Cyclist Herb Boltong preparing for the trip on his mountain bike.

Diabetes no barrier to European bike ride

A Baskerville man is making a bike trip around Europe to fundraise for diabetes.
July 4, 2024
Mike Peeters

BASKERVILLE cyclist Herb Boltong (80), who has type-2 diabetes, will embark on a six-week, 1000km bike riding tour of Europe in August to raise funds for Diabetes WA.

He will be riding with his son Adrian and the trip will comprise two separate rides.

“The first ride is a bike barge tour from the Netherlands to Belgium, starting in Amsterdam and concluding in Bruges,” Mr Boltong said.

“This will be followed by a train ride to Bordeaux, France from where we will ride from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea to a small place called Sete.

“We will then travel to Paris by train and onwards to Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands where I was born.”

Mr Boltong said having his son Adrian with him while returning to his birthplace would be an emotional experience, and he hoped to catch up with family and friends in the Netherlands before returning home to Perth.

Mr Boltong is no stranger to bike riding adventures and along with his dog Snotty rode about 14,000km around Australia six years ago on a recumbent trike towing a trailer with Snotty inside.

“The trip took eight months, and I raised a considerable amount of money for Diabetes WA,” he said.

“I also made presentations to Aboriginal communities, spoke to mine site workers, appeared on television, and was featured on a number of radio stations around Australia.

“I also appeared in newspapers both locally and internationally, to help make more people aware of diabetes.”

More recently, about 18 months ago, he went on another bike riding trip to the mountains of Nepal where he badly crashed his bike.

“Fortunately, I was rescued by helicopter and flown to Kathmandu where I was admitted to hospital,” he said.

“After this, I thought my bike riding days were over and after returning home, let my fitness slip a bit before my son Adrian phoned me from Indonesia where he was working and invited me on this bike riding trip through Europe.

“At first, I thought having type-2 diabetes and being out of condition meant this may not be such a good idea.

“However, after some soul searching, I decided why not?”

Mr Boltong said the key to the trip was his fitness and preparing a detailed training program that would overcome his health obstacles.

“I was determined to make sure I would take all of my medication on time, eat well, reduce my alcohol consumption, and train and train some more,” he said.

The initial three-month program included three days a week of extensive gym work using a qualified fitness instructor, plus three days of extended walks of 3-6km a day for one month.

“I also did one day per week of bike riding for a month, starting off on short sharp rides and gradually increasing the distance.”

He said combining this with eating well and reducing alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a day saw his blood sugar level drop from an average of eight or 10 to around seven or eight.

“When I started my weight was about 88kg after one month,” he said.

“This dropped to 85.5kg and despite the first month in many ways being sheer hell, good results were achieved, and this gave me the motivation to keep going and push myself even harder.”

Mr Boltong said he is still going to the gym three times a week and riding his bike two or three times a week, weather permitting.

“This morning my blood sugar level was 5.8 and my weight has settled at 77.5kg, a total transformation.

“I now feel fit and healthy regardless of my age or diabetes and this proves that regardless of age or if you have diabetes, you can achieve anything with the right mental attitude as long as you are prepared to put in the hard work.

“Finally, I believe anyone can live with diabetes and my experience is all you need is exercise, good food, regular medication and a strong dose of positive attitude.”

National Diabetes Week runs from July 14 to 21, 2024.

To follow Mr Boltong on his European adventure in August and September, visit his website.

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