018 Diabetes and Cycling
Diabetes and Cycling
Diabetes mellitus is a common and chronic metabolic disorder, classically
ascribed to an absolute or relative deficiency of insulin. Simplistically
stated, this is "typical" of insulin- dependent or type-1 diabetes
(ie. Individuals, usually juveniles, that need insulin). Type-2, or "
maturity- onset" diabetes is characterized by peripheral insulin
Major Problems of Diabetes Mellitus
|Increased incidence of pyogenic and fungal skin infections|
|Hyperglycaemia, abnormal carbohydrate metabolism, propensity to
ketoacidosis, glucose- control dysfunction and coma|
|Infection, that may precipitate ketoacidosis and or coma|
|Increased incidence of premature coronary artery disease, heart- attacks,
angina and heart- failure|
|Hypercholesterolaemia and peripheral vascular disease|
|Renal failure, needing dialysis or renal transplantation|
|Peripheral neuritis (polyneuropathy)|
|Dangers of developing a "diabetic foot" (circulation problems,
gangrene and or ulceration)|
|Chronic ill- health, obesity, and feeling of illness (ie don't feel well)|
Benefits of Moderate Cycling or Cycle Training
|Insulin utilization is improved, resulting in less "brittleness"
and in some individuals, reduced insulin requirements|
|Reduced incidence of premature secondary complications|
|Improvement in mindset, and outlook on life|
|Reduced propensity to obesity|
|Maintenance of muscle tone, strength and vitality|
|Problems Facing Diabetic Cyclists on Long Funrides or Tours|
|Glucose control: hypo- or hyperglycaemia (check your sugar!)|
|Dehydration, dizziness and fatigue (keep hydrated!)|
|Electrolyte disorders (sodium, potassium)|
|Muscle cramps, paresthesia, painful calves and feet|
|Exhaustion and collapse (keep hydrated!), eat breakfast|
|Perineal pressure, saddle sores (abscesses or boils/ folliculitis)-
personal hygiene is very important in diabetes. Use soap and water to wash
Guidelines for the Argus Tour over 109 kilometers
|Cycle training before hand is advised. A doctors clearance is vital.|
|Glucose control is critically important. For long tours blood glucose
levels (Haemogluca Test on finger prick) should be performed before and
after the tour. This is what is expected in cycle tours in the USA.|
|Glucose containing sportsdrinks/ beverages are essential to prevent
hypoglycaemia. Drink frequently and start early. Go for sips.|
|Diabetics should stop and take a "breather" in the middle of the
tour. More than one, "pitstop" is advisable.|
|Fluids at a rate of 150-300 ml/ hr should be considered to prevent heat
exhaustion, dehydration, cramps, fatigue and collapse. Be cautious of hot
|Active infection or a focus of infection is a contraindication to riding
the Argus- the danger of hyperglycaemia or ketoacidosis is a very real
|In older, male diabetics (> 50- years), a complete cardiovascular
check- up including blood pressure, ECG, blood lipids and renal function is
critical. If a diabetic does not feel well, don't attempt the Argus.|
| Do not underestimate the Argus.|
A near normal HbA1C reflects previous good glucose control. This is a good
idea, if the diabetic plans to do the Argus. Advice from a physician or a
diabetologist should be considered before entering for such a strenuous tour.
Diabetic individuals with secondary complications of target organs eyes, heart,
blood levels, nerves and kidneys) should re- consider riding.
Maturity onset, male diabetics (45- years, plus) who experience chest pain
while cycling, should avoid the Argus Cycle Tour, until the cause thereof is
disclosed by a specialist. Don't leave this important problem, until the week
before the Argus. This could be tell- tale symptoms of severe underlying,
ischaemic heart disease and coronary artery occlusive disease. This is a common
sequelae of diabetes and needs exclusion.
Follow a strict diabetic diet and obtain advice and counselling from a
dietician. This not only reduces the risk of a heart attak, but improves
cholesterol levels. Don't neglect your blood sugar control!
Diabetics also need supplementation, magnesium, calcium and vitamins if a
rigid cycle training program is anticipated.
The fitter the diabetic cyclist, the better the ride in the Argus. Potential
harmful sequelae are also drastically minimized. Keep your weight down and avoid
obesity that is a problem in maturity- onset diabetes.
If the diabetic feels weak, stop and rest. Hypoglycaemia is a possibility and
is potentially harzardous. Always take a sweet or biscuit with. Two water
bottles are a prerequisite.
Report to a doctor if you do not feel well or experience chest pain/ discomfort.
Report to the medical tent at the finish if you feel ill. Adequate emergency
medical cover is always available during the duration of the Argus Cycle Tour.
The organizers, have an impeccable record, spanning decades. If the diabetic
does not feel well at the start, he or she should not continue.