Category Archives: Diabetes

Cycling Safety And The b=n+1 Rule

Cycling Safety IDs

Clive’s blog today really struck a chord.  I have diabetes.  I ride alone at least once a week, after dark.  I have diabetes so if I was to take a tumble or get clipped by a motorist, I could potentially be having a post-exercise hypo whilst insensible with an injury.

I’ve looked at RoadID before and always thought they looked cool, but expensive and that I was unlikely to wear them each time I ventured out.  I’m not inclined to keep a wrist band on permanently, as I do a corporate job and a watch is enough adornment.  I remove the watch and my two rings when I ride as I don’t like things jangling about on me.

So, Clive’s blog was a Godsend.  These little stickers stick onto your lid, so if you’re a cyclist you’ll never leave home without them accidentally.  Now that’s perfect for me, as I don’t run. At all.

Ask yourself: if you were to come a cropper on a ride, what would happen next?  Then, think about buying the stickers, eh?

The b=n+1 Rule

Chris reminded me of something I’d forgotten this morning.  The equation b=n+1 applies to all cyclists, where:

  • b = Number of bikes required
  • n = Number of bikes owned

This equation defines us all as cyclists.  Once it takes effect, there’s no going back.

This equation is the reason that I downloaded the eBay app to my iPhone.  This equation is the reason that I saved the searches “Rz120” and “Whyte t120s” into the eBay app.  Now whenever anyone puts either of those two bikes for sale on eBay, I will hear a cheerful “BING!“, see a notification on my phone and instantly become stressed about whether or not to get involved in watching, or worse still participating, in the sale.

Oh yes, of course I rationalise: I’ve told myself that I’m just seeing how cheaply you can pick up a nice 120mm trail bike.  I’ve told myself that I’ll save up diligently and not spend impulsively.  I’ve told myself that I’m looking at shiny new trail bikes because my son is outgrowing his 24” bike and I can pass on my Fat Boy to him, so I actually really neeeeed a shiny new trail bike…

But we all know, it’s just the maths working their magic.  The equation’s got me.  I’m doomed.  I’m a cyclist.

Are you? 😉

I Had A Dream …

Sometimes I love having diabetes.

There’s a mental twilight between sleeping and waking when your blood sugar is running very low.  It’s a time when your internal alarm bells are ringing, when your body knows something’s wrong, but the primeval signals don’t work because your internal system’s messed up by the drugs you’re taking to keep your broken system ticking along.

Sometimes I love that time.  I have the trippiest dreams 🙂

Did I tell you about my dream last night? No?

Well, I was involved in a revolution.  I was blasting the Houses of Parliament with heavy artillery.  I was on a rooftop overlooking the building, probably utilising an easily-defended vantage point on Westminster Abbey if I’m honest.

It was a dark, artificially-lit night and traffic was light.  Weirdly, I don’t remember seeing Big Ben or I’m sure I’d remember what time it was.  My weapon was glowing red at the muzzle, about ten feet in front of my position at the shielded trigger.  I wasn’t using the sight, I was just strafing the building; yellow trails cutting through the cold London air as glass and brick jumped back towards the trail my bullets carved.

This scene faded… my internal feeling of satisfaction told me I’d achieved my aim.

Later,  I was inside the main Chamber of the House, justifying my actions along with my co-conspirators.  Oddly, the building seemed intact from the inside, with the familiar surroundings I’ve seen so many times on the news.  I had a position on the right side of the House as you look towards the Speaker’s chair.

I was holding my own in the face of some fairly aggressive debate, but then the half-scouse, half-manc accent that identifies a resident of St Helens rose from the seats near the Speaker on my own side of the House.

It was Johnny Vegas.  He was clearly blaming me for the whole revolution idea.  I suspect he feared reprisals and was distancing himself in the event of an eventual failure.

I hate that Johnny Vegas.

I love trippy low-blood-sugar induced dreams though.


I ate half an aero from my bedside drawer when I woke up, then showered and got on with the day. Nothing to see here folks, I’m ok. 🙂

Norfolk & Fun.

Sorry about the brief hiatus.  I’ve been away and not blogging, on account of living in a field and all that.

Sandringham Sunshine

While the North West enjoyed the weather that it’s famous for (i.e. bobbins), we headed to Norfolk, to camp within the grounds of Sandringham, where the Royal family spend 10 weeks each year and eat their Christmas dinner together.  To sum up the week in one sentence, it was sunny; relaxed; idyllic; woody; tasty; splashy; barbecuey; pretty and fun.

The #August150 Update

As I write, 40 people are featured on the August150 spreadsheet.  8 have already finished, another 3 have done more than two-thirds of the miles and 29 people have logged some miles.  If you want to join in, let me know and I’ll tell you how.  Basically, I need the email address you use for Google, and you’re in!

