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An Inside Look at Diabetes and Cycling: Team Novo Nordisk Part I

Team Novo Nordisk (TNN) is a global all-diabetes sports team of cyclists spearheaded by the world’s first all-diabetes UCI Professional Continental cycling team. In 2012, Phil Southerland, co-founder and CEO of the team, and global healthcare company Novo Nordisk came together to create Team Novo Nordisk based on a shared vision to inspire, educate and empower people around the world affected by diabetes. Learn more here.

We asked a couple of the team members about how they manage their diabetes while training and fueling for professional racing.

 

Chris Williams 
Chris was diagnosed with Type I diabetes during a bike race at the age of 27. He continued pursing a professional cycling career, but often doubted he would be able to continue. When he connected with TNN in 2011 and was offered an opportunity to join the team, he eagerly signed to race with them.

What is a day in the life of a TNN rider like? Training day versus race day?
Training days are a little less regimented than race days and involve a lot more coffee. I start the day with breakfast and then head out for training for a few hours. Then it’s home again to refuel, stretch, and recover. I enjoy riding on new and different roads, so I often plan out the route for the following day.

On race day, I follow a more strict routine because there is less room for error. I wake up and eat breakfast at least three hours before the race starts so that my blood sugar is stable and so that I don’t have insulin in my system. We have our race briefing to establish the plan for the day, and then the race begins. After the race, we do a cool down which helps to stabilize our blood sugar and then we focus on recovery. We refuel, have a massage, and rest the legs as much as possible before the next stage.

How does a day in the life of a TNN rider differ from the average road racer without diabetes?
We are constantly monitoring our blood glucose levels and insulin doses. During a stage race, there are so many factors that can affect our insulin sensitivity and change how our bodies respond to food and exercise. We are always monitoring and planning ahead for the next hours and even days. Unfortunately, we cannot simply eat whatever we want whenever we want. We plan and measure everything we eat for every hour of the day.

 

Reid McClure
Being diagnosed at the age of 3, Reid has never let diabetes get in his way. Reid started racing with the TNN Development team in 2015 and joined the Pro team for the 2017 season.

When do you use Honey Stinger in training, racing, and in your everyday life?
During training and racing, I use a wide variety of the Honey Stinger products to fuel my training and recovery. Honey Stinger is also a great option when you can’t find anything nutritious at the airport which, given the amount of traveling we do, tends to happen quite frequently.

Why are Honey Stinger products a smart choice for diabetic athletes?
Honey Stinger is a great choice for riders with diabetes because they use natural carbohydrates in the form of honey instead of refined sugar. This means Honey Stinger products have a lower glycemic index, which helps smooth out spikes in our glucose levels.

 

To follow Team Novo Nordisk click here.