Thursday, 23 July 2015


Not much to say about the ride today, or too tired to say it, which amounts to the same thing. More endless rolling miles of country roads, more headwind, more beautiful ancient villages and more contented dairy cattle chewing the cud in lush meadows bordered by neatly trimmed hedgerows. Aside from the industrial areas round Bristol it was largely Shires England at its poshest. Lovely to ride through but I wouldn't want to live there, despite being white, native English speaking, middle aged and relatively well off (which I reckon are pretty much all prerequisites).

So instead of writing about the ride I will write a little about why we are doing it - or why Martin, my ride companion, is anyway. Martin is 61 and has had type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes since the age of 20. It is clear that the diagnosis came as a bit of a shock to an active, sociable, beer-drinking student back then in the seventies, and it is apparently only recently that he has talked to anyone much about it. His wife and kids knew, of course, which was handy in case he went into a hypoglycaemic coma, but it really wasn't something he ever mentioned. He had learned to handle it in his own way and has always done so very effectively, thanks to good common sense, a sound understanding of food (he cooks for the family) and a handy bag of jelly babies.

I didn't really know any of this of course, but there is nothing quite like spending hours and endless hours grinding along endless country roads to encourage conversation. I also didn't realise to what extent he is set on proving to himself that diabetes (well managed) is not a disability and does not stand in the way of a full and active life. So he swims every morning of the year in Hampstead ponds, cycling up there for 7 am rain, wind or snow.

And so he set out to achieve a lifelong ambition and cycle the length of the country, and I am very pleased to accompany him in doing so. We have to be careful to time food breaks sensibly and I have come to notice when his blood sugar is dropping (simple really - he slows up and goes quiet) but he is unquestionably going to do it.

Martin is raising money for Diabetes UK and has a JustGiving page at

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