Personally, my Norfolk week didn’t go well in August 150 terms.  We only got one ride out really, aside from a couple of trips to the shop.  On the day we’d planned a good explore, N1S’s bike inexplicable exploded whilst leaning against a fence.  On closer inspection, it seems I’d pumped the tyre up too hard and an errant spoke was causing a stress point against the rim.  When he’d done a little lap around the site, the warmth and pressure had got up and then the tyre simply went “BANG! PFFFFT!” once the bike was rested.  Grrrr.  One failed repair and a trip to Halfords later, the bike was ok but our time was gone.

We did get a ride along NCN Route 1 later in the week though.  It’s gorgeous.  It got me thinking: We’ve rode along NCN1 now, and I live on NCN66 – that leaves 64 routes.  Too many.  So I might look into which routes I could travel to within a day from mine and try to tick a bunch of those off – what d’you think?  Speaking of canals (I know I wasn’t but NCN66 is along Rochdale Canal a good slug of the way), have you seen LouLouK’s blog about her ride along the Leeds-Liverpool canal?  You should – it’s an inspiration to anyone who thinks they might not be able to get some big riding done.

Holiday Diabetes

Just a brief note here.  In the past, I’ve had some crashing hypos whilst on holiday.  The trouble with Type 1 diabetes is that I tend to dose myself up with the same amount of insulin most days, but on holiday you do loads more exercise by stealth.  By stealth, I mean that you don’t realise.

Then what happens is that you wake up at night with crazily low blood sugars, doing weird things and amusing/terrifying your loved ones.  Well, I’ve found the secret: test more!  By taking my glucose monitor and simply doing the finger prick tests more often, I was able to avoid any silly hypos this holiday.  In fact, my only low was on the last day, when packing up took us way past lunchtime.  A quick Cadbury’s Twirl and I was back on track!  Sorted 🙂  Feel better, go longer, be safer, test more.

That’s all for today, save these few photos of our lovely break.

I’m hoping to get out for a ride with Jon tomorrow evening, so I might make a start on some proper miles at long last – maybe too late for the August 150, but fingers crossed I might just do it!

Every Cloud.

… Has A Silver Lining.

Like most of us, I get a bit negative sometimes.  The weekend weather was crappy so I didn’t get out on my bike, so I spent a little time contemplating my navel.  I realised that sometimes, despite the imperfections of life, we need to count our blessings.  So here’s my little compare & contrast exercise for my cycling experiences over the last few months.


Since increasing the miles on the bike, my diabetic control has been a little haywire.  I’ve been experiencing more frequent hypoglycaemic episodes, especially at bedtime.  They’re not too bad and I’m coping with them easily, but I don’t really want to be chugging chocolate at bedtime – I mean, I’m not a girl for goodness’ sake!

I’ve reduced my teatime insulin by a couple of units so I’ll see how that works out – early signs are good.  Let’s be sensible about this, it’s actually a sign that my body is using its energy more efficiently and, well,  just more.  It’s not all bad as long as I’m grown up about my drug dosages.

My lower back has become worse over recent weeks.  I don’t suffer badly with backache but each time I ride out, I come back with a twinge.  I’m not happy about it.

Some reading around the subject tells me that it’s because I upped my saddle a cm or so, to get more power out of my legs and take some strain off my ageing knees.  This definitely increased the power, but (apparently) your hamstrings shorten when your saddle’s low.  Then when you raise your saddle, the hamstrings pull on your pelvis as you ride, causing the twinge.  So now I have to do hamstring stretches to improve things.  Every day’s a school day at Phill’s Irregular Cycles!

Ow. Thud. Ouch. Boing. Scratch. Oof. Ping. Unh.  This, with exclamation marks removed, is the sound of my riding.  No big drops, no RTAs, no expensive collisions – just me having lots of minor bangs and knocks.  If I were a pretty girl, the state of my shins and calves would be alarming.

Thankfully, I’m an ugly bloke so none of the scabs, bruises and chain marks matter.

Silver Linings.

OK, I’ve got that off my chest.  Now, this is what this post is really about.  Whenever I get a litte bot fed up with riding, THIS is what I remind myself about.

Fitness. I’m fitter now, at 40, than I was at 30.  I’m much much fitter than I was at 20, before I was diagnosed with diabetes.  My body’s reaction to it’s own pancreas had left me a withered, weedy, muscle-free weakling so I pretty much had to start again.  It’s been a long road but I now have calf muscles and my legs are really taking shape.  I’m building some body mass apart from the pot belly that contented living has earned me.  I can cycle further than ever before and the feeling of finishing the Manchester to Blackpool 63 miles then not being at all bothered at having to ride an extra mile to put £3.50 on the parking meter was priceless.  10 years ago, that ride put me out of action for over a week.

