My father spun tall tales when I was a kid. He walked to school in the snow uphill both ways. Just ask anyone; he and his twin brother were the golden boys of Long Island basketball. The night he dipped his tires in the Pacific Ocean after biking across America he partied with the Bob Hurley.
Of all the stories my father tells, my favorites have always been the memories of his bike ride across America with his twin brother and three best friends after college graduation. They had three flat tires on their first day and had no clue how to fix them. Elvis died while they sat huddled around a transistor radio in a Pennsylvania campsite. A mean dog chased them in a small town and Kel, his friend, sustained a concussion trying to swat it away.
Dad still tells big stories from an epic summer, and I always wanted an adventure of my own just like that.
How would I make it happen? That was always the big question. Would my friends want to take to the open road and my disease with it? Where the heck would I store all my supplies?!
Bike Beyond is giving me the opportunity to accomplish my dream and to feel safe doing it. My new friends and teammates (all T1Ds) are ready for the road and they're fine-tuning their management skills. We're training hard to prepare for the 60, 70 and 90-mile days ahead of us. Members of the Beyond Type 1 community across the US are taking our breath away as they reach out to house, feed and support us.
Dad's been giving me plenty of advice while I train for the coolest 10-weeks of my young life:
"Say, 'no' to nothing."
"Dedicate yourself to your training."
"There's no such thing as flat - everything is either uphill or downhill."
He has concerns too, most based around bike safety:
"On these small roads the perfect storm is an eighteen wheeler coming one direction and one coming the other direction and you're meeting them at the same point. The road gets very, very small at that point and very dangerous."
Surprisingly, his words of caution haven't had anything to do with Type 1 diabetes. When it comes to my medical journey, this summer he couldn't be more comfortable:
"I think as a group of Type 1 diabetics, you're able to support each other. You can't be in a better scenario. If you get into trouble, you all know how to support each other."
He's right of course. Who better to spot a low blood sugar in the middle of the Colorado Rockies than someone who knows the feeling of clammy skin and shaky hands? As teammates, we won't just be supporting each other this summer; we'll be one another's lifelines. For over 4,200 miles we'll be motivators, educators and advocates for each other first and for the Type 1 diabetes community at large.
We'll also come away with a tall tale just like my dad.