Diabetes Forecast

Team Type 2: Road Race

In the mold of Team Type 1, eight cyclists with type 2 diabetes competed in this year's Race Across America.

By Jeff Sistrunk ,

The temperature was 106 degrees. It was Team Type 2's fifth day of cycling in Race Across America (RAAM), and the blistering late-June Illinois heat was pushing them to their limits, mentally and physically. None of the eight men on the team had completed the 3,000-mile race before, and all were doing so while managing their type 2 diabetes. "We just kept pushing through," says Bob Avritt, cyclist and team director.

Up ahead were more challenges, including the steep hills of West Virginia and Maryland. But Team Type 2 and its 18 crew members made it to Annapolis, Md., seven days, seven hours, and 24 minutes after leaving Oceanside, Calif. In the process, they became the first team composed entirely of athletes with type 2 diabetes to finish the cross-continental trek.

While Team Type 1 has been racing in RAAM since 2005, Team Type 2 formed only this year. During the race, a Team Type 2 cyclist was on the road 24/7, as members of one four-man rotation rode for a nine-hour shift while a second four-member unit tried to sleep in an accompanying RV. The team covered 20 miles per hour on average, with a fresh rider taking over every 5 miles. In a typical shift, each rode a total of about 45 miles and tested his blood glucose 18 times.

It was grueling, to be sure, but managing diabetes was never relegated to second place. Their motto, conceived by team member Bob Chiasson, was "Ride or Be Ridden," explains teammate Bill Arnold, "meaning you can either control your diabetes or let it control you."

For this group of men in their 40s and 50s, whose day jobs range from software consultant to woodworker, it was the adventure of a lifetime. "It felt incredible when we crossed the finish line," says Avritt. "It's one of the proudest accomplishments of my life."



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