How does Tony keep his diabetes management supplies safe and secure while biking
through rugged terrain and unpredictable weather? Check out this video to learn the answer.
Once I got started, my anxiety over attempting this challenge again began to subside. It was just a bike ride (yes, just a bike ride I kept telling myself) in one of the most beautiful parts of North America. The miles rolled by quickly and everything, including my blood glucose levels, were spot on.
Before I knew it, I was approaching the section where I had encountered the grizzly bear, fell into the Spray River and nearly lost my life during Tour Divide 2011. I fought hard to keep my emotions in check and turned on my iPod. Loud.
I pushed harder on the pedals, picking up the pace a bit. My head was focused on the ground 10 feet in front of the wheel, just watching it quickly roll by. Every few minutes I was calling out the names of my sons, in addition to wearing a ‘bear bell’ on my shoe, to announce my presence and avoid startling any bears along the trail.
I settled into a groove. I checked my blood glucose every 90 minutes. I was on schedule, consuming 35 grams of carbs (without a bolus) every hour. And I ran my temp basal rate at an 85% reduction all day. With the help of the Omnipod, the Pod on my arm and my PDM within easy reach in the frame bag in front of me, diabetes management was not an issue today.
Before I realized it, I had descended Mount Shark and my tires were rolling along a larger fire road which was to be my corridor for a large section of the day's journey. I had successfully achieved another one of my goals, passing the point of my bear encounter in 2011, leaving the ghosts of last year behind on the side of the trail.
After 12 months, I was so excited to finally shed the weight of last year's incident. I felt like a new person.
A Bump in the Road
The next couple of hours simply flew by. It felt like just a few minutes had passed. I was on a short section of road heading up to the trail entrance leading to the Continental Divide crossing at Elk Pass. Elk Pass is extremely steep and I was able to ride only a short section up the final pitch before I needed to dismount and push.
I saw a pile of logs and brush ahead on the side of the trail that I thought that would be a great place to get off my bike and start pushing. I placed my right foot on the top of the log pile that appeared to be solid, but was completely rotted through. My foot sank into the log and my leg disappeared into the pile, almost up to my knee. I toppled over the logs with my foot in the hole, wrenching my ankle badly. I pushed myself back to a standing position and as I did, the wood collapsed under me a little more. My right foot dropped deeper into the pile and I fell over towards my bike on the left.
It took a few minutes to extract my now injured foot from the pile, all the while cursing myself for being so careless. I pulled my foot out of my shoe and then unburied it from the hole. I knew I had injured myself fairly badly, but the excitement of the day still had me buzzing. Besides, there was no choice but to pedal on while out in the wilderness in British Columbia. So I squeezed my now swelling foot back into my shoe and headed down the 3,500-foot descent over the next 30 miles into the town of Elkford.
The rest of the day was very quiet. On two different occasions I saw black bears running down the fire road. As I neared my first town destination, I ended up behind a pickup truck on the gravel fire road for a few miles. These were the first people I had seen all day.
I was totally spent and exhausted when I reached town. Tired to tears. I was injured, although I wouldn't know how badly until the next day, but it was a miraculous and completely successful day.
I overcame my fears and left Banff.
I got the monkey of last year's life-altering event off my back.
After riding 109 miles, I reached my first scheduled destination.
I kicked diabetes square in the teeth all day.
I couldn't wait for day two.
Come back to read what happens next on Tony’s Tour Divide journey.