As we prepare for the One Drop Caicos Adventure in June 2017, we are doing a ton of training. These training diaries are stories from the field and things I have learned from my time in training.
Not every adventure needs to be a week-long out of the country type of adventure. You can fit an entire adventure in the span of a weekend.
My friend Michelle and I just finished an 80-mile bike ride that has been on our Someday-I-Will list for some time now. It was a good chance for me to evaluate my bike training for the upcoming One Drop Caicos trip.
Saturday morning we loaded up our gear and took the first train from Oceanside to Los Angeles, the subway another few blocks, and then the streetcar all the way to the Santa Monica Pier. At one point we had contemplated taking the bus another few blocks just so we could say we took every form of public transportation available in So Cal.
Sitting for so long that early in the morning meant my blood sugars were a bit higher than I wanted at 238, but, knowing I was going to hop on a bike soon, I didn’t want to overcorrect. I ate a granola bar and corrected for my high with half of my normal dose.
When we jumped on the streetcar, we cut back our basal to about 75% of normal in preparation for the increased activity. But I didn’t realize that it was about an hour ride to the start. I like to cut back my basal about twenty to thirty minutes before I workout. too soon and my sugars begin to rise, especially when they were already a little higher than I would like.
We hopped on our bikes and started off along the bike path that runs through the sand. With the sun blazing, the beach was slammed which meant we did more dodging beachgoers than peddling. But eventually the crowds thinned and we settled into the forty miles that lay ahead.
We stopped every hour to check our blood sugars and get a snack. We both ran in the 200’s for most of the morning, slowly coming down as the hours passed. It’s no fun to be low while in the
middle of a ride, so the high 100’s are acceptable on an endurance day.
The first real stop of the day, besides the numerous piers we would pass, was my grandma’s house in Palos Verdes, which happened to be right along our path. It was also one of the bigger climbs of the day.
After we stopped there, and got a little lost, it was a quick downhill to our lunch stop of the day. It felt great to clip out of my pedals and get some real food in my belly. The free ice and water made for a great refill station also, even if I did fill up all of my bottles with soda water by accident. One taste of that and I knew the error of my ways.
By lunch Michelle had drifted down to the high 100’s. I on the other hand jumped to nearly 300. I had been sipping Gu Roctane, a carbohydrate drink, and eating at least 200 calories every hour without bolusing for them.
The system I was running clearly wasn’t working. I turned my basal back up to 100% to cover the Roctane I was sipping and began to bolus at 50% of my normal rate. This began to get me back into good shape with blood sugars without going too low.
With half of our day over, we started the part of the trip that I was most concerned with. Most of our ride was along bike paths in very nice neighborhoods. The next ten miles were through neighborhoods I wasn’t as comfortable in. not to mention the sidewalks that hadn’t been repaired since they were laid forty years ago and the complete lack of a bike lane.
It was rough going for a good hour, dodging sidewalk gaps, constant driveway bumps, and the strange looks from the pedestrians in the area. Michelle barely avoided being mowed down by a car coming out of a driveway without looking.
The end of the neighborhood was marked by three bridges, over two rivers and a freeway. Right as we were coming down the last of the three bridges into Long Beach, my back tire started handling a little differently. I coasted to the bottom of the hill and across the street to an island in the middle of the intersection.
That was where I figured out I had a flat. I was so thankful to be in an area I felt safe in to change it out, too. I have never had a flat before while I was riding and it felt like a rite of passage for me to be able to switch out my tube with no problems while stranded on an island in the middle of an intersection.
It was also a good time to see how the new insulin regimen was taking shape. It had been an hour since lunch and I was beginning to see results. As we made our way through Long Beach, my blood sugars made their way into the 200’s and then down into the 100’s.
We sputtered into Seal Beach and drifted up the driveway at my parents’ house, our home for the night. We collapsed on the front porch for a good twenty minutes, too tired to even ring the doorbell. When we gathered our strength to open the door, we were greeted by my dad who always looks at me limping in the door and asks, “Erin, why do you do this to yourself?”
After showers and some couch time, we walked in to town to grab a bite and to shake the lactic acid out of our legs. Plus walking through a town is always the best way to get to know it, and Michelle has never had a chance to get to know Seal Beach.
I hit my first low right before our food arrived which made it taste even better. After we ate we walked down to the pier for our fifth or maybe sixth pier of the day. I didn’t bother bolusing for my meal knowing I would burn through the carbs right away.
When we got home, I reduced my overnight Levemir by 20% and sank into bed. A few brief lows and a lot of calf pain made it hard to sleep, but by morning the adrenaline kicked in and I was up and ready to go before my alarm even went off.
The second day from Seal beach to San Clemente would be another 40 miles and a lot of hills through Laguna Beach, right towards the last bit of our ride. And this time I had a much better diabetes plan.
I kept my basal normal and made sure to sip on Roctane. I covered each snack with half a normal bolus. And the day couldn’t have gone any better. I stayed between 80 and 150 the whole day. i rarely have days like that when I’m not doing long periods of exercise. it was great having those numbers while riding. I felt so much stronger and better hydrated.
A lunch stop marked the halfway point. After pouring out all of our diabetes supplies on the table we barely had room for the food. After a quick refill of ice-cold water, we were off again to conquer the Laguna Hills. There were three big climbs after a ton of little climbs and they looked pretty intimidating on the map.
After we would get to the top of a hill I would say, “Michelle, I think that was the first big hill.”
She would always come back with, “Naw. I don’t think so. The hill is going to be twice as high.” Then the next hill would come and I was convinced it was the big one. She was just as convinced it wasn’t.
We were pulling out Google maps and comparing it to the elevation profile we had, but we couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Until we came to the top of a hill and I declared that had to be the big hill. Now we only had two more to go.
But I was wrong.
Wrong in such a delightful way. The biggest of hills that I was sure was the first of three was really the final hill. All that worrying and fretting and the hills turned out to be totally manageable.
With the big hills behind us and a terrific decline down to sea level ahead, we picked up the speed and soaked in the view of the Pacific. Live music from a festival at Doheny Beach set the backdrop to our mini celebration. After hours of not knowing if we were going to make it or if we would wuss out and take the bus to the train station, we had made it.
Now we just had to make the next train or risk having to wait an extra two hours to take the next one.
With three miles to go and just twelve minutes to the next train we turned up the speed as fast as we could go after tackling 77 miles over the previous two days. And I was surprised to find I still had some gas left in the tank.
We flew for three miles at our top speed, which for us, sadly to say, really isn’t all that fast. We pulled into the station just in time to realize I had the train timetables wrong and we really had a good twenty minutes to spare.
We were entertained while we waited by a helicopter flying over San Clemente beach shutting it down for yet another shark sighting, and by trying to clean up as best we could so as not to offend our fellow passengers by our stench.
When the train came we collapsed into our seats with a view of the Pacific as we made our way back home celebrating the fact that we had once again conquered what we weren’t quite sure we could.
And I think that’s the best way to pick an adventure. It has to be big enough that you doubt at times whether or not you will make it. It is that doubt that drives you to train consistently and to prepare fully. And it is that doubt that makes the victory that much sweeter when you finally realize along with Winnie the Pooh that, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”