I had dinner last week with one of my favorite people in the history of humanity where we mostly talked about our love of the bicycle in all its forms—but then we talked about what makes the bike such a special thing to us and JDRF was the obvious answer.
JDRF makes it special because the Ride program is something much bigger than a fundraiser; it’s a way to change the world while doing something I love. Contrary to how it may appear from my social media posts, I haven’t always been a cyclist or a lover of the sport. It was a gradual affection. I started road cycling to train for my first JDRF Ride in Death Valley. When I returned from the desert, I didn’t care if I ever saw that bike again. But a few weeks went by, and I realized I missed it.
The JDRF Ride to Cure program, put simply, changed my life. It gave me hope for a cure when I’d lost mine after nearly two decades of the disease. It gave me a reason to be part of JDRF again, and it became my motivation to take care of myself and learn how to manage my blood sugars on the bike. It gave me a physical challenge and introduced me to a sport I love dearly. It opened a new world full of like-minded friends at a time in my life I desperately needed a different direction.
Cycling saved me. When I’m out on the road and I pass another cyclist, I smile because underneath the Spandex and Lycra, we’re all the same. I don’t care if you’re on a fixie or a mountain bike, a cruiser or a vintage road bike. I don’t care if you spent $10,000 on your bike or if you spent $30 on Craigslist. We’re all cyclists, driven by the same passions to be on the road—especially on JDRF rides.
While celebrating another beautiful and precious milestone with a fellow T1D Saturday, my phone began pinging with text message after text message early in the afternoon, all with similar enthusiasm.
“I did it!”
“I rode farther than I ever have before! It was awesome!”
“I made it! My blood sugars did great!”
“This was amazing! Can we do it again next year?”
And perhaps my personal favorite because of the humor:
“You were right. This was an amazing experience. I thought it was just because you’re a crazy bike lady, but I’m in tears. I want to do this again!”
I watched the Nashville Ride from a distance, but my tears were still present even 40 miles away from the action. The Middle Tennessee Chapter won the Top Team Fundraiser award, the Top Individual Fundraiser award and the Top Recruiter award. To say I’m proud of this 35-rider team is an understatement. It was a wonderful year training and a collective team effort to reach our goals! We’re already planning for next year.
I’m excited about this team and the future we have toward a life without T1D! A wise old soul once told me I’d get more out of this program than I could ever put in. He was right. My cup is most-definitely running over, and I’ve never been more excited about the future of this chapter, of my health and of finding a cure!
Way to go, Middle Tennessee, way to go!
Pam Brown Wilson