Diabetics should plan well for Tour

Published 10:03 pm Friday, March 8, 2019

Preparing for the Tour de Cure demands a lot of preparation, especially if you have diabetes. If you’re riding to help find a cure and you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, then you’re a Red Rider, and you need to be prepared for the highs and lows of Tour day.

According to a guide prepared by Team WILD Athletics, it’s important for Red Riders to plan out in advance what they’re going to be eating and drinking during the event.

That goes along with when you’re going to test your blood sugars during the ride — perhaps at one of the many convenient stops during the routes.


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“A good plan takes away all the stress,” Nicole Freedman, cycling coach for TeamWILD, stated in the guide. “You can just cruise right to the start line with confidence.”

The human body needs carbohydrates for fuel during exercise, and that’s especially crucial for diabetics that need to keep their blood sugars up when they’re cycling upwards of several hours.

That’s why it’s important for you to decide ahead of time what you’re consuming before, during and after the event.

“You don’t want to be trying things for the first time the day of the event, especially for a long ride,” Judy Mitnick, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, said in a phone interview.

Red Riders need to understand how they’ll be affected by the foods they eat during the ride, just as much as they’ll be affected by medications they’re taking.

Mitnick recommended a diet that’s richer in carbohydrates for the two or three days leading up to the event. This will build up glycogen stores in your body, which will help keep your energy up mid-ride.

“You’re filling up the gas tanks in your muscles, (which) allows you to not hit that wall … because those have to be depleted first,” she said.

Enjoy a meal that’s between 100 and 150 grams of carbs with some protein a few hours before the event. The amount of carbs you’ll need during the race will depend on how long you plan to ride.

Mitnick said rides that take less than an hour shouldn’t require extra carbs, but for anything longer, diabetics should pair their water with sports drinks. Hydration is very important, and a sports drink with sugar — along with the water — will help Red Riders get 30 to 60 carbs each hour after the first.

After the race, find your recovery snack, whether it’s a peanut butter sandwich, banana or granola. The snack should be a robust combination of carbs and protein. Also, check your blood sugar consistently after the race, both for high blood sugar levels and lows.

“Test every 30 to 45 minutes after the race that day, because it could either continue to plunge, or it could be trending upwards because of the celebratory food,” she said.

Marcey Robinson, diabetes and nutrition coach for TeamWILD, recommended in the guide for Red Riders to keep their blood sugar levels between a range of 80 and 180. But it’s also important to understand where your own target is and “where you feel safe and strong.”

“Whenever you go out for a ride, you must have a blood glucose meter and glucose tabs with you. Especially if you are on medication that could result in a low blood sugar,” Robinson stated in the guide.

Readers can find more tips in the guide online at tour.diabetes.org/tdc12/redrider_teamwild_guide.pdf.

The 2019 Hampton Roads Tour de Cure will be on April 27 at Suffolk Executive Airport, 1200 Gene Bolton Drive. There will be 12-, 30-, 62- and 100-mile routes for cyclists, and also a 5K run and walk.

Registration for cyclists is $20 through March 31 and increases to $25 starting April 1. The fundraising minimum for cyclists is $200. Runners and walkers have a fundraising minimum of $100 and do not pay a registration fee. All participants ages 12 and younger have just a $50 fundraising minimum.

The fundraising goal for this upcoming Tour is $525,000. As of Friday evening, $163,146.21 has been raised, with 72 teams and 560 total participants registered so far.

For more information on the event, visit diabetes.org/hrtdc or call 424-6662 ext. 3269. Those interested in volunteering can contact Robin Kantor via email at RKantor@diabetes.org.