The dreaded virus and start of winter training

Its been a little tough and frustrating over the last two weeks. It was two weeks ago since me and Charlie went on a ride together. Two long whole weeks !

As I mentioned previously I picked up this cold – virus thing and it has dragged on. Normaly after a couple of days I am good to go, but not this time.

Not only me but half of work and my wife Jo, and no.1 step son have been suffering. It got to a point last weekend that we both ended up ill at the same time which is very unusual. We ended up have several zombie days were we basically lurched around the house with no purpose in a trance like state. Jo had a couple of bad days and then like magic she recovered. I could certainly tell as all of a sudden purpose was resumed and she started playing with her favourite toy called Dyson, my favourite to add a little balance is the induction hob, its all mine!

As off today I feel much better got a once in a while bark but I do feel a lot better, it just seems us transplant folk take a little while longer to get better. Main thing I think is rest and with todays modern society it can be difficult.

Anyway some time ago I met a chap in Tesco who was doing a cycling challenge for charity and his group were riding Sheffield to London on a virtual turbo trainer. He had a large map behind him showing his progress and when he hit hills the turbo gets harder and replicated the power required.

I was rather impressed I spent 10 mins talking to the guy and he said he only recently started training and just done a 25 miles ride on the road, and now he was doing Sheffield to London. I thought wow this I impressive, I asked how long it would take him, he told me hopefully he would be done for 7 pm, it was around 10:30. I left him to it and then discovered on my way back past he was doing shifts with someone else. Still impressive but he had me fooled!

When I spoke to him he had said he had taken up the services from a cycling trainer. This sounded interesting so I looked a little further into it.

Winter riding is difficult you lose the light early and also the weather can be quite inclement. The pro and one or two others said I will need to give a turbo trainer a go to keep it up, especially if the weather is bad. This to me seems really boring just cycling along on your bike at home (that is the basic of turbo training and like riding an exercise bike but it’s your bike and feels a little more natural). Some set up TVs and watch films etc but I was also told not to just get on and pedal but need to work to a strict program by having ever-changing power requirements (hills in short) other wise you will last 20 minutes and jump off wth boredem.

Back to winter training and I spoke to Steve (guy who was traing the sheffield to london chap) and he offers cycling training using his computerised turbo training system. So I have signed up for a few months to try to take me through winter and improve my endurance and strength in a controlled environment.

Last night even through I am only 95% and a barking little I decided to have my first session. It was certainly different. I got on the bike for the first time in two weeks and it was tough, but I felt pleased I had got back on the saddle after a break.

The session is constant and that’s the difference so when you are on the road you never actually pedal 100% all of the time , when you are on the flat and going down hill you always tend to have mini rests, but on the turbo you have to pedal without stopping, there are no downhill sections.

The general setup is that your personal power output is established and then you work within your individual zones, so everyone else is doing exactly the same pattern at the same percentage output. So in essence when I am working at 85% of my capacity so is the person next to me but there max output could be more, same or less than me.

The programme I followed stated with a good warm up and then every few minutes I would pedal at 85% power and then for 30 seconds pedal at 120% like billy oh! You repeat this quite a lot over 1 and a half hours. Hopefully your body will build and get used to the requirements and then eventual you can do it with ease (hopefully). Finally a warm down !

Here is a snap shot !

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Next session is Thursday !

 

 

 

Trawling Amazon for more goodies including the taboo subject – read on..

I have been on the lookout for more goodies on Amazon. It’s an expensive thing this training to get from London to Paris. its only a few quis using Ryanair !

I have been looking to top up my fuel supplies and also some chamois cream.

Normally I carry with me on all rides some fast acting carbs in case I have a diabetic low and some longer acting carbs which see me through the ride. Also I take water which has glucose added so I can sip away to keep me hydrated and my blood glucose in check.

Before I managed to workout my diabetes glucose control I was eating like a horse. Now I have got it down to a single long-lasting bar when doing a typical 40+ mile ride. This is more like it.

So here is a sample of my fuel at home.

