It’s safe to say that being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes is not on anyone’s bucket list. Naturally, the initial shock of the diagnosis took me by surprise at the age of 33, but promoted a life-altering decision: to ask my brother to lend me his spare bike and necessary gear to go out for a ride.
The feeling was strange at first, and I’m not just talking about the funny-looking helmet and tight-fitting clothes. Fortunately, that feeling went away after moving at great speeds on the road. Each ride left me wanting more, as my blood sugar management and attitude towards diabetes began to improve.
I reached out to my local American Diabetes Association chapter and immediately made new friends who encouraged me to ride distances that once seemed unimaginable—10, 20 and up to 50 miles at my first Silicon Valley Tour de Cure ride in 2014. As I prepared for my fifth year riding in the Silicon Valley Tour de Cure this Aug. 5, one big challenge found its way onto my bucket list: the much-talked-about 100-mile ride and 10,000-foot elevation climb up both Mount Hamilton and Mount Umunhum.
On June 16, with the help of two friends, I accomplished that feat in seven hours and 15 minutes of roll time. It was not all unicorns, leafy vegetables and sugar-free treats, however. It required a balance of training, rest and nutrition over the course of those miles to make it happen. There were multiple occasions where giving up seemed logical, but I knew it could be done and trusted all the “highs and lows” from my rides.
Tackling that 100-mile journey is a lot like living every day with diabetes. There are always going to be highs and lows—literally—but surrounding yourself with a supportive community that motivates you to keep pushing is crucial to properly managing the disease, and ultimately thriving with diabetes.
The Silicon Valley Tour de Cure is the perfect place to find that support system and join thousands of others invested in stemming the diabetes epidemic and funding research to find a cure. Tour de Cure offers routes for all ages and ability levels, with multiple cycling routes, a walk/run and community festival.
Whether you’re just getting started on a bike (like I was in 2014) or you’re ready to take on the 100-mile challenge, you don’t want to miss out on this great community event focused on fighting diabetes.
Why does it matter? Every 21 seconds, someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes. In addition, nearly half of all American adults have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, which puts them at greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Chances are, someone you know and love is living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, or is at risk of developing the disease. Maybe that person is you.
My advice: don't let your circumstances define you. Things that seem impossible today can be accomplished with the right attitude and effort. Let us celebrate your journey with diabetes while supporting the ADA’s vision of a life free of diabetes and all its burdens.
Join me in supporting over four million people who, like me, are living with diabetes in California. Register to ride, run, walk, donate or volunteer at Silicon Valley Tour de Cure on Aug. 5 at the HP Campus in Palo Alto. Learn more at www.diabetes.org/siliconvalleytourdecure.
Ryan Fix chairs the volunteer committee for the American Diabetes Association’s Silicon Valley Tour de Cure. He is living with Type 1 diabetes and rides as a Red Rider (participant with diabetes) and is a champion fundraiser, raising over $1,000 to support the ADA’s mission to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of all people affected by the disease. Opinions in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].