Biking for diabetes awareness once again

My athletic effort this year has been all about running. Feet pounding the pavement, making sure the hydration, nutrition, clothing choices are all dialed in, meeting new people, long runs every Saturday, intervals/hills and threshold runs to test the limits – all have been the focus. I notice the mantras have had to rise to the occasion. “I love running.” “Running is fun.” “I am strong.” “Keep running up this hill.” 

Todd, Paul, Gunnar and me in the side – after our virtual Tour de Cure Minnesota last year!

What gives

When I intentionally shifted my focus to running, I knew something would give. As I look back over my training calendar, I notice that my effort has been on lifting twice a week and running three times a week. Swimming and biking went to the back seat. Confession, my heart and body miss regular swim sessions and bike sessions.

Summertime biking & swimming

Thankfully, it’s just about summer here in Minneapolis, Minnesota and my many athletic teacher friends will have extra time to bike and swim. Plus, the sun is out and it’s warm enough to bike and swim outside. Lake Nokomis opens up for open water swimming on June 14th. I just took my Specialized bike off the bike trainer and cleaned the bike and chain and both it and my LeMond bike are both ready for some serious outside riding. 

Tour de Cure Minnesota

The Tour de Cure Minnesota is back in-person and is happening tomorrow! I’ve ridden in a Tour de Cure every single year since they started the ride more than 30 years ago. As luck would have it, I lived in Santa Cruz, CA when they started the ride in California and for some unknown reason I decided I’d sign up and drive myself and my green hybrid bike over to San Jose to ride in that first Tour de Cure. 

Go Red Rider!

I worked with a team to start the Red Rider recognition program in 2007, after riding in multiple cancer-survivor bike rides and getting lots of recognition and celebration for being a cancer-surviving cyclist. From personal experience with both diseases, I thought it was quite a bit harder to be a diabetes-surviving cyclist than a cancer-surviving cyclist. As I said early on when I started the Red Rider Program, cancer was extreme in the moment and diabetes was a continuous grind. From the cancer-survivor cycling events, I discovered the celebration and recognition spoke to my heart. I wanted that at the Tour de Cure. Over a few years, we made it happen.

A few years back the Red Rider Program almost died. But dedicated cyclists with diabetes all over the country came out of the woodwork and demanded it be kept alive. This year, I will pick up my Red Rider cycling jersey later today. I will wear it tomorrow as I ride the 25 mile route.

Tour de Cure start many years ago – Red Riders smiling!

Pandemic fall out

This year there are only 12 Tours happening. At the height, there were more than 90 that happened each year. In part, the number of Tours shrunk because of the pandemic. In part, the effort to make the Tour a successful fundraising event got harder and harder. 

Minnesota had an incredibly strong group of volunteers who worked year after year to make the Tour here a happening event, with donors, sponsors and many, many riders. We rode that success into this year. However, we have a fraction of the riders tomorrow and as a group we’ve barely made enough to break even. 

Time changes everything

I’m not sure that this particular Minnesota Tour de Cure event will happen next year. They might ask us to drive to Chicago to ride with them. Or to some other state and participate with their Tour. Or perhaps we will simply have to do the Nationwide Tour and ride a route of our own creation on whatever day we choose. 

One thing I’ve learned as I’ve aged is that nothing is guaranteed. The key is to enjoy and appreciate what’s happening RIGHT NOW. 

Toward that end, tomorrow I will ride with Paul and Gunnar, both of whom have had diabetes longer than my 41 years with type 1. The three of us will laugh and celebrate the many years all three have successfully survived this horrible, 24 hours/365 days a year disease. Riding our bikes and lots of laughter is part of our key to success. 

As we ride alongside the others in their Red Rider jerseys, we will yell, “GO RED RIDER!!” to remind all those with diabetes that they are seen, appreciated and loved for the effort it takes to live life well with diabetes. 

Consider making a donation

If you’d like to contribute to my fundraising efforts, I’d be very grateful. Every dime goes to help the American Diabetes Association fund research, promote advocacy and help the more than 4,000 people who are diagnosed DAILY with diabetes live healthy, well-informed lives. Click right here to make a donation. 

In appreciation!

Here’s to more swimming and biking this summer!

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10 thoughts on “Biking for diabetes awareness once again”

  1. Good luck on your ride, Mari! I’m so glad you are making time for this important event and raising money for the cause. Go Red Riders!

    • Thanks Jenny! I’m eagerly awaiting the healing of your shoulder bone so we can ride and run and swim together!!!!

  2. I missed our TDC ride in April. Already on my calendar for next year. The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation (DRIF) has a ride on Long Island in September that I may attend. The Diabetes Research Institute, based at the University of Miami, is the largest research institute in the US that is solely focused on a cure for T1 diabetes. Awareness and treatments are great, but a cure is what we need.

    • Cabe, the ride in September on Long Island sounds like a good one! And yes indeed a cure would be AMAZING!!!

    • Thanks so much Brooks!!! I love seeing you and your bike and the rides you do on Facebook!!!! GO RED RIDER BROOKS!!!

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