Cycling and diabetes – “Bandersnatch” edition

By | 22 February, 2019

Following in the wake Black Mirror’s multiple-choice “Bandersnatch” epsisode this article, while ostensibly about cycling and diabetes, allows you to “pick” which of the article threads you would like to follow. Some people like bikes, some people like diabetes, some people like both; the choice and your destiny is in your hands!

Let’s start with a practice question. Are you ready to enter the world of cycling and diabetes? If “Yes” go to section 3 below; if “No” go to section 2.

2. You have selected “No”. WTF? There’s no need for you to be here. Why not go to twitter and shout at people instead?

3. You have selected “Yes”. As avid readers of your soaraway Shoot Up will know, I quite like sitting on top of a bicycle and peddling about the place. You can read about my previous adventures by doing a search for “cycling” over in the box on the right, if you can be bothered.

It’s interesting that I’ve observed that bikes and diabetes have one thing in common, aficionados of both like cool, shiny gear a great deal, so that’s what I’m going to bang on about in the substance of this article. So here we go:

Which do you prefer – bikes or diabetes? If you prefer “bikes” go to section 4 below, if you prefer “diabetes” go to section 5, if you prefer neither then go to section 2.

A mountain bike near a mountain

A mountain bike near a mountain

4. You prefer bikes over diabetes, this – to me at least – seems like you have your priorities right. So let me tell you about my mountain bike; it’s a Saracen Carbon Mantra Trail. It’s carbon frame gives a nice, stiff ride which the Suntour Epixon XC fork does quite a lot to level out, though some might find its 120mm of travel a bit limited for the really big knocks.

It’s fitted out with Shimano M396 hydraulic brakes and is the first bike I’ve had with hydraulics. What I didn’t realise was that as well as having insane stopping power, hydraulic disks are self-calibrating, so you don’t have to worry about fiddling around with adjusting them once they get out of true after a long, battering ride. I would never use anything without hydraulics again.

For gearing we have the Shimano HG50 cassette and Shimano Deore for the rest of the components. The Matra Trail ships with cranks at 44/32/22t and a range on the cassette of 11-36t. After riding a road bike, with far bigger gears, this seems like a range that would suit your granny but out in the rough of the Pentland hills it works quite well, but I do sometimes find myself yearning for a bigger top gear in order to crank up some decent speeds.

The standard tires it came with were, as always, crap; so they, alongside the grips and peddles, have been replaced with components (generally Shimano) salvaged from my old Specialized Hard Rock, which now languishes in the attic.

In terms of further gadgetry, I have a Garmin Edge 25 on the handlebars, which I’ve supplemented with the additional ANT+ speed and cadence meters. The latter is a fairly new addition but I’ve found the addition of the cadence meter really useful for training, especially when I’m using it on the road bike and turbo trainer combination.

An infusion set, yesterday

An infusion set, yesterday

5. You prefer diabetes to bikes. Well, different strokes for different folks, I guess, but we’re all friends here. But, that said, you’re never entirely in control of your destiny and so I’m going to talk about diabetes and cycling. There’s no escape.

In terms of kit, when I’m out on the bike I use a Medtronic 640g pump which I sling round my back in a SPI belt, which keeps it nicely out of the way. I really dial down the basal rates and tend to use a 10-15% temp basal for the duration of the ride.

Despite these low settings, I do find my blood glucose dropping anyway and keep my sugars topped up with Torq energy gels, I’ve found the orange and banana flavour the least repulsive but that’s not saying much. At least they’re are tastier than the disgusting and ubiquitous Gluco Gels that we all know and love. I wash all this goo down with water infused with HIGH5 Zero electrolytes – pink grapefruit for preference.

For checking my blood glucose, I use Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre which I have a tendency to sweat off, especially during Scotland’s brief summer. To this end I give them some extra stickiness by using Skin Tac’s Adhesive wipes.

However, despite Skin Tac’s hypoallergenic properties I still suffer from the “Libre kiss” with the damned thing removing half the skin on my shoulder; so I’ve started spraying Cavilon’s barrier spray on first and that seems to be making a difference.

All in all, I’ve found the combination of Libre and pump absolutely invaluable to being able to ride; without them I’d be stuffed.

Have you enjoyed this article? If “No” go to section 2. If “Yes” then go to the comments below and write your own story – the power is in your hands!

3 thoughts on “Cycling and diabetes – “Bandersnatch” edition

  1. Matt

    Lovely job! Had T1 for 37yrs, have similar pump, issues and bike + gear. On it! Have Rheumatoid Arthritis etc too but none of it gets in the way of a solid mindset. ‍♂️

    1. Tim Post author

      Ah, arthritis and type one – an auto-immune double whammy! Lucky you! I know someone who could finally afford their dream Campagnolo set up on their road bike but found that their arthritis made that particular set up too painful to use – a complete bummer. Are you having to make an adaptions for it?

      1. Matthew

        I’ve gone down the route of ‘if it hurts too much an a particular day I’ll give it a rest’ rather than avidly pressing on.. So no, no adaptions, just pushing through the pain v methotrexate v lowered immunity implications v sugar levels conundrum 🙂

        No dramas, just slightly more to think about compared to others up Cannock Chase!


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