The Ti(r)es That Bind – Team Bike Beyond One Year Later
Two and a half weeks before we left New York City to start Bike Beyond I met a man at a party. We’d known each other for fifteen minutes before he gave me a sage piece of advice. A veteran of group travel, he told me this:
Keep in mind that at some point you will love and hate each of your teammates.
Enjoy the moments when you’re absolutely in love with a teammate because eventually those feelings will turn sour. When the sour moments come and you absolutely hate one of them, remind yourself that a moment full of love is just around the corner.
I took his advice to heart. It made sense when he said it and it applied to each of the seventy days we spent on the road last summer. It applies every few days when our team chat dings a *new message. It even applied to writing this.
That advice rounded out the mental zone I’d been working hard to get myself into. A mental zone I intended to live and act from over the 4,200+ miles before us. A mantra of sorts that turned into this: You can do absolutely anything for ten weeks as long as your reason for doing it is strong enough.
Ten weeks is a blip of time within the span of your life. You can cycle 60+ miles per day, you can sleep on floors and grass and atop picnic tables, you can be allergic to a different plant in every state, you can survive on less than four hours of sleep, you can function despite inadequate nutrition, you can love people you wouldn’t share a cup of coffee with in your everyday life, you can fight through obstacles. Standing in the strength of the reasons I set out to ride allowed me to love, hate and move forward every day.
As individuals, our reasons for riding were all different. I wanted to add a female name to the list of Robinson family members that have cycled across America. I also wanted to mark the drastic transition I went through in my management of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Had Bike Beyond happened just a few years earlier I wouldn’t dream of participating—I was barely keeping myself alive.
As a team, we had clear reasons to ride. We were going to inspire and engage the T1D community through our actions, we would educate the global community with our stories and we would impact the path to a cure with our fundraising. We would prove that T1Ds can do anything.
We had the unique opportunity during Bike Beyond to be fully immersed in the T1D community across America. We met adorable T1D children who made posters and bracelets for us. We connected with T1D teenagers figuring out their new diagnosis. We swapped management tips with T1D adults that have nurtured this endless disease for decades. We connected with T1D campers and conference-goers. We joked and cried with parents and grandparents of T1Ds. We looked at our own disease from a new angle when we sat with the siblings and significant others of T1Ds. We educated community leaders and healthcare providers about the reality of living with a chronic illness.
We brought absolute strangers into our world every single day for ten weeks and for me, it was their stories that kept me pedaling.
Riding a bike each day and hosting nightly community events is exhausting. Getting 20 people to do anything together is exhausting. The emotional swings from unstable blood sugars are exhausting. Healing injuries during bumpy van rides is exhausting. Rest days filming documentary interviews and cleaning food coolers and containers is exhausting. Having to search for the insulin coolers when you have to do a site change is slightly terrifying…and exhausting. We were exhausted every single day, but for me the exhaustion paled in comparison to the love we were getting from people every night.
You know what tests your will?
Hail with 20+ miles and city traffic before you’ll finish the ride day
You know what makes it better?
The postcard you get a few weeks later from your community host that details how that night with the team inspired her to hike in Hawaii
You know what’s infuriating?
You know what makes it better?
Homemade low-carb muffins and the teeny tiny T1D who delivers them and cleans your bikes…and then shares nerves over infusion site needles with you over text messages and videos
You know what’ll terrify you?
The moment an 18-wheeler on a mountain road actually touches your shoulder and pushes you toward a wall of giant rocks
You know what makes it better?
The community that shows up to fill every booth in a pizza parlor to show their T1D children that they can do whatever wild things they dream of.
You can do absolutely anything for ten weeks as long as your reason for doing it is strong enough. Like the man in New York told me, there were plenty of moments I absolutely hated my teammates. I hated arguments about ride groups, leave times, lights-out policies and van disorganization. I hated electing rest days and having to drive the vans. I hated the exchanges of harsh words, tears and criticism. I hated every time someone chose not to ride because they were tired, it was hot or the route had too many hills to climb. I hated everyone else’s CGM alarms in the middle of the night.
Just like he said, I loved all 19 of my goofballs too. I loved drinking wine and singing during our picture perfect summer bonfire. I loved giant hugs after hard days on the bike. I loved cheering my teammates on as each of us completed our 100-mile rides. I loved every hipster coffee shop we found with a good latte. I loved every single dance circle. I loved the person who tracked down the wi-fi password. I loved the van teams that did everyone else’s laundry. I loved the weird recipes we used to continue eating KNOW Foods in the desert. I loved our hashtag speak, Dexcom language and whale jokes. I loved every time someone else changed a flat tire for me. I loved exchanging “Hello, sunshine” in the morning and “goodnight, love you” in the evening. I loved giving and receiving props. I love that we left all our emotions on the table after our final interviews in San Francisco.
