Last year I joined up with a great team, The Pancremaniacs, and we rode the 25-mile course (it was actually 27-something miles, but who’s counting?). As we approached the finish line in that ride, I felt that it was over way too soon. I wasn’t ready to be done with the experience yet. So I announced that I’d be riding in the 45-mile course for the next ride. I knew it would be a challenge, but I figured I would train hard all spring, and be more than ready for it.
Spring never arrived in Minnesota. The whole season was freezing and rainy. Out of all weekends before the ride, maybe two of them were above 50 degrees and dry. It was miserable biking weather. Since I’m not a hardcore cyclist, I just didn’t ride! As the Tour date got closer and closer, I started getting worried.
Prior to the Tour, I was able to get out on my bike only twice. Once for a 14-mile ride, and once for a 20-mile ride. That was all of the training I did. I wasn’t sure I’d make the full 45-mile course come ride day!
I told myself that it wasn’t a race, just a ride. I figured I could just peddle along as slow as I needed to, and take my time reaching the finish line. I also knew that there would be help and support available throughout the ride, and if I really bonked out that I could call for help.
I loaded my bike and backpack with enough water for a camel, and enough carbohydrates to treat the worst of low blood sugars, and off we went!
The route was great, and all of the riders on the Tour were a huge boost. As we saw other Red Riders, and other riders saw us with our Red Rider jerseys on, we all belted out “GO RED RIDER!!”
It was really moving to be part of something so big, and to see so many riders out there pedaling for loved ones with diabetes. Without their motivation and dedication, I would not have been able to make it 45 miles.
My blood sugar through the ride stayed between 66 mg/dl and 137 mg/dl the whole ride. That pesky 66 mg/dl (a low blood sugar) sapped me of my energy, I had to stop and eat some carbohydrates to kick it back up. Even though I had treated the low, it wiped me out for a while. It felt like it took forever to recover my energy. But I just kept on pedaling and watching my blood sugar level (using a continuous glucose monitor).
Wasn’t too much further before we rounded the corner to the finish line. Boy! What a celebration! As I approached the finish line I heard the announcer call my name along with my team captain’s name. All of The Pancremaniacs were there cheering for us and rooting us in! It was amazing.
Not only was the event an incredible thing to be a part of, but I also set a new personal record for distance on my bike. I feel very proud and accomplished, and am excited to be riding again next year.
GO RED RIDERS!
– Scott K. Johnson