Diabetes & Cycling

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Diabetes & Cycling

Postby berkscycle » 7 Oct 2020, 11:40am

Good Morning,

I was diagnosed with type 1 recently which has led to me rarely jumping on the bike due to be unsure on how my body will react when putting a good session in.

I was wondering if anyone who has had similar health issues to find out what they take with them on the bike and what they find is the most comfortable way to carry them whilst on the bike.

Any advice on things that did and didnt work would be great as im a little anxious!

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Re: Diabetes & Cycling

Postby whoof » 7 Oct 2020, 12:47pm

Welcome to the Forum.

I can't offer any direct advice but I do know that there is a professional cycling race team whose riders are made up entirely from people with diabetes. Their website offers advice on racing with diabetes and some of this may be of use to you.


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Re: Diabetes & Cycling

Postby GranvilleThomas » 7 Oct 2020, 2:30pm

I am a type 1 diabetic and was diagnosed about 10 years ago. I always eat before I leave the house on the bike and hence inject my usual amount of insulin, that I judge depending on what I eat.

Sometimes I get the calculation wrong and have given myself too much insulin and have found myself in trouble (understatement!). When this happens, I first start to feel a bit 'light headed' and next my tongue and lips go numb and then my vision begins to fail and I start to shake uncontrollably, at this point it is totally impossible to continue and I must sit or lie down on the side of the road!

My advice would be always be prepared, by taking something that you can ingest quickly, like sweets or chocolate bars and some money, not only to buy more food and drink if required but just in case you need to get home quickly by train, bus or taxi.

A fully charged mobile phone is always a good idea as well for emergency use because if all else fails you can call 999 and wait for an ambulance as they always have a supply of oral glucose gels available (as long as they turn up in time!)

I always take some kind of identity with me, which includes a couple of plastic cards that came with my glucose meters with name, emergency contact number, my NHS number and the type of insulin that I take, just in case the worst happens and I end up in hospital.

I only go out for a few hours these days but if I was going out for the day and having a meal out, then I would take my insulin and digestive enzymes, that I must take with every meal as well (not everyone needs these), but still have an emergency supply of sugary snacks tucked away somewhere just in case. Obviously a bottle (or two) with a 'sugary' drink will be helpful as well.

Take your blood glucose meter with you as well perhaps. I have a few different models and one called the 'Contour Next One' which is tiny and connects to to an app on my phone with bluetooth and fits easily in a pocket, I got this free online but can't remember where, but is a bit smaller than the ones the NHS supplied me with.

Once I got caught out and had a hypo and I had to stagger into a Tesco Express, grab a bar of Tesco milk chocolate off the shelf and eat it as quickly as possible and I paid for the empty wrapper afterwards! I have been more careful ever since that embarrassing experience!

In contrast to to this I have found that high blood sugar does not have any apparent immediate effects to my cycling or daily activities at all but obviously should be avoided, as the long term damage caused by repeated high blood sugar can have devastating consequences like losing your sight!

The other thing that has happened is that my hands and feet have become more sensitive due to nerve damage. Because of this I need a few layers of handlebar tape and some gel inserts I cut from an old mouse mat and I wear padded mitts or gloves all year round these days, but they still get cold and numb in the winter.

My feet are not too bad, I have shoes that have enough room to wear a few pairs of socks, but they get cold very quickly as well. You may not get these problems though, as not everyone does, so don't worry, I am just trying to cover all my experiences :)

As far as pushing myself like I used to before I was diagnosed with diabetes, then I don't really worry about that much as I tend to take it at a relaxed pace these days anyway. I do find it harder to recover and I am pretty much exhausted the following day if I push it, but I am almost 60 years old and that probably plays as much a part as diabetes does.

People are different though and you may react differently and have different requirements to me, and only with time will you develop a regime that works for you. I don't think 'putting a good session in' will be a problem as such, you just need to find what works for you and build up a routine to keep yourself safe.

There are plenty of top athletes in many sports who are diabetic.

I spoke to the NHS dietician but she had no idea about cycling and eating pasta and other carbohydrates for fuel and insisted I was eating far too much pasta and rice etc, I got the impression that she was geared up more to advise the average car driver.

Not her fault really but your average GP or other NHS staff are not 'sports' or exercise specialists in my experience after speaking to them, but maybe I have been unlucky.

To carry stuff around, I always ride my old Raleigh Dynatech 90's rigid mountain bike these days that I have fitted with narrow wheels and tyres and a rack with a pannier to carry things in. Obviously if you want to be a bit more 'sporty' then most stuff will fit in pockets and a saddle pack I would think, especially in the winter with jacket pockets.

