved a very sticky kind of damp and was also quiet hard to cope with the reduced visibility down to under 5m or so.

By the time I reached Lowes I was feeling quiet sickly and ended up vomiting beside the road. I blamed the very rich mix I had chosen to use on my drinks to try and cover the lack of having anywhere to get food stops really and also the strange salted and herb flapjack I had been nibbling. Possibly more the early stages of dehydration as I had only drunk about a litre. I make it into Newhaven just after 5am which wasn’t bad going, at just under 20km/h which is the kind of speed I would need come France so that was good and I was keeping it pretty gentle also.

Stopped at the McDonald’s near the ferry port and got plenty of protein in for breakfast and a couple of water bottles and a nice warm cuppa. Raised a few eyebrows this loony cyclist wondering in at that kind of time. Sat there till about 7am after having a couple more bottles of water before venturing down to the ferry port to see it all closed up and having nothing but two huts for passport checking and not even a waiting room. So utterly pointless that was I went back up to McDonald’s and got another couple bottles of water. Think my dehydration levels were starting to come back I hope although the lack of salt was probably still a problem but salt on the food helped I hope. Eventually left and bought a couple more bottles of water (yes that was 8 bottles!) and pootled down to the ferry port. And waited 2nd in line for them to open. In the process met a nice couple, Andrew and Jill on a tandem going to Paris also but doing it over 4 days. We had a good chat and discussed all kinds of things, D, bikes, and tours.

The ferry seemed to travel faster than I was expecting of it, yet also took a long time to get across the Channel. It was nice though and I got a decent lunch on board, although again in hide sight could of probably done with a lot more food really. I think I managed about an hours sleep and got the GPS and phone recharged which both were very nearly out of juice.

Once in Dieppe it was sunny as I got off the ferry but just as I reached the leaving gates it started to drizzle it down. Left my legs out but put my waterproof jacket back on and continued to try and get out of Dieppe. The roads were heavy at coming up to rush hour and it was hard with tailbacks everywhere but cutting through most of it well at a reasonable pace. Once on the quieter roads managed to turn things up a bit and got some distance it. It was nice seeing the signs for Paris though 170, 150, 130, 110km to go nicely coming down and also beginning to recognise the names of places from the mHealth Tour. I’m sure we didn’t go through many of them but I think we we’re in the same region again which was a nice feeling. The weather was getting much worse and I was getting pretty soaked and miserable at this stage so ended up hiding in a telephone box to get changed into more waterproof kit and also make up more energy drink using my two two of the bottles of water I had brought from McDonald’s that morning. Pressing on the distance was coming down nicely and I was still on schedule just about to make the tower in under 24 hours. Even setting off the slow down signs in towns which always gives me a nice grin when they flash “50 Rappel” at me.

I had just left the town of Gisors and was pressing on to Paris. In the middle of nowhere, pitch black, the full moon covered in clouds as the rain hammered it down my rear tyre goes. I get into a side road, which was nothing but a muddle track to avoid the main road and trucks on it which were the majority of transport at this time of night (9pm ish). I can barely see anything and eventually get my helmet light from my rucksack to help see. Couldn’t find anything in the tyre but with so much mud it wasn’t made easy. This was the first time I had changed these tyres which I got from the Tour and were originally fitted by the mechanics on that tour. Wired tyres argh a total fight, changed the tube, inflate it and BOOM, something must be in there still arrrgh!. Had to do it again and then couldn’t get the tyre back on at all! Spent 90mins getting more and more frustrated with it, getting more and more soaked. Getting more and more utterly ticked off at the time this was costing me. Eventually thought sod it and walked me and myself back to Gisors about 2km back now.

Cold, soaked, the only good thing going was my bloods! Walking into town I see a police car so wonder over to have a chat in very broken French. Was there anywhere to find a hotel still open now, no. Is there any 24hr restaurant or anything, no. Would you mind if I come hide and dry out at the station please? No chance! Bloody wonderful! I eventually find a bus shelter with a small plastic canopy roof and a bench in it from where I was able to change my rear tyre again. Seemed to be keeping inflated. I pondered for ages do I press on, don’t I, what do I do! Do I phone a taxi to take me to my hotel in Paris, how much would that cost after midnight?! Would they still be open considering how nowhere in France seems to do 24hr opening. In the end I pulled my legs up next to my chest and wrapped my arms around them and made a small ball of myself to attempt to keep warm as the rain pounded down. I did get a couple hours sleep but woke up frozen. I don’t think I’ve ever been that cold. Shaking violently, teeth chattering, bloods good though! I check the back tyre and it was still inflated. The rain was still pouring down though! Feeling ill again I ran to the local bushed and threw up yet again. Not sure if it was dehydration still or a chill or something with the cold effecting me. Hid back under the shelter for a while but I wasn’t heating that much up and when the rain relented a little thought to hell with it and got back on the bike and pressed onwards!

