My First “Red Rider” Experience: Part 2 – GO RED RIDER!

You can check out Part 1 here: My First “Red Rider” Experience: Part 1

Even though it was pretty early in the morning, around 7:30 AM or so, the park was very busy.  Tons of people and tons of bikes, all getting ready to ride for us, those living with diabetes.  I got pretty emotional.  But I was also excited, and so very gracious.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs self-conscious as I was after trying on my Red Rider jersey the night before (seeing belly hanging out below the largest shirt they MAKE does wonders for your self-esteem…), all of the worry melted away as soon as I got to the park.

There were tons of people, everyone was there to support all of us with the Red Rider jerseys.  Nobody paid any attention to how the shirt fit.

Here’s a picture of Auntly H and I, early in the morning, before the ride started.  I am forever grateful to Auntly H for getting me back on my bike after over a decade of not riding.  I will be blogging my thanks to her forever,  and just you wait until we complete the 62 mile ride in two years!  We might have to throw a party!

The weather was threatening rain, so we spent a few minutes putting baggies on all of the things that couldn’t get wet (BG meters, Dexcom receivers, car keys, wallet, phone, etc).  I understand that rain is a recurring theme with the Pancremaniacs, so my group was well practiced with the whole baggy exercise.

Image of Scott with his cycling helmet onBefore you knew it, we were pedaling away!  It was really something special, to see a big stream of people cycling along, many Red Rider jerseys, and even more friends and family.

I couldn’t help but to grin.  I was having fun riding, but the atmosphere put it over the edge.  I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face for the whole day.

Every time we saw a Red Rider jersey, we shouted “Go Red Rider!”, and every time other riders in the tour saw Auntly H and I in our Red Rider jerseys, they belted out the battle cry too.  It was really something special that boosted the energy of the ride.  You can check out the story behind the whole “Red Rider” movement in Part 1.  It’s really a powerful story from a powerful woman.

It wasn’t long before we were cooking along at a pretty good pace.  I had to start breathing through my mouth, which meant that I sucked down at least one bug along the way.  After that first bug I told Auntly H that we should keep a tally of swallowed bugs.

Just after the halfway point, we were flying down a hill, and Auntly H screamed out because a bug flew right into her eye!  After we made sure she was alright, I told her a bug in the eye does not count towards the end-ride total bug-swallow tally.  Unfortunately for the entertainment value of it all, I only swallowed one bug (that I know of).

Minneapolis Skyline from Stone Arch Bridge

I really enjoyed the route, and got to see some parts of Minneapolis that I’ve never seen before.  I also really enjoyed a lot of the views and perspectives of parts of Minneapolis that I am familiar with.  The picture above shows us riding across the Stone Arch Bridge, which goes over the Mississippi River, heading towards downtown Minneapolis.

I rode most of the way with Jim, Auntly H‘s dad.  He was an awesome riding partner.  This guy bikes to work, about 4 miles each way he said.  Even in winter.  That makes him a hardcore, badass biker dude.  He was a really great guy, and I’m glad that I had a chance to get to know him a little bit.

A great example of Jim is the Franklin Avenue hill.  This is a hill that seems (to the uninitiated, like me) to go forever.  Auntly H and another Pancremaniac were in front of us, and they just blasted right up the hill.  As I was pushing to get up the hill, Jim was behind me saying “take your time, you’re not in a race”.  Which was a perfect message for me to hear as I watch half of my riding group zip off towards the horizon.

Once we got up to the top of the hill, it took me a little while to recover.  When I was ready, I told Jim “Okay, I’m ready to kick it down and catch up to them”.  We started cranking away, and before you knew it we had almost caught up to them.  As we got closer, Jim said “you know what would be funny?  If we just blew right past them!”.  I thought that was a funny idea, so we did!  As we passed them, Jim turned to his daughter and said “eat my dust Red Rider!”, and all of us cracked up.

Image of Scott and Heather after the rideThe ride was over a little too soon for me.  We took on the 25 mile course, which was actually 28 miles.  We’re going to go ahead and call that 30 miles of biking.  We kicked ass.  This picture is Auntly H and I after finishing the ride.

I felt great.  We’re riding the 45 mile course next year, and the 62 mile course the year after that.  I’ll need a lot of training, and for the long course in two years I’ll need a road bike (versus the modified mountain bike I rode this year).

But I’m excited for all of the training rides, I’m excited about the idea of being out on the ride for a little longer next year, and I’m excited about rewarding myself with a new bike in a couple of years.

By the graces of the diabetes gods, my blood sugars were pretty good for most of the ride.  I had a bit of a pre-ride anxiety spike, but it fell into line pretty quick.  I was able to keep it pretty steady by eating a little bit at each of the rest stops, which seemed to work out almost perfectly. I ended up running a little low after the ride, which you
can see in the graph too.  My CGM was reading WAY high during the spike early in the ride – it read 363 mg/dl when my BG test was 195 mg/dl.  I knew I wasn’t that high, because I’ve experienced the SUCK of exercising with a blood sugar that high. I was feeling pretty good, so I knew the sensor was reading way high.

Image of dexcom seven graph during ride

You can see where I entered my blood sugar into it, and the graph line snapped right to where it should have been, and it tracked very accurately for the rest of the ride.

We had a team dinner that evening, which was also fabulous.  Below is a picture of the three Pancremaniac Red Riders for 2010.  Gary, on the right, rode the 62 mile course.  Go Gary!

The Three Pancremaniac Red Riders

At dinner Jim was talking about how cycling is an exercise that is
relatively gentle and easy on your body.  From what I can tell, he was right.  The next day I felt great.  I was not sore, my joints did not hurt (like they sometimes do after basketball). My muscles were “worked”, but not hurting.  I even got on my bike, twice, to ride around the neighborhood with the kids.  The next day (Monday), I went out and pedaled for another 12.7 miles.

I am loving it.

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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate, and Senior Community Manager at Blue Circle Health. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent my employer’s position. Read more…

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