Category Archives: Tour de Cure

It’s OK, Red Rider. You Can Take a Break Now.

Saturday, June 2 was a beautiful day in Minnesota. In fact, it was absolutely breathtaking, which made it so much easier to get up early, load up the cycling accoutrements and head off to Minnehaha Falls Park to ride, party and kick diabetes’ ass.

Last year, I rode with a team I didn’t know very well. I met up with teammates at one rest stop and at the end. I raised $500 dollars. I was really impressed with the ride, the organization and the people involved. I loved how, every time I passed or was passed by someone wearing a red jersey that said “I Ride With Diabetes” we all called out “Go, Red Rider!” I knew I wanted to ride the Tour again but also knew after trying the 64 mile route I needed to either train more or ride less distance for full happiness.

This year, I had my own team of seven people (including two Red Riders.) I rode with one of my teammates and used my phone and texts to stay in touch with everyone else. Three of my teammates were brand new to the event. I only had one teammate who got sick and was unable to ride, but all of us raised at least the minimum and we surpassed our fundraising goal. I rode 45 miles and instead of making conversation with total strangers as I did last year, (which was cool in its own way) I got to reconnect with the friend who rode with me. We had an excellent ride and were pleased with our route choice, which was long enough to be a challenge (since once again I hardly trained at all) but not so long as to give me a screaming migraine, which unfortunately sometimes happens. We hit all last year’s great landmarks: Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun, the Target Center and the Stone Arch Bridge, the Greenway, Grand and Summit Avenues, the Cathedral of St.Paul, Kellogg Ave, Harriet Island, Fort Snelling and back to Minnehaha Falls. We took advantage of the rest stops when we felt like it. At one stop, we took the opportunity to get our photo taken with the Winter Carnival royalty who were very colorful and friendly. And, right to the finish line, we called out “Go, Red Rider!” as the occasion arose, which really helps a person stay focused on the cause.

Yes, we are wearing leis. You DON’T wear a lei when you ride a bike? Weird.

Once we were done, we got together with as many of our teammates as we could gather; one needed to leave early and one we had difficulty connecting with due to phone issues. We got our free lunch (I had a turkey burger and chips and a Zevia, which is a zero calorie fruit-flavored carbonated beverage naturally sweetened with stevia) and there was free beer (thank you Schell!) for drinkers 21 years and older.

A word about beer. I don’t LOVE beer, but there are situations that call for it: baseball games, German food, and post ride. Especially that last one; beer is like a post-cycling miracle beverage.

We got a picture of the four of us that convened at the beer garden. I am so proud of everyone on my team, for saying yes to the event and and supporting the American Diabetes Association, and am so honored they chose to sign up with my team! I only wish I had a shot of all of us together plus all our fabulous friends and family who donated to support our efforts, but their faces are all engraved on my heart.

Don’t we look happy? Wouldn’t you like to ride with us? I don’t know who that guy in the black T-shirt is, but I think he wants to join our team!

Even BEFORE drinking the beer, we agreed we all would be riding the Tour de Cure again and–even better–one might start his own team, and recruit friends to start more teams! The only downside of the day would have to be the fact that I was forced to face the fact that I am definitely not as strong as I once was. The ride itself was great, but I was a limp rag the entire rest of the day, when in the past, I think I would have been fine. Maybe a little tired. I think the “repetitive nap attack” might be blamed a little bit on the midday beer, but the truth is that I really need to get back to the workouts.

One additional upside to the day was that I got to try out a new toy! Thank you, Verizon Wireless, for the loan of the MOTOROLA MOTOACTV! I will have a review of the device later this week. I will be using it to jump start my enthusiasm for additional workouts. I CAN tell you that by mile 28 of yesterday’s ride, I had burned an estimated 1,073 calories. Sadly, due to user inexperience, the unit’s battery died at that point, so I am not sure how many calories total I burned. Still, exciting!

Thanks for hanging in there with me through this report of Tour de Cure 2012. Eat right, exercise, and send your pancreas positive thoughts so diabetes doesn’t darken your door, and if it does (or already has,) know that there are thousands of people out there pedaling for you and for a cure!

I’ve Got a Ticket To Ride!

  Yesterday I picked up my packet and dropped off my waiver and now I am bona fide (did you hear that in the voice of Holly Hunter in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?) This weekend I will be riding the 2012 Minneapolis Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association. I rounded up six awesome friends, we each rounded up donations from other awesome friends and Saturday we will live the event’s motto: “Ride. Party. Stop Diabetes.”

Some of us will ride the 18 mile route (with the option to jump to 27 miles if so inspired.) Some of us will ride the 45 mile route. Some of us are riding this event for the first time. For some, this is their first organized ride ever. There will be plenty of hard-core cyclists at the Tour, but we aren’t them.

