The RED Riders are something that I hold very near and dear to my heart when it comes to participating in the Tour de Cure. If you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all it’s possible that you’ve seen me in my RED Rider Jersey or you’ve heard me talk about the RED Riders. If you’re new to my blog I welcome you. Whether your a new reader or a veteran reader, please walk with me as I regale you with my story of the RED Riders (and share a very cool video).
When I went to Denver for the Diabetes EXPO they showed a video that they had put together about the RED Riders and I got a little bit emotional when watching it. (Ok, it made me teary eyed…ok, it made me cry, I get very emotional when I think about what some of us diabetics are out there doing).
Push Play To Begin
In the five Tour de Cure’s that I’ve ridden in, 3 of them have had recognition for the people with diabetes. Longmont, Colorado where the RED Riders started and really just made such an impression on me that the Colorado Tour de Cure is my favorite. I think that it was the “Whoop! for the RED Rider” that really made a difference for me in the Tour de Cure Colorado.
Orlando, Florida had the RED Riders. I myself didn’t get a jersey because I arrived in time to check in for the 22 mile ride, but all the “L” jersey’s had already made it out the door. So I was in my Denver jersey. Not that I was terribly saddened by this because people noticed and asked questions and it was cool to talk to various people. (Ok, I take it back, I was slightly disappointed, but they’re going to send me my size, in the mean time, here’s an XL on me, I was a little distracted in the forward facing picture)
When I took off out of the gate, there were 3 of us, one of the boys was wearing a RED Rider Jersey so I asked how long he had had diabetes. His response was “oh, I’m not the diabetic, but he [the boy next to him] didn’t want to wear his jersey so I am”. And then the other boy chimed in, “I’ve been diabetic for a year”. That was the extent of our conversation because then we went speeding past each other.
Phoenix, Arizona had the RED Riders. We had red bibs, at first I didn’t want to wear mine because I’ve become quite proud of my RED Rider Jersey, but then I thought, people will see and recognize the bib better than the jersey so I covered up my jersey.
In Phoenix I had a little bit of a different experience with the RED Riders. I went out with the earliest group and I think I only saw a handful of RED Riders, I know that I got passed by on and he said “yea! for the red vest” and I responded (because he too had a red vest on) “Whoop! for the red rider”. I know that there were other red riders, I just didn’t get to talk with them. I did meet a young girl, teenage years, that was going to ride in the 35 mile ride and she had diabetes. My experience with the RED Riders in Phoenix was different because, 1) as I said I didn’t get to speak with any of the other RED Riders in depth, and 2) it was me wearing the red vest that opened a conversation with another rider that really didn’t know much about diabetes or what caused it, etc. She was in the ride because she needed the training miles for an upcoming race, and so I got to talk to her for almost 30 miles out of the 62.5.
The conversation between her and I began when she asked if I had to raise a lot of money to get the bib. This is where I launched into what the RED Riders were. I told her that RED Riders are the riders that have diabetes, the RED Rider team celebrates us, it celebrates the courage it takes to live every day with diabetes, it recognizes the the daily grind of diabetes, it’s our day to be a hero.
Mari, the creator of the RED Riders says:
“Being a diabetic athlete means a dedication to trial and error. Every diabetic athlete I have ever met or read about is a meticulous record-keeper and is in his or her own way a scientist, continuously experimenting on his or her body to find the best combination of insulin, food, stress, exercise. The crazy thing is that the combination keeps changing and it is highly personalized, so there has to be a willingness to continuously revamp, re-evaluate, re-organize. Having diabetes and being committed to performance requires a degree of mental flexibility that deserves recognition and celebration. It is symbolic of what all of us as humans have to do to perform at high levels.
One could think I just want special recognition, and maybe I do. Why? Because receiving the recognition on race day gives me and my fellow diabetics the motivation to continue seeing the glass half full on the days when our blood sugar soars to 400 for no explainable reason, or when we have no desire to eat but we must or risk passing out if we don’t.
If you are a person surviving diabetes, I implore you to ride this year and do everything you can to declare your status, so others on the course and in the wider community have the opportunity to celebrate and be inspired by you.”
(She says a lot more stuff, and you can read that on the Tour de Cure Colorado site if you like.)
But like her, I’m going to implore you if you’re a diabetic and you cycle to get out there this year and ride in a Tour de Cure in your state. Contact the coordinator and ask them if they’ve got the RED Rider team. I know that this year not all the tours have the RED Riders, it’s kindof the soft opening of the RED Riders this year across the tours, but next year all the Tours will have the RED Rider team.
I hope, that I can be an inspiration to you, but that also you can get out there and be an inspiration to others