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Being a Yorkshire man I am keen for a bargin or two and just to give you an example for my water (large canister in the middle) I normally pay around £15 from one of the big four supermarkets for a 500g tub, however for under £15 you can get a 1.6kg tub “ont tinterweb” Bargain. If fact there were so many bargains I ended up with all this. As they say “every little helps” thanks to Amazon.

It will keep me going for months.

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Now its time to move on to the taboo subject of chamois cream, cyclists out there will not be offended in any way as Chamios cream is your friend over long rides.

Time to get to grips with it and here it is UDDERLY SMOOTH
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So we are all human (allegedly) and we either have an udder or we don’t. Its simple we all did some kind of biology at school and its nothing to be ashamed of.

When you have had a transplant let me tell you nothing is secret any more, you have more people prodding and poking you than you can imagine. It did not matter as I am alive.

Lets go back to the evening of 14th of December 2009 and I vividly remember coming round from the operation and being wheeled back to the ward. They got me comfy and then I realised I had a catheter.

Its seems an essential piece of kit, because you are sore you can’t be jumping out of bed every two minutes to go to the loo, having failing kidneys your body has gathered excess fluid so you can imagine all this with a new kidney it is removed pretty quickly. It was constant. But I do remember a nurse called Rachel who looked after me for the first 12 hours and she watched my every move. She had the most annoying noisy clogs on (being in a temp ward with wooden floors did not help) and all she did all night was tug my bloody catheter pipe every few minutes, she would not leave it alone. keep it flowing she said.

Anyway back to the real topic of chamois cream.

You are on a long ride and you are sat on a razor blade of a saddle, guess what udder or no udder it rubs you. This happens on long rides even with your nappy like shorts. I started to really feel it when I hit Sheffield centre on the way back from Lincoln.

You may say why not get a bigger saddle but I think the less contact you have the less chance of chaffing or the other way more the surface more chance of chaffing.

So here are one of my many bib cycling shorts showing the chamois section. This is the bit you sit on which is padded, as I said over time you still get rubbed.

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So you get your cream and smear it over your chamois and then apply some around your udder and the crease of your legs and torso. Just for clarity same applies if you are udderless !

It’s a cream which is antibacterial and gives you lubrication, this help prevents broken skin and saddle soars. It’s the last place you want to be sore. I can see it will be essential and I will be bathing in it when I am in the saddle for 4 days constantly.

As it says it contains natural aloe vera, shea butter and sunflower oils to provide deep moisturising and lasting protection.

Other brands are available ! Not just Udderly Smooth, but I could not resist buying it ! Makes it a little easier to talk about it.

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2 Rides – 1 weekend

The weekend is here, it wont be long until I am writing my blog in December and the 25th will be upon us.

So off I went with Dave for a ride. Dave is the owner of Cycling Sheffield and he is a professional ! He successfully runs his cycling team. I did ask him what he did for a job before cycling. His answer was cycling. I said no before cycling and he said cycling. Dave basically has been a cyclist all his life so he is a real professional. Dave offered his assistance and information which is good for me.

I told Dave to take it easy and he said he would.

Off we went from Beauchief cross roads and we headed to Totley and then up the rise, next out of Sheffield to Owler Bar. It’s a fair old climb for a novice, I puffed and panted all the way but I made it. According to Strava these are category 3 and 4 climbs.

From Owler bar we headed across to fox house and then up to Surprise View. once again another climb. I was slow but I made it and I did not think I would.

Once at Surprise View it was pure please all down hill catching up cars and vans as we made a hasty descent to Hathersage. One things about being on the larger side of life is down hill your weight certainly gives you some momentum.

Now the thing to realise is that if you have come down you have to go back up to get home.

We had a tea at Colemans Deli in Hathersage and then we were back at it and Dave took my back the same way to Fox House which was a 3.5 mile trek up one big hill  !

I was hurting given the hills involved but it felt great as I have only been at it for 4 weeks and I never thought I would be able to ride up these hills 4 weeks ago. you will see my route below and the elevation profile.

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So that was my first ride of the weekend. The second being a typical training run I have done quite a few times to Rotherham, Parkgate, Mushroom garage, Stag, Whiston, Brinsworth and then home.