I’ve met everyone on my team, and ridden with most of them, but there will be plenty of introductions made Saturday morning, since most of them will be be new to one another. We aren’t a close-knit friend or family or corporate team, although there will be plenty of those riding Saturday morning as well.

We aren’t world-class advocates or philanthropists. What we are is a group of everyday people drawn together by the promise of a well-organized and supported event and the hope that we can do a little something about a big problem. We aren’t heroes, except for the fact that by saying yes to a pretty minimal bit of time and effort, we have collectively raised over $2,000 dollars so far for research, education and patient advocacy, more than twice our goal and 100% more than we would have done if we’d said, “Maybe next year.” Two men on our team are “Red Riders” which means they’ll be wearing spiffy red jerseys to indicate they ride with diabetes while the rest of us (like almost everyone else in this country) have friends or family members with either the Type 1 or Type 2 diagnosis. We all want to make a difference; committing ourselves to the effort brings us one step closer to actually doing that.

Share with us one of the ways you give your time, money or sweat to make a difference!

Related Post: Warriors on Wheels: Cynthia Zuber

Related Post: Tour de Cure: The Finish Line

Blowing Off The Cobwebs

Spring is skipping happily toward summer, and I have finally gotten my bike out on the road. Both my bikes, actually. There was a rough patch in my life, following the birth of my second child and lasting for several years, during which I felt I was losing large parts of my identity as an individual. I loved my family, and loved my job (until I didn’t, when I stopped,) but I felt a little lost in the mix. I needed something fun that was just mine, and I remembered loving the wind on my face as I coasted down hills as a child. I bought a Raleigh bike with medium nubby tires, a cushy saddle and a straight handlebar. Something happened as I mounted the bike and pedaled off with no destination in mind. My focus on meeting others’ needs evaporated, with no one needy around. My preoccupation with concerns and to-do lists lifted. I could feel my blood coursing through my veins, practically singing, and I felt like I had come home.

I met Linda, a lovely woman from church, and we started to ride together. She had a road bike, built for higher speeds on paved roads and coaxed me into longer distances. She was the one who persuaded me to sign up for my first-ever organized ride: The Ironman Bicycle Classic in Lakeville, MN, so named because it offers distances of up to 100 miles in the early spring before anyone here is fully ready for long distances and because sometimes participants ride in snow, not because of any relationship with the Ironman Triathlon. Linda and I rode the 62 mile course in 1999, and I was hooked. She moved away, but I found an outdoor cycling group through the local fitness center. I bought a road bike, a Univega Modo Vincere. I eventually began organizing the group and teaching indoor cycling classes. I rode in recreational and fundraising events (including a few centuries, or 100 mile rides,) and even competed in a few events.

Then I turned, or re-turned to writing, and while I have never lost my love for cycling, it has become less and less a part of my life.  Now I ride one fundraising event a year, the Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association, and a handful of rides with others or by myself each season. And this is the thing: getting back in the saddle is still like coming home. When I am in a bad mood or mentally blocked, pedaling 10, 15 or 20 miles in the fresh air blows off the cobwebs, bringing me clarity and inspiration. Nowadays I ride a Specialized Allez Comp, but I still get that Raleigh out once in awhile. Chasing speed and distance is a thing of my past, but I hope I never fail to find myself, when I am feeling a little lost, out there on the open road.

How or where do YOU find yourself, when you have felt the grind of life eroding away who you are?

Related post: Cyclists: Smug But Balanced

Related Post: The Finish Line

Warriors on Wheels: Tour de Cure’s Cynthia Zuber

This is the second installment of the Warriors on Wheels series which is intended to celebrate unique individuals who transcend their diagnosis, and promote Tour de Cure, the event they participate in to help defeat diabetes. Ride. Party. Stop Diabetes.

Cynthia Zuber recently observed the twenty-fifth anniversary of her Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Diabetes wasn’t the end of her life, but it wasn’t the end of her health difficulties, either. She was later diagnosed with other conditions, such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and multiple food allergies. As Cynthia says, “Diabetes + food allergies = very challenging,” and as a result, she takes her health very seriously.

Five and a half years ago she began seeing a classical homeopath whose interventions have helped her naturally regulate her blood sugar levels, reducing, though not eliminating, her need for insulin. “I have found that holistic therapies have helped me feel my best, and let me live life well even with chronic health conditions,” she says. Homeopathy, Shiatsu massage, an organic whole foods diet, a daily walk and yoga 2-3 times a week are a handful of the things Cynthia does to stay in balance physically and emotionally. “Exercise is an everyday must,” she emphasizes, “as well as proper sleep, a good diet and controlling stress.”

