The first weekend in June is usually reserved for the annual Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, also known to some as the Manayunk Bike Race. This race consists of 124 miles through the twists and turns of The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia Art Museum, Kelly Drive, and the rolling hills of Manayunk and the signature feature “The Wall,” an 800-meter monster of a hill. This cycling event is one of the longest in the country every year.
An unknown story of this year’s champions (2012) is that within the top four finishers, three were from Team Type 1 – Sanofi. In other words, three of the top four finishers have been diagnosed with type one diabetes. As if winning an elite 124-mile cycling race isn’t enough, try doing it while checking your blood sugar while spinning around curves at 30-40 miles per hour on your bike!
Team Type 1 was created in 2004 by two avid bikers, who also had been diagnosed with type one diabetes. Their mission statement reads: “We strive to instill hope and inspiration for people around the world affected by diabetes. With appropriate diet, exercise, treatment and technology, we believe anyone with diabetes can achieve their dreams.”
Physical activity creates additional hazards for individuals with diabetes. Exercise increases the rate at which sugar is burned for fuel and increases insulin's strength, a double-edged sword for someone who is prone for lows. Interestingly enough, these athletes from Team Type One know their bodies better than their counterparts. They know exactly the target blood sugar ranges for their optimum performance. They can anticipate the “race day” jitters escalating blood sugars, change their insulin regimens to agree with the increased exertion of competition, and consume the right amount of carbohydrates to fuel the muscles and replenish energy stores.
As a certified diabetes educator, I found this team to be an incredible example of turning a disadvantage into an advantage! Diabetes certainly does not mean that your dreams will go unfulfilled. With the right support system, self-management education, and training, anyone with diabetes can continue to live out their destiny!
If you have diabetes and are interested in self-management education, please feel free to contact me at 215-675-4535 x 125. My private practice, Wholesome Nutrition, is located at 400 Horsham Road in Horsham.