130 Mile Race Practice Ride

I did it!  I rode to Wisconsin and back which also happened to be my practice ride for Dirty Kanza http://www.dirtykanza200.com/ .   My race is fast approaching (less than 3 weeks!) and I wanted to test out a few things with my nutrition and set-up to see how I would feel over 100 plus miles of riding. Plus, I’ve always wanted to cycle the route I chose.  It was win win.

I didn’t really do anything special the night before and I ate my usual pre-race breakfast of low carb whole wheat toast with almond butter and banana.  I still felt a bit peckish so I had a second banana with almond butter.  I ate about 90 minutes before heading out so bolused for about half of the carbs.

I rolled out of my house at 7:30 am. I packed up my Osprey Synchro 10 hydration pack for the day and had mapped out stops to refill the bladder.  I wished I had weighed it.  I also added a seat bag with one spare tube and tools and I added a bento box on the top tube for things I’d need to access often and easily on the ride such as my nutrition and my dexcom.  I also had a waterproof map holder attached to my handlebars.  Although Kanza will be marked they say not to count on the markings. So I was as close to race day set up as I could be minus new tires. I should have taken a picture.

Here is a pic of my food that was packed in my bag.  In addition I had a bottle with Hammer sustained energy and espresso gel.  I call it my Latte.

Thats a lot of food!

Thats a lot of food!

I was trying 3 new things with my set up: new shorts; new chamois crème and my road bike seat on the MTB.  Well I’m happy to report it worked!  I’m not sure which made it better, I suspect the shorts but the pain level in my girly parts was reduced by 90%.  If I had only known that I didn’t need to suffer so much!  I would have done this long ago.  I am so pleased!!

Unlike most of my rides this year the temperature was warm enough to wear a bike jersey and shorts with no warmers or toe covers.  This will be good practice for Kanza since I am expecting a lot of heat and wind.

The ride was 128 miles and just under 10 hours.  Here is my Strava link Strava File. I was also pretty pleased with my blood sugar levels.  Here are my dexcom readings:

dexcom readings

dexcom readings

Miles 1-10 Home to North Branch Trail

Miles 1-10 are through the city to the North Branch Trail head.  I hadn’t planned on stopping until I got to Highland Park.  Approximately 30 miles or so; however by the time I got to the trail I had to use the restroom. Not off to a good start.  It takes time to take off my pack and my jersey hit the bathroom then put everything back on again! As I’m riding I’m taking an inventory of what hurts and doesn’t hurt.  Nothing yet.

Miles 10-22 North Branch Trail to Botanical Gardens

Miles 10-22 took me through the North Branch Trail of which about 70% was gravel or dirt on the horse trail.  I was feeling good and was enjoying the ride and the weather.  I munched on a few blocks, sipped on the sustained energy mixture and sipped on my skratch.  Mile 22 brings me to the Botanical Gardens in Highland Park on previous rides I usually stop here to use the bathrooms.  Turns out today was no different, again my bladder was full.  I wasn’t sure if I was drinking too much or not sweating enough but it was annoying. I took the opportunity to test my sugar.  I was over 200 probably from the extra banana at breakfast.  I mini-bolused 0.3 units and cancelled my temporary basil.  I started to panic a bit because I realized I forgot to pack a syringe and insulin for emergencies! Of all things to forget!  I thought maybe I bumped my insertion site before leaving and it somehow got dislodged.  Still nothing hurts.

Miles 23-50 Botanical Gardens to Independence Grove (Checkpoint 1)

Miles 23-50 as I passed where I had originally planned on stopping at VQ Highland Park I felt like I had to use the bathroom again however I opted not to stop this time since I had already stopped twice and at Kanza the first check point is at 50.  I decided I’d stop at one of the parks on the route (independence grove) that I knew had a nice comfort station and water.   The path takes you through some nice wooded areas on gravel.  I was enjoying the ride immensely and noticed how extremely comfortable my new shorts were. I was amazed that I had gone so long wearing what I call torture chambers (or Mediums) on my rides when I could have been riding with so much less pain.  As I kept riding my full bladder was getting very uncomfortable.  I had taken a side route off the main dpr trail for a change of scenery and I as I was approaching the 50 mile mark I started to get worried that the side route took me past my comfort station but just as I was losing hope I turned a corner and there it was.   I got off and did my business and ate my first MOJO bar.  It tasted so good; I had felt a bit hungry earlier.  I refilled my hydration bladder which was almost empty and added another serving of Skratch.  I didn’t change out my sustained energy bottle because it was still half full and I really just use it to supplement my other nutrition.  I also tested again 103!  The mini bolus worked. WHEW!   I put the temp basil back on at 70% this time.  I am still feeling good at this point.

Miles 50-64     Independence Grove to Northern end of Des Plaines River Trail

Miles 50 – 64 I rolled out and was determined to ride the next 50 miles without stopping.  From here it was about 15 miles to the end of the DPR at the border of WI and IL.  Sure enough I arrived at the end of the path and felt that familiar pang of a full bladder.  I was really starting to think that I was drinking too much but I guess better too much than too little?  Rather than face the next 30+ miles in discomfort I just stopped and went, trying to be speedy about it.  My BG had been dipping slightly so I tried to up the # of blocks I was eating.  I’m starting to feel slight tension in my upper neck and back.