Try not to be anxious though, as many people cycle with diabetes without any problems, you just have to be organised and get into a routine.

No doubt there will be other people who do things differently to me and will be willing to share their experiences with you :)

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Re: Diabetes & Cycling

Postby berkscycle » 12 Oct 2020, 10:23am

Thank you both,

Been out a few times this week and got on ok!

All a but trial and error still but will get there.

Didnt know about the diabetic team, what a great idea!

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Re: Diabetes & Cycling

Postby rmurphy195 » 24 Oct 2020, 9:00pm

Just go for it, and keep suitable snacks to hand (you've probably already had advice on diet as part of your treatment). And plenty to drink.

I have T2 and don't have to worry about insulin injections but do have to watch out for other stuff. Cycling helps me to manage it.

Lots of info on diabetes.co.uk if you're happy to plough through it!
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Re: Diabetes & Cycling

Postby RH20 » 25 Oct 2020, 11:38am

I always carry a tube of Gluco Tabs when out cycling, and in my pockets for normal every day out and about. These can be bought at Boots Chemist, they are in a plastic tube and contain 10 fast acting glucose tablets. Each tablet has 4 grams of glucose. The tube is a handy size that fits ok in a pocket. Boots also sell tubs of the Gluco Tabs that can be used to refill a tube. The tube being plastic, stops the tablets getting soft when sweating. They come in orange and raspberry flavour
These are ideal for when you feel a low coming on. I have had many occasions out on the bike when I have felt a low coming on. This usually starts with a very hungry feeling in my stomach, and light headedness, along with a cold clammy sweat. Taking 1 or 2 Gluco Tabs quickly gets my glucose level up and I then eat an oat bar for longer lasting energy.
There is a web address on the tubes, http://www.gogluco.co.uk
I hope this may be of some help for you.

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Re: Diabetes & Cycling

Postby Gearoidmuar » 26 Oct 2020, 8:50am

I'm on a low carb diet for years to control my weight, which it does, but I'm not diabetic.
This diet is beneficial for type 2 diabetics BUT it's not widely known that it also is beneficial for much smoother control of type 1 diabetes. This isn't something to jump into by yourself, but there are several type 1 diabetic doctors on line and it may be very worth your while looking them up.
The famous Dr.Bernstein who writes about diabetes and has been a type 1 diabetic for ? 70y, using this approach has very good stuff on the "law of small numbers" as he calls it and how it facilitates control.
Worth looking at.

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Re: Diabetes & Cycling

Postby TimeTraveller » 10 Nov 2020, 9:30pm

T2 for over 12 years, reversed it (no longer T2) was on meds for it (metformin). Did that by following a Keto diet and intermittent fasting ( since april 2020) I am now 35lbs lighter since then although that is not my total body weight change.
I have heard that this could also help those with T1.

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Re: Diabetes & Cycling

Postby RickH » 16 Nov 2020, 9:19pm

My tandem stoker is a long term type 1. She always carries insulin & glucose tablets in her jersey pocket.

One thing she has found liberating in the last couple of years is being prescribed the Freestyle Libre glucose sensors. They consist of a sensor (each one lasts 2 weeks) that you fix to your upper arm & a rechargeable reader that you use to take readings with by holding it near the sensor. You can also use a phone app (the two are independent so it is best to stick to one apart from for occasional "instant" readings). The sensor records readings regularly & stores them for several hours. It then downloads them to your reader (or app) when you take a reading. You can view trends & other useful info on the reader. The diabetic clinic can download all the readings if necessary. It is entirely possible to take a reading without stopping riding. After that it is up to your (growing) experience to know how much you need to eat or inject insulin.

I've heard there is another sensor system coming on the market, that is supposed to be better, but I know nothing more than that.

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Re: Diabetes & Cycling

Postby Vorpal » 23 Dec 2020, 10:09am

The discussion about type 2 related to diet has been split off, as it was not relevant to the OP's questions.
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Re: Diabetes & Cycling

Postby Vorpal » 23 Dec 2020, 10:51am

There have been previous threads on diabetes (both types) that may have useful advice:

“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

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Re: Diabetes & Cycling

Postby Audax67 » 23 Dec 2020, 10:52am

Vorpal wrote:The discussion about type 2 related to diet has been split off, as it was not relevant to the OP's questions.

Might be an idea to change the thread title accordingly.
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