I keep doing this route as it lets me compare and see if I am improving. Its well rehearsed and has a general mix of flat and gradual gradients.

I felt pretty good even through I did the big climb the day before. I can really tell I am speeding up and this time I did this the quickest ever. Ok I am no pro but did it in 2 hours and 6 mins.

Now the benefit of Strava is that it logs every segment and compares each segment from sessions before. I scored many personal  firsts and shot up the gradual long steady gradients compared to before. I averaged over 12 MPH.

This weekend I logged just short of 50 miles. Not massive but I achieved something for myself this weekend ! It gave me faith that I can do this challenge !

P.S I had no problems with diabetes and only ate a single banana bar instead of the normal 4 !

 

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Problems with my CGM

I know what you are thinking, what is CGM ? Well it stands for a continuous glucose monitor.

It’s not exactly new technology but it is not available on the NHS and its bloody expensive. Hence the reason it is not widely used although the benefits for the right patient can be life changing and can help stabilise diabetes and therefore reduce the chance of complications.

It’s not beneficial for every one, it certainly is for me as it lets you analyse how you body reacts to glucose and insulin intake. Then make the necessary changes.

So why do people take their blood glucose levels?

Diabetes type 1 is where the pancreas stops producing insulin so you have to self administer insulin. Because of this you experience fluctuations of blood glucose within the blood stream. If you go to high you feel rubbish and if you go low diabetics become lethargic, sweat, shake, become confused etc. Some diabetics who have a low in public can often be confused by someone who is drunk. Having a serious low can be dangerous and in fact if left untreated for some time the body can shut down leading to death.

Traditionally, diabetics use regular blood tests to keep track of their levels. The aim is to try to keep it within subscribed limits.  For me it’s between a level of 9 and 4. We are all different.

You will see below a typical blood test !

First prick the finger, offer it to the test strip and bang, 8.9. Just under my upper figure.

 

So you are asking what is different between a CGM and this type of test.

Well its quite easy really. The standard test only tells you what your levels are at the point of the test. So the more often you test the more knowledgeable you are. However to be fair to get a really accurate bunch of readings and to discover a trend you would have to take readings every 30 mins ! Can you imagine the state of fingers after a month,.

If you can discover a trend and what direction you are traveling then you can react appropriately and this is where CGM really comes in.

CGM takes readings every few minutes so you can see trends and patterns and allow you to make decisions.

CGM is what I use and it has really helped me with control as I can constantly adjust food and insulin. Its made a big difference to my life and hopefully I have reduced the potential of any later in life complications.

So I weear a device which sticks to my skin and a tiny hair like thread is inserted into my bodily fluid, ok it’s not in the blood so it runs 15 mins behind my actual blood readings but the most important thing for me is the trend.

Here is a sensor, you can just see the little “hair” in the middle.

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So now I have told you what it’s all about and I can tell you what happened.

I went to bed as normal within target after a ride, I awoke as normal and one of the first things I do is take a swipe of my reader and it tell me what has been happening for the last 8 hours whilst I have been asleep. It showed “low” which means a serious hypo (lack of glucose)

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So what do you do ? You eat some fast acting glucose. This is exactly what I did and gobbled down the obligatory 5 jelly babies and awaited the result.

Nothing happened after 20 minutes so I stupidly had some more ! Yum yum some jelly babies.

It became obvious that there was a problem as there was no change in glucose levels. So I did what I should have done when it first showed an odd reading. That was a real blood test. I did this and I was 14 following all the jelly babies.

So it had gone out of calibration so it was no good !!  Arghhhh

I fitted my spare (I always have a spare but due to the costs I don’t have them loitering my medical box)

However the sensor would not start so I was left with none and had to go back to the old-fashioned way until I got replacements. Thankfully the company who sells and supports that system replace faulty sensors. But for 4 days I was sensors naked which makes checking on the go whilst riding Charlie difficult as you can’t take blood whilst riding !! I will explain this experience on my next blog.

 

 

First ride after holiday – OMG

So I got back on thursday. I had consumed far too much drink and food whilst on holiday. I was dreading my first ride but decided I would have a day’s rest on the friday to let any residue of red french wine and cheese to seep from my system. I decided against the obligatory glass of weekend wine on friday night.

