Day 1: Wythville, Virginia to Troutsdale

WYTHVILLE, VA // The group rolls off the picnic tables, unzips the screen doors of the tents, and begins eating calorie-dense honey buns and granola for the ride ahead.

Today's leg is 32 miles of cycling and my first day of bicycle touring ever.

3 Scenes from the Day

Scenes of abandoned farms scattered Virginia. This photo is deceptively sunny since a terrible storm rolled through town after this.

Scenes of abandoned farms scattered Virginia. This photo is deceptively sunny since a terrible storm rolled through town after this.

Taylor checks the maps of the Transamerica Trail, which marked by Route 76 signs.

Taylor checks the maps of the Transamerica Trail, which marked by Route 76 signs.

Picture of the team before setting off on the trail

Picture of the team before setting off on the trail

Map of where we went today

I did not have time today to check the accuracy of these Google Directions. We are following Route 76, also known as the Transamerica Trail. 

Today's Reflection

Passing the farm in the first photo made me let out a "YAHOOO!!!" This is the biggest adventure I have ever set off on in my life. The stress and busy life of the city is left behind in a day.

Getting to this point was beyond hectic. Gathering gear, asking questions, figuring out logistics, all made the last 72 hours a blur. And now, we are on the trail.

The tour bike itself felt pretty solid and good to be on. I am keeping pace with the group and happy to see other riders along the trail. This includes a small military group, a larger Adventure Cycling squad, a few soloists, and us. 

That kindness of strangers is already being seen and keeps me motivated during the hard times. I experienced several back-to-back lows going up a hill today. Someone pulled over and asked, "How are you doing?" and then immediately relayed this message back to Annalisa, who was further up the hill.

Mentally, diabetes is a challenge because you want to physically keep pushing past each and every obstacle. However, this is a humbling disease that keeps you in one place no matter what. If you do not wait long enough than you will be pulling your bike back over and waiting longer.

Finally, we called it an early day and that was a good call for my body. I often over exert myself and end up sick and ill for the next several days. A church has set up a hostel since they sit at the intersection of the Transamerica Trail (bicyclists) and the Appalachian Trail (hikers). 

Trail magic is real. Trail angels are even better. The kindness of strangers is the only thing that is going to get me through this trip.

Daily Blood Sugar Review

A gap overnight leaves me high in the morning. Then a CGM misreading later in the days gives me a sense of confidence even though I am actually around 60 mg/dl.

A gap overnight leaves me high in the morning. Then a CGM misreading later in the days gives me a sense of confidence even though I am actually around 60 mg/dl.

Morning Review

Woke up high around 200 mg/dl because the Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor disconnected about 3 am until 5 am as my blood sugar looked to climb.

At 5:59 a.m. I roll off the Thermorest and bolus for the high once the CGM reconnects. An hour of hungry awaits and until a bolus and banana are taken.

The basal reduction for the day is 80%.

In my mind, an early morning bicycle ride should bring down your blood sugar steadily. Forget that. The CGM displays a mountain developing as a higher and higher reading comes back.

Then I chase the high with larger and larger boluses. Things actually look like they are going well at 140 mg/dl when we arrive at a convenient store. With double down arrows, I eat a clif bar expecting that to absorb the Insulin on Board.

Prepare for lift off. We ride back up to 250 to then come back down.

This rollercoaster all happens before lunch.

Afternoon Review

We pull over to a self-wash car cleaner to keep a roof over our head as we eat. Lunch is whole wheat tortillas (23 g each) with a tuna packet, cheese, and avocado. I cover one of the tortillas and eat another uncovered. This in theory keeps to a 50% reduction of insulin while working out.

The CGM is steadily displaying 120 mg/dl yet I feel dizzy, tired, and my group fades further and further away. Why am I so weak? Should I pull over and check in the rain?

Annalisa in her bright yellow jacket is on the side of the road testing her blood sugar so I join her. The result is 60 mg/dl. I’ll be sitting here for 15 minutes to recover.

I set off with a result of 85 mg/dl. Guess where I am in fifteen minutes?

There are dates in the back right pannier so I eat three of them and then begin eating a cookie. A white car pulls over, “Hey, your friend is wondering how you are doing?”

“I’m OK. Need to have some snacks. My blood sugar keeps going low.”

He speeds off in reverse, “Let me go tell your friend up the hill.”

The post-ride blood sugar creeps up a bit by bit. One tip to help prevent post-workout highs is to cool down for twenty minutes to reduce the amount of lactic acid in the blood stream that eventually breaks down into sugar.

Dinner is ramen (52g) a whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter and a late night snack of an apple with peanut butter. Calorie intake is important but a difficult balance with carbohydrate intake.

Total Insulin:

Bolus (82%): 31.7 Units
Basal (18%):6.95 Units

Total Carbs: to be determined

I have not figured out how I am going to carbohydrate counts. Since we are exercising all day many carbohydrates are not counted through my Omnipod. This may mean trying to write down what I eat in a notebook or using "events." However, this is not going to be as accurate as insulin intake.