Bike Camp and Kanza practice run


Last week/weekend I did a 4 day cycling camp.    This was my second year doing the local Vision Quest camp and  I enjoyed it every bit as much as the first year.    Thursday to Sunday all I did was ride, eat and sleep with some socializing in between.  Vision Quest  provides support for the rides so there is never any worry about running into problems such as flats or running out of food, which is huge for me.  If you need a good way to improve your fitness this is a great way to do it.  Here are some highlights:

DAY 1 – 4.5 hour sufferfest – 70 miles

Day 1 probably goes down as one of the hardest rides in history.  It was windy, cold (like low 40’s cold) and it poured rain.  My feet and hands froze.  I was miserable.  My blood sugar went low because I had forgotten to lower my basil which eventually caused me to get dropped from my group.   I think my rainproof shoe covers were holding in all the cold water in my feet because they never warmed up and I could feel the water sloshing around. I also suffered from some low back pain which I think was a result of the high resistance against the wind. Not sure what else to say other than that I suffered through it and I finished.

Day 1 Strava



Day 2  – fun hilly loops – 94 miles

Another cold (low 40’s) and windy day but not rainy and I got moved to a different group. The new group was a few fun women who I enjoy cycling with, still a bit hard to take to get moved.  We rode 20 odd miles  then did a cool little 6 mile loop that had a bunch of little hills.  I did 4 but wanted to do more.  When I got back to the hotel I ventured out on my own and did a 22 mile loop of Lake Geneva.  I do like riding in groups but sometimes it’s just nice to get out on your own.  My BG’s were running a little high to start but a quick 0.3 units of insulin fixed that.

Day 2 Strava



Day 3 – Out and back and another loop of the lake – 82 miles

This was another windy day but at least a bit warmer (low 50’s).  We rode out with the wind at our backs then got pulled all the way home by one of the coaches.  Needless to say I had plenty left in the tank to do another loop of the lake. My BG’s  were great today!  I pushed it on the loop and sprinted a little on the hills as I was nearing the end of the loop I met up with Dan again. He “forced” me to do sprints at the end.  I seriously thought I was going to die trying to keep up with him.  My watts were definitely being maxed out and matches were being burned.  I got back to the hotel and it took at least 5 minutes to catch my heaving breath.  It’s always fun to push yourself more than you think you can go.

Day 3 Strava



Day 4 – Ride home to Highland Park 70 miles

Today was a bit cooler again (mid 40’s) with a bit less wind.  I started off with my legs feeling lead.  I was definitely feeling the 3 days and the sprinting from yesterday.   The start of this ride is very hilly and as the girls cycled ahead I took it very easy up the hills and was definitely the slowest off the mark.  I even fell off the back for a while and they had to wait for me.  Once I warmed up I felt much better and even pulled a lot of the way.  I find it just takes me a good while to warm up and I just need to go my own pace even if I risk being dropped. Before we knew it we were at the same aid station where I’d shed a few tears on the first day.  How amazing it was that to be there and feel so good.  I was really happy and my BG’s were great all day.

Day 4 Strava



Although Day 1 and 2 started a little rough with my blood sugars Day’s 3 and 4 were great.  I was really happy with my nutrition management for the most part. I definitely didn’t track all my carbs because I ate the PBJ or Nutella  half sandwiches at the aid stations and the bags of chips.  Essentially I carried my hydration pack with 3L of skratch, knowing that I’d be carrying this load and more for Kanza.  I carried a bottle with liquid nutrition – sustained energy and espresso gel and another bottle with water.  I also ate shot blocks as needed.

This week I took it pretty easy to let my legs recover.  Sunday I have a big day planned.  I’m packing up my pack with spare tubes, tools, gels, bars and water to simulate Kanza and I’m going to try to attach my map holder I got from REI. Kanza is marked but you are told not to rely on the markings, most of the blogs I have read, describe people getting lost and I can’t afford to get lost, they are providing gps files this year but who knows if my garmin will last 20 hours. I am also trying out 3 new things on this ride for comfort:

  1. I put my road bike saddle on my MTB.  I had been experiencing some chafing in the nether regions so thought for these gravel rides my road saddle might work better.  My road bike felt pretty comfy at camp.
  2. I’m trying a new brand of chamois crème made by Mad Alchemy. (Thanks to Scully and Becky)
  3. I bought a size small in my bib shorts.  I had been wearing a medium mens which I bought by mistake so want to try the small.
New Chamois Creme

New Chamois Creme

This seems like a lot and I won’t need to carry this much with me on the race because I’ll have support every 50 miles to refill but I’m carrying the following:

food for long ride

food for long ride

5 packs of blocks

1 Sustained Energy packet and 1 in a bottle premixed with espresso gel.

2 extra servings of espresso gel (for the second bottle of sustained energy mix).

2 MOJO bars

2 Tanka bars which I’m trying out because I read that beef jerky makes a good protein and salty snack.  I want to see if I actually ever would feel like eating this on a long ride.  The Tanka bars are nitrite, antibiotic and hormone free so I don’t feel like I’m eating a pure crap. I’ve never had them and just want to try them. (I’m not normally a jerky fan).

Tanka Bars!

Tanka Bars!

8 glucose tablet just in case my sugar tanks (hopefully won’t need)

3 Skratch refills for the bladder (will probably only need 2)

That is a shitload of carbs and I won’t need it all tomorrow but you never know.

I plan on filling up my camel back at VQ in Highland Park going out and back which is about 30 miles into the ride.

If nothing else it should give me good mental training riding  on my own and we may get T-Storm as well just a little added bonus.




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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