What I Learned from Adults with Diabetes at the JDRF Bike Ride

Posted by harris on Fri, 12/12/2014 - 09:14 in

I really wanted to participate in the Burlington, VT JDRF Bike Ride, because, as a father of a child with diabetes, I usually meet only kids with diabetes. I rarely get the opportunity to meet adults with diabetes. Even when I do, it's a little uncomfortable to just go up to them and say, "How's your blood glucose?" So, the ride gave me the opportunity to get in shape, raise some money for the JDRF and meet some people who have lived through life with diabetes for a lot longer than my son Davis has.

As a biker, I'm in pretty good shape, but my single summary impression of adults with diabetes is that they can kick my butt! Boy, are they in good shape! Some of them climb Mount Washington (elevation 6,290 feet) on their bikes just for fun! People with diabetes are not wimps. They are athletes that are in much better shape than I have been in a long time and some have even founded their own fitness companies!

I've done a lot of fundraising bike rides and most of them are to help cure some pretty deadly diseases. So you will see riders who are riding for loved ones who are no longer here. But, you rarely see any of the riders who were afflicted with the disease participating in the event. That was not the case with this JDRF bike ride.

I was intrigued to see so many of the riders with their insulin pumps, CGMs (continuous glucose monitors), displays and clear pouches strapped to their bikes. You would think that for such a long, 100-mile bike ride you would need a CGM just to complete the event (but that is not true for all of the riders with type 1 diabetes). I can't think of a better combination than technology and medicine. It's easy to see that one day medical technology will be so small that you might walk up to someone and say, "Oh I'm sorry I didn't know you were talking on the phone.” And their response might be, "I wasn't talking to anybody, I was just checking my blood sugar!"

Overall, the feeling that I got from this ride was that people with diabetes are beautiful and healthy-looking people. If you didn't know any better (and who does), you would never know that they walk around with a chronic disease. They blend in like you and me and overcome some of the most difficult physical challenges that any of us might face.