Strategic disengagement

Today I quit.

It’s not a territory I am all that familiar with.

Sure, a couple years ago I quit a career, but that was with a new one in the foreground.

A few years ago I quit a race, but that was the act of Dear Diabetes, completely out of my control.

Speaking of Dear Diabetes, I quit her once too, but my brain wasn’t fully developed so I can’t really be blamed for that.

I’ve had thoughts of quitting other things: my first marathon I had visions of running in front of the tram; my first time up the Grouse Grind, I had urges to hurl myself over the side of the cliff. Chemistry, I thought for sure I’d blow up the lab and be done with it. But never, never, never was there the option of stopping and turning around.

Today I stopped.

But I didn’t turn around.

Today I quit physics.

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Two weeks of physics and this is what I got out of it: a tutorial on how to make paper airplanes, and I didn’t even do those that well! (Little Ring loves them!)

After four straight semesters of chemistry, I thought for sure I was primed for physics (okay, I didn’t really think that), but nope, that was not the case. By second class I could feel the sweat building up in my underarms; I could feel the heat in my face, the shaking of my limbs.

Panic.

I got a tutor, he’s a great tutor, a phenomenal tutor, a tutor that worked so thoroughly with me to understand the concepts, in a really cool way, and at such a shockingly low wage. If I could learn this course through him, I would excel. If I could be one-on-one with the prof, I would excel. But in a class of 300 x 3, I am but a bug on the wall.

Panic.

I went into physics with an open mind. I had no idea what to expect, I don’t recall ever doing physics, but then again I don’t recall much of math, and I shut my ears to anyone who told me it was tough as hell. This past weekend I had two assignments due plus a lab. I spent all night Friday, well into the morning hours, all afternoon and evening Saturday, and all morning Sunday. There were a lot of eff bombs, a lot of distressed exclamations “I don’t understand what it’s asking me!!!” and a lot of unreasonable, I feel cruddy as hell outbursts towards the most I love.

Panic.

This course is not a priority course.

This course is a course that I potentially need, but a course that’s ultimately not going to get me into the program I desire.

When I get into dietetics, there is a core course that requires the foundations of physics, but for those in the dietetics program the prerequisite is waived. Most who don’t have physics struggle.

I was trying to be proactive.

I am taking four courses this semester, three of which are priority courses. I was spending way too much energy, both mentally and emotionally, on a non-priority. A course that if I struggle all the way through who’s to say any of it will take hold in my brain and carry over to that core course? And who’s to say I won’t completely mess up the priority courses that I should actually do quite well in?

There was a lot of soul searching, a lot of weighing the pros and cons, going back and forth, a lot of outside guidance. I don’t like to quit, but it didn’t make sense to disregard the priorities in favour of a non.

So, today I quit.

I quit for the betterment of my goal; the betterment of my grades; the betterment of my mental state; the betterment of my family.

To quote a friend: It as a matter of strategic disengagement.

Dreaming for the glory of glasses

Alright eyes, we got this. Don’t let me down, eyes. This year is our year. Got it. Alright, let’s DO this.

That was the pep talk my lovely, grey eyes got yesterday morning all through breakfast, all through transit, all through the rainy walk, and every step up the five flights of stairs to my opthalmologist’s office.

Yesterday was my annual eye appointment.

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This appointment I dream of for 365 days, hoping, praying, begging for my eyes to finally falter in the presence of my opthalmologist.

I am obsessed with glasses, been so ever since one of my elementary school besties showed up to class in an oversized pair of pink specs. I loved them! I had to have them!

When I was diagnosed with Dear Diabetes shortly after and told my diabetic eyes could be a thing of concern, I swear to you that was one of the happiest days of my life. My parents were near tears and I’m practically jumping for joy. (I was nine, what can I say, glass half full girl!)

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Friends know if they wear glasses, I’ll be trying them. I mean seriously, how could this face NOT be granted the glory of glasses???

But noooooo, year after year, blinding appointment after blinding appointment, they keep regaling the perfection of my eyes, exclaiming they’re getting better with age, no diabetic spots, and that once, majorly noticeable wandering eye, it’s majorly dissipated.

