Type 1 Cycling

Type 1 Cycling

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Some morning its hard to get out of bed

Today I woke up at my usual 5:30am.  It really took a huge effort to get out of bed.  My blood sugar was fine, my legs felt fine.  I was a bit short of sleep but three early mornings with 5 hours of sleep will do that to you.  I slowly got dressed, I dragged myself to the car and drove to training.  I hurriedly got my stuff together, bike out of car, front wheel on, Garmin on mount and switch on. Phone in pocket, check blood, glucose meter in pocket, stuff pockets with gels and bars.  Pump up tyres, bottles on bike. Gloves, shades helmet, shoes.

My trainer comes over while I am getting ready and mocks for being late.

Ready now.

Lock the car, jump on the bike and start my warm up.  I'm tired, but I am on my bike and you know what.  I just love riding my bike.  Suddenly I have energy I am awake and raring to go.

Can't wait to start the tour.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Interview with a Sponsor - Wix.com

The company that I work for has sponsored me for the Diabetes Grand Tour.  Wix.com is an internet platform for building your own websites.  You don't need to know any HTML or javascript.  Just drag and drop what you want to where you want and concentrate on the content and design we do the rest.  Wix is the biggest platform of its type and a market leader in technology.  Not only that they are a great company to work for.  Here is a short interview that I did with community responsibility team.

Wix: What are you doing again?

Rob Woolfson (aka Type1Cycling): Riding my bike from Barcelona to Vienna!

W: Are you insane? How far is that? 

RW: Maybe, isn't everyone here? Its 2300Km by the way, but that's not the worst of it, there is 33,000m of altitude - that's a lot of uphill riding.

W: Yeah I guess everyone here is a little nuts bit but I think you take the cake.  Why on earth would you do this, is this fun for you?

RW: I am doing this as part of Team Blood Glucose's (TeamBG) Event - The Diabetes Grand Tour.  We are raising awareness about diabetes, and more importantly the benefits of exercise on diabetes.  We are doing research into the effects of endurance sport on diabetes and raising money for The charity TeamBG so that they can continue to put on events that encourage more people with diabetes to get out there and get active. At big events like this over achievers like my brother and me get to show people that our Diabetes doesn't hold us back, that there really is no challenge that we cannot accomplish despite the condition.
W: That sounds great, does this mean you have diabetes? cos you dont look fat.

RW: I do have diabetes, but not THAT type of diabetes.  There are two types, Type 1 (some people call it Juvenile Diabetes) which is an autoimmune disease that ends up with the body no longer producing insulin, and Type 2 usually diagnosed in older patients that often have lead unhealthy lives, they still produce insulin but have become resistant to it.  My brother also has Diabetes he was diagnosed at 13 and myself at 27.

W: That's interesting, so what does exercise have to do with anything?

R: The key to a healthy diabetic life is balance.  It is important that I keep my blood sugar with in a range most of the time.  If I do not I could have some serious medical complications later in life.  Exercise and staying healthy are key components in the balance equation.  It also raises insulin sensitivity which is especially important for Type 2 diabetics as it could meant that along with a sensible diet they need no other treatment.

W: Wow this is a great thing you are doing, but how is Wix involved?

RW: As part of the Wix for the community project Wix is sponsoring me to ride the tour.  It is incredibly generous and has allowed me to make a large charitable donation to the TeamBG cause as well as raise money from other people with out having to worry about funding the trip as well.  It is really inspiring and heartwarming that the company I work for could feel so passionate about something I am involved in outside of work.  I am forever grateful.
I got a special kit with all my sponsors

W: So glad we could help.  How can other people get involved?

RW: I am currently finishing my training, and writing about it and more detail about the tour on my blog, during the tour I hope to update the blog and at least my twitter whenever I have access to the internet.  I will be uploading my rides to Strava and Garmin Connect in case anyone wants to follow my exact progress.  You can also visit the TeamBG site and read about what we are trying to do (sadly I haven't persuaded them to move over to Wix just yet).  If there are any keen cyclists who like to track their rides I recommend using Strava, I have created a Wix group that you can enjoy so we can keep track of each others' rides.
You can also donate to TeamBG, there is a yellow donate button near the top right.  When you fill in details please add that is either on my behalf or from a Wix employee.

Evolution of Kits

Replica Pro Team Kit - COOL (or at least I thought so)

Team Sky kit 2012

 My Own Team's Kit - COOLER

X-Team kit, main sponsor Trek

Kit With Personal Sponsors - COOLEST

Diabetes Grand Tour 2014 kit, produced by Funkier

Sponsorship from Wix.com, Dario, Kitchenbug and Trek
With thanks to my sponsors: Wix, Dario, KitchenBug and Trek.  The shirts were produced by Funkier

Friday, August 22, 2014

Support networks - or, The amazingness of the DOC

A few months ago we were invited to a Friday night dinner at some friends.  They always have a bunch of people in together and the conversation is lively and entertaining.  I get in and sit down on the couch while my host fetches me a large glass of whisky.  While I am waiting I start preparing all my diabetes paraphernalia, Changing needles, testing blood sugar, injecting my long acting insulin.  As I am doing this one of the other guests notices what I am doing and says that she also has type 1 diabetes.  My wife jokingly says that she knows what we will be talking about for the rest of the evening.

