Getting Into Tip-Top Red Rider Shape

As I've shared in the past few months, I've been training for my first-ever Tour de Cure that takes place on June 8.

Along with an expected turnout of several thousand others, I'll be starting out on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will journey around a 31-mile area on the western edge of Indianapolis before ending up at the 2.5-mile track where the Indy 500 just took place.

I've registered for the 50k (the shortest possible option), and my route is supposed to take about 2.5 hours if I go the minimum 6 mph they say I should. I'm planning to take it slow but steady, and finish the ride before my legs fall off and I crumble to the ground in a rest-craving ball of flesh. In other words, this is going to be a major physical challenge for me.

My two-wheel of choice: the black, 12-speed Huffy mountain bike that I've had for about 15 years. Older ride, but it does the job just fine! We have cleaned it up, bought new tires and tubes, found a bike pedometer and water bottle and a new blue and gray helmet for me to wear to look and feel the part. That's been great during the neighborhood rides and personal training sessions I've been doing.

I'm excited to be a Red Rider, and am raising the appropriate amount of money that will allow me to wear that red shirt proclaiming my stance along with the best of them out on the track! Hey, it's all in the name of getting some much-needed exercise -- and raising money for the cause, of course.

Appropriately, May has marked National Bike Month, so I'm trailing that trend by writing about this now... especially as it relates to those of us with diabetes focusing on our strengths and weaknesses:

When it comes to diabetes, whether you're the PWD or the caregiver, you are STRONG. After all, you deal with this disease every day! And most of us don't always give ourselves the credit we deserve, although we may be quick to point out when we aren't so strong. With that in mind, it's time to give ourselves credit for our strengths. And also to share the things we may not be so great at. What do you consider to be your Diabetes Strengths? 
What do you think are your Diabetes Weaknesses?

Reflecting on this theme, I like to think that getting back on my bike has made me a little stronger lately, not only in my leg muscles but also in my desire to be healthier and overall manage my diabetes more diligently. And it's made me realize, once again, one of my most persistent weaknesses in terms of D-Management.

By far, my biggest D-Weakness has long been and continues to be willpower. I am really not a fan of exercise of any kind, especially when I feel like I "have to do it" as part of my D-Management routine.

Sometimes I really just don't wanna go out and train or get the simplest of exercise. I put it off way too long and am not as in-shape as I should be, even now, just a week or so before my Tour ride. I've been walking a lot more lately, but have been trying to focus on the bike riding as much as possible.

Getting up the initial motivation and energy to "just do it" and go outside and get on my bike is the biggest challenge, and it's what I fall victim to more times than I should in being lazy. But, like everything in the world of diabetes, it's a work in progress and I am getting better. Little by little, ride by ride. And that makes me proud.

So, on to my strengths...
  • My legs have gotten stronger, even if they had to get a little sore in the process.
  • My ability to juggle diabetes supplies and maneuver blood sugar checks while seated and riding my bike has become a new talent that I don't ever recall experiencing before. I bought a couple of bicycle shirts that have a slim little pocket or two on the back, so I can put my OneTouch Ultra Mini, vial of strips and finger-poker in there for easy access.
  • Yes, it should be considered a strength to wear a bicycle helmet.
  • I have started mastering the impact my rides are having on blood sugars. I know that when I ride for 30 minutes or longer, usually more than just around the neighborhood with a consistent streak of hardcore pedaling, I am going to see my blood sugars drop. When I started my training in April, my rides were shorter and my blood sugars were usually in the high 100s or 200s and didn't drop too much. But when I got to training more consistently, and also started weaving longer stretches in, I'd see at least a 50-point drop over the course of the hour after my ride. And it would usually last a few hours afterward.
  • On the more intense rides, I'd see that "super-charging effect" where my blood sugars would be steady mid-range throughout the rest of the day and evening. And that just makes you want to keep up the exercise, and stay in that range as much possible and not slack.
All of this has meant that my meter average has dropped from the low 200s where it had been hovering, to the 163-mark as of the final week of the month (this is huge for me!).

Bottom line?

I feel like I can do anything. Cue me, feeling all accomplished.

For out-of-shape me who hadn't ridden his bike very much during the past few years before this Spring, I am quite proud and am just happy to be sticking with it and slowly working myself into better shape. And D-Management.

Of course, I have to be realistic about what I am going to accomplish once I get out there. No matter how much I might feel in control, there's a limit and I'll need to learn what that is.

btw, this won't be my first diabetes fundraising ride.

Back in 1985 or so, I took part in a JDRF Ride/Walk around the GM Tech Center in Metro Detroit. It was just after my diagnosis. I was 5 years old, and had training wheels on my little red bike.

To raise money, my dad told his office colleagues about my bike ride and they all thought it was cute, so they offered to donate $25 per mile... thinking, of course, that the little tyke would ride around in a couple of circles and be done. Well, I showed them! I rode what felt like endlessly around the track, wracked up several miles, and got them all to fork over waaaaay more money than anyone expected. Hah!

That kind of strength to "just keep riding" is what I'm hoping to channel in my upcoming Tour de Cure ride.

Overpowering my desire to rest will be the biggest challenge, but I know it's possible and I just have to set my mind to it.

One pedal push at a time.

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This post written by Mike Hoskins originally published at DiabetesMine on May 31, 2013.


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