Biking beyond Type 1

[Post originally published on Nevada Appeal, available HERE.] 

Diabetes may seem like a debilitating diagnosis, but 20 cyclists are working to prove this isn’t the case by riding over 4,200 miles across the United States.

Bike Beyond is a campaign by Beyond Type 1, an international organization seeking to support and educate about Type 1 Diabetes. The Bike Beyond group has been riding for nine weeks, from New York City to San Francisco — they passed through Nevada last week, making a stop in Fallon on Thursday.

According to the riders, Nevada was one of their hardest legs. With temperatures over 100 degrees and mountains aplenty, the going was difficult. Add in smoke from recent fires and anyone would be having a hard time. Abbey Brau, the team leader of the ride, noted it was harder than crossing the Rocky Mountains in some ways.

“You’re not mentally prepared,” she said. “For the Rockies, you’re like ‘it’s this big thing, it’ll be so hard,’ but here it’s like ‘here’s your route for the day’ and there are four summits, or three different mountain passes to go over … Nevada is a beast.”

The group is riding both to raise awareness of Type 1 Diabetes and fundraise for Beyond Type 1. All but one of the riders lives with Type 1 Diabetes, and one of their goals is to show that diabetes doesn’t have to get in the way of a person living their life.

“I really want (others) to know that diabetes doesn’t have to hold them back,” said Silvi Pold, another rider in the group. “It makes things a little more complicated, but it doesn’t make it impossible and I think a lot of us are here to show other Type 1s, and the world at large, that we can do anything and we should do everything.”

The riders said one of the most fulfilling parts of the experience has been meeting community members living with Type 1 at their stops. Melissa Rodgers, an Australian rider, said it was inspiring to hear people’s stories and connect with someone going through the same things.

Brau recalled one stop where they met a 10-year-old boy with Type 1. She said he was very shy about it and refused to wear his glucose monitor; after he met the riders, though, his parents messaged them to say he started wearing it and was more open around his classmates.

Brau noted Fallon was a somewhat unique stop for them. Some community members met them at the Churchill County Fairgrounds and helped unload their vehicles. She said they did not get help at all the stops and it was nice to have.

“This is amazing. I want to bring them with us,” she said.

This week the group travels through California, planning to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and enter San Francisco on Friday. Normally four riders have a rest day and ride in the support vehicles, but Brau said they would all be on their bikes for the final leg of the journey.

All the riders agreed there were mixed feelings about the end coming. They said they were ready to sleep in real beds again and be with their families, but it would be odd going back to their regular lives and being away from the group.

“In less than two weeks, people I’ve been spending 24/7 with for nine weeks I won’t see,” Brau said.

According to Brau, Beyond Type 1 has the largest social media presence of any Type 1 organization. They are active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — they have been posting updates and pictures from the ride on all of them as well as their personal accounts. To follow the remainder of the ride, or get updates on the organization, search for Beyond Type 1 or #bikebeyond.

“Sometimes those real-time photos and updates are the best part and what people want to see,” Brau said.

Their efforts to spread awareness go beyond the end of the ride as well. A film crew has been following the group preparing a documentary about the ride. The film is expected to run on World Diabetes Day, Nov. 14.