Hi there! With our wedding coming up in only a few days, (Woot!) and our ride to The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, I wanted to talk about Diabetes. I’m a Type 1 Diabetic. That means that I have an autoimmune disorder where my body literally attacked my pancreas and now it just doesn’t work anymore. So to fix that, I wear an insulin pump which gives me the insulin my body needs. Having Diabetes no longer means you can’t do the things you enjoy. I live a pretty normal life with the exception that I wear my pump and test my sugars regularly. There’s not a lot of information out there about riding a motorcycle with diabetes, so I wanted to share my routine and tips for riding a motorcycle with diabetes.
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*Let me be clear from the start. I am not a doctor. You should talk to your healthcare professional about your specific needs when riding motorcycles.
Diabetes- Good vs Tight Control
When I told my doctor that I ride motorcycles, I definitely got a strange look from her. Not because I’m a diabetic, but because I’m a girl who rides, haha. She did ask a lot of questions about how I manage my blood sugars while riding and gave me some additional advice to add to my routine. Managing your diabetes with the advice of your doctor is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. You already know that having good control of your blood sugars is important, so I’m not going to beat that horse here. However, riding a motorcycle and having a low blood sugar at 65 miles an hour can be a really dangerous thing. Knowing your body and its rhythms are critical to riding.
You need to work with your doctor to decide what is an acceptable range for your blood sugar while riding. It will likely be more liberal than when you are not riding. Don’t be so aggressive at treating highs and be more aggressive treating lows. Again, it’s better to be a little “sweet” than to run into problems because of a severe low.
I wear a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). This basically keeps track of my blood sugars and lets me know if my sugars are rising or falling. This is crucial information on the bike. You should still test once every hour as CGMs are not as accurate as a blood glucose result.
Carry Your Prescription
Most insulin in the US requires a prescription. Always carry a copy of your prescription for all of your supplies with you.
Let Others Know
Always let the people riding with you know you are Diabetic. If you are riding in a group, take the time to explain your situation and educate them. Explain the signs of low blood sugar, the treatment, and where your supplies are on your motorcycle. You should also have a medical ID bracelet or necklace, especially if you’re riding alone. Another good tip is to let the people at home know your plans as well as when to expect you home. If you’re going to be late, give them a courtesy call to let them know so they don’t worry.
Packing Your Supplies
When packing your supplies on your motorcycle, always have a checklist to make sure you have everything you need. I usually pack way more than I need, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Be sure to include your testing supplies, needles or extra infusion sets, glucagon, as well as fast acting and slow acting carbs and snacks.
Protect Your Insulin
We all know that if your insulin goes bad or gets hot, you’re screwed. You have to keep it cool. Also, you can’t let it freeze because then it becomes ineffective at lowering blood sugar.
I bought this Yeti thermos for our Sturgis trip. I like that it has a wide mouth and a handle on top. It also has a no sweat design to keep it dry with double-wall vacuum insulation to lock in temperature. You can also get some cute colors like teal and army green.
I simply take a Ziplock bag and place all my insulin in the bottom of the bag. Always bring more than you think you need. Tightly roll the bag taking care to remove most of the air. Leaving some air in the bag is OK and will help protect it from getting broken and from the coolness the ice. make sure it’s sealed well to keep it dry. Slide the Ziplock bag into the thermos. Ice will float to the top, so you want to make sure the insulin is toward the bottom. Fill the thermos with water and add a few ice cubes.
To protect the finish on your thermos and to add extra insulation, I like to drop it down into a men’s sock. Although this is not really necessary. I just don’t want my thermos to get scratched up inside my saddle bag. Also, if you are placing this in your saddle bag, be sure to put in the left side saddle bag away from the exhaust on your bike.
Riding a motorcycle with diabetes is totally doable. You just have to be extra diligent in testing and keeping aware of where your numbers are. Stay hydrated, test often, and have a good time!
Do you have any other tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your comments below.
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