We talked about diabetes, about management.  I told her about my cycling and about Team Blood Glucose and the Diabetes Grand Tour.  She was suitably impressed.  I have heard many stories of people just not knowing other people with diabetes, particularly other type 1s not knowing about each other.  I am lucky, my brother has had diabetes longer than I have, so I have always had someone to talk to about this stuff.  However since I have been involved with the Diabetes Online Community (the DOC), my world has been opened up to more people, more knowledge, more technology and more opportunities (often opportunities to help people).  I have consulted with app and technology makers (for free), I have ridden across the Pyrenees with some of the most inspiring people with diabetes that I have ever met.

Fast forward to this week.  A few days ago I was in the bike shop, apparently I hang out there a lot lately.  I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize.  I answered it and it was the same girl who I had had dinner with a few months earlier.

"I have an emergency"

She told me that her pump was broken, she had no other insulin (her back up supply had expired), I was the only other diabetic she knew of close by, could I help.

Could I ever?

It worked out nicely that she was on Novorapid in her pump, which is the same as I use.  I told her that I had spare and she could come round and take what ever she needed.  I got home opened up my computer and went straight to my diabetes Facebook groups.  I posted a question to Sporty Diabetic Type 1s and GBDOC and by the time she over I had plenty of help and and advice.  It was that quick, and that easy.  A number of suggestions were posted and we worked out a plan.
The comments I received right away

Clearly this was partially an issue that my friend did not have a backup plan.  It is something she will make sure in the future she has for cases like this.  In the end she was fine, it was just one night and the supplier got back to her the following day and fixed her issues.

The whole experience for her was eye opening, she was amazed at the response from people I do not know personally (though I have had many online conversations with them).  It also reminded me of an app that is designed for exactly this sort of thing.  The HelpAround app allows you to be part of a community, for example the diabetes safety net.  Then you can contact other people around you if you have a question or problem, if they are close enough to your location they maybe able to help you out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Quick post about training with a power meter.

Some power reading for the past couple of days.  Fitness is often measured by the amount of power you can put out over certain periods (10s, 1m, 5m, 20m)  The last one is key as it determines a lot about how you train.  Sprinters generally aim to improve their power for 10s and 1m over the longer periods.  Endurance riders favor training for the longer periods.  Here are my best power outputs for 1min and 10s.  Reasonably happy with the average, but would like a more consistent looking graph.

I will post more about this as I learn to train with my power meter.  I am yet to do the 5 min and 20 min tests properly, when I do I will post again.

Its probably best if I do them on a trainer it will give a more consistent looking graph as it is free from outside influences that are unavoidable outside.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Diabetes Grand Tour 2014 Sponsoship

Last year I took part in the mHealth Grand Tour, for my part riding 500km into Barcelona - day 11, day 12 day 13.  This had been my biggest cycling challenge to date.  Not only was I able to ride it with my brother, Andy - also a type 1 diabetic since the age of 13, but also many other people with diabetes.  We learned so much from each other and it was great to have the support of a ride organised for our benefit, catering to our every need, from food and energy supplies to CGM sensors.  Not only was I lucky enough to have a place on the tour, and be physically able to take part but my family and friends sponsored my ride to the tune of around 2500 pounds.  That was a big donation towards TeamBG, and has helped the team with events this year.

This years tour will run from Barcelona to Vienna starting on the 30th of August, and I am doing the whole thing.  Having asked family and friends last year to sponsor me I did not want to pressure people once again for money, even though this year I am taking on a bigger challenge.  So I went a different route.  I asked for company sponsorship in exchange for having logos printed on a custom shirt.  As a result I have had all my costs taken care of through the sponsorship of some great companies.  It has helped me pay for the tour, travel, the cost of training (energy gels and bike parts) and printing some custom kit.  As I have had my costs taken care of it has meant that I have been able to make a large personal donation to TeamBG.

It is with great appreciation that I would like to thank all the people that have pushed at the relevant companies for me to get sponsorship.  It means a lot to me that they regard me and our relationship so highly that you would do this for me.  So a big thank you to Shira, Brenda, Keren and Amir for helping me out.  You have made this very special for me and it will not be forgotten.

