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Biking in Acadia Park: The Low Chronicles.

Last week, Chris and I took a skip up north to spend some time in one of our favorite places in New England:  Bar Harbor, Maine.  (And ha - a skip?  Six hour drive.  You can begin and end a relationship in that amount of time.  Or write a children's book.  Or scour Spotify for fabulously terrible 80's and 90's songs.  We have tested all of these options.)

We love Bar Harbor because it gives us some quality time to play outside.  We've gone camping, and hiking, and this year, we went biking around Mount Desert Island.  On the whole, I can hold my own when it comes to outdoorsy type crap.  If Chris wants to go hiking up Mount Goram, I can keep up with him.  Leisurely hike around Jordan Pond?  I'm all over it.  Biking 15 miles along the carriage trails in Acadia Park?  Bring it on. 

View from Cadillac Mountain.
View from Cadillac Mountain.

My favorite restaurant EVER.
2 Cats - best breakfast EVER.
Unless I'm low.

After a hearty (and delicious) breakfast at the Two Cats Inn, we went into the bike rental place to get suited up with bikes and helmets.  I checked the Dexcom while we were waiting for the guy to bring our bikes around, and was surprised to see 89 mg/dL and an downward-trending arrow.

"Bit low," I said to Chris, reaching into our backpack for some glucose tabs.  "I may have overbolused for breakfast."

We grabbed two extra bottles of Gatorade to complement the array of glucose tabs (thanks, GlucoLift!) and after I chomped four tabs and took a long sip of Gatorade, we started our ride up to Acadia Park.

I'm not a bike rider (as evidenced by the fact that I didn't use the word "cyclist"), but I knew that my legs shouldn't have been as wobbly as they were.  I was jittery and sweating madly, even though we'd been on the road for literally minutes.  

"I need to stop for a minute and have some more Gatorade.  And I think I need to wait a few for this crap to hit my system."  We pulled off to the side of the road and I tested my blood sugar.  97 mg/dL, but the Dexcom still warned of a low on tap.

So began 35 minutes of stupidity.  I should have stayed on the side of the road and waited for however long it took to see upward trending arrows.  Or at least until my legs started feeling more like they were made out of flesh and bone and less like they were inhabited by SpaghettiOs.  Chris has the patience of a much saintlier type of person, and he would have waited.

Instead, after a few minutes, I announced, "I'm good," and encouraged him to set our pace.  I rode behind him and struggled.  Bears on unicycles have better balance than I had during those first few miles.  Temp basal would have been useless - it was already cranked down to 0.25u per hour for our trip, and I was iffy on turning the pump off for a bit because I didn't want to encourage any ketones.  I felt my blood sugar laboring to get up the hypoglycemia hill as much as I was physically trying to push my bike up the road.  

It wasn't until we were at least six miles into our journey that I started to feel human.  (I knew when I was around the magic 90 mg/dL mark, because I felt like proper athlete, all sweating for reasons of exertion and not due to hypoglycemia.)  It took another few miles to hit stride, with a blood sugar of 130 mg/dL finally showing up on my meter.  And then it felt awesome. Fun.  Outdoorsy and fresh-airy.  Overall, we did close to 16 miles of the hilly Acadia National Park, and despite crushing through as many glucose tabs and the bottle of Gatorade, it was awesome.

Look, Ma!  I'm infusin'!

A bit later, as we ate lunch at the Jordan Pond Teahouse, I looked at my Dexcom graph and saw it plotting steadily between 70 - 130.  My belly was full of freshly baked popovers and blueberry tea (and glucose tabs).  And Chris and I didn't have unruly bicycle helmet hair.  

I'll take it. 
Jordan Pond.


Go ahead, you cyclist you! Sorry about the lows though - doesn't that just suck?

I'm glad the last chunk of the ride was enjoyable.

You look super hardcore on a bike. I think it's the sunglasses/helmet combo that makes one look like a cyclist [not just a bike rider ;)].

Glad you were able to crush the lows and rock the ride, it looks beautiful!

Kerri, I admire your persistence. I, too, have felt stupid-lucky about pushing/chomping through a low like that, but way to work out the kinks and enjoy your ride!

Agree with the above comments about your gear, but your bag looks heavy. Is that where you keep all your glucose tabs? :)


How do sites on your arm work for you? I've never tried it, it looks so hang-outy to me. But I need a new spot for sites, does anybody have any feedback?

I'm still picturing bears on unicycles. :-)

Stupid is one thing you definitely are not, Kerri! I don't know if you feel this sometimes when low...it sounds like you might...but your description reminds me of the modest but real impairment of judgment that sometimes comes with a low. You know you're low, but you can't quite make up your mind on what to do about it. That may mean not being able to decide how to treat it (Smarties? Glucose tabs? Milkshake? Birthday cake?) and stay low longer while you avoid deciding and therefore treating, or it may mean you keep on riding while not reaching a decision on whether to stop. Fairly recently while NOT low, I decided to use glucose tabs whenever possible to save myself the argument later. Still working on how to decide sooner while low to stop activity. Thanks Kerri, as always, for describing and resonating so well!

I hate getting low on the bike. I'm a good enough cyclist that I can maintain a straight line when pretty low, but when I get weavy I stop. However, by that time I'm pretty stupid. I'm glad my wife rides with me (usually) and knows to get me a snack or three when I'm that low.

FWIW: I've been a bike rider for ages- roughly twice as long as I've been a Type 1. I know far too much about bikes, but the diabetes knowledge is catching up.

Bears on unicycles? This guy will teach you humility:

Hi Kerri, OMG I havent been on your sire forever, You look great. I have never been to Maine, But would love to go.. Glad you got your lows under control. I get those at times and they are scary..
Take Care

Re: arm sites. I did my stomach only for the first two years on the pump. Then, I slowly branched out to the hip and the arm. Now I hate doing the stomach because I love the hip and the arm so much! Would definitely recommend it to anyone.

My husband was BORN in Bar Harbor! (I knew there was something similar about the two of you...besides both loving the Beastie Boys and switching up the jams every other second while playing DJ).

Glad to see you weren't alone...in the wild...out of cell range...........

Thanks, Michelle! :)

(continued from Wendy)

... on a mountain... not wearing a medical ID ... without a rope...

I am so glad I'm not the only one that has gone through this while looking at my Dexcom and all the walking we did in Acadia and around Bar Harbour I was having the same issues even though I wasn't on a bike the walking was enough to do it. My husband sounds as patient as yours does it's me and being diabetic for 40 years sometimes makes me even more impatient LOL

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