Riding SOLO as a Type II Diabetic


Diabetes mellitus type 2 (formerly noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes) is a metabolic disorder that is characterized by hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) in the context of insulin resistance and relative lack of insulin.[2]

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The development of type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors.[8][10] While some of these factors are under personal control, such as diet and obesity, other factors are not, such as increasing age, female gender, and genetics.[4] A lack of sleep has been linked to type 2 diabetes.[11]

 I was diagnosed in 2007 after a colleague of mine put two and two together after I would complain that every night between 2000-2100 hrs I would have a screaming headache.  She recommended I eat an apple with some peanut butter because Tylenol would not help.  I used to say “I think I have a brain tumour.”  Went to my GP and voila, after some blood work…diabetes it was.

For me I think weight has played a factor in getting diabetes but I also have a chronic sleep disorder and the more I think about the fact there is diabetes in my family, in combination with sleeping about 4-5 hours a night…I am not surprise I have this PITA disease.  I am on Metformin and have to monitor my blood sugars daily.

My Routine on this next trip will be:

1. I will carry my glucose monitor, and cellphone and spare sugar on my physical person and I will not put them in my panniers. Why? Because if I crash, get separated from the bike or incapacitated I may not be able to retrieve them from the bike. Having them in my gear is the best course.

2. If, while riding, ITHINK I am in trouble I will Stop immediately and check my sugars.

3. I will try to ensure I eat a decent breakfast every morning before I ride.  Protein and some carbs.

I like Cliff Bars and I heard that Jolly Ranchers for sugar on a ride are good to have because they are heat-resistant and have excellent shelf life. Cliff Bars are nice because they have longer term effects.  Trail Mix, beef jerky , peanut butter crackers, cheese are also things I will try to always have with me throughout the trip.

It will be very important for me to be self-aware and be proactive instead of reactive. Checking my glucose frequently will be habit on this trip, I got a hydro pack from KLIM to ensure I stay hydrated, and I will stop and take a longer breaks if I need to.

Self awareness, self-care all mean staying alert on the bike.  One of the draw backs of being a diabetic is that at times it is hard to differentiate between being tired or having low blood sugars.  If it is low sugars I could black out.  I did once in 2010 heading across country in South Dakota.  Was doing about 120 Km/hour and I felt my arms go flaccid.  We were on a graded paved road, it was hot, we did not eat a good breakfast and I literally lost consciousness while flying down the highway.  I woke up only to realize I had no control of my, at the time 2010 BMW F650GS.  I saw the very large grass median to my left, I was in the fast lane and thought to myself if I am going to crash I would lay the bike down on the grass and just slide.  However, I blacked out again and woke up on the shoulder on my bike, my hand on had the clutched pulled in and I was still in 6th gear.  Cheryl said she was screaming into the intercom and honking her horn to wake me but with no success.  I did not have my glucose monitor on me but I was shaking all over, barely got off my bike and I drank about a litre of water, ate trail mix and felt so much better.

This never happened again on any of my trips.  I have learned my lesson and on this solo trip will take my health not for granted.  I am not telling this story to worry the crap out of my family or friends…I am revealing this as I did in the ride report I wrote back in 2010 to not only remind myself but to let all diabetic riders out there know it’s important we eat, and pay even that more attention to our bodies than non diabetics.

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So, I will take my own advise this trip, I can’t rely on another so rest assure I am going to practise due care.  Over the next few weeks I will continue to work out, get into long distance riding shape.  Believe it or not working out actually helps your ass in the saddle.  :-)

Life takes its turns and this trip is about me relying on myself after being in a partnership for 17 years.  I need to prove to myself I can do this and enjoy my passion for adventure riding.  Looking forward to trying to hook up with some readers of this blog and face book page too.  I am trying to keep a journal with all the offers, names and locations.  I will have a SPOT Connect with me on tracking as well.  I will post a link to my SpotWalla page that will show where I am every 10 mins.  This is fun to watch, at least for me when others have tracking but also serves a purpose to stay connected to family/friends throughout the trip.

Solo riding as a type II diabetic…it can be done. ;-)

12 thoughts on “Riding SOLO as a Type II Diabetic

  1. Very good Leslie-keep on riding for as long as you can.
    Do you know if you have to inform your insurance company of your condition? i.e. non disclosure? might affect policy/premium?

  2. We took a trip with a fellow who is diabetic. His key was eating regular timed meals and rest. When my wife and I travel we have a mantra of “No interstates and no chains” 500 km or 5 pm. That is our maximum for the day. Sometimes we break our own rules, but for the most part we get where we are going, we are rested and our evening meal is not rushed and allowed to digest before sleeping. It also allows us to take a walk or get some exercise and just stop and smell the roses.

  3. Great suggestions. I’m also type 2 and almost always ride solo. As you said, “self awareness, self care” is key as well as keeping well hydrated and managing food. On my month long solo trip as well as my trip to Africa, at the suggestion of my doctor, skipped on the injectable med that requires refrigeration and focused carefully on diet and exercise and checking my glucose level regularly. No problems on either month long trip. But I must admit that the meds sure make things simpler.

    My wife really liked me having the Spot tracker and would occasionally call if I forgot to send an “OK” when stopping by the side of the road. I’m sure you will do just fine as you are aware of the symptoms and issues. Many try to pretend that it doesn’t exist…

  4. What is wonderful, you don’t let something like your medical condition restrict your life. You embrace it and make adjustments to continue your life and passions.

    Like you, I have a medical condition (Neurological) that requires medication and awareness. Last September I made the mistake of not paying the attention I should have. I was so caught up with what I was doing and hadn’t since mid day, the day before. Not remembering to eat has been a life long issue and well known by my family and those that travel with me. Coupled with I had not taken my medication, as it needs to be done with food and 102*F temperature, what I was thinking was a beautiful ride across the hills of central Kansas, turned very quickly in a life threatening event. Luckily there were other people that saw me go down, on this 2 Lane paved county Road. In my mind, I was having a beautiful time and the next thing I remember is waking up in a MRI machine in the local hospital. I had blacked out, at 55 MPH, on my BMW GS1200R Adventure. It destroyed the bike and I had numerous broken bones and dislocations. Being unconscious, at the time I went down, probably saved me from more serious injuries.

    After not riding for 94 days, I began riding with a new awareness, a new Adventure Bike, extra food, meds and water with me at all times. Thank you, Leslie, for helping to get the word out, how it is important to stay on top of your health and fatigue level.

    Travel safe and stay aware.

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