It started to dry out which helped a little and I was back to setting off speed warnings on the road signs which always made me feel like I was progressing again. The 24hours was well gone now. But I can still get to my train on time though to get home! And then thud thud thud the back tyre again ARGGHHHH!!! Not again. My feeling of let’s get this over with and getting on with things soon becoming utter frustration and annoyance. Luckily it wasn’t a full flat and more a slow puncture so managed to get me to this roadside 24hr pizzeria place (only place I had seen open 24hrs in France!). It was actually a room with a pizza vending machine in it. But it had lights, and it was a dry room if a little chilly. I had half a pizza for breakfast, half as the other half was frozen cold by the time I got to it, and it’s actually pretty difficult to eat a pizza not cut into slices as one giant disc. Sulking and wringing out my clothes weren’t helping. Next door a patisserie was opening up and an hour later I was in a lovely warm place with a mountain of fresh warm bread and croissants (creme croissants mmm NOM) and a good warm brew.

I received a message off Caroline from the mHealth Tour after posting a picture from the muddle side road with bike in bits. She offered to come pick me up and get me a nice warm shower. Once picked up we drove over the hill from where I was hiding and could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. I was less than 2 hours from the finish. Dejected, defeated, utterly annoyed at wrong choices and mistakes. It was a hard lesson but learned lots. I never made it to the Tower but did see it. The Tower as a completion I knew that would have to be next time when I do this correctly with the correct equipment. So close :frowning:

Getting home also proved to be “fun” though. I wasn’t going to meet my train home so tried the website to change the ticket time and it was timing out. So ended up calling them, but the office wasn’t open for another hours arrgh. Eventually get through and ticket changed. Good! I get a nice warm drink, showered and cleaned up at Caroline’s before she gave me a lift to the station before she went to work. I owe her so much for helping me out, a total star! Unfortunately the bike wouldn’t of been able to make the train so I had to get the ticket changed again (thankfully they’ve didn’t charge a fortune for it like last time). The bike nicely get’s scheduled in to be back in London on the same train as me, great!

Back in London and no bike. They had decided to move to the following train! Which then became the train after that one. Now, I had originally planned that I had space for things like this between getting into London and my train home. Unfortunately with the bike delays my tickets home were now also useless. Eventually getting the bike and me to Euston I had this feeling of disaster waiting to happen as it takes usually a days notice to book a bike onto a train. Thankfully though the girl at the station was able to get me and a bike on a train home (ish), but couldn’t refund the ticket. Thus another massive charge! The ish in this being the train only went to either Preston or Glasgow. So Preston it was! My feet were cut to shreds by this time, blisters from the walking in wet cycling shoes I’m sure wasn’t good. I had picked up some blister plasters in the station to try and patch things together as best I can which gave something to do while waiting for the train home. These train fixes ended up costing over twice as much as the original ride was to of cost. Not good at all but getting home was more important really now.

Making it to the home station and getting the bike off I go to lock the bike up and I’ve gone and left my rucksack with helmet attached to it on the train. I get worse! I have a good chat to the folk in the station and they call around and retrieve it in Lockerbie. So a nice warm station and a good chat with the station staff as we watched the delays roll up on the schedules (seems someone was threatening to jump off a bridge so they had to turn the power lines and stop trains in Crewe) which was delaying trains up to 3 hours, or cancelling them out right (guess some people were coming off worse than me). 90mins later though I was reunited with my bag and kit and on my way home to a nice warm comfy bed. I’ve learned loads, and I will complete this next time!

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.

Journeys End

It had to be the last day if I wanted a free ride home. Otherwise it was a very expensive train ride, and another hotel to find. But I had left a lot to do, 158 miles according to the mapping software. A big ask. But my bloods were spot on again, and almost perfect 6.0.