Of course here I will introduce the sponsors whose contributions who I am eternally thankful for:

Wix - Wix.com is my employer.  They have given me time off work to do the whole ride and made a substantial donation.  They are a great company to work for and though I have only been there a short time I feel like an established member of the team.  Wix is an online platform for building websites.  You can use it to build a website with zero programming ability.  There are many features and add-ons available to enable the users to create professional looking sites. With 50 million users it is the biggest platform of its kind.

Dario - Dario makes an app and a device that plugs into a smartphone audio port.  They have just released the device in the UK and from September the strips will be available on the NHS prescription.  The app itself does not just allow you to track blood sugars but also food intake, insulin dosages and exercise.

Kitchenbug - The best way to describe this is Pintrest for recipes.  If that means nothing to you, then its a web app that allows you to collect recipes found on the web into different collections.  You can share the recipes and collect other peoples recipes, but the best part is that when a recipe is collected the information is read from the website or blog and converted into a formatted recipe. The recipe has the ingredients and directions along with the nutritional information.  This is especially useful for people with diabetes who are trying to manage their carbohydrate intake.

As a diabetic I need to make sure I have plenty of energy products when I am out training

Trek - One of the biggest names in cycling, their local franchise gave me a huge discount on essentials, some new kit and full service.  They sponsor my team here in Israel and have carried that over to sponsor me on the tour.  They give me great service every time I go in there, whether its to buy a couple of inner tubes or to fix a wheel.  I ride with many of the guys that work there regularly, they a great group of guys and fun to ride with.

Supplies from Trek - New front wheel, new tyres and spare tyres, inner tubes, gas, gloves, shoes, socks, dregreaser and oil

Funkier - Producers of both my team and my tour kit.  I gave my new shorts a test ride today and they are the most comfortable shorts I have worn.  They were extremely patient with me getting the design exactly right before printing up some long and short sleeve shirts with the above sponsors names on.  They look great and allow me to show off everyone that has helped me get to the tour.
Custom kit from Funkier, short and long sleeve shirts, bib shorts, gloves, socks and sleeves

Taking the sponsors out for a spin

If you would still like to make a donation to TeamBG then please feel free to do so.  Click near the top right of the page (the donate button) and when you have the option to give a reference just say its in my name.  The more money we raise the more events we will be able to put on next year, the more we can continue to help the wider diabetic community.

Thanks to all my sponsors and supporters I couldn't do it with out you.

Keep up to date with my progress by following my blog, and twitter.

You can also follow my rides on Strava.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Diabetes Grand Tour 2014 edition

Here we go again.  With just over a month to go I have really ramped up my endurance training.  Yes its back and I am am doing all of it.  The mHealth Grand Tour has returned.  2300Km and 33000m of altitude - Barcelona to Vienna crossing the Pyrenees, Alps and the Dolomites, including a visit to the legendary Mount Ventoux. This is going to be epic.  Last year I was only able to do 500K, just 3 days of riding.  This year I am doing the whole thing, 15 days of riding.
Andy at the top of Pahliers, an Hors Category climb
I have been lucky enough to receive some sponsorship for the Tour which has covered my expenses.  As such I will be making a donation to Team Blood Glucose who have worked hard with a small budget to put on the event.  TeamBG  have had a great year with many of its members participating in a range of events from 5K runs to Ironman events.  There was even a TeamBG organized bike ride in Surrey including the famous Box Hill climb, attended by new and old members.

Riding through the Spanish country sied

Much like last year the purpose and aims of the tour are will be to raise awareness about Diabetes, more specifically, as per TeamBG's mission, to demonstrate the positive effects of exercise on Diabetes management.  Given the scale of the bike ride, we will not just be showing that exercise is good for people with Diabetes (as it is with everyone) more that there is no challenge too great that cannot be conquered regardless of the condition. I know that if it wasn't for my Diabetes I wouldn't have been pushing myself to complete such a lofty goal.  We will be continuing with scientific research through Imperial College London monitoring the effects of prolonged endurance exercise on Diabetes, and as there will be riders with and without Diabetes there will be a suitable control group for comparison.  As mentioned the ride will be raising the profile of the work that TeamBG are doing.
At the ski staion

Last years ride had a focus on technology and how inter-operability between the interested parties can be leveraged to create applications and technology that can hugely improved the quality of life for people living with conditions like Diabetes.  This is a great article by Ian, one of the people involved in the mobile technology side who I met on the tour last year.  It was a perfect partnership so many of my diabetic friends are friends because of technology.  I entered this world through  the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) and I continue to engage with people through the various Facebook and Twitter communities.  I use apps to monitor my Diabetes management though logging my Insulin, blood sugars, food, and exercise.  I have blood glucose meters and continuous glucose meters, all supplying me with data.  Mobile technology is where its at and where it is going to be for Diabetes, it was no coincidence that we finished in Barcelona - the Mobile World Capital.  The ride was also successful for two of the amateur TeamBG riders, Pierre and Simon, who were picked up by professional Diabetic cycling team Team Novo Nordisk.