They wait for me to smile, but instead get a grimace.

I. Want. Glasses.

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These eyes NEED glasses!

So yesterday, I’m sitting in the office noticing every seat filled with someone in glasses. Could this be my year, I thought. Surely, everyone in glasses is a sign, I thought. I am getting older, after all. Eyes fail with age, right? Right???

My eyes are dilated. The room starts to blur. One word fills my head over and over: Please. Please. Please. Please. Pleeeeeeeeeeease.

I’m in the office. I see an information placard on age-related macular degeneration. Symptoms include yellow-white deposits that mess with photoreceptors causing impaired vision.

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Hmm…

I’ve been experiencing major eye irritation for months. Lots of thin eye goop that causes a burning sensation. I thought it was the circulating dust, or allergies, but maybe it’s AMD.

Squinting my eyes, I put my face right close to the sign, practically nose touching it, and read further.

Oh crud.

This is NOT good.

Abnormal blood vessels growing in my macula!

Leaking blood and other fluids!

Complete vision loss!

Oh crud! Oh crud! Oh crud!

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Found this pic on How the Light Gets In blog. The whole post had me giggling…I could totally relate!

I want glasses. I don’t want diseased eyes.

My specialist walks in, sticks a blinding light through my dead eyes. Looking good, she says.

Erm, I stutter.

Yes??? she waits.

Erm, you don’t see leaking blood?

Noooo??? she queries.

I start talking a mile a minute, telling her about the burning sensation in my eyes, how they get real itchy, and painful, how I’m sticking my fingers in there trying to get what’s causing the pain out practically every minute, and that I think it might be age-related macular degeneration, and that my eyes are gonna fall out, all the while my stomach fluttering with opposing excitement and fear. Hoorah to glasses. Eek to dead eyes.

She pauses. I swear to stop from bursting out laughing. (Note: she knows my great desire for glasses). You have dry eyes, she said. That’s all. They’re not dying. They’re atypical diabetic eyes. She hands me a sample of gel drops.

No glasses for you!

Once again spurned by damn perfect eyesight.

Sigh.

48 months: I am the walrus

Dear Little Ring,

Yesterday I was having an absolute crumb of a day, so blah, so lethargic, so lacking motivation. I couldn’t figure out why, and then, it struck me.

Just hours remained of my baby being a baby.

I love seeing your every growing milestone; I love your wild personality that gets wilder with age; I love the crazy, random conversations your growth has invited me into. But yesterday, the realization that my baby was no longer a baby, no longer a toddler, but a proper, young boy – closer to independence than mama reliance – I’m not going to lie, it stung.

In proper, good, Little Ring fashion you turned that sting into a flutter of love.

To most, you are not much of a hugger (your papsy credits your German roots for that). But every day, multiple times a day, you give mama hugs. Kisses, however, are few and far between. You’ve been wiping those suckers off your face practically from the get-go.

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Been squirming out of mama kisses from day 1.

But yesterday, you planted not one, not two, but seven (yes, I counted them) kisses on your mama – puckered lips, sound effects, and all.

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I❤ you kid!

And so…

Dear Little Ring,

Today you are four years old.

That’s four years of melting my heart; four years of everyday smiles; four years of belly-aching laughs; four years of blowing my mind; four years of the purest love possible.

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Rock of Little Ring Ages: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4.

Every day with you is an adventure, whether I’m trying to convince you not to ride your bicycle down a flight of stairs (we can thank daddy and Road Bike Party for that), or running after you, who is running after all the runners on the boardwalk, trying your mightiest to keep those, tall for a four-year-old but still quite small in the grand scheme of runners, legs of yours moving superhero fast, or saving the world one superman, spiderman, batman dress-up session at a time.

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Ohhh, the things you do for us, hey😉

You are smart, oh my goodness, you are smart. Riding a pedal bike, no training wheels, at three-and-a-half, wow. Calling mamsy and papsy’s bluff multiple times a week, grr. Memorizing book after book after only one quick reading, seriously can I have that brain? Reading off the unit numbers for every suite on our floor like a human abacus, again the brain. Singing “I Am The Walrus” at the top of your lungs.

