Type 1 Cycling

Type 1 Cycling

Monday, December 30, 2013

mHealth Grand Tour day 13 - Berga to Barcelona

Two days down.  More than 350 Km ridden. Almost 7000m climbed.  And thankfully all the bad weather behind us.  Just 145Km to go to get to Barcelona and this day was going to be more downhill than uphill.  It was still going to be my third longest ride and regardless of the overall downhill on the day there was still 1800m of climbing.  Still nothing as hard as previous days, and the perfect end to the tour.  For many two weeks on the bike starting in Brussels was finally coming to an end after and epic 2100 Km.
Big breakfasts were needed every morning. It was not possible to eat enough.

The morning started early with a large breakfast and plenty of faffing about.  Today I was getting my knees taped up, they were a little sore from the previous days efforts.  I was warned that due to my hairy legs it was going to be unpleasant when I removed the tape later.  Andy was on the ball today pushing me through my morning activities to get us out on time.  We left the building, buckled our helmets and, did not get on our way.  I had misplaced my gloves.

"Where are you going" Andy shouted at me.

"I can't find my gloves"

"Forget them you don't need them, Let's go"

Kate also chimed in, "I never wear gloves"
Nenad gets his Dexcom sensor before leaving

So we got on our way, my lovely Torq branded gloves never to be seen again. (if anyone from Torq is reading this I would love a new pair please).  Target time for leaving: 745am, time left: 759am.  This was a considerable improvement.  It wasn't the warmest start to the morning, and I was really missing my gloves, but I had a jacket on and zipped up as we made our way out of Berga.  The first few kilometers were downhill contributing to the cold feeling, but soon we were out of the town and crossing a large highway on a surprisingly steep bridge.  From there we started climbing.  We were riding on a (thankfully) empty dual carriageway, with a nice wide shoulder.  In order to stop me running away I let Andy lead the way on the climb, nothing two tricky something like two 3rd cat climbs with a small downhill in between over the next 15 Km.  Easy life compared to the previous days.  Andy took a little tumble as he was too close the the gutter where there was 5cm drop from the tarmac to the concrete.  The bike went over, thankfully we were going very slowly and no damage was done.  Back on the bikes and up the hill passing some of the slower early risers.
Andy and I at the top of an early climb

The peak of the hill was crested and then it was downhill for 30Km until the rest stop.  The weather was warming up, every we passed or who passed us were in good spirits and the scenery a little different from previous days was still impressive.  The descents were great minimal effort and plenty of speed leads to maximum enjoyment.  With a brief stop for a minor hypo we were at the rest stop at 50Km in around two hours since the start.  Not record breaking speeds but certainly making good time.  We timed it well and many people had either just arrived or arrived shortly after us.
Andy stopping to take care of a hypo

The first stop, me stuffing my face!

Having stocked up with food and water, stripped down some layers due to the bright sunshine and blue skies, and taken on some snacks ready for the the next two climbs we were on our way again.  Two medium climbs (both about 5% and 5 Km) one after the other and it was downhill until lunch.  We could almost smell the finish.  I was feeling good and Andy was following me up at a good pace.  Though when David came flying past us I found it hard to resist sticking with him.  Andy informed me that I was pulling away I slowed the pace and let David go on.  This was much better than the previous day, I had hardly seen anyone when riding and now we were passing people and riding with others, this was how it was supposed to be.  The weather and the scenery reminding me of home it all felt very familiar and wonderfully new at the same time.  I stopped to snap a couple of shots at the top of the second climb and then began the most incredible 40Km descent.  Nothing like the previous day from the col du Crueta but just a lovely ride through the windy roads through the trees and down towards Sant Cugat.
Beautiful day

This was the story for most of the day.  Andy staring at my ass!