This year I look forward to meeting up with my brother, Andy, to ride together again.  We are both fitter and stronger and challenging ourselves with a bigger ride.  I also look forward to seeing many of the great people who I met last year and hopefully some new faces too.

Team Blood glucose is a  not for profit organization.  It relies on donations to survive.  As I have raised the money required to send me to the tour I will be donating some of my own money to TeamBG.  Additionally I would be very appreciative if you also donate a small  amount to help the cause.  If we raise enough then that will enable us to put on more events next year.  So please take the time to donate by clicking on the donate button in the top right of the homepage.
TeamBG group pic, above Barcelona

Keep up to date with my progress by following my blog, and twitter.

You can also follow my rides on Strava.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Chocolate Mousse Recipe - Non Dairy

I made this yesterday for a dinner we were invited to.  It went down really well and I was asked by a few people what the recipe was.  I am not generally a big dessert person, I wasn't before I was diagnosed with diabetes either, but I do love me a chocolate mousse, especially if it is dark and rich and not too sweet.  I had one other restriction - no milk.   I made chocolate mousse a few weeks ago with butter and cream, it was delicious and I was hoping I could replicate the taste without those ingredients.  The reason for the milk restriction was that we were having Shabbat Dinner with friends and the main course was meat.  That means for religious reasons dessert cannot contain any milk, due to the prohibition of mixing the two.  I was reluctant to use margarine as a replacement for butter, thankfully I didn't need it.  So lets get down to it.  I used Lindt 70% cocoa chocolate.  I was tempted to use a mixture of that and the 85% but as I didn't know who would be there I kept it simple.  Feel free to experiment, if you use a higher percentage then you might want to add a little more sugar to stop it from becoming too bitter.  I kept things pretty simple but instead of the 2/3 cup of water you can use 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup something else, possibilities are espresso, Tia Maria, chocolate or orange liqueur, brandy, or orange juice.
Not my chocolate mousse

Prep time: 30 min
Total time: 2.5 hours Mostly refridgerating
Servings: 10 people


6 Large eggs
400g Dark chocolate 70% cocoa
2/3 cup Water
1/3 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Coarse salt


  1. Break the chocolate into a large metal bowl and add the water (and optional ingredients).  Melt over a double boiler / Bain Marie.  To make a double boil fill some water into a large pot and bring to the boil, you need enough so that it wont boil away but not enough that it will be touching the bottom of the metal mixing bowl.  Once the water comes to the boil place the mixing on top of the pot and turn down to a simmer.
  2. Let the chocolate start to melt for a few minutes.
  3. In the mean time separate the egg yolks and whites.  I use one less yolk, so I had 6 egg whites and 5 yolks.  Make sure there is no yolk in the white, better a little bit of white with the yolks than the other way around.
  4. Once the chocolate has started to melt into the water stir with a wooden spoon.  It will look a little weird at first but mix it well and it will become silky smooth.  Keep mixing until all the chocolate has fully melted.  It usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
  5. While the chocolate is cooling a little whisk the egg whites.  I use a stand mixer (a Kenwood chef older than I am), I have done this by hand, it took two of us half an hour of switching in and out - I do not recommend this.  A electric hand whisk will do the job very well too.  Once the whites start to froth slowly add the sugar.  The more you add the sweeter it would be, I would said not more than double though.  Continue beating the whites until they are firm.  Lift the whisky out slowly and if forms a stiff peak then its ready.
  6. If the chocolate has cooled a bit then its time to add the egg yolks, if the chocolate is too hot you will cook them.  Mix them through the chocolate mixture.
  7. Combine the whites and the chocolate.  I start with about 1/4 to 1/3 of the whites, folding the white into the chocolate until it's uniform, then another 1/3 and then the rest.  Each time carefully folding the white into the chocolate.  Be careful when folding, if you are too rough with it then the whites will lose their fluffiness and you will have pudding instead of mousse.
  8. Cover with plastic warp and refrigerate ideally for a few hours before serving. If it looks a bit runny at this point don't worry it should set in the fridge.
  9. Before serving grate some chocolate over the top (If you used orange juice in the mix then perhaps add some orange rind to the topping) and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt, it's a really nice treat that brings out the flavour.
  10. Enjoy

Double boiler setup

Stiff Peaks

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Apps for PWDs (or DC rainmaker for diabetes)

This is a copy of a post I wrote a while ago, I am sure it there is more to add and as time goes on and things change I will try to keep this up to date.

There are more apps for iPhone than Android, especially more established apps. However there are still plenty to choose from on both platforms. I have included some non logging apps at the bottom.

