Racing on Insulin: Taking Type One to T1
by: Cassidy Robinson
“You’re nervous? About what? You just rode a bike across America.”
True, but that wasn’t a competition. That was about teamwork, inclusion and building community. There isn’t a competitive bone in my body. I’d rather cheer you on than take you on, but alas here I am heading into the on-road sprint at Wildflower. It’s the first athletic competition I’ve ever competed in and my summer bike trip themes of teamwork, inclusion, and community are what led me here.
In the summer of 2017, I cycled across America as a member of Beyond Type 1’s Team Bike Beyond, a group of 20 amateur cyclists living with Type 1 Diabetes. We cycled 4,200 miles across 15 states over ten weeks. Seventy days of sweat, hills and community events. We were the first team of amateur Type 1 Diabetic cyclists to cross the country with good reason – being an athlete with Type 1 Diabetes is extremely difficult. Our bodies don’t produce insulin so daily survival for a Type 1 Diabetic includes counting carbohydrates, dosing insulin correctly, balancing high and low blood sugars, thinking with multiple brains at all times. We get sick more easily, many of us have additional autoimmune disorders, we wear medical devices all over our bodies and we’re intimately familiar with needles.
As a member of Team Bike Beyond I helped show the Type 1 Diabetes community and the world that a chronic disease, one with no cure and no absolute cause, can’t stop you from taking on an extraordinary task. Our team was filmed for a documentary that will be released this year in hopes that we can educate the wider world about Type 1 Diabetes and inspire fellow Type 1 Diabetics to push past their perceived limitations.
I’m competing in Wildflower alongside a team of fellow Type 1 Diabetics organized by TypeOne Run. TypeOne Run is the new-kid-on-the-block in the world of Type 1 Diabetes non-profits and their succeeding because of the simplicity of their mission, “To improve and enrich the lives of all those touched by Type 1 diabetes through running and community engagement” and lack of barriers to entry: there’s no fundraising and no membership dues. To get involved you join your local chapter’s Facebook group and show up to a run. If your blood sugar drops low during the run everyone walks together, if it’s your first time running the pace slows, it’s a model based around the inclusion and community that kept my teammates and I spinning our legs over the summer.
When Craig and James, the co-founders of TypeOne Run, mentioned that they were getting a group together to compete in the “Woodstock of Triathlons” I was enticed.
Music, beer, camping, athletes, fellow Type 1 Diabetics
Sign me up!!!
And so here we are, I’m finally going to compete in an athletic competition and I’m doing my training alongside people who understand exactly what it is like to have a roadblock put in front of you and to decide to push right past it. Come Wildflower weekend, when you see a group in blue TypeOne Run shirts with medical devices stuck all over us, come say “hi!” we would all love to bring you into our circle!
Here’s a trailer to the documentary: https://youtu.be/e9-yspGRXg8
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