You are all very generous people. Close to one hundred people supported JDRF on my behalf, donating $12,275. That’s a lot of money to help develop new treatment options and find a cure for diabetes. I just can’t say exactly how appreciative I am for all of your generosity, but I am just so deeply moved by what you’ve done.
A JDRF ride is never just a ride. It’s also a chance to meet other people touched by diabetes and to reconnect with old friends. This weekend Lisa and I met up with Victoria, Ross, Sarah, and Greg, who were all at last year’s JDRF Death Valley ride. I spent some time with Steve Berube, the New England coach and all-around great guy, who lives a couple towns over from me. I even saw Rebecca out on the Trace just before the turnaround point.
This year I met a bunch of new people, including some that I had already “met” online or known through reputation: Becky Furuta, Chrysa Malosh, and Joe Eldridge (plus a couple of other Team Novo Nordisk riders). The Novo people are great, and Chrysa told me to join them on the tune-up ride Friday morning, when we decided that daylight was burning and it was time to get on our bikes and ride. It was great being out on the road with them, even if it was just to do a few 2.5-mile loops near Vanderbilt University.
Before and after the big event, the JDRF riders spend a lot of time together celebrating what we’ve accomplished and what the money we’ve raised—over $1.5 million just for this one ride—is working to accomplish: the artificial pancreas project, smart insulin, a true biological cure, a vaccine, etc. We share great stories about the ride and the people we ride for. This year (even more than last year it seems) we also celebrated the people with diabetes who were on the ride. At Nashville we totaled more than 100 of the 515 riders, and we had our own snazzy blue jerseys. It was nice to be get a little extra love when people saw us out there on the road.
The ride itself was good. JDRF seems to always put on a terrific event, and the course was challenging and fun. We rode a bit more than fifteen miles from Vanderbilt University in Nashville to the Natchez Trace. Once on this limited access parkway, we rode 35 undulating miles before turning around to retrace the Trace. The route, with its 5200 feet of climbing, reminded me a lot of the terrain near my house, and I should have had no problems with it. However, a couple of things conspired against me having my 100% best day.
First off, it’s possible that I switched over from cycling to marathon training a little too effectively. I had plenty of endurance, but I felt like my cycling legs were just a bit tired. I kept getting dropped by Greg whenever we got to a sizable hill, and I just couldn’t seem to will myself to catch him again. The upside of this is that I fell in with a bunch of different riders in small groups until I would catch up with Greg at the next rest stop. One of the riders in one of these groups put his hand on my back and gave me a little push up the hill to help keep me in touch with the riders ahead of us. It was a very kind gesture, and I appreciated it.
I also had a whole bunch of diabetes-related nonsense going on during the ride. Despite starting out at a very comfortable 220 mg/dL (12.2 mmol/L) before the ride, I dropped to 140 (7.8) within the first hour. I spent the next 70 miles eating as much as I could just to stay inches away from hypoglycemia. It sapped my energy and beat up my confidence and left me riding more conservatively than I wanted to, lest I actually push myself to a place where I needed to stop. Eventually I made it back to Nashville a bit tired but feeling very strong. Like last year, I rolled into the finish without the people I had ridden with on-and-off for six hours. Greg and I lost each other a few times, but somehow I passed him when he stopped at the final break point.
Some people I’ve met go for blood during a century ride. (Overheard on the course: “It’s not a race; it’s a ride.” “No way! It is too a race.”) Other people’s main objective is to beat the time cut-off before being forced to turn around short of the half-way point. Having done five century rides in the last few years, I can say that I’m somewhere in between. I’m not worried about finishing, but I don’t feel the need to find out how fast I can ride 100 miles. (It was six hours and eight minutes of riding time yesterday, BTW.) Going for speed can wait until I start Ironman racing. When it’s not a race, I want to have a good time and see stuff along the route, to stop and take in the historical markers and scenic overlooks and roadside parks. (I’d love to come back and ride more of the Natchez Trace, perhaps even the whole thing.)
When it comes right down to it, sometimes I’m still just a guy with diabetes on a bike. When I’m out for a ride, I don’t need to be the fastest guy out there, and sometimes (like yesterday) diabetes is going to make sure that’s what happens. But all in all, it was a really good ride, and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to do it.
Thank you all again for supporting this fantastic cause! If you feel like you missed out on your chance to support JDRF, don’t worry! You can still contribute.