Miles 64-100 Des Plaines River Trail to Vision Quest Highland Park (checkpoint 2)

Miles 64-100 I calculated that if I rode all the way back to VQ Highland Park it would be fairly close to 100 which would be checkpoint 2 of the race.  I really wanted to get a feel for riding that far then having to get back on my bike for another 50.  Would it hurt?  I was still amazed at my comfort level.  As I approached mile 80 ish I started to get hungry again.  The blocks were not cutting it so I dug out my 2nd Mojo bar and ate half.  I noticed that my legs were started to feel a bit stressed.  My neck and upper back were really screaming at me.   I ate the Tandra bar.  The Tandra bar was good and it was nice to not eat something sweet for a change but it was hard to wash it down with Skratch, a nice cold coke would have it the spot!   Upper neck and back pretty sore but no low back pain which was great.  I kept trying to shift my hands in order to change my position.  My hands were starting to feel a bit sore from the constant bumping.

At mile 100 I pulled into  VQ, I was happy that I did the last leg without stopping.  I refilled the bladder again, this time with 2 servings of Skratch, I was worried that my 1-serving blend didn’t have enough electrolytes.  I lubed up my chain as it was pretty dry and squeaky.  I ate the last half of my MOJO bar and felt like I could really have used something else.  I also refilled my nutrition bottle this time I mixed the sustained energy with heed tangerine (I call it my creamsicle ) . My stop was probably a bit too long but figured during the race I’d have the bottles pre-made and a spare hydration bladder that I would have Tom pre-fill for me at each checkpoint.

Miles 100 – 128 Vision Quest Highland Park to home

Miles 100 – 128 as I headed out again my legs were pretty sore, in hopes that the protein would help I ate my last Tandra bar, which was still pretty appealing at that time.    I also noticed that although my new shorts were great on my nether regions I started to get a pain in my leg where the band is at the bottom.  I can only describe it as the feeling you get when you have elastic around your wrist that is too tight.  I’m not sure if my legs were just swelling or what but it was pretty uncomfortable.  I hope that in the next few weeks I can stretch the band out a bit.  Even now, 24 hours later that section of the leg feels a bit bruised where the band sat.  As I was approaching the 120 mile mark I really went down I could hear my dexom beeping from within my bento box I assumed I was going low again so I drank some more of my creamsicle sustained energy mix which pick me up a bit, as it turns out I was beeping because I was over 200. I always forget that I have my basil set to drop from 0.75 units /hr to 0.5 units per hour at 3 pm every day for my usual commute home from work.  So even on weekends when I’m not commuting it drops.  I need to set up a different basil pattern for weekends.   I pulled into my garage in just under 10 hours from the time I left.

Overall, considering the length of the ride, I felt pretty good just stiffness in my upper back and neck.  I immediately made a recovery shake to replenish my glycogen stores. I made it with Hammer Recoverite, protein powder, a banana, water and ice, almond butter and some spinach.  I bolused 5 units for my 246 bg and 40 g of carbs which in hindsight was probably on the light side.  After I showered my body went downhill I was having trouble moving and staying still I couldn’t get comfortable everything seemed to be throbbing.  I don’t usually take medication but I took two Advil because I really felt inflamed.  My post exercise blood sugar was not going down even after my meal bolus so I changed my reservoir knowing that the insulin that was currently in the reservoir was probably cooked from being out all day. I’ve starting to make a habit of doing this after any long training/race day.

All in all, I felt I had the other 20 miles left in me to get to the third checkpoint of the “race”.  I figured if I can make it to the 3rd and last checkpoint I can certainly pull the last 50 miles off even if it’s hell.

I do need to consider that Kanza will likely be more windy than yesterday and will be pretty much all on gravel so not completely apples to apples.

Here are the #’s of what I consumed which seems reasonable but I may want to add in a bit more protein.  I also drank about 9 litres or 300 oz of water with the skratch below.

Totals per Hour

Totals per Hour



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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4 Responses to 130 Mile Race Practice Ride

  1. scully says:

    This was highly educational and entertaining. I’m very interested in how other d-folks manage this bitch especially with regards to exercising. Long endurance exercise.
    It’s so hard with diabetes in tow – it changes everything. Good job on all of your efforts, you made out perfect! You hydrate and take nutrition in way more than me (I’m terrible at it). Which is why you finished feeling mostly okay and why I finish long rides cramped and achy. I should learn from you. Awesome JOB! can’t wait for the race report!

    • gillian4020 says:

      Thanks Scully! I know you have issues with food so that probably doesn’t help! It helps having trained for Ironman. You learn quick that there is NO WAY IN HELL you can run a marathon after 112 miles of biking if you don’t eat and drink!

  2. nldiabetic says:

    Great trip report! Thanks for finding my blog – I love reading about other active diabetics, and I hope we can trade some war stories as we learn this. Especially thank you for sharing your Dexcom dump!

    For endurance rides in heat, maybe try a frio pack to keep your insulin from cooking? It would be a bit more weight though. In hind sight, I did centuries in 100F weather, and all day climbing in the same and never changed my reservoir. Good tip! You learn something new every day! I look forward to more of your posts.

    • gillian4020 says:

      I agree! I found you on the diabetes blog week list! I will definitely use my frio for the race. I didn’t even remember spare insulin on my long ride this time… sometimes I wonder where my head is at! Glad to have found you!

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