Yeah, that’s pretty freaking cool!

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Naturally your birthday party was a road bike party, bike decorating, and tour-de-France style technical courses and all!

And the things that come out of your mouth. Oh my goodness, so random, so funny. Like at breakfast this morning, out of the blue, you said: “When I was one, I was a bear; when I was two, I was a crocodile; when I was three, I was a dog, now I’m a cat.” And apparently when you’re five, you’ll be a penguin! Seriously, where do you get this stuff???

The big words you’ve started using in your sentences: ferocious, apparently, frustrated…

Regaling us with your dreams in great detail every morning, sometimes happy, sometimes scary, most often with dinosaurs….

The times you sense frustration and you tell mummy or daddy to take a deep breath and breathe – the very thing I tell you in the midst of a 10.0 meltdown. Which, by the way, you do have. We need to work on those…

The times you want nothing to do with our words and look us straight in the eye as you put your pudgy little index finger up to your mouth and express an emphatic “shhhh…” Or just blatantly tune us out and continue on your merry way…

All of that is the greatness of you.

There is no other adventure I’d rather be on than the adventure of Little Ring.

Ps. Today was GREAT day! xoxo

Love mama

“My dear young fellow,’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, ‘there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet.”
~ Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

29 years: “Perfect storm for an eating disorder”

Apparently furniture is to be given for the 29th anniversary, but for me, all I got was guilt.

There’s a part of me I am not fond of; a part of me that scares me; a part of me I’ve feared, hated, fought and succumbed to; a part of me I don’t like discussing much, but a part that is very much there – always. It is something I have lived with for 29 years.

My relationship with food.

The other day I was chatting with a pediatric dietitian who works with young diabetics at a local hospital, and so much of what she said to me resonated. We were talking about the different methods of treatment specifically with diet, post diagnosis. There’s the Nazi-like conventional method: no sweets, no treats, you best be perfect or you’ll die. And then there’s the flexible method: make it personal, make it healthy, do what works for your child and the family as a whole, no labels.

When I was diagnosed it was Nazi style only.

As this dietitian said so perfectly: It’s a perfect storm for an eating disorder. Unrealistic expectations are being put on a child who just yesterday could eat what they wanted, when they wanted, how they wanted, and now you’re telling them nope, you can’t eat that, you can’t do that, eat more, eat less, if you don’t listen, you’re doomed.

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My first trip to the hospital courtesy of Dear Diabetes.

So, my story.

For over two decades my moms has been telling people I was malnourished Ethiopian child thin for the first four or five years of the disease, so thin the doctors kept adding to my diet, telling my parents I needed to eat more, they had me on a 2,700 calorie diet, and when I did start gaining weight, they didn’t take me off, so by the time I was 15, I was hiding my suddenly soft frame behind baggy clothes.

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My 15th birthday. Look closely and you’ll see the low self-esteem.

And sure, yeah, that happened. But what also happened is I became the child who would throw her “healthy” lunches in the bushes; I became the child who hid under her bed eating Halloween candy after Halloween candy; I became the child who would sneak spoonfuls of ice cream every chance I got, and one time hid under the table with the whole bucket thinking no one would see me there; I became the child who found bakers chocolate in the cupboard and ran to my room, crawled under my covers and took a nasty chomp. I didn’t learn from that. I hid in my room with a mixing bowl full of raw cookie dough; I ate Christmas chocolates in the bathroom; and something I am so not proud of and have never told anyone, but am now telling all of you, I used to snake my way into my parent’s room, on my stomach, in the early hours of the morning, when my moms was having a bath, getting ready for work, and would steal money from her purse – to buy chips and chocolate at the high school canteen.

Seriously, I am so sorry moms.

My relationship with food was not a good one.

For me, when they closed the door on all things sweet, when they took my control away in what I could eat, when they forced me to drink milk, something I had loathed my entire life, and something I was allergic to up until I got diabetes, and something I still very much dislike, they took my personal power away.

