Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Racing bikes in Texas

This past weekend I flew to San Antonio, Texas for my first bike race with Team Type 1. It was done in true Scully style. Starting with me running through the airport with my roller bag while dragging my bike in a cardboard box as the dude threatened me that my bike might not make the flight. I almost didn't make it either thanks to rush hour traffic in Buffalo. I even brought cold rainy weather to Texas. I didn't realize it rained so much there. Nor did I know it could be that chilly. It wasn't warm at all. I mean, it was warm by Ontario standars but I was really hoping for some sun.

I REALLY wanted to title this blog post, "Y'all can call me DFL." read on...

Race Day 1: 30 minute crit race. For my readers who aren't in the cycling circle (because neither was I a few months ago). A "crit" or "criterium" race is a usually held on a short course, typically a couple miles with some sharp turns and for my group we did 4 laps. 4 insane laps. I had no clue what I was doing and it wasn't just obvious to me. Within the first 30 seconds I got dropped from the group. I panicked hard and could feel myself breathing heavier. I could swear there were girls behind me but there was only one. After the first lap I noticed she was riding my wheel and I didn't know why she was behind me and not way up in front with the rest of the group. Pass she did not. Instead she asked me to ride her wheel as we went into a turn and she explained how to properly do it. What? seriously? She talked me through a few things. Up the long hill, through some more turns, we rode together. I rode her wheel and then we switched. I asked her what she was doing back there with me and she explained that she had a bunch of wisdom teeth pulled and wasn't feeling 100%. I couldn't help but laugh out loud and tell her, "Well I'm glad you got your teeth pulled and thank you for helping me out and teaching me some ropes."  I finished DFL (dead freaking last)  but I wasn't really expecting anything else and there were only 10 of us. It was a hilly route and the weather was quite chilly and windy. Watching the women's cat 1,2,3 was WAY more exciting and fellow team mate/program director Morgan is a powerhouse!

Morgan with exposed pod!

My blood sugars were pretty manageable because it was so short. I started a bit high and ended a bit higher than that thanks to nerves, panic and stress.

Later in the day we attended a community event at the local YMCA. It was hosted by the local JDRF chapter along with a representative from Sanofi (our biggest sponsor). Everybody we met that afternoon were all so kind and friendly. I've never participated in something like this where I was considered a role model of sorts. We spoke in front of a group of people of all ages, some with diabetes some family members of a PWD. We told our stories and why we race with Team Type 1. We shared what motivates us and how exercise has helped us to manage our diabetes. It was really neat. We spent a long time talking to the young girl and her mother pictured below. This girl, Lauren, was diagnosed only 6 months ago at the age of 15 and had the most beautiful smile that never left her face. I was really blown away by how open and inspirational her and her mother were. They were fighting the adversity of type 1 diabetes with smiles.

Fat fluffy chickens the morning of day 2

Race Day 2: Road race day. This one really requires no explanation. My category rode 28 miles while Morgan's category rode 47 miles. It was colder this day which didn't make it any easier. I woke up to a flat rear tire on my POS (peice of shit) bike. Morgan was kind enough to give me her spare tube since I didn't bring one (stupid Scully mistake number #1). Then I punctured the new tube as I was trying to replace it because I forgot to bring proper tire levers (stupid Scully mistake #2). Bike shops were closed and I'm pretty sure we were in the WRONG part of town. Morgan suggests I use my best flirting ways to see if I could snag a tube from someone at the race.

Turns out I didn't even need to use my Canadian "aboot" charm and the pit crew helped me out. Except that as I was walking back to the car to finish getting ready, the group was all lined up and ready to go. ACK! the panic sets in again. All that work to get a functioning tire and I might miss out on the race. I scrambled to get my shoes, helmet and gloves on as well as getting that newly fixed rear wheel attached to my bike. It HAD to be the rear wheel. I zip up to the line with my shoes un-buckled, helmet on sideways and barely containing my anxiety. And to make matters worse, my CGM displayed double arrows down despite having a 50% temp on for 1.5hours. I downed a GU, glad that I had another one shoved in my sports bra. I got a taste of big group riding for the first time ever. I managed to stay with the group for about 20 minutes. It was glorious. The girls were friendly and the effort was minimal. We were just flying! Then before I knew it they attacked on an uphill. I pedaled as fast as my legs could go and I tried to stay in the draft but a little too much too late and before I knew it, I was dropped. I kept on trying to catch up but I could feel that gel creeping up my throat and burning my esophagus. I was done. I lost them and was now on my own trying to keep my gel down.

