Why I Ride is a series of stories from people and families with a connection to T1D. I ride for myself, but there are thousands of others I ride for as well, many whose stories won’t necessarily be told publicly. This series is an attempt to share a few of those families with you. Supporting JDRF is a noble and worthy cause for many people. You can support JDRF through my Burlington ride here.
In every JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes, Mile 23 is the mile of remembrance. We ride it in silence and solidarity for those with type 1 who lost the fight too early. It’s a hard mile, but it’s a mile where we remember why we all ride. It’s not a fun mile, but it’s an important mile.
This year’s Mile 23 is different for me. In nearly 23 years of life with T1D, I’ve never lost a friend to diabetes. The stories of lives cut short were only that—heartbreaking stories, but none without a personal connection.
That changed for me this year when my friend, Bryan, passed away while on a ride with friends. A diabetic for many years, his heart gave out and ended a life way too young, leaving his wife and daughter to figure out a new way of life.
Bryan loved to ride his bike, and he wanted everyone else to experience the same joy he found on two wheels. Maybe that’s why we connected. Bryan was one of the first people to friend me after moving to Nashville. He was encouraging, and he was willing to go out of his way to make people feel welcome. His rides were often no-drop, and if you didn’t have a bike, he’d find or sell you one. After his death, I finally found myself on an old gravel, county road surrounded by strangers to honor him. It was the most fun I’d had on a bike in a long time.
So today, I ride Mile 23 for Bryan. I wish I could still pedal that mile remembering stories of other people’s tragedies. But instead, I will ride with memories of Bryan and prayers for his wife, Leslie, and their daughter.
For those who have left us too early because of an incurable and unpreventable disease, for those who have lost loved ones and struggle with this disease, for those who hurt and want a cure, you are Why I Ride.