What the World Showed our Team Bike Beyond
Editor’s Note: Last summer, Bike Beyond, the international team of 20 riders with type 1 diabetes (T1D) hailed from the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand began their journey from New York City and crossed the United States in an epic 10-week journey. This is one rider’s account of what that ride meant.
If I didn’t live the miles on my bicycle this summer, I would think it was a dream. Ten funny, grueling, challenging weeks flashed by in an instant. Our ride is over. As a team we’ve returned to our homes, our families, our normal lives. Not a single one of us is riding a bicycle 70+ miles every day.
We stayed in 61 different cities this summer. In all of them we were blown away by the families and communities that hosted us. Dinners, breakfasts, conversations, mattresses, floor space, laundry services, access to wi-fi—our team was shown the highest levels of kindness and caring this summer by complete strangers. Some of them had a direct relation to type 1 diabetes, while others had never met a T1D before. We congregated in high school gyms, churches and around picnic tables to talk about what type 1 diabetes is, how it affects us and what we can do to help our community.
I asked a favor of nearly everyone I encountered this summer. I asked them to go to our websites, our Instagram accounts, our twitter feeds and read our stories. I asked them to invest themselves in our lives—both our struggles and our successes—and to relay what they found to everyone they spoke to.
I shouted our website address to cars at stop lights, gave my cell phone number to high school maintenance staff at water stops, took photos with people who stopped to check out our van and trailer, and sat within inches of a young man at Dunkin Donuts who took his cell phone and bookmarked our website.
Similar to riding a bike, the work of advocacy and education isn’t hard. It takes time, dedication and the willingness to engage strangers to champion our cause. There’s a high likelihood you’re reading this article on your cell phone, and if you aren’t, it’s only a few feet away. Use that knowledge to our community’s advantage. When someone sees you take an injection, asks if your insulin pump is a pager, questions why you’re testing your blood sugar—ask them to take out their cell phone, go to BikeBeyond.org, and become a part of our story.
If Bike Beyond showed the world anything this summer it’s that we can do anything as people with type 1 diabetes. What the world showed our team is that doing anything is much more fulfilling with the support of others. In the movement toward broader awareness, better treatments and a cure for this wild disease that binds us together, we need the voices of everyone we meet on our side.