Before I go into detail. Logging for me is one of the best things you can do to improve your control and more importantly your understanding of how different things affect you. Your health care team, research and books will give you general advice based on averages. Rarely do people fit neatly into nice categories and as such individual tweaking is necessary. That can be implemented by better understanding obtained through logging. I cannot recommend it enough.

A simple google search revealed a couple of lists which you can look at here:

I have posted them just in case you feel like getting some more ideas. These lists may not be up to date either. I have compiled my own list.

Dario http://mydario.com/ is at the top of my list right now. Currently only available for the iOS devices, but they have assured me that there is an Android version comming soon. I like this for a variety of reasons:

1) The device attaches to the audio port and use that to directly check you blood sugar. The test strips will be available by prescription.

2) They listen to me when I tell them what I like and don't like about their apps

3) The new user interface for the latest version is really nice, easy to use and still packs many features.

4) It has a mechanism for predicting HbA1c based on your blood tests.

Additionally it has a web interface and allows social media interaction through the app, I regard this as a good thing other people may not.

Diabeto http://diabe.to/ This is a device that plugs into your CGM and communicates with a logging app in your phone via bluetooth. Its not available yet but will be soon and when I get my hands one one I will let you know how it is.

Until now I have been using the wavesense / ibgstar app. It also is only for iOS but is a very simple to use logging app. I can easily record information about CHO intake, insulin, blood glucose and exercise along with notes. Its easy to compile a log and email it directly to my dietitian before consultation.

Glucose Buddy is available for both devices.https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.skyhealth.glucosebuddyfree My brother uses it and likes it. I have used it on the iphone but they have newer versions that look like they include all the features necessary to keep a good log. It also has a web interface.

MySugr is a new app to the market with the goal of gamification. This may be aimed at a younger audience but their new approach has certainly attracted many new users. I have not played with it so I cannot comment directly. I am only going on what I have seen from my Diabetic friends on Facebook and Twitter have said. They have an app for both platforms and a web interface. https://mysugr.com/companion/

OnTrack https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gexperts.ontrack&hl=en got good reviews and is available for Android. I cannot personally comment but it did come up in the top lists as well so I am assuming that it does serve its purpose well.

Diabetes PA http://www.diabetespa.com/ A new nice looking app that I haven't had the chance to look at yet.

Carbs and Cals:
A highly recommended app for helping to estimate carbs and calories in random foods. Its not free but if it helps with your control whats a few shekels. Available for Android and iOS.

Spontaneous http://corp.deep-systems.com/he/ an app designed around helping know what they are eating in local restaurants, available for android and ios and also in Hebrew. It is targeted for Type 1 diabetics.

HelpAround http://helparound.co/ a social app for asking questions and getting help from people around you.

Strava www.strava.com 
This is a great GPS app for logging exercise, running or cycling. You can follow friends and set yourself training goals. Its very good I have been using it for a long time, the free version has loads of features. Its available for both platforms and has a web interface. Its also compatible with Garmin GPS devices.

KitchenBug http://www.kitchenbug.com/
Another great Israeli company that is like Pintrest for recipes. It is used to collect recipes that you find on the internet and store them in your own collection. It does this through a bookmarklet. When you see a recipe you press the button. It reads the recipe and selects directions and ingredients. It then calculates all the nutritional information. You can search for kosher recipes if that's what you are into. It gives a comment about whether or not it is suitable for PWDs, though this is more suited to Type2s than Type1s. I am working with them to improve this feature. The key is that for any recipe you can easily work out what you are eating in a meal, removes some of the guess work and is generally a great product.

If you have made it to the end of this post, well done. I hope it was helpful. Please add comments on what you think about the apps I have suggested or if you have other ones to suggest that I missed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Salmon with a pistachio crust

I made this for dinner the other night and it was well received.  One of my guests asked for the recipe so as I was writing it down I thought I would post it here.

1) Salmon Fillet 1.5kg (about 150 - 200g per person) - you need a large piece like a side.  Its much harder with fillets but possible. Best with skin on.
2) Cream cheese 200g (I used a tub of symphonia 5%)
3) Pistachios peeled and lightly crushed (you can buy them peeled but they are more expensive - but peeling them is time consuming), I used 500g (pre peeled),  probably would have been fine with 300g
4) 2-3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
5) 1 lemon
6) 4 cloves garlic (optional) - finely chopped or crushed.
7) salt (I like the rock salt)
8) black pepper.

1. Take a baking tray and cover it with foil.  Lay a second sheet of foil on top.  The second sheet should be at least double the size. You want it centered.  Lay the salmon skin side down on the foil.

2. Coat the salmon with cream cheese and then spread some whole grain mustard on top. sprinkle with garlic.  (you could mix the cream cheese, mustard and garlic before and spread it as one.

