Bike Beyond Launches from NYC
Aaaaaand they’re off!
It was a big weekend for Beyond Type 1, our Bike Beyond Team, and everyone who loves and supports us: after Saturday night’s kickoff party at La Sirena in Manhattan, the team was up bright and early for a Sunday morning sendoff event at Pier 4 Beach in Brooklyn. The crowd was full of nerves, smiles and a few tears as the cyclists prepared to embark on their adventure.
Bike Beyond team member and Miss Idaho 2014 Sierra Sandison showed off a silver necklace with a tiny bicycle in the center — a last-minute gift from her boyfriend before she began the ride from New York to San Francisco. “I’ve had chronic butterflies for two weeks, and I’m excited to finally ride them off! And they’re all happy butterflies now — I think when I talked to you [for last week’s interview with Beyond Type 1] I was scared and super nervous. And today I’m just so pumped!”
The sun greeted the adrenaline-filled team when they parked their bikes at Pier 4 Beach just before 9 o’clock on Sunday. The shoreline was dotted with yellow Bike Beyond t-shirts and bright riding outfits. Looking out over the East River and the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan, it was hard not to feel inspired by the community that came to show their support for the event.
Matt Swain, Bike Beyond team member and Logistics Coordinator, smiled when CEO and founder Sarah Lucas pointed out that the Statue of Liberty was just across the water. “Ride safe, have fun, look around. Look around! It’s like a dream. The Statue of Liberty is right there!”
“I’m trying to focus on stepping back and taking it all in,” Matt said, “Sure, we’re going to talk about diabetes the whole way, but at the same time it’s an adventure and we’re going to see the country in such an intimate way that we gotta remember to soak it all in!”
Sid Sharma, Bike Beyond team leader, agrees. “I’m just reflecting. The fact that I’m here and all my teammates are here is an achievement in itself. And everything from here is just the icing on the cake. We are all blessed to be here, with all our friends and families. The sun came out for us today as well – and that’s a signal, right? We don’t realize what we are about to do yet and the impact we are about to make.”
Before Sid began his adventure, he received a warm hug from his former teacher, Pritika Kumar.
“He was my student back in India and he was only 12 when I last saw him,” Pritika said, “It’s such a mix of emotions to see a student who is now doing this bike ride across America. It’s just this feeling of extreme pride and love and I can’t even articulate it. It’s amazing to see him do this.”
While many Bike Beyond team members are completing a cross-country cycling challenge for the first time, it’s the second or third trip for others – including Walt Drennan, the team member and Program Coordinator who first pitched the idea for Bike Beyond.
“I’ve done two cross-country bike rides before, and they were both organized by nonprofits. I did [the first] back in 2012, it was before I really had a handle on my Type 1 and I didn’t really accept it. It was tough because I wasn’t really taking care of myself the way I should have been. But through the ride, I learned that I could do this kind of thing, and I didn’t have to let Type 1 hold me back or slow me down, I just had to be prepared for it. And I thought that would be a really cool thing for other Type 1s to learn from and just experience within a group that understands what they’re going through.”
Especially for those that are cycling across America for the first time, Sunday morning’s nerves were less about the sheer distance and more about sharing the roads – and maybe about leaving New York City in one piece! Logistics Coordinator Cassidy Robinson got the first flat tire of the trip out of the way when she left the hotel in the morning, and her teammate Megan Banks had her own minor snafu when her handlebar came loose on the way to the waterfront. Both ladies kept the smiles on their faces as they fixed their bikes and stayed focused on the challenge ahead.
Megan said she was looking forward to getting started and putting some miles on her bike. “It’s not the amount of miles [that makes me nervous], but where the miles are. I’m not used to riding on the roads so much.”
Helen Mepham, who came from Christchurch, New Zealand, to join the team, was mentally preparing to ride on the opposite shoulder. “I’m nervous about the roads because we drive and ride on the left in New Zealand,” she laughed, “so I’m really worried about ending up in the wrong side!”
By the time the riders finished saying their goodbyes, dipped their back tires into the water, and took off across the Brooklyn Bridge, those nerves had all but melted away.
Silvi Pold, Bike Beyond team member and Social Media and Activities Coordinator, put it simply: “I feel like a kid on Christmas morning!”