100 Easy Miles

Where do I even start? I have a dozen different directions that I could go and enough material for a few different posts. Let’s start at the end and work our way backward to the end again, à la “Memento.”


Home: On Sunday I was back home for the first time in nine days. While I enjoyed my trip very much, I was eager the whole time I was gone to see Lisa. I thought about her all the time and wished that she had been with me. Everyone was sad to learn that Brown’s commencement on Memorial Day Sunday kept her from being able to come along. Trips are just much more fun when she’s with me, and not just because the only conversation I had on most of the long drives were in the form of podcasts. She’s a great traveling companion, and we have a lot of fun as connoisseurs of human folly. (I did get a nice two-hour long gab session with Mom in the car on Wednesday, though.)

I was surprised how much of Sunday I was able to make it through in a lucid fashion. On Sunday morning, the alarm went off at 4:45AM so that I could make my 6:55 flight home. Even with that much lead time and no traffic, I still almost missed it. (Thanks for nothing, closed gas station and slowest TSA security screening line ever.) It was the second night of little sleep. Friday ended late, Saturday started earlier than Sunday, and when I know I’m not going to get much sleep I tend to get insomnia.

(I had thought that I might be able to catch up on some sleep during the trip, but that was not to be. This trip was basically me getting up early to do my normal tri training—except for swimming—driving to a place where I could meet friends and/or family, visiting with them until late, getting less sleep than I expected, and repeating the whole thing the next day.)

Saturday . . . ride day . . . the day that spawned this whole trip . . . started early. Fortunately I got my bike, kit, and all of my food prepped on Friday night before bed. (Man, that was a late night, too. After a kinda disappointing VIP event, Scott, Scully, Nikki, and I went on an extended Tour de Coffee in Saint Paul. Scully needed the caffeine, but everything was closed, except McDonalds. They dropped me off at the hotel late, but it was so much fun!)

Where was I? Oh right, the ride. :^)


The Ride: Heather talked me into doing this 100-mile ride months ago, and it was finally here. The weather was perfect for cycling: cool, clear, and calm. I wasn’t sure what to expect from an urban/suburban century ride, but after riding around Minneapolis’s urban bike paths the previous two days, I was hopeful that it would be a good route, and it didn’t disappoint.

There were so many “Red Riders” (cyclists with Type-1, LADA, or Type-2 diabetes) near us at the start. The whole Red Rider concept is great. (Thanks for coming up with it, Mari!) I admit that I felt awkward having people doing the same event cheer me on just because I have diabetes, especially since Scully in her Team Type 1 jersey wasn’t getting any special attention from the crowd. But when I looked around at all of the people with diabetes at the start, I admit that it was a bit moving. We really can do anything. And it was pretty badass powering along the route past all of the wonderful people who raised money for my disease, knowing that Scully and I are both dedicated athletes out for an easy ride.

We decided before we started to take it easy. It was 100 miles after all, and there was no special reason to keep a particular tempo. Plus, the trails were a bit packed with all of us. I’ve never used my brakes so much on a ride before. Scully said that when you’re in the pack in a race, you’re constantly on and off your brakes, and I got the sense that she was having a good time. (The day before, when I asked her how close they ride during her races, she pulled to within a foot of me. Then she said, “Sometimes we’re actually leaning on each other a little,” and proceeded to demonstrate by moving even closer until her arm rubbed against mine and then pushed a bit for a few seconds. We both kept going straight, and I thought, “Damn, it feels good to be a gangster!”) Eventually the pack thinned out a bit, and by the time we got to the second rest stop and headed out onto the country roads, it was pretty easy to roll along and have some good conversations.

At first, I talked to some of my fellow Pancremaniacs along the route. Eventually, on one of the first big hills, Scully and I just kinda rode away and began a six- or seven-hour, nearly nonstop conversation about anything and everything. In Wyzata, we rode up on the back of a small pack, where we stayed for a few minutes before Scully sprinted off, passing them all and leaving me flat-footed with a freshly opened package of Clif Bloks energy chews in my hand. “Bitch, no fair attacking in the feed zone!” I playfully scolded when I finally caught up with her after my own head-down sprint past people saying “Go, Red Rider!” As we rounded the next corner to go out of town, the hills started before we had a chance to recover from the sprint. Take that, Scully!

It was the best-feeling long ride I’ve ever done. It was long, but it didn’t hurt or cause me any pain or soreness or boredom. I could easily have gone another 20-30 miles. I think this is because of the camaraderie, the relative flatness of the course, the great weather, the slightly slower pace, my consistent nutrition, and being very well-hydrated.