3. Sprinkle the crushed pistachios over the cream cheese / mustard and so that its completely covered.  The cream cheese will help them stick.

4. Season with salt and pepper and squeeze the juice of on lemon over the top.

5. Take the edges of the foil and fold them over making a tent over the salmon (not wrapping it tight), and place in the oven at 180C for 45 mins

6. Unwrap and check if its cooked.  I like to crisp it up by leaving it in for another 15 mins unwrapped.


The salmon before wrapping and putting in the oven

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bet Guvrin Race

We had really good preparation as a team for this years Beit Guvrin race. Three weeks before and one week before the race had ridden the course. With the middle week focused on climbing. All in all I felt that I was arriving ready to do my best on a course not ideal for my abilities. I had expected the whole peloton to fracture early on with the climbs and at best expected to finish in a follow group. Skip to the end to see the video of the final few kilometers.

The week of the race I was in training Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We had some good technique days on Monday, focusing on cornering at speed, and Tuesday doing cyclocross. Wednesday we spun our legs but I was not feeling like I had much power. I rested on Thursday and Friday and made sure my sugars were nice and balanced during the week. I tried a new method this time. I ate plenty of carbs during the week with the right amount of insulin. This would store away the sugars as glycogen and make them available during the race (in theory). The night before I didn’t eat more carbs than normal and made sure to keep my sugars balanced so I woke up at a good level on the morning of the race. For the race day I planned a new strategy, to take more insulin than normal and have plenty of gels on me, using my Dexcom sensor to indicate when I needed them.

Well that was the plan anyway.

Friday night was spent at friends. I was pretty bad about not eating too much and probably should have had one less glass of wine. I got to bed at about 11pm with everything ready for the morning.

The alarm went off at 420am and after 5 hours of sleep I was ready to press snooze and rollover, but today was race day so that was not happening. I got ready, made some coffee and went downstairs where Marc and Alon were waiting for me. We loaded the bikes onto the car and set off. We arrived in good time to find decent parking, and braved the freezing cold weather. The advice I had been given was to warm up in warmer clothes and strip off a couple of layers before the start of the race. In practice this was a bit more tricky I wanted to make sure I did a good warm up. I also did not have enough time to warm up and go back to the car. I opted for a thermal base layer, my long sleeve jersey, my thickest leggings, beanie, shoe covers and short finger gloves. The reason for the glove choice was because I needed to operate my sensor to tell me my sugar level and to get food out of my pockets, all easier with fingerless gloves. I set off on my warm up, doing a couple of repeats of the finishing climbs at high cadence. I was freezing. My Garmin read 1 degree above zero and I had no sensation in my fingers.
The peloton coming up the hill for the first time
After my warm up I was feeling a bit better but my hands were still cold. I line up on the start line with Marc waiting for the faster riders to start. Elite and junior boys went first, followed by masters pro (Alon's) group and elite women. Then was our turn, junior girls, 19 - 29 and 30+ men. Next to us on the line up I saw some girls in Kazakh kit. They were here along with a Russian team presumably to race in better conditions that where they were from. I tried to talk to them to find out more but they didn't speak any English. I waited on the startline with my arms crossed and my fingers in my armpits trying to keep warm. We were given instructions and off we set.

Coming over the line trying to catch back up to the group
Everyone coasted down the downhill until we hit the first corner and then things stated to speed up. I tucked myself into the peloton and monitored my heart rate to make sure I wasn't over doing it. I was fine, nicely down at the bottom of my range. I checked my sugars, steadily rising above 250. I attributed this to the adrenaline from racing and decided not to eat unless I dropped below 150 and even then only if it was a sharp drop.

In the group rounding the first bend
The peloton was not moving as fast as it did in my previous race. It was also smaller and less aggressive. This was probably because the 40+ and 50+ categories were not racing with us. I was feeling quite comfortable even on the first big bump. There was a bit of nervousness but no one trying to make a big move.

Next we hit the long descent to Beit Guvrin. I sat in the pack and with no effort I was travelling at 55+kph. Actually I had to use my breaks. We were not going as fast as we could have at point. We rounded the bends and turned on the terrible road. It was bumpy covered on gravel and hat plenty or pot holes and another climb. At the top it gets steep for about 100m. It was a case of getting out the saddle and making sure I stayed in the peloton. I just had to hang on until we turned a sharp right and the road headed downwards to village of Luzit. I was able to hold on and hold a good line through the corner.

