Ride for Life: 2012 Tour de Cure


Well I survived again! Today (Saturday) was the American Diabetes Associations big bikeathon, or as they like to call it, the Tour de Cure. I started doing this last year after my step-father-in-law Leighton told me about it. He has diabetes. Chances are, you know someone with diabetes. Or have at least sat next to one in the waiting room of your endocrinologist’s office. In fact, many people with diabetes also have thyroid problems as a result of their disease. Leighton is on a higher dose of Synthroid than I, and I have no thyroid!

The Tour de Cure is AWESOME even though it is extremely difficult and SOME family and friends (AHEM) told me I was crazy to do it. The SOLE reason this event is a matter of survival as opposed to just fun exercise for a good cause is because some crazy person decided to hold the Dallas ride at the end of July. July 28th actually has no significance to the ADA. In fact, the Tour is a nationwide event and many states cooler than ours hold their event from February-June and August-October, any of which would have been far better than JULY. I clicked on about thirty different locations on the event map and found only ONE other location that rode on July 28th, and that was in Hillsboro, Oregon. Guess what the high in Hillsboro was today. 76 degrees. 76!!! Our high was 106.

If the ADA had a suggestion box, I would be sending a lot of letters. Anyway, I wanted to do 64 miles this year, but A) did not ride further than 35 miles when training and B) did not want to DIE of heat stroke. If it were in winter maybe. New York and New Jersey have rides in October. How does that make sense??


Okay enough griping. Tour de Cure really is a fun and fantastic event. It is held at Texas Motor Speedway, and while I am not a car racing fan, it is pretty cool to bike a round such a big fancy track. They let us do a lap around the track and then the rest of the ride is along 1-2 lane country highways next to fields of sorghum and sunflowers. There are two rest-stops at the 10 and 16 mile marks, where wonderful volunteers give you food and water and cold towels and sunscreen and mist you with sprayers and let you sit in the blessed blessed shade while you catch your breath. To the right is a picture of the starting line. I am in there somewhere.

And once you survive the event, you get to sit in more blessed shade and drink more water and eat and listen to a band and visit a million booths giving away free merch and massages. I’m still mad at myself for not getting a massage while I was there.

Oh and I got to ride next to a guy on a penny-farthing bike for a while (Pictured left. The bike, not the guy). So if that doesn't raise my cool status I don't know what does.
This year I rode 32 miles in 3 hours and 8 minutes. That includes stopping 3 times to rehydrate, eat, sit, get sprayed in the face with water and use the port-a-potty. I completed the last 10 miles in 33 minutes. Both of these are personal bests for me.

Yes, I am tooting my own horn. But this is a HUGE improvement over last year, when I felt a bit weak and goofy. I took up bicycling as a hobby after my cancer diagnosis because it makes me feel absolutely and solidly alive. Even though you can feel perfectly healthy at the time of your diagnosis, cancer threatens to take away all those feelings of health, security, strength, independence. Until you are convinced that you ARE the cancer. That it has taken over your identity and no one (including yourself) will ever see you as a unique, productive or desirable individual again.

Cycling is my way of countering those feelings. Being outdoors, using all my senses at once, I become healthy again: feeling the strain of my quads as I push forward, hearing my breath pushing rhythmically against the air, smelling the sun-soaked earth and my sun-soaked skin, tasting the life force that is icy cold water and seeing myself reach each goal I set, go a little further than I thought I could. Those experiences have been everything. Someone so alive cannot be sick. Someone so alive cannot be defeated.
Last year, I was mostly in the back and would just try to follow someone who didn’t look too muscular. I did not finish until about 1:30, meaning it took me about 5 and a half hours to complete. The moment I remember most distinctly is finding myself along on a country rode and having a car full of teenage girls drive up next to me, cheering me on, saying “You can do it!”as if I didn’t quite look like I was going to make it. No one would say “You can do it!” to Lance Armstrong. He KNOWS he can do it.
This year, I would pick a muscular person, the kind with the square calves and bulging biceps, and tell myself to follow them, only to end up PASSING them! And I kept right on passing people. I definitely got passed, and the ride is not meant to be competitive, but I wanted to have a decent time and I think I accomplished that goal. I found myself going speeds I have never been able to maintain in the past.
Here is what I suspect were the keys to my cycling success:
1) The whole crowd aspect of a group-ride is super motivating.

2) I kept humming “Situation” by Yaz in my head, a strangely excellent beat for exercise. Mostly I was just singing “move out” over and over, especially when going uphill.
3) AND I just really wanted to get out of the heat. So I guess if the event WERE in October, I might not have been as motivated to ride quickly.


Here is my “Sick people should stick together” plug: It feels good to help a cause even when it’s not your own. I have raised $355 so far. If you would like to donate, there is still time! They are collecting donations through August. Just click the icon below if you want to show your support for those with Diabetes and promote the research and awareness of this disease!


The next step is to start a THYCA fundraising event! How amazing would it be to have something comparable to the Tour de Cure?! I have not given up on my dream of a THYCA cycling team and eventually a bikeathon.

It reminds of Pollyanna dreaming of the bazaar:
Picture it. Darkness. And out of the night,
50 bicycles appear moving down the square.
And hanging from their handle bars, two hundred,
TWO HUNDRED, gorgeous Japanese lanterns!"

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