Day 10: Detour to The World’s Longest Cave - Howardstown to Mammoth Cave

The TransAm designates two sections of their maps to a detour for a National Park in Kentucky – Mammoth Cave. Unknown to me, this park has the longest network of caves in the entire world. The best part is that Annalisa and I picked up our Access Pass so everything is 50% off.

Staying at a campsite in Mammoth Cave National Park means campfire quesadillas

Staying at a campsite in Mammoth Cave National Park means campfire quesadillas

The Daily Summary

Day 10, June 3rd, we ride 50 miles from Howardstown to Mammoth Cave National Park. Taylor won a free cup of coffee for getting the group up and out by a soft 6:15 a.m. departure. Mornings are brisk with the sun peaking over the tree tops. The ride is mainly rolling hills and easy going. You could stretch this into a 70+ mile day.

Note for the route

The Mammoth Loop detour is not marked at all for the turn-off. Route 357 is not marked at the turn either. When you hit “Barren Run Baptist Church” sign take a left. DO NOT follow the Route ’76 sign straight.

The Scenery

Staying in an electric air conditioned wigwam is one "attraction" before the national park

Staying in an electric air conditioned wigwam is one "attraction" before the national park

Your morning starts with rolling hills looking out on vast acreage of farmland growing corn and wheat. With perfect blue skies, this is ideal cycling.

There is a phenomena adjacent to National Parks that can leave a sour taste in your mouth. It is as if before spending time outside that the town before does everything for face-value, tacky, stores that are knowingly tourist traps:

  • Bumper boats, bumper cars, bumper balls
  • 150 life size dinosaurs with most the cool ones already in the parking lot
  • Biggest glass store in Kentucky to buy all of your…lamp shades?
  • Funnel Cake to carbo-load before the day hike
  • The virtual outdoor experience

Ok, the last one is made up. But why before peace and serenity must we bombard ourselves with such ridiculousness. PLEASE do not ever pull over your car to support these shops.

The People

(no photo) Greg and his dog Cassidy welcome us as neighbors in the campgrounds. A state’s vinyl sticker shows the current stops that this duo has traveled to already. While Greg stokes the fire, Cassidy does typical patrol dog jobs like howl and act intimidating before succumbing to head scratches.

The Scavenger is spotted with his trail beard at the post office in town riding with Amanda (not pictured)

The Scavenger is spotted with his trail beard at the post office in town riding with Amanda (not pictured)

The Blood Sugar

There must be an achievement box for hitting the highest high and lowest low in one day. Let’s begin with the ultra-high.

My insulin sensitivity while riding multiplies from a ratio of 1:10 to nearly 1:60 or higher. That means taking 1 unit of insulin for 60 carbs (multiple handfuls of cheerios). This allows me to consume over 400+ carbohydrates each day while reducing my overall insulin levels.

HOWEVER, the Omnipod system is less resilient to the Medtronic pump I was on previously. All pumps have the potential for errors from kinks in the tubing, air bubbles, or increased insulin sensitivity.

The weakness I’ll point out today for the Omnipod is that the shallow tube is inserted at a 45 degree angle (other companies do this too) and this makes it easier to become knocked out.

What causes the high blood sugar

So I eat two pancakes and take 4 units of insulin. Normally, once we begin riding, this would smooth out easily. Today it climbed, and climbed, (took some more insulin), and then hit 300+.

The highest high and lowest low a continuous glucose monitor can read is hit in one day. Ugh.

The highest high and lowest low a continuous glucose monitor can read is hit in one day. Ugh.

Anything over 300 mg/dl is corrected with an insulin syringe. It came back into range.

After my blood sugar immediately went back up to 300 mg/dl I changed the pump. Something I should have done earlier.

When removing the pump, a blood patch is left around the cannula. This is a sign that the tubing got knocked out at some point.

What causes the lowest low blood sugar

Then the correction and nap send me spiraling down. I wake up around 80 mg/dl – a trend going down. This continued all the way from 60, 50, 40, 30, until LOW. Eat everything in sight, but not absolutely everything.

Some of you are having a heart attack at home. Thanks for your concern. Swinging sensitivity between biking and resting makes corrections and blood sugar extremely difficult.

An option to reduce the risk of high blood glucose levels

An option like Afrezza is becoming appealing because I need something for these giant spikes. Insulin is a lifesaving drug with many short-comings. The acting period for a drug like Novolog or Humalog is 3 hours. Going to bed on the trail takes 15 minutes. See how life does not align with the current treatment available?

Honesty with blood sugars to have open conversations

Look, you and I can talk about the theory of blood sugar management. Without the continuous glucose monitor this trip would be more difficult. Yet, I spent three weeks in New Zealand hiking the backcountry without this device.

Diabetic endurance athletes are willing to accept a higher level of risk for the adventure. There are days where my blood sugar is rock solid. Other days, it seems like everything goes wrong. The combination of knowledge, technology, and better medicine makes these adjustments easier.

If you have any tips on fueling, hydration, or other suggestions please share them. I’ll read each one. I hope this openness about control on the road is seen as a chance to learn rather than an added excuse to not move forward.

I’ll try to give you an insight into the current blood sugar regimen so you have a better understanding of the mindset and practical steps.

Remember, there is always tomorrow.