If I was to even get close I needed an early start, but that meant skipping breakfast. By just after 5am I was on the road. And the hills were nasty, like 20 miles of Whinlatter’s repeated. Heavy mist filled the  valleys and made visibility hard, and the ride say wet with the condensation.

The going was good though, and by just before 9 I was in Okehampton, calling in to a nice little cafe called Marianas right beside the bike route. The lady was still opening up but was happy to make me breakfast. We had a nice chat, and how the cafe was a good place for us bikers. I picked up the only slice of flapjack (more was being cooked) for riding fuel, and also a pasty which was meant to be the best Cornish pasties a available. The only issue with the pasty was that it was still frozen, but the lady said they normally take about two hours to warm up on the shop, but outside in my bags it should probably be much faster.

Leaving Okehampton I followed the Granite Way up the old railway line and met a curious, I would say curious weasel, but it might of been a stout but frankly I didn’t have a clue, la’al weasely critter though . It sat there in the bush watching me watching it while I rummaged in one of my front panniers for the source of an annoying squeak… It wasn’t the weasel squeaking though but my battery mains charger rubbing against my soap bottle. Saying goodbye to my hedge based watcher I was off again and soon facing yet another bridge, the Malden Viaduct. If I knew I would of found an alternative route. Who makes a wooden bridge this high?! Intently looking at my feet I made me way over looking at all the really bright red and on my shoes.

From then on the rest of day was spent solely on one road. The A30 was going to take me all the way now. No deviation, no turning off. One goal, one direction. The road was smooth and this helped greatly at getting my speed up and pounding or the miles. There was a few hills but slow climbs so nothing to bad and the road smoothness helped loads.

A couple hundred metres before market point 136 (6) I heard a lot of organic hissing, not like a lorry or tyre, I look at my rear wheel and this black line shoots out of the side of the verge and lands in a heap. I took off even faster wondering what the hell out was. I looked back and I had just been attacked by a snake. In Devon! On the A30. I went on for a few layby before pulling in and checking my sensor and bloods. In the 5′s but am sure I wasn’t imagining it. Do I report it to someone, or will they think I’m a loon. OK, I’m doing the End2End unsupported, yeah they’ll think I’m nuts.

Heading into Cornwall a car goes past cheering at my JDRF shirt and it rebuilds my spirits in the whole thing, even with my knees now reminding me of their displeasure of this last push.100, 90, 80, 70, I was distance watching now and I needed to stop it, so I pulled over for lunch. My pasty had 4 hours now to frost, it should be perfect. I think I could of used it instead of my Frio to keep meds cool.

Down the road I stopped at the next roadside burger van. The Beast of Bodmin burger sounded tempting bit I went for the good old classic cheese burger. Very tasty and really needed by this time. The lady was surprised I still had so many bags on me and commented how many jettison kit by this stage and it odd I still had all my bags (and she didn’t even know about smelly bag) and my tent strapped on. Warning me of the hills to come I pressed on.

Newquay, Truro, Redruth… And then came the signs for Penzance and I could almost feel the end of this venture. And then also came the grind. Steep ups and downs, no hard shoulder and the road now getting twisty. Lots of traffic tailed back and I decided to sit in the queue and use it to rest my legs.

Closing in on Penzance now, and the clouds rolled in  along with the mist and rain. The ride was going to end just like it started in Scotland. Shrouded in most and soaked.

Going though a little village which I didn’t catch the name of, but think it was Crowlas. I was enjoying the first cycle path on the road since Okehampton. A lady runs across the grass waving something at me, I was total lost and confused and pulled into a nearby layby. She had seen my bags and all my large JDRF logos and wanted to donate. I was stunned she flagged me down to make a donation. We got talking and she was greatful I was doing this for people like her. Turned out she was a type 1 as well, and surprised I was one, and how I was doing it unsupported. We exchanged a few notes on pumps and she asked if I was just taking it to Penzance or right to the end. There was only one place I was going now. Thanking her and her boyfriend who had joined us I was back on the road with less than 20 miles left. The chat with my fellow T1 raised my spirits over the weather. We can do these things!

The road through Penzance was busy but keeping things gentle and nursing my legs and dropping the power for fast sprints on the roundabouts to not hinder the busy evening commuting traffic. My legs were feeling renewed with the end before me. Then after the last roundabout out of Penzance the end of the day turned to the final point to make it like it started and in came the big climbs. Twisty steep little mountain roads.