The condition of the roads were absolute shit. A large portion of the road was incredibly bumpy like exposed aggregate or something. There were large stones embedded in the road. It felt like riding on the rumble strips on the highways in a car. Every part of my body that was touching the bike was beyond numb. My toes, my hands and my crotch. All numb. I lost a lot of my confidence at this point. My bike was shaking and rattling and making a whole heck of a racket  that sounded like it would just fall apart into a zillion peices right there on the pavement. (again POS bike). I was struggling against the wind, the bumpy road and feeling totally alone. I had to keep reminding myself that I was  in Texas and to try and enjoy the novelty of not riding on my hometown roads in Ontario but it all sort of felt the same without a big group to ride with.

Then I got a Moxy Fruvous song stuck in my head. Oh yeah, a recipe for a nightmare! "King of Spain" rolling around in my head over and over again. I hit a good portion of road where I was maintaining a 37 km/h speed and it felt really sweet.

BUT, the blood sugar devil promptly came and stole away my thunder just about the time the rain began to fall. I thought about it for awhile. Is my blood sugar really dropping or am I just bonking? My CGM showed me holding steady. I couldn't feel it but then I got the familiar sharp white spots in my vision. I was slowing down even more, if that was possible. Oh man. I'm low. Into my cleavage I retrieved my other gel. Chocolate Mint... ICK! I wanted to stop so bad. I wanted to just topple over on my bike and close my eyes right there.

I finished, DFL again. I thought about whether bike racing was something I should be doing or not. I wondered if I would be as good at bike racing as I was a running races. Mediocre back half of the crowd. I will continue to pursue. I have some major work to do. I also found myself suffering from a ferocious migraine for the rest of the afternoon. Where even just the slightest movement of my head was excruciating and nauseating. Cold, wet, dehydrated hypo hangover maybe?

I didn't manage my BGs very well. I can't believe it didn't occur to me to fill one bottle with water and one with Gatorade and sip from both. This is an especially big deal since I recently started using a not so low temp basal rate and relying more on fuel intake. Next time. There is no time to stop to check BG and I was extremely thankful to have a CGM on, better yet one that was somewhat reliable for a change. What would I have done without a CGM and no way to test? play the guessing game perhaps. All this does is prove to me the value of CGMs and how much I wish I wasn't paying for it out-of-pocket.

I had a whole boatload of fun and learned a bunch. I learned what I need to do for next time as far as D-management goes and where to focus my training on.

This was excessively long, but I had a lot to say!


  1. Wow! You're a trooper Scully! Sure, you finished DFL but that's way better than DNF. And you survived your first race! Now you know what to expect for next time, what to bring next time and how many gels to stuff in your bra. I'm proud of you.

  2. This is an AWESOME post! I'm a miserable bike rider but just ordered a cyclocross bike to try that in the fall (I figure some running in there can only help my chances!). At any rate, I'm proud of you for not being intimidated by what I tend of as a relatively intimidating sport for beginners. (I say this because I'm a beginner, and I'm totally intimidated.) Well done!

  3. Wow, Awesome job! There definitely is value in the fact that this adds to your experience and makes you more and more prepared each time. I'm so glad you have the CGM and wish it was covered. Anyway, you really toughed it out. Way to go :D

  4. holy cow woman! sounds like you had a great experience, and learned alot. and as for DFL, you finished! i would have just been D!!

  5. Damn, girl! Chills when reading about the afternoon, role model, get together. Doesn't matter if you are DFL, you are OUT THERE and that means a whole heluva lot to others with D, especially newly dx'ed ones!
    Chalk it up as a learning experience...and it sounds like you learned a lot!
    Proud of you!! :)

  6. Hey, you did it. You survived it. I think you're amazing!

  7. Excellent post! You rock the casa.

    Your first race is in the books, and it sounds like you learned a tonne. I can't wait to hear the stories about the rest of the season.

  8. Who cares if you are DFL? You are AMAZING. You finished a bike race, and not only that, you competed in a crit!!!! From the sidelines, I like to think I might be okay with road races, but I'd NEVER want to do a criterium. They scare me.... a lot.

    That's really awesome that somebody was there to talk you through a few techniques of bike racing. So kind!

    Silly question: So, did you figure out a way to mount a glucose meter on your handlebars? I haven't yet, but that's mostly because I take my little mini meter running too.....

  9. Great post, I am so happy for you that you are biking. I am thinking about starting to ride when it warms up a bit. A friend is talking to me about getting a bike and starting me out on short rides, we'll see if I am brave enough to take this step. Hugs, Mascara Fairy

  10. Just saw your name & pic on the Team Type 1 website - congrats, way cool.


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