Seattle Tour de Cure, May 22, 2010

This has been the coldest, rainiest May in Seattle that I can remember. The forecast for May 22nd and the Tour de Cure was “mostly cloudy with a 30% chance of rain,” which is the forecast for Seattle almost 90% of the time. I haven’t done the math but I think that means that it generally rains in Seattle about 27% of the time. Anyway, I awoke at 5 AM on Saturday to gray skies. I had a quick cup of coffee, loaded my bike in the car and drove to my sister’s house, 5 miles from the start/finish line. The thermometer in the car said it was 44 degrees outside. My blood-glucose level was at about 155 mg/dl. I wore a long sleeve undershirt, my short-sleeve “Red Rider” jersey (signifying that I am a rider with diabetes), and a lightweight vest. I rode to the start area and saw there were 20-30 other riders getting ready to start the century ride. I met my friend Eric, and we rode to the official start line.

Eric, who has Type 2 diabetes, agreed that we should try to be the first Red Riders to finish the event. I saw only 2 other Red Riders at the start line so I figured that unless some incredibly speedy rider started out behind us we had a good chance of meeting that goal. The century ride is not a race, but as I like to say, anytime you get on a bike you set a challenge or a goal, and it becomes a race. When the gun sounded for the 30 riders at the start, one of the other Red Riders took off as hard as he could, and he ran a red light at the major intersection as we left Marymoor Park in order to get a lead on the group. We all rode together in a peloton and eventually caught up to this guy. Looks like we had some competition. We hit the first rest stop at about 20 miles. Red Rider guy zipped past while most of us stopped. Everyone frantically grabbed food and water and continued on. I am used to getting off the bike, checking my blood glucose, taking a pee, stretching a little, and so on, spending no more than 10 minutes at a stop. This lead group was determined to spend no more than 30 seconds. And if this solo RR guy with diabetes wanted to ride for more than an hour straight without checking on his blood-glucose level or eating any carbs, more power to him.

After a few more miles we passed the solo Red Rider guy on a hill. Eric and I conserved our energy and took turns pulling. The sun came out for a few minutes, then the drizzle returned. At the 50-mile mark we were in the top 5 riders overall, and the rest stop volunteers in Granite Falls saw their first riders when we rolled in. We took our time grabbing food and drink, and as we turned back on the course we saw the solo RR guy show up. Eric and I rode along for several miles before realizing we had taken a wrong turn, so we had to turn around and ride the way we came to get back on the route. This added another 10 miles and about ½ hour. So we were completely out of contention for the Red Rider or overall “win” at that point. After several more miles we looped back in with the main route that included riders doing 70 miles or 45 miles, so now we didn’t know how far back we were. I was still wet and a little chilled. Oh well. But most importantly my blood-glucose levels were great. After the first hour of riding I lowered the basal rate on my insulin pump to 1/2 of normal. I ate about 60g of carbohydrates at each rest stop but didn’t take insulin to cover the carbs, because at this point I knew that exercise had made me extremely sensitive to insulin and I was burning up most of the carbs with exercise anyway. Normally I would take about 4 units of insulin to cover 60g of carbs, but today I didn’t need anything. My CGM was in my back pocket and wasn't beeping at me that I was high or low - it was a great day for my bg control.

As we headed south along the Carnation valley, we hit a chilly headwind. We passed lots of riders along the way. As we took the turn on Woodinville-Duvall road, the black clouds above us opened up, and a torrential downpour caused rain to bounce off the ground. Some riders got off their bikes and cowered below the evergreen trees to avoid the rain. This was the steepest part of the ride, and the heavy rain made it a struggle. A SAG wagon crept up the hill and I saw that it was already full, with 3 or 4 bikes hanging off a rack on the back and soggy riders crammed into the back seats. No way we were stopping now. The rain suddenly stopped, and the sun came out. Steam rose from the roadway and made for an eerie scene as we summated the Sammamish plateau. Once on top, it was a thrilling descent back down to Marymoor Park. Eric and I finished in 5 hours 55 minutes for 110 miles, which isn’t very fast but not bad considering the conditions. I have attached a photo taken at some point in the route, probably when I was pulling up at a rest stop. The weather was miserable; I don’t remember smiling once during the ride but the camera caught me during a relatively dry part of the day, I guess. The route was beautiful and didn't have a lot of traffic (maybe drivers have enough sense to stay indoors during rain like this.)

The finish line area was sunny, and riders who had already finished the 12-mile or 45-mile rides milled about. I felt like I had just descended from Mt. Everest, and here everyone walked around like they were on a beach. Did anyone else get poured on? Did anyone there just ride 100 miles through a monsoon? I was glad to be finished. We never saw the solo RR guy, but I am certain he finished and probably left before we arrived. Actually, he was so set on winning this thing that I’ll be he went crazy trying to catch up with us after the 50-mile rest stop, not knowing that we had taken a wrong turn. He might have been one of the guys cowering under the trees on the hill.

I chatted with Eric and some other people I knew, then took some insulin and had lunch at the finish. I hopped back on the bike for a slooow 5-mile spin back to my sister’s house. Fortunately she had left a door open so I went in and took a warm shower and changed clothes before driving home. My bg level dropped a bit and stayed low for several hours as I restored my lost glycogen levels after the intense ride.

Tour de Cure 2010 is in done. Next ride – June 12th, the Flying Wheels century that also starts at Marymoor Park. I plan to meet up with a group of riders from the Northwest Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) ride team, some of whom have Type 1 diabetes and are strong riders. I have trained with this group before. I’ll wear my JDRF jersey rather than my Red Rider jersey this time, and it looks like there could be another competition ahead of me. So long as I keep my bg in control, stay on course and don’t take any wrong turns, I should be ok.

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Tags: Cure, Tour, bicycling, de

Comment by Les on May 30, 2010 at 11:59am
Good on ya. Having grown up in the Pacific NW and had a stay in Bremerton, familiar with weather variations. Appreciate your tour de cure effort. My son is an active participant here in Virginia. He started a team when I became type 2 a few years ago. Don't think I can make a hundred but would like to do a shorter one.
Comment by Mo Bishop on May 30, 2010 at 6:32pm
Great Job! I too am a Red Rider in SoCal. I did the "long" 61 mile ride here on May 2nd (after ride a century the day before with nasty headwinds the last 50). I wish I had as good of memory of the ride as you have accounted. I crashed at mile 50, but finished the ride with a bloody leg and sore ribs.

Thank you for the great account of your ride and the reminder there are good ride and no so good rides. Besides, 5 hours 55 minutes taking into account stop lights, climbing Sammamish, and the pits is pretty darn good time!

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