My legs were flagging again, my CGM said I was at 4.2 but my blood was at 6.4 and I want suffering from my blood levels. This was my legs not enjoying it. They wanted to give up, they had five far too much recently and didn’t want to give any more. Pushing hill after hill I grid me way there. The rains getting heavier and I’m soaked now with my jacket vents wide open and still in my shorts. My glasses covered with water flowing down my face.

Lands End, I turn in and follow the hotel round. The most is close and you can hardly see more than 60m. I took a few snaps, and move on looking for the sign. My nephew runs up, followed by the rest of the family.

I’d pulled a “Vettel” on my final day, and smashed my personal best distance (sorry to those not F1 fans, Vettel has a tendency to set fastest laps and things even on the last lap of winning a race). I oddly don’t have any emotion on the whole thing. It feels odd of anything that it’s over. All of me aches. Fingers, thumbs, shoulders, knees. And all the scratches and messed up legs. Thanks everyone for following the tracking. I hope it was entertaining…

Ohh and the pasty? Is still frozen! Never know, it might be edible by the time I get home…

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.

Bettered and Bruised

I had a late start, and it was already gone 8 by the time I left the hotel just south of Birmingham. And I had some serious mileage to get me back on schedule to do. Giving up on the predefined map route, I picked the A38 and that was it. I going to sit in it and keep banging on the miles as best I can.

The plan want bad, but for one slight snag. The 16-24mph headwind. I ducked out of it a couple of times but it was there battering me over and over all day long.

For breakfast I dropped into the Tewkesbury garden centre as it was the first place a saw at a reasonably hungry time along the side of the road. I got lost in the fish tanks admiring the dead good fish while looking for the cafe, but the cafe was packed. I was surprised a little roadside garden centre had 30 tables, and nearly all were full.

The sausage sandwich wasn’t anything amazing, but the cakes, wow they were good! I had a brownie and it was so light and melting in the mouth. I also took a few flapjacks for the road, which also turned out to be as melt in the mouth, although not very flapjacky, very tasty also.

Down the road I followed the A38 into Gloucester, but hoped of it and onto the cycle route to tour the cathedral and docks. Some impressive sights.

As the A38 neared Bristol it was time to delay ways and I headed for Chipping Sodbury. The road was a getting a little busier than expected, but there was route 410 which followed the road. At the next entry point I pulled in and thud.

I was in a heap on the side of the road, aching, bleeding and wondering what had happened. All turns out that route 410 was put together by idiots who haven’t a clue about bikes as I learned once back on my feet and continued from then on down the road avoiding it. Every entry ramp was at least two and half inches above the road. These are the entry points you you hit at an angle and speed coming of a road, not whack and flicks the front wheel around and down you go. Muppet! Both legs were grazed, as was my left wrist, and cheek. My helmet took a good thud into the pavement but no visible marks. But my left knee was bleeding, and I really wasn’t happy about pretty much everything. So anyone doing the End2End, avoid route 410!

Nursing my wounds I looked around for a hotel. All seemed to close, but found one in Frome which was far enough off, and with good A road access. The snag being I had to get through Bath to hey there.

My route through Bath was fun. The toll bridge I enjoyed as it was free for bikes. The 25% climb after it wasn’t enjoyable in the slightest. Utterly cruelty at this point in the day and with my leg still bleeding. But I pressed on and got to the hotel just before 9.cleaned myself up and got a nice dinner in just before the restaurant closed. Good mileage considering.

Quintessentially English

Today started much better than yesterday and I was on the road by 6am. And by 10 I was having breakfast in Whitchurch which is a beautiful little town which reminds me a lot of home.

The local area was rolling hills and surprisingly a lot of horses. Even passing a group of jockeys racing around a field in training. And many on the roads out walking. The fields were mostly yellow, although a few were turning red with the poppy fields which are so popular around here, as well as many potato fields bit those are less a spectacle.

Getting to Telford want bad, and before going in I saw a roadside cafe and stopped for lunch. I got chatting to one local guy who guessed I was doing the end to end and we discussed how his doctor kept telling him to lose weight or he might become diabetic. It made me chuckle though when he learned I was one “but there’s no meat on you”. So I went through the usual expansions about the different kinds and went into the JDRF. The guy nicely donated £5. Thanks!