Andy at the top of another climb

When we finally entered the town the ride became unpleasant.  The route took us through some industrial parks with bad quality roads.  Andy was getting tired, mainly because after 2 and half days of sitting on a bike he was in a lot of pain.  We had to make it to lunch though.  We were told there would be no messing around and the schedule for the afternoon was very strict.  The last few kilometers before lunch were very slow.  I could not figure out how long we had to go, and partially to keep Andy motivate partially because I had no idea, I kept saying "It's definitely in the next two kilometers".  Soon we were near the center of Sant Cugat and the scenery was much nicer than the industrial parks.  We arrived at lunch and for the last time were fed excellently but the Claud the Butler team.  We grabbed a plate of food and were hurried into a meeting room.  We had a press conference with the Mayor of Sant Cugat, with TeamBG represented by Paul.  We were also joined at this point by many older riders from Sant Cugat and Barcelona.  They were our welcoming party and guides for the last part of the tour.
Lunch in the conference room.

Press conference panel

Final lunch with Claud the Butler

The old guard of Spanish cycling

After lunch and the press conference we were off on our final climb.  It was an 8Km climb up Mt Tibidabo, where we were all to meet at the top for a final group photo.  I told Andy to go ahead and I would catch him, I had looked at this climb and this was something I felt was close to what I was used to from my training on Nes Harim.  It wasn't that I misjudged the climb rather after almost 500Km of riding I was a little more tired and a lot slower up the mountain than I thought I would be.  This was a bit of a shame as I really wanted to finish strong.  Not to worry I made it and did a good time but did not catch up to my brother.  Some of the Fira Barcelona riders caught me and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't hold them off.  It was their home territory after all.
Me at the top of Mt Tibidabo

Congratulations all round

We all arrived in small groups and congratulated each other.  It had been and amazing trip and we were almost done.  Photographs were taken and then we were escorted by the riders of Barcelona through the streets to the finish.  We were greeted with champagne and TV cameras and another press conference.  This time with the Mayor of Barcelona and the head of the International Diabetes Federation Europe.  I was cornered and question by some people in suits about how I managed with my Diabetes and how I did on the tour.  Finally we were escorted once again through the city, the locals stopping the traffic so that we could ride uninterrupted to the hotel.  It was really lively and we were all extremely pleased with ourselves.  On this day I had good blood sugar levels throughout the ride until lunch.  I underestimated the insulin and because we weren't doing much effort at the end of the day my glucose didn't come down too quickly.  By the following morning everything was back under control though.  The issue with this level of exercise is that the body is continuing to feel the effects of it for up to 48 hours.  I took care not to take too much insulin for fear of going hypo.
Full group photo


Yep we were pretty pleased with ourselves
Celebration bubbly with Simon and Veronica

Barcelona press conference

The day was finished off with a celebration dinner with some awards followed by some drinks in a bar.  I still had my legs tapped up and this seemed like right moment to have some people remove it.
Nice tan!

TeamBG at the finisihers dinner


This is the face of a hairy man having physio tape ripped off his legs

It was a great few days, and including the training was just an amazing experience and I am thoroughly satisfied with my performance.  I am very much looking forward to next years tour.  The dates have been announced, it will start on the 29th of August in Barcelona and finish on the 15th of September in Vienna.  The route will run via the Ventoux and Venice, with 3 blocks of 5 days and a rest day after stage 5 and 10. I very much hope I can do the whole ride this time.  I think I might shave my legs for this one though!

The tour was about raising awareness about Diabetes, it was about showing people that Diabetes does not prevent us from doing anything, and finally it was about doing some first of its kind research.  Please take some time to watch this video that was produced from the tour.

Strava output data here

Full picture gallery mostly courtesy of HowardSayer.com

Finally a huge thank you to Adam Denton for organizing the tour; Paul Buchanan for creating TeamBG and making it possible for us to enter; The GSMA for sponsoring and creating the mHealth Tour; Carmi my trainer (and all of XTeam) for getting me fit in 9 months so that I was able to do it; My wife, Leehee, for her unending support of my cycling and my commitment to helping people with Diabetes; Andy for being an awesome brother and coming along and riding amazingly for 3 days; All the riders and organizers that helped make it an amazing experience; and all the sponsors for making it happen.

Thank you all it was something to be remembered for a very long time!

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