How I came to learn about the Tour de Cure…
In 2011 I participated in my first ADA Tour de Cure. A friend I used to work with, Janae, was deeply involved with the event and loved everything about it. She told me all about being a Red Rider (rider w/ diabetes) and convinced me that the Tour de Cure was something I needed to do. She also talked to me about the volunteer opportunities available and encouraged me to help out. I was sold. I signed up for the Tour only a few short weeks before the ride. I also started volunteering my time to help make the ride better for all fellow people with food allergies.
A few fascinating facts about Janae. She is a dedicated volunteer and very passionate about the Tour. The Tour de Cure ranks up there for her with Christmas as one of her favorite days of the year! Her sister Janeece is director of the Tour and is a woman who leads with passion, zest and style. Janae’s motto is, “What would Jesus do? He would be pounding the pavement and be out there talking to people about the Tour and helping out! So that’s what I do!” And one important note — she does not have diabetes! (as many people like to ask her because of her admirable commitment & dedication to ADA). We are so blessed to have people like Janae and countless other volunteers who donate their precious time and energy to help us find a cure. The ride is dependent on volunteers as a staff of 2-3 at the ADA office are the only people assigned to help with the event.
I only had time for one training ride before the big day and I paid for it the day of the ride and for days after! My one 13 mile training ride was easy for me so I had no idea what I was getting myself into riding 27 miles the day of the event — on a mountain bike!!!
Tour de Cure 2011
I started out the day eating my usual pre-walk/pre-gym breakfast. I had okay blood sugars (120 maybe?) and started my ride. Something like an hour into the ride I stopped to test to see where I was at. I was 350! I could barely pedal. I was hot. I was thirsty. My legs did not want to move. I was ready to stop riding and just go home. I was just so thankful I had my supportive husband with me to get me through the ride. Jaim was at my side cycling the route with me, stopping with me many times while I tested my blood sugar and helping to analyze what should happen as far as food, carbs, bolus, temp basal rates, etc. Without Jaim by my side,
I would have given up.
No doubt about it.
Cycling toward the finish line I was overwhelmed with emotion as an announcer proclaimed my arrival over an intercom for all to hear. My good friend Leah (a fellow T1) and her family were waiting for me with a smile, hug and gift. I was touched and teary eyed. We visited a while when I realized I was feeling a little funny. I tested. I had a blood sugar of 50 staring back at me from the screen. I quickly drank a juice drink box I had stashed away in my bike sack.
The next few days consisted of barely being able to walk and being in near constant pain in almost all areas of my legs. It was not fun. I don’t think I biked once again all summer.
2012… Ride again??
2012 came. For some reason I knew I had to sign up for the Tour! No questions asked or any doubts raised in my mind. Crazy? Yes, possibly. Although the Tour last year brought me extreme pain and a roller coaster of blood sugars that left me feeling miserable and exhausted not only the day of the event but for days after — I knew I had to go back and do the ride again. This time, my plan of attack was different. I convinced my husband that we must invest in a road bike for me to use this year. I was NOT going to do the ride again on a mountain bike! It was much too difficult.
What goes into buying a bike
Upon my inquiry, I received many words of wisdom from several avid cyclists. One of which, Kenny, (the husband of the director of the Tour – Janeece), came with to my first bike store visit. I had no idea what I was looking for or what questions to ask.
Do I buy a hybrid or a road bike? Do I want a straight handle bar or curved? How much do I need to spend to get a good bike I will want to ride for a while? Carbon, aluminum or steel – what’s the difference? Is a road bike just entirely uncomfortable and something I have to get used to? Will I ever get over this feeling of being scared about tipping over as I reach increased speeds?
I was told to go to 3-4 different stores and try out LOTS of bikes. My brother called saying to test ride each bike at least 3-5 miles. I did just that. Boy was it exhausting! Dealing with all the sales people (nothing against sales people as I used to work in sales too), being fitted for every bike, riding many uncomfortable bikes, my feelings of nervousness just being on a road bike (they move MUCH faster than a mountain bike) and an overall uncertainty if what I was looking for was really out there.
The question remained. Could a road bike be comfortable?
Erik’s Bike Shop
Thank goodness for Erik’s Bike Shop! I stopped into an Erik’s one afternoon after meeting a friend for lunch at a delicious Indian restaurant. I was dropping by just to check another bike shop off my list and get a feel for more bikes. Someone told me that I may not have a good experience at Erik’s. They were wrong. What I found was a friendly & knowledgeable staff and many great bikes to try out! Because of the rain and chilly weather outside, I actually looped circles around the store (while trying not to crash into people and displays…). After trying many bikes I finally found the perfect one! And guess what? It was comfortable! It fit me like a glove. I went to two more bike stores just to be safe and make sure I was making the right decision buying my new bike at Erik’s. What I found is that no other bike was even in the ballpark of the bike I had found at Erik’s. Along with my new Specialized bike, I ended up buying a few necessary accessories too – an air pump, sunglasses (really cool pink ones with lens that change in tint as the level of light changes!), a lock, energy fruit snacks, a padded bike skirt and I think that’s about it!
I started training rides with my husband within a few days of bringing home my new bike. That first ride left me very tired at just 7 miles. It was in the 50’s and a chilly and windy Friday evening in April that left my hands feeling raw and chapped. After pedaling 7 miles, we stopped at the seating area of Lake Calhoun and I wished so badly someone could come pick me up and bring me home. We had another 7 miles to go before we reached home again. I thought to myself, “What have I gotten myself into?!?!?”
Thankfully each ride went a little smoother and was a little easier. The first handful of rides really wore me out. With each ride I was able to go a little faster, feel more comfortable on the bike (with less fear of falling), go at increasingly faster speeds and recover much more quickly after the ride. A fun moment was when Jaim encouraged me to try the lowest part of the curved handlebars. I was reluctant but accepted the challenge. I was amazed as my speed increased at least 2-3 MPH because this position made me more aerodynamic. I even started enjoying cycling! The day after a long training ride I would wake up the next morning longing to get on my bike again!
One of our training rides we met up with our Pancremaniacs team after cycling in the morning trying to beat the heat. We cycled 33.48 miles that day! It was the longest I had ever cycled in my life! I felt so proud of myself and a huge sense of accomplishment. This sense of accomplishment was doubled when I rushed off to a restorative yoga class as soon as I walked in the door. You see, this was also a day of another personal best — as it was day seven out of seven that I practiced yoga (at a studio)! Both of these accomplishments (cycling & yoga) lifted my spirit and confidence. It was a great day.
Coming up in ADA Tour de Cure: What is means to me (part two). The VIP dinner and my experience at Tour de Cure 2012 + some really exciting news!!
Blessings, light and love,
Please join us on our Facebook page for Diabetes Light! Come to learn, be inspired & experience community + find out when new articles post!!