Getting to Telford I had I simple plan, stick to one road and zap through it. That got scuppered so I once again got into knots trying to escape, taking far longer than expected.

I kept on going and the weather remained undecided. As soon as I changed into wet weather kit, the sun would come out and I would bake, and add soon as I took of my jacket, down the rain would come. In the end I just gave up and went on in my dry weather kit. It probably needed a good wash anyhow.

Time was skipping on so time to find somewhere to stay. Best I could find in a pretty decent direction was in
Upton Warren which I had no idea where to get to. I switched to using Google Navigation for this and talk about asking the country paths it took me. I was sure it was wrong, but looking at the map it only seems to of goofed up a couple of times so I’ll forgive it. Must admit it was nice to ride along a canal again, but quite different to the Lancaster or Glasgow canals as this had on part cut out of sandstone.

Pausing to rummage through my bags for more food when the wind caught LM and thud, not a good sound. Bent the lefthand gear /brake horn in, not bad enough to make it to uncomfortable or stop it working but annoying. I rummaged around again for my tools but remembered I didn’t bring the Allen key set as I had a multi tool. And the snag here being it’s too short reach and chunky to fit the small space to adjust the horn back. Annoying but am sure a garage or bike shop while passing will have some keys to buy.

Continuing Google Navigates rather odd around the houses route I suddenly thought it had dumped me on millionaires row. Every house was huge, well the ones you could see. Every passing car was a big car and everyone had personalised plates. No idea who lived here but was a few cars with UTD plates. Trying to think which football team is a United locally, Wolves isn’t is it? Lovely places of you have the money.

Power was again becoming a problem but just made it to the hotel in time. Had a lovely bangers and mash inside a giant Yorkshire pudding. Obviously I miss judged the cards, or I was spiking from what was still in my system from earlier while riding but I shot high and was up a few times trying to get it down to no avail. In the end changed infusion set as it might of got clipped out the insulin might of got a bit cooked being next to me all day.

Day of the Muppet

Last night I stayed in a very nice hotel. A very comfy bed, and this morning while my legs wanted to ride, my heart just wasn’t in it at all. I had no motivation whatsoever. I had originally planned skipping breakfast and getting it on the road with an early checkout. It never happened and it was gone 9 before I was on the road. I did get breakfast and it was wonderful. The double thick bacon was to die for. Blood wise I was 12.3 which was quickly brought down.

On the road my progress was still lousy and by the time I got to Preston I had wasted I hide chunk of time. I followed the bike route along the river and bumped into one of the Sky Ride groups introducing people to cycling. Got to love what they are doing. Said high and waved them across at a junction. Not far further along the route I met Mick, who’s a local guy and add we got chatting does a few sportives a lot like myself. He was a star, and got me out of the how do I find my way across the river conundrum and also find the fastest way south. After he left to do his own life, my GPS software on the phone in all its wonderful wisdom, and creative use of using various round about routes had me going all over the place really getting me in a knot of directions. Eventually though I ended on a road saying Liverpool and thought ok, that’ll do.

To make up time I went for the A roads which soon had me in Liverpool. My blood glucose was dropping, so time to find some good and along the side of the road was a sign for a restaurant just called San Marco’s which looking at the menu had some nice sounding Italian things and they had a good roadside offer on. I locked up LM and went in, the place was petty empty and he escorted me to the table. Stopping out from behind the desk and seeing I was in my shorts with my scared legs on show he almost had a stoke. Was really quiet funny, he couldn’t think what to say in English with his strong Italian language, but basically I wasn’t dressed correctly for the restaurant. Makes me wonder if tie on might of helped or probably just my legs. He was a little lost but decided not to turn down a customer and so found a table farthest from any other customer in the place. Part of me wanted to wind him up, but in the end I let him off.

Dinner was actually very good. A cabs pronounce any of it but for the cheesecake, but the main meal was a pancake with layered pancake under it with chicken, ham and a little spinach in a odd layered thing, and covered in a cheese sauce. And the cheesecake was so thick. Both were fantastic. My bloods were back up and I made a hasty retreat as the place was filling up. I think the guy was pleased I want around long, but I had a chuckle with the English guy when I paid about my attire and he just said forget it and want a problem.