I felt good on saturday morning got on all my gear, then I had to choose my fuel for the session.

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Off I went with no real idea were to venture too this time. I headed out via my normal exit route through Sheffield town centre avoiding major traffic islands and using the car forbidden bus gates and lanes. At last I am allowed to enter them without receiving a £60 fine for straying over the line.

I headed up Penistone road, through centre of Hillsborough and then around the one way system at Malin Bridge, got passed by a “biker pro” as I headed up towards Loxley.

Loxley Valley is a beautiful green area in Northern Sheffield and the road takes you out towards Lower Bradfield. This is a steady long climb for a good half an hour towards Bradfield.

I was really struggling as soon as I hit the first hill. I could tell I had got problems early on in the ride. It was certainly the punishment for going on holiday, as I got to Bradfield disaster and embarrassment struck.

I had climbed enough and when the road was clear both ways, i was facing up hill I turned around in the middle of the road. Argghhh I had not got enough momentum as I turned and fell off, flat on my face.

Why did I fall off ? All down to the cleats and I could not get my feet out quick enough and facing uphill I had no momentum to stay upright on the bike. So lesson to be leaned do not turn around slowly up hill !

Most important thing was that no one saw me (ignoring any injuries) so all was well, I headed back down the hill, into Sheffield and home.

I only did 19 miles but did manage to keep a decent average speed but it was really hard work and I felt that the little amount of fitness I had gained had vaporised into thin air.  Its early days but with a ride like this you start to think would I ever be ready for this challenge next year ?

Diabetes wise and start nibbling after 15 mins things were good but then again I did not go out for a full ride.

Soon be time to get back out on Charlie again.

 

 

Organ Donation Week

This week is organ donation week in the UK. All supporters of organ donations will be encouraging people across the UK to talk about organ donation with their families.

The campaign is not organ specific and is across the board from kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, pancreas etc

There are a couple of main key action points that need to be encouraged and these are

  • Join the NHS organ Donor Register, you can do this by calling 0300 1232323 or visiting organdonation.nhs.uk  
  • Ensure you have the conversation with your family and loved ones. It’s all very well signing up to the Donor Register but your loved ones have the final say and if you are not clear on your intentions then your wishes may not materialise.

In 2016/17 there were over 6000 people on the transplant list, also to add to this a further 3300 were temporarily suspended from the list. So overall there are just short of 10000 people in the UK in need of a transplant as of the 31st of March 2017. No doubt as patients become more critical they will be added to the list.

Why does organ donation matter, this one is quite easy if gives people with organ failure a second chance of life. If the majority of people on the waiting list do not receive an organ they will more than likely die.

Those that are awaiting a kidney can have therapy called dialysis to keep them alive in the short-term to prolong the time they have to receive the gift of life. However, although the treatment is successful in the short time the mortality rate is relatively short compared to transplantation.

I was given a second chance of life from my wife and it is this reason I am riding from London to Paris, not just to raise funds but to raise awareness and show what a transformation receiving this gift can bring.

If you need any more help on kidney specific then you can try the National Kidney federation.

So don’t forget have the conversation !

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France Je ne sais quoi

As I said in the previous post I have been missing for a week.

I am currently sat on a Ryanair flight from Brittany in France back to East Midlands airport in the uk. I have been away for a week to enjoy a nice break from work and have some fantastic food and wine !

Why Brittany you ask, well several reasons really. Here is the list !

  • 55-minute flight from UK
  • Cheap flights
  • Great food and wine
  • Good food
  • Nice and green and not just baron
  • Nice people
  • Moderate weather not too hot or cold most of the time
  • Finally it’s our home

Since my transplant I am always cautious when out of the UK as many of us recipients don’t feel as secure when abroad due to potential health issues arising. Brittany is great for me as I have several escape routes back to the uk in a few hours if I don’t feel too well. Typically, these are

  • Three flights per week
  • Daily ferries
  • 2 hours from Paris and then Eurostar back to London
  • Drive to Calais then short ferry to dover

It’s not that I don’t trust the French health care system but when you are not fully converse with the lingo it makes me a little nervous.

