Kanza training and Dirty Mudd’r [Race]

Last weekend I completed two really great long (sloooooooooooow) rides.

Journey to the Burbs

Journey to the Burbs

Saturday I left the house at 7:30 am to start my trek to Aurora, IL a suburb of Chicago.  Why ride to Aurora, you ask?  Well the American Diabetes Assoc. and Tour de Cure were meeting at the Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora and they were doing a TDC course preview ride which was also being filmed so they needed some extra people and I needed the miles so why not!  I secured a ride home of course!

I made my way through the city and caught the Des Plaines River Trail off of Irving Park near Schiller Woods.  It was very strange.  I was used to riding the DPR from Highland Park North to Wisconsin.  Anyway, this southern end was not quite as “glamorous” as the lovely gravel and groomed trails of the DPR north.  The trail grew very sketchy at parts and was not nearly as well marked.  As I approached the southernmost end near North Avenue I got lost in some “homemade” single track.  Per my Strava upload I am Queen of the “Secret single track” section of the trail.  I had to laugh at that considering I had no idea where I was.

I then jumped off the trail and headed towards River Forest where I was going to catch the Illinois Prairie Path and stay on that until, well, pretty much Aurora.  I headed along Thatcher Ave. where I was hoping to see my pal Chris from work and his two boys since I was riding right by his house but alas we mistimed each other and missed the opportunity.

From there I got a bit turned around as I was finding the IPP trailhead I finally found it and noted the cement and industrial surroundings, not exactly a picture perfect ride.  I also noticed the blue police boxes (no not the tardis) boxes with a direct dial to the police.  Hmmm, that can’t be a good sign.  The area Maywood is a bit notorious for being pretty ghetto.   I was definitely getting some looks, as I was all kitted out and on my Trek Superfly MTB complete with hydration pack.  Not really quite city material.

I followed the path and was getting super annoyed at all the road crossings which I had to stop and start at.  I also had to go the bathroom pretty bad, since I had planned on using Chris’ as a pit stop.  However, I didn’t think it would be very appropriate to stop in Maywood.  The further West I went the more little towns I passed, I even passed a couple of festivals.  Poor folks out there on such a chilly day!

I finally reached Elmhurst, the town where one of our VP’s at Navigant lives.  I stopped and emailed him a photo of the Elmhurst sign to say that I was passing through.  It was here that I found a very nice clean porta potty to use.  It was a close call.  I also noticed that as I continued west there were many people our picking up garbage.  I realized afterwards that it was a Volunteer clean-up day for the entire IPP!  As I kept going through all the little towns every section had people picking up garbage.  I felt somewhat guilty as I rode through and passed the garbage pickers.  I made sure I said thanks as I went.

Part of the route took me on the “Crazy Daves” half marathon.  The race is great.  Just a small group of friends getting together to run then drink and eat.  We also use it to share new or used gear that you may not use personally but someone else may use it.  I have picked up a few sweet pieces over the years.  This was actually the site of Tom’s first half marathon!

I quickly stopped and emailed Rosalyn Popham a picture say I was passing through.  It was sort of cool seeing all these places from a biking point of view.  It is also cool to tell your co-workers that you rode to their suburb… the look on their faces is priceless.  The mileage clicked on and finally I was on the home stretch to the roundhouse when I heard a car honk at me.  I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong but as it passed I got a cheery hello from Chris Navin who was driving out to do the ride also.  How funny that we both arrived at nearly the same time.

Saturday Ride Part 1

We got to Two Brothers just as the TDC committees were wrapping up.  We were lucky enough to snag some leftover brunch as well.  It tasted so good.

After eating and hanging out for a bit the group got organized and we took off.  There were about 5 of us in a smaller group up front then we picked up a few more as we went on.  We were with Tess and her mother who own Spin Doctor Cyclewerks bike shop.  Tess is a type 1 and races cyclocross, not bad for a kid!  At one point she stopped to test and was 90 with double arrows down.  I figured I’d test while I was there; well I was 80 with one arrow down.  We both decided to eat some glucose tablets and wait while we evened out.

We ended up completing a lovely 35 mile loop following the Fox River trail and the IPP.  It took us longer than we anticipated as we made sure that we kept the group together and that we all knew where we were going.  It was still an epic day of riding, albeit slow.

Saturday ride Part II

Tour de Cure Preview

Tour de Cure Preview

I arrived home at 6:30 unable to move and had to cancel going to a house warming party that night.

The next day arrived quickly, the Dirty Mudd’r was in Streator, IL and didn’t start until 10am so I left the house around 7am and drove 2 hours to the start.  I pulled in the lot and saw Mike my coach and then Eric another type 1 diabetic and who are both doing Kanza with me.  Eric had only been diagnosed about 2 years ago in his mid-50’s.  Last year he struggled a lot.  He was in a sense, rebelling against the disease and not treating it with the respect that he should.  He finally got some help this year and even got on a Dexcom.  He still is struggling with highs and lows but as I told him, we all do.  I offered whatever advice I could.  He had committed to sticking with me the entire race.  This guy is a cycling machine.  In order to “facilitate” me keeping up with him he rode his fatty bike.  Ha!

