How to manage blood sugar during long bike rides/hikes

Does anyone have any advice or tips on how to manage blood sugar lows during prolonged activity like bike rides or hikes? I tend to try to be a little high before the start and it just drops so quickly. And I hate having to stop over and over and take glucose tablets. I’m even doing temp target on my Medtronics pump at 150. Bike rides drop it less quickly, but hikes I’m always low.

I used to do regular 40-50 mile rides. I found a store specializing in tri-athlete gear that has a great offering of energy bars, gels and drink mixes. After a little experimentation, I ended up using Bonk Breaker bars, Stinger chews and gels, and Cytomax drink mix. All have a combination of complex carbs that provide energy and don’t spike bg like sugar does. I also had a small tube of glucose tablets.

I did stop every hour to check bg and eat. I think eating regularly and having enough food on-board is the key. I stuffed my small under seat tool-bag, shirt pocket full of items. For long rides I found a “bento” box that attached to the top tube for more bars and took extra water/drink mix bottles. And always a little cash for stopping somewhere just in case - which happened a few times.

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Hello @AlexisJ1208 and welcome to Type One Nation. The trick with pumping is to get that basal rate down at least 15 if not 40 minutes before a ride and to watch how much insulin is on board (IOB). A bolus can be active in your systems for 4+ hours and so, if you ate less then 4 hours ago, that little bit on insulin left after that bolus can cause low blood sugar.

When I know I am riding, I will bolus very much less for a meal and I will manually set a low basal rate (you can use that 150 target but be sure to set it at least an hour before . Cheers good luck

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@AlexisJ1208 Hi Alexis and welcome to the JDRF TypeOneNation Forum, and welcome to bike riding with diabetes.

As @doug suggests, have a good supply of carbohydrate with you to get you out of a “low” and KEEP you out of another low; and @joe gave good suggestions about adjusting insulin, both basal and bolus, ahead of your ride as an attempt to prevent going low in the first place. My response is a combination of these two replies.

I’m assuming the Medtronic tools you are using is a closed loop AIDs; that is why you are able to set a temporary target. The “temporary target” by itself will not keep insulin, other than “correction basal” from being infused into your body. I suggest that, as Joe said, you keep insulin out of your body by creating a “Bike Pattern” which you will activate a few hours before your planned ride. When I plan a day out on the bike, I activate my Activity Profile / Pattern before going to bed the night before; this profile [Tandem name for pattern] has lower basal rates [than my normal profile] beginning at 6:00 AM, and lower carb ratios for all meal times. This method helps me avoid lows, but I do add carbohydrates too.

My bike bottle always has a Gatorade mixture in it [I use powered Gatorade and make 3/4 strength drink] and I constantly sip. I refill my bike bottle from clear water in my CamelBak and have measured tubes of Gatorade to add to it. My Garmin device alarms automatically for every 60 minutes of peddling reminding me to check my glucose reading on my pump. The bag on my handlebar has a couple of juice boxes, packages of crackers, and protein granola bars - plus a lunch.

Enjoy riding, and be safe!!! Plan ahead.

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Hi Alexis. I Regularly do 10 to 30 mile walks. With the covid stuff I have been staying closer to 10. I have been using the 670 g for about a year and a half. When I first started using the 670 I would drop to less than 40 on the pump regularly. Now I always set it to temp mode before I start and have 20 to 40 carbs without bolusing for them before I start. I then watch the pump and add a granola bar as necessary. When I am about 20 minutes to the end of my workout I will look at the number and shut off the temp mode and possibly add a bolus

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Hi @AlexisJ1208. If you do a search for “bicycle” or “bike” on the forum you might find some additional info, although it may be embedded in subjects that are a bit off topic so you’ll need to scroll through.
I don’t bike but have found Cliff Blok energy gels area my favorite solid to carry along, although I usual go for juice or soda - not the best choices but I’m being transparent.

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I would have a good snack prior to workout, you want to exercise with blood sugar in range so you have the energy, but want to avoid lows. About an hour before you start your workout I would adjust your basal to maybe 60%. If you feel a low, you could suspend your basal delivery all together for half hour or so depending on what your BG level does. It is the worst having a low while exercising, so frustrating. Hopefully this is helpful and it works for you. It will likely need tweaking, there is no magic number but a start. Good luck!!

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