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Any cyclist here that have type 1 diabetes?(15 posts)

Any cyclist here that have type 1 diabetes?Maggiefan
Jul 3, 2002 5:50 PM
I'm looking for any cycling advice from anyone who may have diabetes. I have type 1 diabetes and plan on starting a cycling program and realize that I have to be cautious of my blood sugars, especially hypoglycemia. Any tips and advice would be greatly appreciated!
re: Any cyclist here that have type 1 diabetes?nova
Jul 4, 2002 2:24 PM
I don't have diabetes, but I did a quick Google search on your question.

The best I came up with is , so perhaps an email to them would yield the info you are looking for?
re: Any cyclist here that have type 1 diabetes?Maggiefan
Jul 5, 2002 6:19 PM
Thank you Nova for the diabetes web site!
on the last Ride the RockiesColnagoFE
Jul 5, 2002 8:34 AM
I was talking to a 60+ year old gentleman who was riding it with an insulin pump. He has just gotten out of the hospital the week prior to the ride for diabetes complications. He said he just was careful to eat right and not too push too hard when his body told him to slow down. Gotta admire that determination to not let diabetes stop him though I'm not sure a doctor would have recommended him to do the ride.
Go ahead and ride...The Walrus
Jul 5, 2002 11:51 AM
but perhaps not to the extreme in Colnago FE's example. I'm a type 2, so my situation is somewhat different, but everything I found in my research stressed the importance of exercise as a fundamental in dealing with diabetes, and cycling is always one of the key examples given. I don't think gonzo mountain biking or TdF or Ride the Rockies is what was being suggested, but at the same time, you aren't restricted to a casual spin along the bike path in the park. I do between 80 to 150 miles a week, when possible--my approach would best be described as "touring", I guess. I don't shy away from climbing or headwinds or the occasional sprint, but I tend to ride for long stretches at a constant pace (for some reason 19mph seems to be the perfect groove...). This is critical, because of the need to keep your glucose level reasonably constant. I can't imagine a diabetic riding successfully in any sort of competitive event, but there's more to riding than racing.

A few things I found to be critical, at least in my case: It's extremely important to stay well hydrated, even more so than for "normal" riders; a hydration pack is almost a necessity. It helps to regularly get small amounts of sugar; I carry a water bottle filled with diluted orange juice (about 50/50 water/juice), and take a sip every ten minutes or so. Have some sort of complex carbohydrate about half an hour before you start, like a slice of whole-wheat bread. Don't overdo it; since you're a type 1, I assume you've been living with this for a long time, so you should know when you're getting into trouble. If your doctor can't help you with the cycling program, find one who can.

Good luck!
Go ahead and ride...Maggiefan
Jul 5, 2002 6:21 PM
Sound like great advice The Walrus. Can you recommend a hydration pack? Thanks again.
HydrationThe Walrus
Jul 6, 2002 9:24 AM
I don't think the brand is important--I have a CamelBak and a Blackburn. Both will hold 100oz. bladders (in fact, the Blackburn can hold two). Go to a cycling shop or sporting goods store and check the features on the actual pack (the cargo capacity, number/size/placement of pockets/straps/tiedowns, how the pack actually fits you. Keep an eye out for closeouts from last year, because you can get super deals on "obsolete" models.
I had a friend with Type 1 who was an enduro motorcyclist ...Humma Hah
Jul 5, 2002 3:53 PM
... pretty good one, too. Normally he'd whip my butt.

One day, late in the ride, he started to get clumsy. I thought I was getting better, but it was his blood sugar crashing. We found a store and got some orange juice for him, and he proceeded to whip my butt for the rest of the day.

