Diabetes Forecast

Twin BMX Racers Manage Their Type 1 Diabetes

By Lindsey Wahowiak , , ,

Ashley, left, and Emily Hayes

Ashley and Emily Hayes: BMX Racers

Athletes: BMX racers on track to make the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo

Age: Both 14

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

Diabetes: Both have type 1 (Ashley was diagnosed at age 3; Emily was diagnosed at age 4)

Gear: Medtronic insulin pumps and Dexcom continuous glucose monitors (CGMs)

When your dad is professional BMX racer Bubba “Blaze” Hayes, it’s only a matter of time before you go from training wheels to popping wheelies. For Ashley and Emily Hayes, BMX racing was a natural fit—especially for bonding with their dad. At age 8, Ashley took to the track like a fish to water, and Emily followed a year later. Today, the girls are ranked fifth and fourth in the nation, respectively, for their age group. It’s taken a lot of work to get there: The girls train almost every day, alternating visits to the gym with rides at a track near their house at least three times a week. Every race is different, from indoor tracks to outdoor dirt paths with hills, jumps, dips, and hairpin turns. Ashley and Emily look at racing the way they look at managing their diabetes: They have to be ready for anything.

Pedals to the mettle

Ashley and Emily work together to train. They do bike sprints on the street to build up stamina and speed, and lift weights. “Over time, you develop some skills, like jumping and handling, to go faster. You can do mini moves in the turn to pass people, [but] it takes time to get all those skills,” Ashley says.

Speed is everything

“When you’re working out, you can go low really fast,” Emily says. “I have to eat carbs before I go work out and ride, and then I have to watch my number a lot.” The girls pay close attention to their CGMs and do finger-stick checks throughout their practices. At lunch and dinner, they make sure to eat a mix of protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.

A family affair

Ashley and Emily aren’t the only ones in the family who race, and they’re not the only ones with diabetes either: Their older brother, Maguire, and sister Melanie have type 1, too. So their mom, Julie, spends a lot of time making sure everyone is doing their best to manage their diabetes on and off the track.

Finding what works

BMX might be the twins’ favorite exercise, but they had some hits and misses along the way. “We both used to do basketball and we hated it,” Ashley says. “Keep on doing things to find what [you] love to do.”



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