Cynthia is a St. Kate’s graduate with a BS in speech communication and minors in psychology and theology. She is currently taking classes part-time that put her on track to become a holistic health practitioner specializing in healing touch and homeopathy. “I want to share the holistic therapies I have found to help others live a healthy and happy life. Health challenges do not have to limit you. Holistic treatments integrated with traditional medicine can greatly reduce symptoms, allowing people to live a much better life and accomplish their goals.”

One goal that Cynthia has for 2012 is a return to the Twin Cities Tour de Cure. She first rode the Tour in 2011, signing up two weeks before the event, and riding 27 miles on a mountain bike. She had mixed results from the experience, finding her lack of experience with cycling to be a challenge for controlling her blood sugars that day, but she was more than impressed with the overall event.  “Being a Red Rider [a Tour participant who wears the iconic red jersey that indicates they ride with diabetes] and being part of the community of the American Diabetes Association, I have never met kinder people with more passion for a cause. They call themselves family, and they really are. The whole experience is one of being supported, encouraged, and cared for.” This year Zuber plans to ride the 27 mile route again, only this time with more training under her belt, and a lighter bike.

Another goal Cynthia has acted on to help share her passion is her blog, Diabetes Light: My holistic journey to health, which she began in December and on which she offers information about holistic health practices, perspectives on living with chronic health conditions and even recipes. To learn more, check out her blog at http://diabeteslight.com. If you like what you see, click the “Like” button, and/or find the Diabetes Light community on Facebook and join in! For more information about the Tour de Cure and options to join in, volunteer or donate, check out their website: http://www.diabetes.org/twincitiestourdecure.

Related Post: Warriors on Wheels: Tour de Cure’s Kevin Wells

Related Post: Tour de Cure: The Finish Line

Warriors on Wheels Part 1: Tour de Cure’s Kevin Wells

Last June I blogged about Twin Cities Tour de Cure, a cycling fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association that I participated in for the first time in 2011. I was blown away by the route, the organization and the amazing people I met. Also by the party at the end of the ride, which was the best ever finish line I’ve crossed (great food, live music, a beer garden and NO speeches!) Janeece, one of my new best friends at the TC Tour de Cure headquarters, asked if I would write a few words about some of the people involved in this year’s ride and see if we can’t get a few more of you as excited as we are about the upcoming event (Saturday, June 2, 2012! Save the date!)

A lot of people I have talked to who have gotten either the Type 1 or 2 diagnosis have talked about the changes they have had to make as a result of their diabetes. Some of the changes are to improve health, like healthy eating and weight management, and other changes, like blood sugar maintenance, are to prevent health problems. When I spoke with Officer Kevin Wells at the 5th Precinct in Minneapolis, I was struck by the fact that when he was diagnosed in 1993, he was already a long-time nutrition and fitness enthusiast. His approach to diabetes seems to be to not let it change the way he likes to live.

Kevin’s passion for cycling began in 2005, when he took an indoor spin class to add something new to his workout regime. “Everyone there talked about riding outside,” he says, so he tried it. “I fell in love. That was the first year I did the Tour de Cure.” He commutes to work on bike whenever he can and pushes himself with distance and/or intensity on training rides outside as often as possible, or inside on a trainer when the weather is bad. In addition to the fun and challenging workout he found in cycling, Kevin discovered another obsession: the gear. He now owns several bikes and a plethora of garb, cycling computers, GPS systems, and other things that take his ride to the next level.

I asked Kevin if his intensity with cycling complicates his blood sugar management. “Long steady rides will continuously burn carbs,” he explains, “so you just have to be sure not to let your blood sugar fall too low. The way I ride pushes my anaerobic threshold, which is where the blood sugar actually spikes. When I don’t feel good on a ride I have to test [my blood sugar] because I can’t always tell if I feel off because I am low or high. I don’t let it stop me, though.”

Kevin enjoys other cycling events, such as the Tour de Tonka, and local duathlons, but Tour de Cure has a special place in his heart. “The Tour is a great, fun event. I’ve met a lot of nice people, and the food’s good. Last year, I rode the 62 mile route, and commuted to the event and back home on my bike, so I got in 100 miles. I calculated that I burned 6,800 calories that ride. I felt great.”

The folks at TC Tour de Cure would like to thank Kevin Wells for supporting the Tour with his participation and story. Please join Kevin, myself and the other riders at the event either by riding or joining the ranks of volunteers, or consider donating to support the ADA drive for research, education and advocacy for people with diabetes. You can get started by clicking on this link:  TC Tour de Cure.

Related Post: Tour de Cure: The Finish Line