They took a part of me away.

My only control was a full-throttle diabetes/me revolt.

Did I have an eating disorder?

Yes, I believe I did.

I didn’t starve myself, I didn’t regurgitate what I ate, but I binged. I struggled for years to get my eating under control, and ultimately to get my diabetes in control – on my terms. And even now, although I am now crazy healthy, and in complete control, I still struggle. I don’t gorge out on sweets and treats like I did years ago, but I question nearly everything I eat now as a result; I worry about the softening of my body; and sometimes I berate myself of indulgences. Not always, but it is there.

It doesn’t go away.

Dear Diabetes gets the thanks for that.

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My relationship with food hasn’t always been a confident one.

Today, Aug. 23, is my diaversary. I have had this disease for 29 years.

Smurfette Part 2: The Bone Scan

Ohhhh, the déjà vu.

2011: I was training for my second marathon, and struggling with a sore ankle every time I ran. I spent months in physiotherapy with no relief. Dear Physio was getting frustrated; I was beyond frustrated.

2016: I haven’t run in 9 months. I’ve suffered horrid pain that’s become more a dull ache in my left foot for 12 months. I’ve spent thousands (note the plural) on physio, chiro, acupuncture, essential oils, and more with no relief. Frustrated. Desperate. Moody. Sad and envious as bloody hell.

Both outcomes resulted in bone scans. In 2011, it turned out I had stress fractures in both ankles. In 2016, well, as I’m currently writing this post in the waiting area of nuclear medicine, I don’t yet know the results.

What I do know:

At 9 a.m. I was injected with a blue radioactive tracer containing phosphate and technetium. The phosphate is treated by the body as a building block; anything broken, stressed, out of alignment, not as it should be is a hot spot trigger for the phosphate and will glow brightly under the scanning camera. They took a few pictures right off the hop to see how the body reacted to the dye, if there were any blood irregularities, etc. These pics, which I could see forming on the screen, made my feet look like sparkly glass slippers.

Cinderella! Cinderella!

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From 2011: Injecting the blue dye

Then I waited… and waited… and waited. Waiting, pretty much an apt description of getting bone scans done. Because you’re injected with such a small amount of the radioactive tracer, and because it’s got to travel all the way down to the feet, you’ve got to give it sufficient time. The injection was at 9 a.m. and the scans didn’t start until 2:40 p.m.. In between, there was a whole lot of water drinking (to flush out the kidneys) and tea drinking (because, well, I love tea) and studying (same thing for 2011, except this time it’s for college chemistry and last time it was high school chemistry).

The scan itself was only about 20 minutes!

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From 2016: The masking tape chronicles

The fellow doing my scan was great. As soon as he saw my insulin pump, he started telling me about how all four of his sisters have type-2, and his brother-in-law in Finland has type-1 and takes daily pen injections. We talked about Canada’s medical system (which by no means is as free as many in our country and others believe it to be) vs. Finland’s. This came as a shocker to me given how great the country is with its educational system, but apparently in Finland, the cost of diabetes is based on a weigh scale; those overweight pay way more than those not. This man’s brother-in-law pays in the thousands (Canadian equivalent) every week!!!

“He likes his sweets,” the tech said.

Don’t we all!

He took three photos of both feet (to compare the two): one of the top of the foot, one of the bottom, and one of the side. The photos took five minutes each and you had to stay still for the full five minutes. I was good for the first two photos; I think because we were talking so much it took my mind off it (plus, for one of the photos, my feet were taped with masking tape). But the last photo, I don’t know. You know when you’re told to stay still, but try as you might, all your body wants to do is move. That’s how I was! The last two minutes of that last photo, I could feel my feet and knees starting to twitch, and I kept thinking no, no, no, be good, be perfect, follow the instructions, don’t you dare move, dammit, stop, stop, stop. I tried taking my mind off what was going on by looking at the skeleton feet forming on the screens and trying to figure out which ones belonged to which foot, and wondering if that glowing line was normal foot bones or Princess problems. When the musical ding finally rang, I nearly shouted Hallelujah!

