Decked out in my best riding kit, jersey pockets full of fuel for the day, cell phone charged for photo ops, and meeting up with my other Arkansas Heels on Wheels riding buddies, Saturday sounded like any other morning I was preparing to ride. However, it was not just any normal riding day. Today, I would watch my mother not only join her first organized ride but also beat her longest ride by over 20 miles. She has been cycling less than a year and I dare say she has been bit by the “cycling bug.” This was also the day Heels on Wheels would ride for a purpose in the Tour de Cure.
According to their website, the “Tour de Cure is a ride to celebrate everyone who lives with Type 1 and 2 Diabetes” and to bring awareness to the disease. With the typical ride distances available, the Heels on Wheels ladies and I chose the 50 mile route. The group was also joined by Missy’s husband, Tommy, who offered needed support and humor. After registration, I was super excited to run into Rita, another lady who has started riding with our group. She was signed up for the 20 mile ride and was a Red Rider!!! A Red Rider is a rider who has diabetes. She told me that she had been a diabetic for over 20 years, but never took the disease very seriously and ended up on lots of medications. After she quit smoking recently (BIG props to her for that accomplishment), she gained weight and her diabetes was harder than ever to control. She knew she had to do something, so she took up cycling. Not only has cycling helped her lose 30 pounds,but it also improved her blood sugar levels and her pulmonary functions. She wanted to ride in the Tour de Cure to show the diversity of those affected by diabetes and to raise awareness for the importance of an active lifestyle. I was impressed with the number of Red Riders we saw riding that day and was reminded of our purpose for the day’s ride.
One thing Rita told me about cycling, that holds true for our ride Saturday, was her love of getting on the bike and enjoying the fresh air. We DEFINITELY enjoyed our fair share of it during the day, maybe even a little more than we had planned. The ride started like any other. You quickly find your place in an organized ride based on your “need for speed.” We were passed by most riders, as we tend to sit back in the saddle and soak up the adventure. Robin and I were also on the hunt for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Our day was a little longer than expected- with mechanical issues (sorry Mom), 2 blow outs (glad you got your tire fixed Missy), and missing the route designation signs.I’m not going to say the signs were there or weren’t there as I was too busy enjoying my friends and my two wheels to be concerned. We ride to Scott all the time and know “the way” right? Apparently our “way” added another 6 miles to our route. The guy with the SAG car at the turn around was just as confused as we were that we had not seen the rest stop about 5 miles before. Maybe THAT rest stop had the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we had been craving. We finally finished the ride (walking in our bikes thanks to Missy’s last blow out literally 100 feet from the finish line) and we were treated to Whole Hog Café.
I never found that PB&J. But it’s hard to be sad when you get to be a part of your Mom’s and another cycling friend’s (congrats Kayla) PRs. On a beautiful, sun shiny day in April we took a ride to be with friends, to push ourselves further, to laugh, to make memories, and most importantly to help others.