For many people, riding a bike for 25 – 50 – or even 100 miles or more is a “solo” experience. Even for those who participate in one of Colorado’s many beautiful road rides with thousands of other people, it can be a solitary and quiet experience. I’ve ridden Elephant Rock, Copper Triangle, Tour of the Moon, Pedal the Plains, Triple ByPass – and even the Double Triple Bypass – multiple times. And though there are thousands of other hearty Colorado cyclists at these events (and plenty of “flat-lander” tourists from out of state) I typically enjoy the hours of pedaling these events in solitude, mile after mile – me, my bike, and the road.
But the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes program is different. Much, much different. It’s not so much about the miles logged – and it’s never about the speed – and often not even about the beautiful scenery around us. It’s about the people who have joined together, challenging themselves and each other to go farther or faster than they thought they could.
Most importantly, it’s about raising money for type 1 diabetes research. The JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes program has since its inception raised over $50 million for T1D research, and this season’s rides are on track to be the biggest year yet. Having just completed the Sonoma ride in late August, I’m proud to report that 650 riders came together to raise $3.1 million – the most ever raised by one ride.
JDRF Ride isn’t just a bike ride: it’s an experience where hundreds of riders come together from all over the world to make new friendships, enjoy the unparalleled camaraderie of the Ride community and raise money to help end T1D. Each ride gives cyclists of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to support breakthroughs that transform the lives of people with T1D, until there is a cure. Each cyclist rides for his or her own reason – on behalf of a loved one who lives with T1D, a friend who lost the battle with T1D – or with the conviction that their own T1D will not stop them from achieving their goals.
While riding the roads in Sonoma County August 24 I talked to a young mom who had never ridden a bike outside before training for the ride – but who knew her six-year-old daughter overcame far greater challenges every day in her battle with T1D. I shared snacks at a rest stop with a man whose father has endured over 50 years of treatment for diabetes and has seen the advances made possible by research funded by JDRF. I spoke with one of the many amazing volunteers whose wife was riding and raising money so that their teenage son might one day be told a cure for his diabetes has been found. And I met a 13-year-old girl who lives with T1D and convinced her parents to let her train and ride 100 miles so that she could prove to EVERYONE that there’s nothing she can’t do.
Their stories inspired every mile and hill I pedaled. They were the reason I asked my friends and family and neighbors and colleagues to donate to my ride fundraising. And they are all now part of my JDRF Ride family who inspire each other and return year after year to raise money for life-changing T1D research.
It’s not too late to train for one of this year’s remaining rides, and never too early to plan for next season! Learn more about the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes program and consider signing up to ride or support another rider.