We may have fought like family through our ride and we may fight like family now, but we love like family too. All I want now is what I wanted during the summer of Bike Beyond: I want to tell the world my story and the stories of my teammates. I want to bring the world into our family: love, arguments, dancing and supply swapping included.
I don’t talk to my teammates everyday, but I do talk to them a lot. We have a lot of romance updates, school updates, location updates, athletic updates and T1D device updates to keep up with. These people have done a lot since we dipped our tires and danced together one last time in San Francisco:
Abby (Lil’ Pepps) started college at Appalachian State and just so happened to meet a fellow T1D mega-cyclist (from Team Novo Nordisk, hello!) in the first cycling team meeting. She has been accepted to an Accelerated Admissions Graduate program and will earn her Bachelors degree spring 2019 and her Masters degree in the spring of 2020.
Abbey (Brau Brau) returned to her advertising work and was nominated for a 30 Under 30 award. She rang the NASDAQ closing bell with Bike Beyond sponsor Insulet. In the middle of training for her first Ironman race (in Boulder, CO no less!) she spent a weekend in San Francisco and let me love up on her. She’s leaving the great white north of Minneapolis for an even greater white north in Anchorage, Alaska. #ultimateIRONWOMAN
Amanda and Apollo packed up their San Francisco life and headed to Toronto to move in with Matt (Bike Beyond Romance #1). She is applying for Canadian residency and recently got her work permit!
Cassidy (hey, that’s me!) spent awhile on the move, but now I’m back in Southern California and back in school so I can help other T1Ds for a living.
Cheryl (Carol) has just one kid at home now (the incredible Asher!) and is still leading rides as a specialized ambassador as well as kicking butt in the boxing gym. She supports newly diagnosed T1D families as they establish healthy roles and mindsets and learn to live and thrive with diabetes. She helps families navigate how best to support their T1D children towards health, happiness and independence.
Helen is crushing half-marathons like it’s no big deal in New Zealand and started mountain biking with her partner Keith. They have been in mountain bike competitions and will be leaving for a mountain biking trip in October.
Meagan (Meggy Megs) returned to school at Georgia Tech and studied abroad in Italy and France.
Mel is busy training for her next ultramarathon. She recently spent a weekened with Silvi and adopted a (super duper) cute dog named Charlie who is keeping her very busy.
Perri (Pop Rox) moved to State College, PA days after completing Bike Beyond to start her Master’s degree program in Geology. She kicked her first Marathon’s butt the same weekend she hosted a screening of Bike Beyond—The Documentary with Walt in Pittsburgh.
Sierra is back to school at Boise State University pursuing her Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering degree. She adopted another cat and has been speaking at diabetes conferences and events across the country.
Silvi kept her tires spinning and completed a 2,700 km cycling trip with her partner Justin around Western Australia. Shortly after, she headed to Scotland to thru-hike the West Highland Way.
Elliot has completed a sprint triathlon, two 100km bike races and finished the Paris Roubaix bike race with Sid in France. His company, Good Glucos, has been accepted to an accelerator program in Salt Lake City.
Jesse moved to Atlanta, GA and became the director of strategic initiatives at Bike Beyond sponsor KNOW Foods. He is headed to New York City where he’ll spend the summer with Meredith, who he met during our community event in Boulder, CO (Bike Beyond Romance #2) and then he’s off to Houston, TX in pursuit of a professional golf career!
Jordan (JMoney Flip) returned to Albuquerque, NM and his studies at the University of New Mexico. He joined Beyond Type 1’s Global Ambassador Council in October 2017.
Kevin asked for a few days to do our little life update, but last I heard he had moved to Montana. Hello, Big Sky country!
Matt (Swainy Cakes) returned to Toronto, found a nice apartment and hung his and Amanda’s bikes on the wall (Bike Beyond Romance #1). He began working for I Challenge Diabetes and easily convinced Apollo to sleep on his side of the bed.
Ricky, his wife Megan and their son Calvin recently moved to Vienna, Austria where they’ve spotted a Ryan Dunn doppelganger.
Ryan (Mr. Dunn) returned to Atlanta, GA and became the director of operations at Bike Beyond sponsor KNOW Foods. He completed his first marathon while wearing his Bike Beyond jersey and will one day be the recipient of a Spotify playlist I’ve been compiling called ‘Love Songs// for MR. DUNN’
Sid returned to Huddersfield, his work at Cummins and some serious cycling. He completed the Paris Roubaix with Elliot on April 7th in eight hours. He has been a keynote speaker for JDRF and held screenings of the Bike Beyond documentary throughout Wales. He is engaged to the lovely Andrea and they’ll be wed in October (Bike Beyond Romance #3).
Walt returned to Pittsburgh, PA and Beyond Type 1’s Global Ambassador Council.