Biking & Blood Sugar, or Extreme Sports with a Twist

Fresh air, the whir of wheels on the road, periodic stops to prick fingers, test blood, and down some glucose… sounds like another case of diabetic athletes pushing the limits, no?

My latest “D-celebrity” lunch was with an incredibly fit (and cute!) young professional named Matt Vogel, a Type 1 diabetic, sales specialist for Deltec Cozmo, and co-founder of Insulin Factor –- a Northern California based community of diabetics who enjoy competitive cycling, triathlons, marathons and the like. The group was featured on dLife last month.

(Vogel’s also testing out DexCom’s new tubeless continuous monitor, and blogging about it on the Insulin Factor site.)

Ifactor_logo The group, which was founded 3 years ago with 3 people, is now up to about 110 active members, currently gearing up for both the Tour de Cure in Napa on May 7 and the Wildflower Triathlon in San Louis Obispo on the same weekend. The latter is one of the largest triathlon events in the world, attracting 7,500 athletes and 30,000 spectators annually. It’s also known for a particularly hilly and grueling course. Aack!

I find it hard enough to manage my BGs in a one-hour aerobics class. So how do they do it?, I asked Matt.

“Our web site is a community where we can exchange tips and information, and a lot of the members make plans to meet up for training or at events… People come up with all sorts of tricks, like mounting their glucose meter on the handlebars of their bike, or running with the meter mounted to a wristband, or in a cell phone holder. If you want to participate, you get to be pretty ingenious,” he says.

Insulin Factor (the name kind of grabs you, no?) collaborates with the local Diabetes Exercise andCyclists Sports Association (DESA) chapter, “but our group’s more about actually going out and taking part in the events together,” Matt says.

Right now they’re also preparing for the Ride to Cure Diabetes June 22-25 in Carmel Valley. This one offers riders a choice of 35, 60, or 100+ mile courses to raise money for the JDRF. The fundraising minimum is $4,500, which covers all of your travel, lodging, meals and technical assistance for the weekend. Insulin Factor says: You Can Do It! Click here to register, or support the group with a donation.

Also... if you like the idea of biking but really just need a break: I read about Diabetes Adventure Tours, the travel division of the Diabetes and Wellness Foundation, which takes diabetic travelers on scenic, luxurious cycling trips. Their Fall 2005 trek to Girona, Spain, was the first of its kind -– “a week of cycling where the pros train for Grand Tour competition, accompanied by a sports medicine physician and a coach (who also has Type I diabetes) supporting riders and leading wellness discussions in the evenings.” No help for The Cause, but still you get all the health benefits of biking in a relaxing setting. What’s not to like?

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