As we were all standing around waiting for the race to start it seemed like more and more layers were needed.  WE were freezing and it was windy!  Windier than hell!  Because my legs were fatigued from the 90 miles the day before I struggled, my back hurt and my too big bib shorts were biting my ass. At the first turn into the wind I thought I was going to cry, my legs were burning and I was barely moving, it was relentless.  There were certain stretches that went on for miles like that.  Even when we turned sideways to the wind it was treturous I’ve never been blown off the side of the road like I was that day.  The only thing that saved me was Eric keeping his promise to stick with me although it still felt horrendously hard it was somewhat alleviated by being able to draft off of him.  I don’t think I could have survived otherwise.  We stopped at the first aid station where we were treated to wonderful home baked cookies (the field for this race was small).  I told Eric I was testing, at first he refused to because he didn’t want to know.  My CGM showed 80 but I tested at 160 thank goodness.  I ate a cookie and mini-bolused.  I forced him to test because it was the only way he was going to learn, he was about 180 which he was pleased with. He is not on a pump so there wasn’t much he could have done anyway.

We also picked up another rider Bob; the three of us rode together the entire way while Eric pulled us into the wind.  We spent the time telling our race stories, talking about bikes and stories about giant lobster fishing in St. Marten (thanks Eric).  It was such a great day, I hardly thought about the gale force winds, except when we rounded corners and nearly got blasted into the fields!  The wind was a steady 30MPG with gusts of up to 45MPH, those gusts were killers.  There was literally no shelter, we were riding on gravel farm roads with absolutely no trees.   At some points the gravel turned deep and rocky.  I finally felt that I was actually going to finish as we stopped at the  2nd checkpoint had another cookie (I mini-bolused again due to bg of 200) and chatted with the volunteers as we watched lightening coming from the dark clouds over yonder. They all were pretty positive that it was moving “away” from us.

Well sure enough as we got within 10 miles from home and the roads became big giant mud puddles, it seemed to have poured just prior to us getting there.  We felt a few sprinkles off and on, then with about 5 miles to go they skies opened up and it poured, big giant hurting raindrops.  Luckily it had warmed up quite a bit.

We arrived back at the park where some of the remaining finishers were huddled below the one shelter.    Much to my delight there was an entire buffet of homemade food, made by the wives of the volunteers and race director.  I have never tasted anything so delightful.  I ate a huge baked potato with all the toppings – cheese, sour cream, chives, AND bacon!  I also had pulled pork, baked beans and chips.  It was soooooooooooo good.  I ended with the best piece of carrot cake  (which I later paid for) I have ever had in my life, it was made by the mother of the race director a sweet white haired lady.  It was amazeballs!  I may have gone overboard with my thank you’s to all of them.  So kudos to you Dirty Mudd’r  http://www.bikeiv.org/dirty_mudder.html for an awesome race and amazing post-race nom noms… all for $30!  What a steal.  The homebrew was also great the Belgium IPA was amazing. The final good news was that the HAWKS beat the BLUES and were moving on to the next round. YIPPEE!

Nuttin' for miles

Nuttin’ for miles

Still pouring, I headed back to the car to change and drive home.  I didn’t get home until after 7, another very long very tiring but very fulfilling day.  Oh and in case you were curious, in keeping with my slow riding this weekend out of the finishers I came in last!  Woo hoo!  But at least I finished!  Out of the 70 or so racing the 62 miler 41 finished.   Mike, my coach came in first! He also came in 2 hours ahead of me!  Unbelievable in those conditions.  But as he always reminds me Kanza is going to be a long slow race.

Dirty Mudd’r


For both rides I fueled with SKRATCH in my hydration bladder and Hammer Sustained Energy with Espresso gel mixed in for my liquid nutrition.  I also ate blocks here and there and of course the cookies at the race! I felt like my blood sugars were in good control during my rides.  I slowly digested the carb’s mini-bolused when necessary and cut my basils to about 75% overall I stuck in the 70-200 range which is good for me. I do however need to work on that post exercise bolus (i.e. remember to do it!).  For instance as I mentioned earlier paying for the carrot cake, the sugary goodness cream cheese frosting had me posting a 390 on the way home!

The other problem was the following day I could not get my blood sugar below 200!  I kept giving myself more and more insulin.  I finally refilled my pump with fresh insulin which did the job.  I guess I never thought about it before but my pump is buried in layers of shirts for the race and is being jostled about.  Between the heat and the jiggling I’m sure the insulin probably had lost some of its potency! Good thing to keep in mind.

Tonight I get packed and ready for VQ Base Camp 2014!!  Can’t wait, although of course the weather for our first day is expected to be rainy and 45… ugh.  Day 1 we ride to Lake Geneva from Highland Park, Days 2-3 we ride out there then on Day 4 we ride back to Highland Park.  Packing for this thing is going to be tough with the flux in temps and conditions.  Also, last year I brought only 1 kit and used the Robbie snail/reverse snail method of washing it every day.  I am reposting this video because it always cracks me up.  Snail/Reverse Snail I think this time I will treat myself to two kits.


About Gillian

I am a type 1 diabetic diagnosed at the age of 30. I run marathons, participate in bike races , ironman triathlons and everything in between.
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