Also after my transplant I was told that I would be more vulnerable to skin cancer, due to the anti-rejection drugs.  The advice is to keep covered at all times and wear factor 50. As Brittany is more moderate it can be achieved. I would hate to be in 32°C and have to hide In the shade all the time as in southern Europe.

Therefore for many reason Brittany’s just perfect .

I had premonitions that once I got my transplant me and Jo would travel the world, however I have had to revise that idea and stick to more advanced countries for my own piece of mind. We all have different thoughts on risk.

During my visit to France for the week we organised a day out in Paris courtesy of the TGV. The TGV is a fast train in France and something I would like to think HS2 will achieve but more advanced, howerver France did it many years ago. Just shows how far behind we are in the UK when it comes to high speed rail. We travelled over 350 miles in an hour and a half. Just amazing.

I have been to a few European cities in the last few years. I have to say I do think Paris is different. It has class, charm, nice people, fantastic green spaces and very low-cost attractions if not free in most cases.

Paris has “je ne sais quoi”

We walked for hours in Paris and at one point we visited the Arc de Triomphe where I believe will be the finish of my epic journey from London to Paris. Jo pointed out that as we walked up the Champs-Élysées was a gradual climb, howerver if I can make it there then that will be easy as I have no doubt the adrenalin will be pumping as I see sight of the finish and my wife Jo.  Then I will have no doubt I will have made it.

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Until then there are going to be lots of gruelling training sessions to complete. Now I have had my holiday let the serious 3 times a week session begin. Starting tomorrow !

Friendly advice – Power of Facebook

I have not been up to much cycling in the last week, on the next post to come you will find out why !

When I decided to cycle from London to Paris my wife decided to publish it on facecloth to start the year long process of building up links to increase awareness and some fundraising.

A few days later Jo was contacted by a someone at the Sheffield Giant store. They suggested I contacted a gent called Dave Coulson who may be able to give me some advice.

I did a bit of research on Dave and it was clear Dave was a professional within the cycling world. What more could I ask for ? This could certainly be a step in the right direction !

I met Dave on a Thursday morning in a local coffee shop / deli called Brigazzis on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield. I had not met Dave before but I spotted him pretty quickly as he was parked outside and I thought surely there were not going to be many people meeting here with a car like this. Mind you he was highlighted buy a couple of yellow flashing lights on a parking wardens vehicle parked behind. The local Sheffield parking wardens were on hand to move Dave on !

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I found more out about Dave, who runs and manages a cycling team in Sheffield called Cycling Sheffield. Dave told me about the team and his concept is interesting and it is all about our city of Sheffield. It was clear within minutes that Dave has a real passion for cycling and just one of the reasons he cycles goes back to his childhood and it gave Dave a feeling of freedom.

He told me that he would like to give something back. As you know that is my own reason for doing the challenge. We continued to talk and Dave said he thought the challenge was possible given the time scale in front of me. Dave said he could help and would drop me a line. Of which he was true to his word and it wont be long until we meet up again to take things a little further.

Now you are thinking what am I expecting ? I am not expecting Dave to train me, I would just like some advice on what I need to do to be in a position to carry out the challenge. A basic plan of how many miles, how many times a week lets say before Christmas, at what point do I step it up to the next level etc etc. Then the hard work is down to me !

I will let you know how things develop on this front as I am sure Dave will make a big difference to my challenge. No doubt be interesting for him as there are always problems with Diabetes and Kidney disease of which I have to manage.

 

 

 

The diabetes experiment on my official third ride on Charlie

I have been missing for a few days since my last ride, well when I say missing I have not been able to write a follow up. Don’t worry I am back today for at least a day.

So I followed my plan and at around 3:30 I poped the little pasta pot in the microwave at work. Everyone thought the clock was wrong and I was on my lunch. Wrong I was “carbing” up for my third ride.

Down the hatch went the pasta, it was a nice welcomed snack later afternoon. I must not get used to this as I will put 6 stone back on!

I went home and got all my kit ready – glucose drink, insulin pen, freestyle libre for on the go blood testing, a couple of Bloks bars, waterproof and of course my emergency tenner.

