Sacha Manson-Smith

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“When the opportunity to ride a stage of the Grand Tour arose, I just couldn’t say no”

Rider in the mHealth Grand Tour 2014 - Barcelona to Vienna. 2300km ride, 33000m of climb.

As a child I cycled a lot with my dad and brother, but during my teenage years and University I fell out of the habit of exercising. It was not until I was 24 and during my PhD in Glasgow that I got into cycling by myself - I would cycle around and sometimes over the Campsie Fells two or three times a week and loved being outside on a bike. 

However, my weight had been dropping and I was thirsty and tired all the time, but I put this down to all the cycling. It never occurred to me that drinking two cartons of orange juice in a row could indicate something else. My GP recognised the signs straight away and quickly confirmed that I had type 1 diabetes. It was a bit of a shock at first, and I found my SDI (single daily injection) regimen very hard to cope with. Moving to MDI was better, but still I found exercise difficult to manage.

After finishing my PhD, moving to London and getting a job, cycling fell to the wayside. It was not until a friend suggested I entered the Wiggle Dragon Ride in Wales, ten years after I had ridden any serious distance, that I really started to get back into cycling. Having a goal made sticking to a training plan much easier, and the day itself - 1875m over 128km in glorious sunshine - was amazing. 

A key moment for me was attending the Animas Sport and Exercise Weekend in 2012. It was great to meet so many other people with T1 diabetes. Before that I hadn’t met any, let alone a whole room full of them, all of whom were into exercise. As someone with an insulin pump, you are very aware of the particular sounds that it makes and it was quite funny to see 50 people all check their pump when one person’s pump started beeping! 

A few weeks ago stumbled across the mHealth Grand Tour group on Facebook and this lead me to TeamBG. I went for a ride with the team around the Surrey Hills, and the members of the group were hugely welcoming, supportive and great fun to ride with. When the opportunity to ride a stage of the Grand Tour arose, I just couldn’t say no.

I’m very excited about the Tour and as well as doing some challenging riding I hope to learn more about managing diabetes and meet some great people.

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