Apparently my doc will have the results in a week’s time.

Hopefully there will be some answers, something that will get the recovery process on the right track. Because seriously, I just want to bloody fricken well run!

Travelling with the diabetes beast

I should have written every blood sugar reading down. I should have noted my basal rates going in, and my basal rates leaving. I should have kept tabs on my insulin dosages every time I ate, and the foods and activity that accompanied every dose.

I should have, but I didn’t.

About two months ago, I suggested Big Ring and I go on a four-day getaway within the two-week break between the end of winter semester and the start of summer semester. I’d been going hard with my studies for nearly two straight years; I needed a break, something to free my mind and refresh me before the attack of yet another summer of chemistry hell, er, I mean, awesomeness😉

It was between San Francisco or Portland. Initially Big Ring was championing for San Francisco as he’d only previously seen it on a day-trip during our Sonoma County/Levi Leipheimer adventure four years ago. But Portland has always been a go-to for us. We love the neighbourhood we stay in; we love the walking culture; we love the people; the shops; the relaxed vibe, and the fact we find something new every trip we go.

Plus, Portland = my happy place.

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Dear Portland, PoP has arrived!!!

The thing about travel and diabetes though, it can be a beast. At least, for me it is. Pretty much, I am challenged with non-stop low blood sugars from the moment I step off the plane to the moment I get back on.

This trip was no exception.

A lot of the foods we ate are not typically foods I eat regularly, nor the times we ate them at. And happy hours every night, most definitely not the norm! And because travelling is mostly a restaurant culture, I don’t know the exact carb counts for what I’m eating so I’m having to guess my intake of carbohydrates, meaning I’m also guessing my intake of insulin.

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Carb counts anyone? Anyone???

And maybe I’m just a cruddy assed carb-guesser, because my blood sugars were crashing practically every two seconds. Although, I find that highly unlikely as I’m fairly decent at it when need be at home, and I was a superstar at it before going on the insulin pump. More likely it’s the endless walking we do when vacationing. Oh, and the fact Portland is home to the BEST North American ice cream EVER (Hello Salt and Straw!!!) and the fact said ice cream was ohhhhh like a five-minute walk from our hotel, and the fact, we were being so insanely debauched eating Salt and Straw at like 10:30 at night – yeah, that can totally mess you up too.

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One night, there was Salt and Straw with a craft brew chaser; like I said, totally debauched!

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And we weren’t the only ones; every night, lineups out the door and around the corner!!!

The entire trip, my blood sugars averaged 4.2. There were a lot of borderline lows, some slight lows, and one massively horrible, freak the ugly crud right out of me low.

That night we had a late dinner at a tapas restaurant. I had the paella. Now, I’m pretty well versed in what it does to my blood sugars as we have it frequently at home during the summer months. Paella is a rice-based dish (we use arborio) that generally shoots my blood sugars up if I don’t first load myself full of insulin. So I did just that. My blood sugars were 5.7, and I calculated a conservative 60 grams of carbs for the meal based on the successive lows I’d already been having. After dinner, we walked for about 20 or so minutes before deciding to stop in at Salt and Straw to which I ordered a lovely split scoop of their Strawberry Honey Balsamic Black Pepper and Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache ice creams (Yummm!!!). My blood sugars pre-ice cream were 4.7. I knew I was in a bit of a pickle. My blood sugars were dropping, but if I didn’t give myself any insulin they would surely shoot up from the ice cream later.

What I should have done was eat the ice cream, wait until my blood sugars rose, and some of the dinner insulin wore off, then give myself a half dose and test a couple hours later to see if a further dose was required. That’s what I should have done. But I didn’t. Nope, I gave myself the half dose before taking my first mouth-watering bite.

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How can you possibly think straight with that staring at you, waiting for you to dive in???

Retrospect is a bitch.

