29 July 2011

Why I Ride...One Man's Personal Story of Why he Supports the Tour de Cure

By Ray Bransky

Fifty-five years ago, four years before I was born, my sister was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of four. For most of my life I always thought my sister had a normal childhood. Sure I knew her diet was a little different and she needed to take insulin injections, but for the most part the challenges she faced were similar to most. Because of our age differences, my sister and I rarely shared "coming of age" milestones. High school, college, dating, work, marriage, children were all events we passed on separate calendars. In truth, our parents and the family visits they encouraged were our mainstay in spanning the generational as well as geographical differences. When my father, our last surviving parent, passed away 5 years ago, I made a promise to myself to put more effort into staying in touch.

Oddly enough, cycling became that connection. Being avid century riders, my son and I are always looking for new events and rides. Because my sister lives in Portland we started looking for organized rides that could bring us into her town for a visit. When we found the Tour de Cure, we knew we found our event. The first year it was just my son and me raising a small sum and riding the century. The next year we formed a modest team, Linda’s Loose sprockets, in honor of my sister. Riders included my son and myself on the century, my wife, niece and two of my sister’s friends (including “Red” Jennifer, a red rider diagnosed in her teen years) pedaling the 27-mile route and my sister and brother volunteering at the stadium.

Even though I had grown up with a diabetic in my family that year, as Linda’s Loose Sprockets gathered for our post celebratory dinner around my sister’s table, I think I finally had a better understanding as to what diabetics really faced. My sister talked about the changes she has seen in her lengthy tenure as a type 1 diabetic. She remembers my father sharpening needles and having to boil glass syringes to sterilize them for reuse. She spoke of learning to count calories at an early age to balance out her blood sugar and insulin levels. With pride she recounted her testing of some of the earliest insulin pumps, one of which allowed her to successfully navigate the gestational cycle that produced her daughter, my niece and now our fellow rider. “Red” Jennifer, in turn beamed about my sister’s current health and her ability to control diabetes. She shared the challenges she faced as a rebellious teen diagnosed with diabetes and subtly wondered what health issues lay ahead for her due to the choices she made as an adolescent.

All of this made me realize that my sister, and diabetics face anything but a “normal” life. In a way, I see my participation in Tour de Cure as an opportunity to pay back all those before me who have helped my sister, through research, education and technology, live a half-century and beyond with diabetes. But in truth what I really hope is that my riding might be a small step that helps someone else diagnosed with diabetes enjoy a life that is at least as long and fulfilling as that of my sister.

NOTE: Join the BicyclingHub.com Team at the Portland Tour de Cure tomorrow (Saturday, July 30th). Look for the BicyclingHub logoed jerseys en route and introduce yourselves. Can't make it to the start line? You can still DONATE TODAY to help put an end to diabetes and spread the word.

What else is happening at the Hillsboro Stadium? Here's the latest word from Kris Bockmier, Portland Tour Organizer.

Stick around! Here's What's happening at the stadium before and after the ride:
Join us for breakfast and coffee, 5:30am-10:00am, brought to you by Ambridge Event Center. Breakfast will include fruit, bagels, PB & J, yogurt, granola and boiled eggs. Gleukos will be available at 5:30am to fill your bottles and is also the sports drink on the course. Located next to food area. Bring your swimsuit, shorts and towels so you can enjoy the Wild Rapids waterslide after you return from your ride. Lunch will be served by Helvetia Tavern. They will be grilling burgers and veggie burgers, along with a salad and chips. Fruit, snacks and soda will also be available. Extra meal tickets for your friends and family are available for $7.00. Bring your ID and cash for the beer garden.

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