My diabetes management wasn’t perfect. After an amazing overnight where my BGs were between 100-120 for six hours, it started slowly climbing as soon as I got out of bed—a trend I’ve been noticing lately—and then picked up the pace when I had “breakfast” just before the ride started. By the time Scully got coffee at the second rest stop, I was 311 mg/dL (17.3 mmol) and had taken about 2.0 units of insulin. If you know me, you know that exercising with insulin freaks me out, but in this case, I knew that I needed to take some. Eventually I came down to the 180s (10s) for many hours before rolling across the finish line at 102 (5.7). I basically stopped eating during the last hour, since I’d had it with snack foods and knew that my BG could hold out with what I’d already put into it.

And what did I take in over those eight hours and six minutes? In no particular order:

  • 2 salted nut bars
  • 3 or 4 gels
  • 2 glucose tablets
  • 1.5 Clif Bars
  • 2 packs of Clif Bloks
  • Some Star Wars gummy snacks that stuck in my teeth and spawned a funny conversation about my non-folding tongue
  • Maybe something else
  • about 150 oz of water, occasionally using a bit of Nuun for electrolytes

That’s roughly 200-250 grams of carbs with just 2.0 units of bolused insulin (plus about 3.5 units of basal insulin using a temporary reduction of 30%). It’s crazy!

Poor Skullz went low right before the end, though, and we kinda took it really easy on our way to crossing the line together. About an hour later, I had to pull the car over on the way to the hotel because I dropped like a rock. Evidently bolusing the full amount for my post-ride chocolate milk wasn’t necessary at all. I understand there are incriminating pictures floating around of me with my cheeks full of Gu Chomps that I stuffed in with my shaking hands.


Afterward: I was expecting for the ride to turn difficult at some point; for a pain to arrive in my knee, foot, or hip; for the inside of my quads to start complaining or my lower back to get sore; or for the pedaling just to become hard. It never did. Interestingly, the biggest hill on the route was in the last five or six miles, and we just kinda powered our way up it. When I got off the bike, I was expecting fatigue or soreness, but that didn’t happen either.

Later in the day, as the Pancremaniacs hung out at the Chatterbox Pub and then even later when Scully and Scott kept me entertained while I packed, I expected to get stiff and achy. Nothing. Ditto for the next morning, when I hopped out of bed and felt no pain at all. In fact, I almost started to wonder whether I had actually done a century the day before. The Tour de Cure was almost magical in this respect!

It was, simply, a great ride in the middle of a fantastic weekend at the end of a wonderful Midwestern trip. I hung out with some great people, had some fantastic conversations, rode a scenic route, and spent some quality time on a bike. I can’t really express how wonderful the whole experience was.

This entry was posted in 101 in 1001, Cycling, Diabetes, I am Rembrandt, Photography, Travel, USA. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 100 Easy Miles

  1. Scully says:

    Pretty darn perfect explanation! Don’t worry I will take care of the stories about making you eat my air biscuits.

  2. Jeff Mather says:

    Mmm… air biscuits. (I would say it in Chinese, but I’m not as cool as you.)

  3. mary says:

    wow, sounds like a super amazing trip! glad the race went well and that you’re not sore (because you’re some kind of superhuman, apparently – i think there’s more than just insulin in that pump!).

    i also suffer from insomnia when i know i have to wake up super early. WTF is with that?!

  4. Scully says:

    Da Fung Pee!! = big fart!

  5. Awesome post Jeff, and awesome ride.

    I can’t express enough how great it was to have you and Scully in town, and I’m so thankful that we were able to spend so much time together.

    It was an honor to complete the ride with you guys (even if I was a “bit” behind)!

    You and Lisa are welcome at the Johnson household anytime!

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  7. victoria says:

    Woo hoo! Woo hoo! So proud of every last one of you! And this makes me so stinking excited for October. Four more months!! There are a few other things I need to ask about though…
    1) Can someone introduce me to Scully? She stayed around 110 the whole ride. I saw it online (Facebook, I think). I need to meet her and find out how she did that.
    2) Freaking love the Pancremaniacs jersey! I wonder if I can iron my velociraptor T-shirt onto a ride jersey. Jeff, ideas?
    3) Love that you miss Lisa so much when you travel. Love that. Love you both!
    4) And lastly, so proud of you and everyone else!

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