Before bed, my blood sugars were 3.7. I chewed on 5 salt water taffies courtesy of the hotel, and was feeling thoroughly ill at this point. I turned the lights out, and flitted off into an unsettled, herky jerky sleep. About 30 minutes later I opened my eyes with a start, and I don’t know what it was about the way I was feeling, but something had me fumbling for the light switch, needing to test my blood sugars. They were 2.7. I didn’t believe it. My mind was bouncing all over the place, my words were nonsensical, I was stuttering, getting half sentences out. I told Big Ring I needed to wash my hands and retest; he tried reasoning with me that I would only need to do that if my blood sugars were high. I stared at him; I didn’t understand what he was saying. I couldn’t eat anymore sugar, my body couldn’t take it. He grabbed an apple and told me to chew.

Slowly, the haze lifted, but the fear and shame of the low didn’t; I should have known better.

As much as I Iove travelling, and oh man I do, I do NOT like the diabetes beast it often presents.

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If only I had the diabetes brain of saaaay Linus Pauling!!!

I did, however, get the diabetes equation right one night: the night we took advantage of our in-suite kitchenette and whipped up omelettes – a travelling staple of ours🙂

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Pretty much, every adventure has us making omelettes at least one of the nights!

Next time, I’m making graphs… at least, that’s what I say now🙂

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Until next time dear Portland…

Ps. If you want to read more on our actual trip, here’s a lovely post from Big Ring’s blog all about keeping it weird🙂

Clips: The Bane of my Cycling Existence

Alright my cycling-loving readers, how many of you struggle with clipless pedals?

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I’ve been riding clipped in for six years now; my first ever ride in clips was on the Belgian cobblestones on a proper Flanderian cold, wet day, which was all sorts of scary, especially when the sirens of an ambulance started blaring right behind me in a funky roundabout moments after I started riding and I had no idea what to do beyond veering right and pretty much riding into a parked car to stop myself.

Least I didn’t fall over.

Least there was no one in the car.

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Belgium 2010: My first foray with clipless pedals.

But I digress.

So yeah, six years, and for the most part I’m pretty okay in them. At times I struggle getting my right foot clipped in after a stoplight, but usually the left foot, my leading foot, I’ve got no issues.

Until recently.

I don’t know what the heck’s been going on, but my goodness, neither foot seems to want to clip in. At all. Seriously, practically every time I clip out, I’m struggling to get back in. Sometimes it feels like 5 minutes before I finally hear the desired click of the pedal to cleat.

And let’s just say, that moment you feel like you’re clipped in only to realize a JARRING second later that you’re not when you slam down into your hard-as-heck seat as your foot flies off the bloody pedal – not cool. Ohhh, my poor, poor nether regions!

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I thought maybe it was just one ride, I thought maybe it just wasn’t my day, but nope, it was consecutive rides. One ride, I nearly ripped the bloody pedals right off the bike. Not exactly the most rational act, I mean, without pedals, it’s a strider, and, well, I think I’m a little too old for that style.

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Big Ring says I’ve been thinking about it too much, focusing too hard on the act of clipping in, and not just letting it come naturally. Maybe I was, maybe he’s right, but wouldn’t you be putting all your energy into it too if say you were stuck at a bloody light for TWO crossings because you couldn’t get your feet in??? Okay, so maybe that was an exaggeration😉

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Since getting back on the bike this season, I’ve tried to have a goal with every ride: don’t get lost; keep good form, back straight, shoulders down, belly sucked in; push the legs; etc. And so, with recent pedal issues, yesterday when I went out for a quick solo ride, I took Big Ring’s words to heart and decided not to overthink the clipping in process. And you know what, the veteran cyclist was bloody well right – not ONE clipping in issue!!!

Now, don’t go thinking I’m gonna start taking everything he says as gold right off the hop; I am stubborn after all😉

RIDE-DIABETES-RIDE:

• 1:15 p.m. BG before: 9.8 (had lunch with a partial bolus an hour earlier)
• Temp. basal: -70 per cent
• Distance: 21.92 km
• Time: 1:21:34
• Average pace: 16.1 km/h
• Ride BG-FUEL: @45 min: 2.9 (yikes!!! 6 Honey Stingers; temp. basal -100%)
• 2:30 p.m. BG after: 6.4
• Temp. basal: +70 per cent (2 hours)