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Off I went clipped in to the pedals with BG levels around 9.  I had decided I was going to repeat a ride of City Centre, Meadowhall, Rotherham, Parkgate and back via Mushroom Garage, Whiston, Brinsworth, Meadowhall and finally via the city centre.

This idea was that I really wanted to experience the difference of Charlie the bike compared to my trail bike as I did this route 2nd time out with “Frank the Tank”.

I felt strong when I set off and I could just tell things were better on this ride within the first 15 minutes, I was making good progress on the flat and pushing on well. My BG levels were steady and I got to Meadowhall in no time, probably quicker than some of the cars as traffic was far more congested than last time.

I circumnavigated Meadowhall, climbed to Rotherham town centre using the new deserted link road, my BG started showing  a slight downwards trend so in went the some Bloks for energy.

I steamed ahead and made it to Parkgate, across the wash (the wash was well known in Rotherham as it was a toll road. It was British Steel land and they would charge you for cutting the corner, no more troll on the toll any more).

This was the first time I saw a large dip in BG so I stopped had a glucose drink and more bloks. I recovered very quickly compared to last time and off I went with around 13 miles to home. I smashed the climbs compared to last time and did not even have to get off at Brinsworth. This was much better, more power, more energy and was certain it was a little quicker.

There is no need for speed on my challenge as its not a race, but I need to maintain a minimum of 12 MPH to keep up to the timings expected.

Traffic had lessened and I made it back to Netheredge and I had Finished.

Reviewing the ride I was happier with my Diabetes, still work to be done and not be complacent but it was better. I felt stronger, quicker and felt much faster up the little climbs than before.

I logged on to map my ride to see the progress and yes I had improved. In fact I smashed 20 mins off this ride compared to before.

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I averaged 12.1MPH so this is increasing all the time and thinking  back on how many times I stopped in Sheffield for traffic lights and roundabouts this result was very positive.

Question – Was it my bike or just me ? I think ts was a combination of both and the other main key is diabetes as whilst the glucose levels are up at 9 ish then power is available. When it dips I dip pure and simple…

Getting ready for tonight’s ride and the diabetes food experiment

I am getting prepared for tonight’s ride and going to try something different diabetes wise.

So the plan instead of trying to drink 2 litres of sugary fluid is I am going for my diabetes devil food. Pasta, yes its pasta. I love and adore a bit of pasta with a pesto tomato and chilli based sauce.  But it plays havoc, the reason for this is that my body seems to take an age to convert the starchy carbs into energy.

This is a typical night on pasta. Take blood sugars and be in normal range, eat some of my lovely pasta and have the necessary insulin. The pasta takes that long that I end up having a hypo. Due to this I have to top up with jelly babies then around 3-4 am in the morning the conversion is done and before I know the carbs are released and I will be ridding extremely high up towards 18 ! which then I have to counter in a morning with more insulin etc, the see saw begins up and down for the rest of the day.

I have tried having insulin later than when I eat but it’s that unpredictable I just can’t get it right.

The thought is that I need a release of good steady carbs latter in my ride so if I fill up at work at around 16:00 before I go out at around 18:00 I should start getting this carbs to take effect and help me along the way without the low. This is todays 16:00 snack.

 

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As you can see if has nearly 50g of carbs which is a reasonable amount as long it releases slowly.

Whilst I was in Tesco I manged to find something else instead of downing 2 litres of fluid for during the ride and these beauties may do the trick !

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This little bar on its own has nearly 50 g of carbs and is light, easy to carry and I could pop in a segment every 20 mins or until I can find what I need to keep my blood sugars up.

Hopefully with a new strategy this may be the way forward of long acting carbs together with short acting carbs. No doubt my specialist will give me better guidance when I go in a couple of weeks.

The other day when my wife posted about my challenge, she got a response from Giant in Sheffield and they have offered me some free advice about training etc from the racing gang. Just organising a meet up with Dave and be interesting to see how he thinks how I should approach training fo the challenge, at the moment I am just getting on the bike and doing a few miles to steadily build some stamina and not speed !

I will report back tomorrow on the diabete challenge…….