Get to know first-year rider, Tyler Myers and learn what inspired him to join JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes this year!
How long have you been living with T1D? Have your perceptions on life with T1D changed since the time you were diagnosed?
I was diagnosed at 7 and this past January was my 20th year with T1D. My perceptions on life with T1D have dramatically changed since my diagnosis. This past year was the most significant. A few years ago, my doctor delivered frightening, but honest, news to me that kidney failure was in my near future due to my apathetic approach to the disease. I accepted defeat for years. I fought depression and let T1D oppress me into believing I did not have a chance at a healthy future. Over this past year, I’ve learned T1D doesn’t have to be my oppressor, but can be a fair opponent. I’ve invested in better technology. I’ve been reading a lot of books. I’ve been asking questions about the food I eat. I’ve been running and cycling. These are all ways to make us stronger – technology, education, nutrition, and exercise. We cannot fully defeat the opponent as of now, but we can at least keep it pinned using these methods until a cure is available.
Why did you decide to get involved with the JDRF Ride this year?
Cycling was the first step into gaining back my future. It became a training ground in understanding how I can safely exercise (after facing dangerously low BGs on runs for years). I could put anything I need in my bags on my bike and go out with the security of multiple forms of glucose, a backup meter, and just about anything else you could imagine. After raising a couple hundred dollars last year for a Facebook fundraiser on my birthday, I wanted to do even more to help repay all JDRF has done for me. When I read about Ride To Cure Diabetes, it only made sense to sign up and give back using the sport that literally saved my life.
How would you describe your cycling experience and did that impact your decision to join JDRF My Ride?
I started riding last July. At the time of signing up, I would have placed myself in the beginner/novice category. I had done one 60-mile tour by that point. I knew I had plenty of time to train to take on the challenge though. Now, I would consider myself in the novice, more athletic category. I have done a couple 100-mile rides, and my most recent JDRF fundraiser was 157 miles. I enjoy the more slow-paced, adventure side of riding more than the fast-paced, racing side. I’m normally out exploring gravel roads riding through fields, forests, and levees. With cycling, you can build endurance very quickly. I think nearly anyone can do it regardless of their current fitness level.
What goals have you set for your Ride and do they have any significance?
My total fundraising goal is $7,563. This represents one dollar for every day I’ve survived this fight against T1D – from the day I was diagnosed to the day I will be doing the Ride To Cure Diabetes.
After the rides were moved to virtual, I chose to push my fundraising through a variety of cycling challenges – hill climbs, endurance routes, etc. These have proven to be successful in striving for my bigger goal, plus it was great training for when I go out to ride in Death Valley. I chose to still go out to Death Valley after it was moved to virtual, just because I still wanted to push myself on the hardest course available to personify the grit it takes to live with T1D. My wife and some friends will be joining me on October 1st when I do this ride.
How do you manage your T1D while cycling and do you have any tips for other riders?
This has still not been completely answered after about a year’s worth of researching, reading, and asking questions to sports dietitians. Education on how the body uses glucose is crucial and asking questions to science-based professionals – Registered Dietitians, Strength and Conditioning Coaches, etc. Reading material, forums, and places to ask questions are always nice too – Bright Spots and Landmines, Think Like A Pancreas, FB Groups (Type 1 Diabetic Athletes Group) and blogs (LP Nutrition Counseling – she was at Summit in February; TriT1DTech; HealthLine; EatRight.org) have all been great resources for me.
For practical tips on riding: get a bag! Frame bag, handlebar bag, top-tube bag, stembag, saddle bag, whatever it is – get one! This gives us a chance to load it up with fast-acting glucose, slower carbs, juice, candy, a back-up meter, extra insulin, a PDM, whatever you may need. Personally, I carry a frame bag, two top-tube bags, and a saddle bag. Additionally, don’t be afraid to experiment. Whether it’s your basal rate, your nutrition, or your entire approach. I love having all my numbers available (BG, HR, Speed, Cadence, Times, etc.), but you may work best flying blind without a CGM and going solely off feel. Experiment with everything, then log what worked and didn’t work for you in the notes of that workout or in your phone. It takes time to learn what works best, but after a month or two – you have that knowledge and can move forward knowing you are going to be far healthier.
Do you have an inspiring message or favorite piece of advice for someone newly diagnosed with T1D?
Always keep your future self in mind! Start each morning thinking about where you want your health to be in 10 years and take small steps towards that each day. We will always have to work harder than the average person, day in and day out. There’s no denying that, but we have to choose to make time for our health now, so we aren’t forced to later. Most importantly, find something that’s fun and good for you simultaneously.
What do you like most about being involved with JDRF and the T1D community?
The JDRF and T1D communities are incredible. The JDRF community, specifically at TypeOneNation Summit, motivated me to start caring for not only myself, but also others. Every event they put on, I find myself inspired to continue to help others and help equip them to fight back stronger. Locally, some friends and I started a Facebook group to help build a stronger T1D community in the southeast Missouri region. It’s exciting to see friendships made and support given to people that have been brought together through this group. I’m a firm believer that having a good community around you as a T1D is one of the major factors in success. Personally, I know if I surround myself with people who are wanting to take better care of themselves, exercise, learn, encourage others – then I’ll want to do those same things. That’s the power of community, and JDRF demonstrates that extraordinarily.
Tyler has been sharing his story on social media. You can follow his inspiring videos (and check out his spotlight in the Southeast Missourian) here:
Southeast Missourian: https://www.semissourian.com/story/2829679.html