Making An Invisible Disease Visible: Injecting Myself On Adventure Cyclist Magazine


“You look so diabetic right now.”

In the middle of our 1,000-mile Alaska bicycle trip, I stop to treat a high blood sugar by injecting myself with insulin, the medication that keeps me alive. Propped on my Arkel handlebar bag is my Clinique bag. I don’t use it for makeup, though. I’m not really a makeup person.

The pouch belonged to my mother who lost her battle to leukemia four years ago. I continue her fight with my own fight (though, to be honest, I hate using the word fight). I use her flowery pouch to house my own medications that turn food into energy; I call the bag my pancreas. It’s stained with blood on the inside from the everyday reality of living with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Bright on the outside, it has come to represent how invisible this disease is…

Which is why I’m thrilled that along with myself and my bicycle—my beacon of happiness—this flowery bag has landed on the cover of Adventure Cyclist’s April issue. This photo, taken by my partner-in-crime Erik Douds, makes our invisible disease visible. Our cover feature tells the story of our 1,000-mile bicycle trip around Alaska through the lens of the Dexcom blood sugar graphs we both use to manage our T1D. The piece also acts as an educational tool, illustrating to the reader what it’s like to live with this chronic condition.


Meet us in person!

Starting next week, The Miles of Portraits Tour de REI is coming to the Southwest. We’ll ride our bikes almost 2,000 miles from LA to Santa Fe, NM, stopping at REIs along the way to share our story + screen our film. Register for an event here.

Share the love!

Our community is on the cover of a bike travel magazine taking a shot of insulin. Let’s show that more people with disabilities should be highlighted. How does it make you feel to see a T1D on the cover of this magazine? Where would you go with the inspiration and tools of an Adventure Cycling membership? On Instagram or elsewhere, share your thoughts in a post, include #ThankYouACA, and tag @adventurecycling. Then head over to @adventurecycling and leave a blue heart 💙 on any post.

If you want your own copy of Adventure Cycling with Annalisa on the cover, become a member of Adventure Cycling, a nonprofit that helps put more people on bikes. Sign up by March 10th to get the T1D issue here.

WRITTEN BY Annalisa van den Bergh, POSTED 03/05/19, UPDATED 11/07/22

Annalisa van den Bergh was born and raised in New York City by a Venezuelan mother and a Dutch father. She is a graphic designer, illustrator, writer, and photographer, who lives with T1D. It's never stopped her from pursuing my dreams and has in fact pushed her to do so, check her out at