Okay… My 55 miles in the Tour de Talbot on Saturday was not my favorite experience on the bicycle.
I was running late all morning, I forgot to put on sunscreen (no burn issues after all), I almost forgot to put on my riding gloves (and I’m soooo glad I didn’t), the weather was iffy, and my BGs did not want to play fair. But when do they ever play fair? Heck, I didn’t even get a photo of anything on Saturday, except my dog when I got home. Not to worry, I won’t bore you with it here. But I did complete the 55 mile journey, in roundabout fashion, and today I have a sore behind and a sense of accomplishment.
So let’s start at the beginning. BG at the start: 219 mg/dL. This is entirely due to the fact that I didn’t bolus for breakfast. I woke up at 81 mg/dL, and I didn’t want to be nearly that low when I started the ride. And yeah, I ate a lot of carbs for breakfast. I set my temporary basal rate at 30 percent for 5 hours.
This is the most laid back event ever. I think I mentioned that last year too, but it’s true. Somebody gives a speech at the beginning that hardly anyone can hear, then we’re off without a horn, or crowds cheering, or any of that. Down a paved two lane driveway and out onto the highway that goes between Easton, Maryland and St. Michael’s (more on that later).
We wound around a bit and then, about three or four miles in, suddenly we’re on a gravel road. Gravel. On my thin little road bike tires. This went on for about three or four miles, I think, and the whole time I’m hearing the same complaints and hopes coming from the other riders. Mostly, “I hope I don’t wipe out on this gravel”, and “I hope I don’t get a flat tire from this gravel”. Oh, and “Who’s idea was this?”. And these are still roads that are traveled by vehicles, mostly local residents and big farm trucks kicking up gravel as they pass by. And this was just the first gravel road we traveled. I started counting the riders on the side of the road with tire issues. I counted ten in 55 miles.
We hit the first rest stop 12 miles in. Even though it’s only quarter past eight in the morning, the salty pickles out on the table at this stop really looked good. But I passed them up in favor of a salty/sweet nut bar. These are usually my go-to snack on these rides. BG at this stop: 129 mg/dL. Pretty crazy, right? I dropped 90 points in about 45 minutes. With a 30 percent temp basal and breakfast carbs still working in my body (I think).
The next part of the trip wasn’t too bad. 18 miles to the next stop. Someone drafted behind me for about the last ten miles of that segment, but it was okay and we made good time. I made the mile 12 to mile 30 segment in a little less than an hour. That’s pretty good for me, on a long ride anyway. At the stop I had another nut bar and waited about ten minutes to let my body calm down a bit after working hard. BG at this stop. 82 mg/dL. I don’t want to worry anymore, so I just shut off my pump for the rest of the ride, and grabbed a banana at the rest stop too. Instead of climbing a steep incline after the stop, I decided to walk my bike to the top of the hill before climbing on for the next 12 mile segment. I’m glad I did.
The next 12 miles were probably the hardest 12 miles I’ve ever biked. About a mile after the rest stop, we turned onto another gravel road. Not as bad as the first gravel road we were on, but I had to make sure I didn’t get too far toward the shoulder or I would definitely have been in trouble. But I also had issues with the weather.
The same front that brought rain to the JDRF Ride for a Cure in Nashville was making its way toward the mid-Atlantic. Ahead of the front were some pretty strong 15 to 30 mile per hour winds from the south. On this stretch, we were riding south (on the gravel road) for about five or six miles. The rest of this part went pretty much straight south too. Straight into the wind. In short, it was brutal. I was never more grateful to reach a rest stop.
I took a moment to sit down and collect myself, and check my BG again: 66 mg/dL. Are you kidding me? My pump’s been off for an hour (and yes, it took me an hour to bike 12 miles). So now, I have to decide if I can even continue. I started with some glucose tabs, then loaded up on handfuls of pretzels for about 20 minutes. When I checked after being at this stop for 30 minutes, I was at 149 mg/dL. At this point, I felt like I could make it the final 12 miles, especially since we weren’t supposed to go any further south.
Shortly after leaving this stop, I connected with a couple of riders who were on my route, so I decided to ride in with them. Now it gets even more interesting. We’re about six or seven miles away from the finish, and we must have missed a turn. Because it wasn’t marked. I had been hearing about issues like this all day. Signs pointed in the wrong direction by pranksters. Arrows marked along the roadway pulled up. That must have been what happened to us, because before we knew it, about the three of us were in the heart of Easton. This was not on the route map. Now what to do? Well, I knew how to get back from where we were, and I wasn’t interested in going back to look for a missed turn, and I didn’t know whether the rest of the route was marked properly either. My decision was to go the way I knew to go to reach the finish. The two riders I had been with since the last stop thought that was the thing to do too, so we rode right through historic downtown Easton, then over to the main highway back to the start/finish.
Then, the final joke: When we near the finish, there were volunteers at the two lane driveway, which was now closed, directing us to go to the next driveway and turn right. So we did that, turning onto the worst stretch of one lane gravel road on the entire trip. With vehicles leaving the venue, coming right at us.
Somehow, we made it through and I was able to finish. BG at the end: 88 mg/dL. I can’t say that I’ll sign up for this ride next year. There were a lot of tough, grind it out miles, but overall, I can say that I’m happy to have been tested and passed the test. We claim our victories were we find them. This one wasn’t pretty, but in the end, it was a success.