Brian was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 50. After his nurse encouraged him to make changes to his lifestyle, he discovered a new-found love for cycling and hasn’t looked back. Here, he shares his top tips to help you make the most of your bike rides.
When I first started cycling, it took me months to figure out how to prepare and what to take. While some people may be able to hop on their bikes and head off into the distance, I know I need to take each ride day by day. There were many times where I got things wrong and had to end my ride early. But now I’ve got a checklist that you can use to help you when cycling too!
Tip number 1: Check the weather
This is always a big factor for me, and I’ve often been caught out by not taking a few moments to check it before I head out. Will it be sunny, windy or rainy? And will it change while you’re out?
Tip number 2: Check your blood glucose (sugar) levels
Everyone living with diabetes manages their condition differently and knows what works best for them, but this is really important and key for my preparation as I can then work out what fuel I need for my ride.
Tip number 3: Fuel your rides
Over the years, I’ve discovered that I can ride around 10 to 15 miles before I need some more energy, so I make sure to carry many types of food fuel for the journey. Peanut butter sandwiches and flapjack bars seem to work well for me, and if I’m doing an extra long ride I make sure that I’ve got lots to eat. I’ve found that having jelly beans or jelly babies and two bottles of isotonic sports drinks give me energy quickly if I’m worried about having a hypo, so I always keep them on me too.
Tip number 4: Make sure you have the right clothing
I often feel the cold when cycling, even in the summer, and that not only affects what I wear but sometimes my blood sugar levels too. If I’m going cycling in the early morning or in the evening, I’ll always have a base layer and then add on top layers. I’ve also found that if you manage to keep your hands and feet warm, the rest of you should stay warm.
If I’m not sure which way the weather will go, I’ll carry a waterproof jacket and bottoms with me, and if I’m worried about the temperature I’ll make sure to have a soft shell jacket to keep me warm.
Tip number 5: Preparing your equipment
A cycling helmet is a must, and you can also get a waterproof cover for the top to keep the rain out. I also carry a small first-aid kit, some money in case I need to take public transport to get me and the bike home, and my diabetes med-kit too. You might also find it useful to have some tools with you to fix your bike if you encounter a puncture or a problem while you’re out!
If Brian’s tips have left you feeling inspired to get out on your bike, why not register your interest for our next UK Wide Cycle Ride challenge and make every mile count for people affected by diabetes?
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