Fun. I really enjoy my cycling.  Somebody told me recently that the way to pick your sport is to ask yourself when you’ve finished something: “How soon do I want to do that again?”  If the answer is “Now!” or “Tomorrow“, than you’ve found your sport.  If the answer is “Next week” or “That was a flippin’ chore“, then you need to have a re-think!  When I was running, I had to keep a chart to force myself to train regularly.  With cycling, I’m already looking forward to my next ride as I’m washing the Fat Boy down and putting him away.

Friends. This virtual online internetty community of cyclists has been a bit of a revelation to me.  My blog has morphed from a random collection of my normal thoughts into a pretty cycling-centric affair, and the people who share it with me (that’s you lot) are a strong source of motivation and advice.  Out there in the real world of actual real stuff, the smiles from other cyclists, walkers, dog-poo-bag carriers and even fishermen are a regular reminder that the Daily Mail world of muggers, Tennents-drinking hoodies and rapists isn’t always around the next corner.  The world is mostly quite a nice place, with just a few idiots here and there.  Mostly we know where “here” and “there” are, so we can try avoid those places.

Finking Time. One of the greatest benefits of my Tuesday-night autopilot loop is the hour or so I get to be with myself.  Putting things into perspective; thinking through issues at work and at home; planning life from the saddle.  It’s a great state to be in, whizzing along the canalside without any distraction more worrying than someobody occasionally coming the other way to share a nod and a grin.  you just don’t get that kind of thinking time at home or at work.

So What?

There are more Silver Linings, but I’m in serious danger of putting you to sleep.  Suffice to say that, over the last few months, I’ve been enjoying my cycling more and more.  As my body has improved, the one challenge of managing my more efficient use of insulin has been outweighed by the better strength and stamina I’m able to draw on.

In turn, these have allowed me to enjoy the travelling, the views and the surroundings more.  I’m proud of my little photo album of stuff I see when out on the bike.  Some of the pictures will mean nothing to you, but they mean everything to me.  Have a look, tell me what you think.


Kiss Me Quick, Ride Me Slowly – #July150 Started

You’ve probably already read a few blogs about the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride on Sunday, so I’m just going to mention a few of my personal highlights and hope that you identify with them too.

Bumping Into Friends

Despite not quite meeting at the start as we’d planned, Jon of Riding The Moor fame arrived at the Standish rest stop just after I did.  His chat, his encouragement  and his Ibuprofen were very welcome for the next 25 miles or so.  As he contemplated heading off whilst I checked my blood sugars, Emma came over so we enjoyed a few minutes, then she bought me a brew as Jon buggered off.  I must say that it was the nicest brew I’ve had in a long time, and the company was good too!

My Diabetes.

I packed just 2 SIS gels and 2 Decathlon-special ceral choccy banana bars.  A good porridge breakfast at home was consumed and I didn’t test my sugar until my first break, 25 miles in at Standish.  It was  3.3 mmol/l (59.4 in American) – Whoops!  I hastily necked one of the gels and one of the bars with my litre of water.

At Preston, another 18 miles or so later, I tested again.  This time, 5.5 mmol/l (99 to our friends over the water).  Cool!  I may actually have found a system!  The final gel and cereal bar went down along with the brew Emma bought me.

So from now on, my secret is 20g CHO in gel form plus 29g CHO in complex form per 20 miles of hard riding.  Sorted.  I’ll work with it for few rides and let you know how it works.  Or how long I’m in the hospital for 😉

Not Getting Off.

There’s a steep hill just outside Kirkham, about 50 miles or so into the ride.  It’s not nice.  I managed it in 2nd gear.  Yes, second gear.  Normally that’s just too bloody spinnyto even contemplate, but on Sunday the granny ring was my friend.

On the front at Lytham, the wind was ridiculous.  I was actually buffeted.  Sometimes the windfeels a bit gusty but, bloody hell, the wind on Sunday was in fine form!  The only benefot was from a beaty point of view.  I mean, riding North along the coast meant that the skin on the left side of my face is now wonderfully exfoliated – ladies, take note!  If you ever want beautifully smooth skin, ride by the coast on a b*stard of a windy day!  Another half an hour of that and I’ve have looked like Skeletor.

Achieving A Goal.

It’s 9 years since i completed the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride.  On Sunday, it felt better than ever.  I’ve raised about £300 for the Hospice where my Mum and I said goodbye, and I’ve made some fantastic friends in the process of getting myself motivated to do it.  I’m proud of myself, my family are proud of me and my Mum would be proud too.

Thanks, all of you. Here’s the map.

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