Map of the race, 3 lap - 75Km

The next section headed mostly downwards and with the peloton mostly together it was fast and required little effort. Once we passed Luzit the road became rolling hills. I moved near the front so that if the peloton sped up on an incline and wasn't able to match the speed then I would have plenty of tail to hold onto until the road flattened out.
Rounding the first bend with one of the Kazach girls behind
I was doing fine. Happy with my position but unhappy with my sugars. They were too high to eat and there was nothing I could do about it so I kept monitoring them and carried on. At the final descent before Agur I found myself near the front of the peloton and pushed to gain as much speed as I could before the bounce on to the first steep section of the finishing climb. I was in good position but as my speed decreased people started to pass me. As we hit the sharp right hand bend I stood up on my pedals and pushed as hard as I could to round the steep corner and stick with the group. The climb eased off and then flattened slightly. Phew! Still with the group. I tried to match the speed without going into the red and a few minutes later we crossed the line and I was still with the group on lap 2. I was already doing better than expected, though I thought we would already have split into smaller groups by then. The downhill and flatter roads allowed me to recover. As we reached the top of the rise on this section a few people sped up and looked like they were trying to make a break. I was right near the front and put a big effort to stay with front group. I looked back and saw a big gap to the people behind. I thought to myself this is great, finally the thing has blown apart, and somehow I am in the front group. So I was really annoyed when the guys at the front didn’t continue to push and keep the advantage. I was covering my brakes as we headed downhill slower than the previous lap.

I wanted to push things on so I rounded the peloton and called out to people to join me. No one followed and I was on my own up the road. I hit 60 kmph and resisted the urge to push as hard as I could, with one and a half laps to go that would have been stupid. I was not joined by anyone and even the the group caught me they backed off until the end of the stretch to hang me out to dry. I may have paid for my efforts. By the time we head off the main road I was back firmly within the peloton and recovering well. When we made it round to the final 500m before the finish line I got dropped from the group. The speed up that incline was too much.
Taking it easy at the back of the peloton, Marc working hard at the front
I sped down the hill on the other side and watched as they started to pull away from me on the flatter terrain. Eventually the race organiser’s car came past me and I was wondering if this was my race over. I saw ahead that there was a small group chasing to get back on. I stood up out of saddle and pushed hard to get back on. I looked down at my rapidly rising heart rate hoping I had enough left to make it back to the group. I thought to myself, I can recover once I get back on as long as I make it before the downhill, otherwise I am toast. Soon I was making up ground, I think they were taking a break from pushing hard. The car pulls to the side to let me rejoin and I was finally sat back in the group.

We crested the top of the hill soon after and this time I was just sitting at the back conserving all my energy. We continued off the main road again avoiding the gravel and the potholes and over the rolling hills. As we head on the final downhill section of the race I took on another gel. I still had high blood sugar but it was coming down sharply and I wanted to avoid crashing to a low. I could feel the bunch getting a bit nervous, everything was together and no one was going to be allowed to make a break that this time. I had to stay up front, not more worrying about my blood sugar just race, do what I can and try to get across the line with everyone else. The road rolled up and down and I fought for a place near the front. I knew that I had to hit the turn at Agur as far up as I could so that I wouldn’t get dropped straight away.
Flying the TeamBG flag, and still carrying our sponsors bottles, thank you Torq

We crested that final bump before the climb to the finish, it was all stretched out and I had some distance to make up. I pushed hard to get up some speed on the downhill and raced up the steep incline, quickly out of my pedals and into the corner. I looked to my side and saw that I was up near the front. I tried to tuck in as we rounded the steep corner and watch, as expected as the better climbers came past. I pushed on my pedals and sat back down, I was at the back of a depleted group, and not feeling like I had much more left to stick with it. I tried to recover on this flatter section. The incline of the road increase and the speed of the peloton showed no sign of decreasing. I was trying to find something in my legs and heart but I was almost done. Other riders fell away as I did everything I could to stay with the leaders. Marc came past me and I shouted “Go on Marc ‘av it” to give him some encouragement. He caught up to the group ahead. Some of the other riders were coming past me, I was struggling to keep the pace, dropping down through the gears to keep my cadence high. There was nothing I could do. My heart rate was in the high 170s and I can’t hold 180+ for too long and I still had about a kilometer and a half to go.

The gap to the leaders grew and even as the road leveled out ahead of me I was struggling to push the pedals round fast enough to give me the much needed increase in speed. A small group of chasers formed in front of me and I just couldn’t make it up to them. The car came past me signalling I was now far behind. I was tired but so close to the finish. The hill started to get really steep and I was in trouble. I looked to the side and I see pink handlebar tape and pink gloves, then pink bottle cages and pink sunglasses. Noa, one of the Junior girls from Team 500 Watt, was coming past me. I tried to hang on to her wheel but there was nothing left in the tank. I see the 1Km to go and I know its almost over, where can I find some more energy. I see the water tent and the decreasing incline after that. As the road flattens out I see Alon standing by the side (he punctured and dropped out of his race). He screamed encouragement at me and I started to pick up the pace. I chased after Noa. I thought that if I could get up enough speed I might beat her to the line. Into the big gear, 500m to go, heading down hill for the last time, 36kmph, 37, 38, pedals spinning nicely at 90rpm. Starting to get into a rhythm, up to 100rpm spinning my legs to release the tension - 45kmph. The final bend, 48kmph, and then the bounce, down through the gears, out of the saddle, pushing hard as the speed came down and the road went up. Heart rate only down to 165bpm, nothing to do now, final push to the line. The incline increasing up to 10% and I was carrying enough speed. Noa was coaming into sight. She looks back as I approach her she must have heard me breathing hard from a few meters away. I pass her and focus on the line, as the road flattens down to about 6% I sit and spin the pedals over the line. My heart rate up in the high 170s and with nothing left.

