Tony Cervati’s Tour Divide Journey Part Four: Lows & Highs

Posted by tony on Thu, 10/04/2012 - 16:48 in

Watch as Tony shares how he uses a bivouac sack, or a bivvy, for shelter when he
sleeps out in the wilderness.

I awoke before 5 a.m. on day two, with my main goal being to get through the U.S. Border Crossing before dark. As I went to stand up, it was evident right away that something was seriously wrong with my right foot and ankle. I couldn't load any weight on it and about 65% of my foot was a deep, dark purple. It was swollen and my ankle hurt like mad on both sides.

I loaded up my bike just as I did the day before and slipped on my cycling kit. Last to go on before heading out the door were my shoes. I could squeeze my right foot into my shoe, but I couldn't close the large strap. Only the Velcro enclosure over my toe could close normally and the next one up was barely able to reach. Standing with the shoe on was better and, although very uncomfortable, I could pedal a bit with the right foot, so I set out on day two.

After a few hours, the riding became very uncomfortable. I actually looked forward to the stops for blood glucose checks in order to give my foot a few minutes to recover. Given the condition of my foot, and my resulting slower speed, the day was much harder than the first. I was all out of rhythm and the need to take longer, more frequent stops really threw me off. I stayed committed to reaching the U.S. border, however, and kept pedaling on.

Late in the afternoon I was within about 8 miles of my goal for the day. I was watching my speed and noticing that I was rolling along very, very slowly. The smaller hills I was climbing felt giant and the large climbs felt almost undoable.

I suddenly could feel my blood glucose was low.

Very low.

I stopped once again and tested. Even with my 85% reduction my blood glucose was still only 29. Looking around I saw nothing but farm land and mountains, with no dwellings or people in sight. My GPS indicated I was only 5k from the border, but everything was very still.

I ate the gummy worms I brought for fast acting insulin. Although I was trying hard to remain steadfast, I was beginning to feel very, very afraid, extremely vulnerable and alone. I was in desperate need of a voice to say, "Everything is OK.” It is so important to have a support system, a special person or a group who will understand, talk to you and ease your mind. No matter how long you have battled diabetes, there is a deep-rooted fear of it that sometimes will raise its head.

I hate diabetes. And that, as well as my fear, was ok.

With that thought, and a much improved blood glucose, I mounted back up and pedaled onward. Soon, I saw the U.S. border come into view and I got in line behind some cars waiting to enter the U.S. When it was my turn, the border patrol office asked a few standard questions and also inquired about my trip. He surprised me by asking, "Hey, aren't you the type 1 person attempting the Tour Divide race?”

Astonished, I replied, "Yes, sir.”

He continued, "My brother has type 1. We have been following you. Thank you for coming back and trying this again. It's important.”

I shook his hand and said thank you as I choked back my emotions.

He waved me on yelling "Good luck!" as I pedaled into Montana. Two-hundred feet into the U.S., I stopped for a drink. As I sat on the ground, sweating in the sun, looking south across my home country, I felt like I had never accomplished more.

Come back to read what happens next on Tony’s Tour Divide journey.