A few years ago in one of those mailer magazines you get every now and then about the city and area around you was an article about a beautiful bike ride. That beautiful bike ride took one to the Gilman Tunnels. I saved that article for a long time but never went out and rode it. There were two options from this article, one was an out and back by road and one was a loop that could be done on mountain bike.
Today, I rode the out and back path. I did my longest ride ever 74.1 miles. I rode from Santa Ana Star Casino to the Gilman Tunnels as part of the New Mexico Tour de Cure (normally I’d combine my ride with the tour review, but this time I’m separating them. My ride was good but the event was bad and thus I’m going to cover the happier part of it this time around).
This ride was monumental for me because:
1) I rode my longest distance ever
2) My blood sugar never went low (which in the past has never happened)
3) I had a good attitude throughout the entire ride (even with all the hills I tackled, I really never copped an attitude)
My morning began at 4:30 when I awoke to set my basal rates (the insulin that’s given to me hourly) to 50% of the usual amount. At this point I’m still a rat in my own experiment as I try to determine what kinds of food and insulin rates serve me best when cycling.
At 5:15 Grandma and I arrived at iHOP for my very bad ritual of pancakes in the morning before the ride. At 5:30 I was chowing down on 3 buttermilk pancakes, 2 fried egg whites, 2 bacon strips, and 2 sausage links. I bolused (the insulin that’s given at meal and blood sugar correction times) my usual amount. My blood sugar was 173.
At 6:00 we arrived, got my bike all put together, pressure in my tires checked and aired properly, drinks mixed: 1 bottle of water, 1 bottle of cytomax, bag loaded with lots of Gu and I was ready to go. My blood sugar was 227 and so I bypassed my usual Clif bar.
So before this ride my longest ride was a metric century, 62.5 miles, that I had ridden in the Phoenix, AZ Tour de Cure. I figured “hey, what’s another 12 miles”. The 12 miles really wasn’t all that much. The ride started with a 4 mile hill climb. There wasn’t much more than maybe a quarter mile of flat before the hill climb and so I was extra slow going up it. I averaged between 7-10mph going up it. Not too bad but still slow for me. Normally I’d be cursing the hills mentally and once in a while saying “I hate hills”. I’m really not a fan of them (during cycling anyways, running them is fun). But not this time.
This time, while riding the hills I thought of Mari and her telling me about Leo (I think that was his name, if it’s not it is now) and him being 80 some odd years old telling her to “feel the mountain”. Now, in the beginning I wasn’t in the mountains, not the first 20 miles, but then I got into the mountains and it was ok. I was good with the hills. I felt the hills and I did well. I also discovered that I do a lot better if I don’t keep looking for the end of the hill but rather I just look down at the ground in front of me and look up every now and then to see if I’m encroaching upon another rider’s space. Being that I had been dropped from the pack fairly early, there really was no chance of me running into anyone else.
At about 10 or so miles I get passed by two women as I had stopped to check my blood. My numbers were a little on the rise that I didn’t need anything and I opted not to bolus for my sugar of 245. So I got going again and caught up to Stephanie and Misty. Stephanie had a picture on her backpack and that struck up a conversation. Her dad died from complications caused by diabetes and she’s a high risk candidate for diabetes so that’s why she was riding. Misty was doing this ride as training for an Ironman she’s competing in this month. It was cool to talk to them they participate in triathlons. Being that I’m beginning to get into the triathlon scene it was fun to talk to them and learn the lingo and whatnot. I rode behind them for a bit until we got to a decent down hill and I went speeding along (because that’s what I like to do on the down hills).
When I got to the first rest stop and checked my blood I was at 227. It wasn’t quite as normal as I would’ve liked, but I wasn’t low either so I was excited. I refilled my water bottles, put cytomax in one of them, ate a Gu and a peanut butter and jelly sammich. That put me at 55 carbs and I was comfortable with that. It was less carbs than I usually consume at a rest point. I didn’t bolus for them, I made sure I had plenty of water with the Gu, I took a few moments to relax because I had 15 miles to go before the next rest stop and there were plenty of hills to climb. While I was chillaxing and making sure I was ready, I met Barb and Monica. Both their sons have diabetes so they were out riding. When we went off we were keeping a pace of 17mph. I couldn’t hold it for long, not but maybe 4-5 miles. They did check to see if I was ok and I just told them I was slow and I fell back.
At about 8 miles out, half way to the next rest stop I checked my blood while I was at the top of a hill (no better place to stop, because it was downhill in the next little leg until the next uphill) I was 176. I was happy with that number. I headed onto the next rest stop. There were 6 tough miles, all uphill, but I kept myself together and never fell to my usual attitude on the hills, I kept going. Slow and steady.
I liked the second half of the second leg because you could hear the running water. As I went up one hill you could hear the water falls, it was beautiful. I had to stop and take some pictures. I got all excited when I saw the tunnels. They were just cool looking.
When I got to the second rest stop, I relieved myself, checked my blood which came in at 160, ate a Gu and a peanut butter and jelly sammich, made sure I drank plenty of water, filled my bottles, mixed the cytomax. At this rest stop I met Tom, Eddie and Joy. I went off with the three of them and stuck with them through the end of the ride.
Before I got back on the main road out of the Jemez mountains I stopped and checked my blood. It was at 262. That was expected because I was only 6 miles from the last rest stop and it had all been downhill so I hadn’t done much work.
When I got to the third rest stop, I checked my blood and refilled my water bottles but I didn’t eat anything. My blood sugar was 244 and I didn’t see a reason to eat anything. That was stupid on my part because I ended up not having the energy I needed for the last 10 miles. I did make sure I was hydrated because it was insanely hot and there was no more water for 21 miles beyond what was in my bottles.
I did well for a long while on the last leg. I pushed myself probably harder than I should’ve. It was a slight uphill for a good 10 miles and I was pushing myself at 16-18 mph. I stopped to check my blood at 10 miles, I was 215 so I feel as though I made a good choice not eating anything at the last rest stop but I still had 12 miles to go and 7 of them were up huge hills. I was lacking energy at this point from having not ate.
At about 8 miles I just couldn’t go any further, I was struggling, I couldn’t take a deep breath I was almost hyperventilating. I got passed by 2 more people, I knew that Eddie was behind me and that was it. I couldn’t see him. I took a moment to relax and started heading up the hill. I had to stop often and re-relax just to make it up the hill. I was beat. I didn’t want to quit, I didn’t want to be picked up by the SAG vehicle, I didn’t want to walk up the hill. I talked myself through it, I listened to my body, I stopped when I needed to.
And I made it to the end. I was very excited when I got there, not because I had finished, but because not only was my Grandma there, but my parents where there and so were several of my friends. And they were cheering and yelling and clapping. It was a good ride.
I rode 73.73 miles. My ride time was 5 hrs 42 min and 37 seconds. My time including my stops was just under 7 hrs. I averaged a speed of 12.9 mph and I had a max of 34.9 mph. My blood sugar never went low. I met new people. And my family was there when I came in. I had a good ride.