I finished in 16th place in my category, just 1 minute down on the winner. This is a huge improvement timewise from previous races. I hope I can build on that. I did not think that I was going to do that well at all in this race and I achieved more than I had imagined. This time next year and I could be on a podium, which would be amazing considering the hilly terrain. Marc managed 10th position which is pretty amazing considering its only his second proper race. Noa was first in her category by a margin. I felt a little silly afterwards, refusing to be beaten by a 17 year old girl. It really didn’t matter who it was, I would have chased anyone, I just needed to focus on a target and it was her. Bear in mind she is coming up through the ranks towards being an Elite rider.

Strava output.

My Sugar trace before during and after the race. The race started at 7am and finshed around 9:15

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Good days and bad days

When you hear people with diabetes talk about having ups and downs they mean it literally. It's not easy controlling your blood sugar, though we have never had so many tools to help us as we do now. We have better blood glucose testers, we have fast acting insulin and pumps to deliver it, we have continuous glucose meters that tell us every few minutes which direction our sugar levels are going, we have a wealth of apps that allow us to track what we eat, what out blood sugar levels are, and how much insulin we take. Some even tell us how much insulin to take and our predicted HbA1c result. And finally we have the Diabetic Online Community - the DOC. The community of people online supporting each other, giving advice and showing people that they are not alone.

Even with all those tools somethings cannot be helped. Sometimes you get it wrong. Conversely there are days when things just go right. There are good days and bad days, ups and downs, highs and lows. This past week has been one such week. Sunday night before bed I was up in the 240s and before bed and after a correction I woke up at 101.  Pretty much perfect.  I tried and experiment that day, instead of taking some insulin and eating I decided not to "insulate" and not to eat before training.  By the time I was setting off for my warm up I was down to 95 and decided that it was time to eat something small.  At the end of training two hours later I was up to 152, exactly why I normal like to take insulin. The result was that by the time I sat down to eat I, which was an hour and a half later I had risen to 233.  The conclusion from this experiment is that I must take some insulin after training especially if I have not had any that morning.

That night I went out and had a late dinner, and way too many carbs which led to high sugar in the morning on Tuesday followed by an over correction leading to a hypo right after my warm up.  This correction was taken into the muscle on my forearm.  It is not advised to inject in the muscle as it tends to make the insulin work much more quickly than normal, but that was my intention.  I had to take it easy in training and ate much more than normal for a two hour session.  Note to self: muscle injections are a no no right before training.  I was fine for the rest of the day.  I forgot for the second day running to test before bed.  Waking up again at around 240.  I corrected again, this time in my stomach.  I started training this time at 212 but 15 minutes later after my warm up I was down to 164.  By the end of the session I was at 91 and my blood sugar remained nice and balanced for the rest of the day.  Success! Some days things just go right.

On Friday I had been fine all day but hadn't tested since lunch and ended up at 233 before dinner at my mother in law's.  She is a wonderful cook and I struggle not to go back for extra helpings.  I made sure to take a higher does of insulin factoring in my high blood sugar and how much food I would be eating.  Never the less I tried to go easy on the carbs.  Before we left for the drive back to Tel Aviv, I tested my blood sugar.  It was 403! I injected 6 units instantly into my forearm.  It did drop a bit but an hour later it was still very high at 329.  My wife insisted on driving home despite my idiotic protests that I was fine, I wasn't.  By the time I went to bed it was still above 200 many hours later so I took another 4 units.  I had had a huge amount of insulin, it was very bizarre.  The following morning I woke up with a level of 122.  This could not have been better.  I drove out of the city to training, injecting a few units before I left and eating a sandwich on the way.  During the 4 hours of training and the rest of the day my sugar levels were perfect.  There was a point just before a big climb that I tested and had 109.  This was a bit of a worry so I ate a second gel, I had eaten one a few minutes earlier.  My trainer insisted that I checked my sugar 5 mins later, which meant after 1Km of the climb the whole team stopped while I tested.  Funnily enough I still set some new PBs on the climb, including the stoppage time.  My performance really is better when my sugar is under control.

live long and stay health.

See my ride here