Meet First Time Rider, Cary Calhoun
As this new rider can tell you, there’s nothing more thrilling than crossing that finish line of your Ride event with JDRF! Cary Calhoun was looking to get out of her comfort zone a bit and do something new to mark a milestone birthday. As a fitness lover and type one herself, the Ride seemed like the perfect fit! See below to learn more about Cary’s experience with Ride and why you’ll want to join in on the fun!
How did you learn about the Ride program?
I was diagnosed with T1D in the fall of 2012 and was fortunate enough to have a T1D sister and many friends whose kids were T1D. This support network immediately got me involved with JDRF, the Walk and the Gala specifically. However, I kept hearing about the Ride to Cure and I made a mental note and put it on the “bucket list.”
What motivated you to register?
I have been a fitness guru since my early 20’s, doing everything from aerobics (remember that!), running, yoga, boot camps, and barre classes. I received a road bike for my 50th birthday and while I enjoyed cycling, it was not part of my regular fitness routine. The year 2018 would mark my 55th birthday. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone a bit. I think the stars just aligned, and I decided it was time to try it.
How was your experience with the Georgia Chapter program?
From the first coffee that I had with Jennie at JDRF to the last meal I had with Coach Jason and Coach Mark on ride weekend, my experience with everyone at the program was amazing. The teammates are supportive and helpful, the coaches knowledgeable, empathetic and energetic, and finally, the JDRF staff is always competent and resourceful while also being passionate about the cause.
What was your favorite moment from the Ride season?
Well, of course the finish line was surreal and emotional and gratifying; however, my favorite moment of the season was far less momentous. I show up for my very first training ride all by myself, only knowing one other couple and hoping that they would be there. I am a little late, my blood sugar is running a little high, and I am nervous. I had not been on my bike much over the winter. I did not have a bike rack so my bike was crammed into the back of my car. I only had one water bottle…. the list goes on and on about how insecure that I was. So Coach Mark and Coach Jason gather all the riders for our safety talk and we all say our names. Just as we are about to go, Mark says, “who are our Type One Riders today?”. I looked around and 5 hands went up besides my own. That was the most T1D adults that I had seen in one place since my diagnosis. If you are diagnosed as an adult, there is no camp, no Walk teams, no Gala ambassadors – no tangible way to meet Type Ones. You are alone in the muck and mire of a 24/7 disease. So at our first rest stop, 6 of us were checking blood sugars, eating, drinking water….it was a concerto of beeps, buzzes, and dings as all of our equipment was alarming, checking and generally reminding us to take action. For me, that was momentous!
What was the hardest obstacle you had to overcome during the ride and how did you do it?
As one can imagine, my blood sugar was my Achilles heel…. very high starting out and remained over 300 for the better part of the ride. During training, the opposite had been true. Long and short, my BS began to regulate around mile 70…a little late in the game but those last 30 miles were difficult and would have been more difficult with a high or low blood sugar.
What advice do you have for new riders or individuals interested in riding in the future?
At the risk of sounding cliché, just do it! It was such an amazing experience…it can hardly be explained in words. It is gratifying, emotional, productive, difficult, challenging and wonderful all at the same time. Just ride so that we can turn Type One into Type None!