My thoughts -- it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to whip butt, expecially if a pocket full of gels would allow you to manage blood sugar.
I had a friend with Type 1 who was an enduro motorcyclist ...Maggiefan
Jul 5, 2002 6:15 PM
Wow....Thank you all for your responses! I ordered a new bike which should arrive on Monday and can't wait. I use to ride years ago (+10) before I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic. Its been about 6 years as a diabetic and I carry with me either a regular coke or glucose candy for whenever I may get a low blood sugar. I agree with you Humma Hah that it would be a shame to miss the thrill of cycling because of my diabetes. Diabetes will not control me, but rather I will control my diabetes. I'm new to this site and think there are many helpful and friendly people here including you all. Thanks again and looking forward to hearing more!
I have heard about a ride...jtolleson
Jul 7, 2002 4:10 PM
benefiting Juvenile Diabetes Foundation in Death Valley (a century). Don't know the details, but my sisters is Type I (juvenile onset) and we've talked about finding the info and riding it together.
I have heard about a ride...TypeOne
Jul 9, 2002 12:23 PM
Checking the ADA webpage, at gives a big list of those Tour de Cure rides in each state. I think they are like the JDRF (they added "Research" to the name awhile ago) ride you mentioned, where you must raise a minimum amount of donations to ride it. I have had diabetes for so long I can't really hit up the friends and relatives again, but I am also interested in that Death Valley Ride.
A ride I really enjoyed was the Oregon ADA's Summit to Surf ride near Mt. Hood. Check it out at
I rode this to meet other cyclists with diabetes, but I met a lot of family members and former co-workers of persons who had died from diabetes. That was both depressing and inspiring, really. I am glad to see so many people trying to help cure this terrible disease. I hope your sister appreciates you riding with and for her. Enjoy!
Jul 9, 2002 12:07 PM
I am a 32yo male with Type 1 diabetes since age 5.
I have met several other cyclists here in the Seattle area who are also T1. I know 3 guys from racing (from Cat 3 to Cat 2) and they each have a different insulin regimen. One guy does the ol' multiple daily injections with NPH & Regular, one guy is on the pump with Humalog, and another uses Lantus and Humalog.
I use an insulin pump, and so does another friend with diabetes. We are riding Seattle to Portland ride on Saturday 7/13, so we are both turning down our basal rates, testing every hour, and watching our bg levels closely.
Well, I'll stop rambling. What are your questions? How much of a beginner are you at diabetes and/or cycling?
My advice is that diabetes shouldn't slow you down (there's the pep talk) but it is something to watch carefully as you begin exercise (the standard warning.) Everyone's response to insulin coupled with exercise is unique, of course, but when you get accustomed to it, there shouldn't be a problem.
Sorry for the delay on the response--I haven't been checking this board much because I don't want to have someone spoil the daily TDF results for me!
Drop me a line at
I stand corrected...The Walrus
Jul 9, 2002 12:45 PM
I figured racing would be incompatible with diabetes, especially where there's an insulin dependancy, but obviously it is not. What kind of results do you guys have?
I stand corrected...TypeOne
Jul 9, 2002 2:49 PM
While diabetes is still a deadly disease, many people have managed well enough to compete at high levels of athletics. Geez, let me list all the diabetic athletes that I know of from the top of my head: former Cub All-Star Ron Santo, Oriole pitcher Jason Johnson, KC pitcher Dan Reichert, NBA center Chris Dudley, Cincy lineman Jay Leuwenburg, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Gary Hall...there was a good triathlete some years ago. My athletic achievements would be more like diabetic Jerry "The Beaver" Mathers, however!
Remarkably, the guy I know who is still on injections is a Cat. 2, and does relatively well locally. He likes to start off with a higher blood glucose level than I do, over 200 mg/dl, then test and correct afterward. Maybe that's why he is so skinny. I feel like a slug when I am running that high. From my experience, results have everything to do with what your blood-glucose level is during the race, and that is the trick. In an anaerobic crit, my bg might rise, where it might crash during or after a longer aerobic road race. And there are so many other factors, such as the timing of insulin and food, what kind of food, and so on. I am now finding that I do best on a long training ride by not eating or taking insulin for at least 3 hours before, beginning above 150 mg/dl. Caffeine will raise blood glucose, as will stress and anxiety, so waiting around for a race can be tough.
The hard part during a longer race is wondering whether hunger and feeling tired are a normal result of the effort or a sign of a low bg. Feeling lightheaded, sweaty and having an accelerated pulse are also typical hypoglycemic symptoms for me. Sometimes just worrying that I am getting hypoglycemic plays tricks with my confidence.
I am a Cat. 5 and not so interested in racing like those other guys. We're all on different teams so I really only run into them now and then at races. When we do meet, we go on and on about this sort of boring stuff!
Jul 9, 2002 2:52 PM
I meant to add that your advice about staying well hydrated is a good one. Definitely.
More doctors should advise their Type 2 patients to exercise as you do!