Before entering deep into the city I noticed that route 62 basically traversed my planned route,  so seemed a much better option. And just over there was a path connecting onto it according to the map. Path connecting it was not quite true. Think nettle covered triffid trek into the Amazon. I ended up putting my evening long pants on and riding through them mountain bike style. Worked well and never got stung luckily.

On route 62 was great. It got me right through the city. Following all the routes was pretty simple, and I must say the best connected routes so far I’ve been on through a city. Even passed Aintree race and golf course. Deep in the city on the dark paths which makes up cycle routes a lot of the time I began to wonder about my safety. Groups of late teens playing on motorbikes which they had snuck onto the track, and fighting with one of their “friends” dog. Wasn’t going to get involved for my own sake sadly.

The route itself was a good 20+ miles long, and the number of people on bikes was brilliant to see. As was the walkers and runners. A met a local lad who had his bike upside down so was obviously having issues. But offering to help he was shocked but said he was ok and had just finished his repair. 20 mins later I find him again further down the path working on his bike. We chat a bit more this time and laugh about earlier. All turns out his bike is something he’s knocked together himself from bits, but he hasn’t got hold of an “S bend” as he put it, I believe he was on about his rear mech. So he had this elaborate cable system he yanked to change gear. But as shown, it only goes up gear so once he’s gone up through his cassette he can’t come back down. I think he should maybe make it into a fixie really. Nice guy though and said track want usually this busy, it was just the sun bringing them out.

Continuing down the route and eventually crossing the Mersey bridge, another highlight for my vertigo, I finally escape and end up in Runcorn. I load my I map for tomorrow and go spare. I had spent the entire day using the wrong map. This was an old one, I had made a new one which took me through Warrington and didn’t come near Liverpool. I’ve wasted a day going stupid places and gaining no needed distance at all. I’m fed up, annoyed, and generally utterly ticked off about it. So passing a Holiday Inn I enquired about a price, £45 will do. Sod today, I’m saying goodbye to it and going for dinner and get some sleep.

There be a Lack of Electricity

Walking up I had next to no power. For any of my kit. Less than 2% and I was still in the middle of nowhere. Using what I had I checked and basically route 74 went all the way to Carlisle. That’s good enough for me. I cut power to everything, had a bowl of Alpen and hit the road not long after sun raise.

It was just after 9 and I was already approaching Lockerbie. I considered stopping for breakfast and looking for a mobile phone shop for a free charge, but decided my legs were on form and I want going to stop them.

By just before 12 I was entering Gretna and was famished. So a stopped and got a great deal on dinner. The sausage roll I got was great, so good I went back and got a bag of them for later before dropping into yet another local Spar. Between them and local garages I think they’ve fuelled my trip so far.

Road signs were saying Carlisle and Longtown, and I had had enough of Scotland by this point and wanted out. I gave up on the cycle routes and went right for Longtown and soon saw the welcome to England sign. And that just drove me on. Home soil again! And I was in Carlisle before 2 and sitting outside The Lanes getting my phone charged and having a large milkshake in the sun.

The phone had 20% power now. Surely that would be enough? After the flood of messages and calls it was less than 2% by the time I reached Dalston. So if down the cycle route I went heading for Penrith, or so was the plan. In the end it turned out to be back in Carlisle add I ride 5 miles down the route in the wrong direction due to lack of a map again beige finally heading in the right direction by about 4.30. One good thing about going the wrong way was that I did get a chance to chat to a guy in Carlisle about the ride. Nice guy and really interested in the ride and the JDRF.

There was a plan for a pitstop in Penrith to load up on more kit as necessary. Unfortunately my brother was now busy doing “other things” so that was totally scuppered by the time I was heading there. So my pitstop plan was now shot down, and I still needed to find somewhere to stay.

Then there it was, the sun said Keswick 22mile…that’s not far thought my brain. So of I went sleep in my own bed, sorry it the kit, all sorted. There was just one tiny little snag to this plan. Caldbeck and Uldale. The climbs were merciless. Actually by far the hardest climbs I’ve faced this entire trip so far. Dragging all my bags I made it home for a refuel, restock, sleep and a night out catching up with friends in town.

As you can tell from how far this is on the map, I just broke my all time distance personal best. 142 mile. Think it’ll be done time till I try to beat that again.