Thursday, May 26, 2011

They Bike Because They Can

When Cheryl Self was diagnosed with diabetes as a young child and Diane Huis as a young adult, they both were concerned it would limit their physical activities.

“My doctor told me that diabetes is like a three-legged stool and I would need to balance all three ‘legs’ to control the disease: insulin, diet, and exercise,” said Diane. “The Y has been an integral part of my exercise program since I moved here 12 years ago.”

Diane started out with Step, Muscle and Spin classes. Then about seven years ago, she heard about a Y mountain bike riding group that met at Umstead Park on Sundays. She soon bought a bike and realized that she had found her “niche.” Within a year, she added road biking and then started doing triathlons with Finley’s Triathlon Club. That’s where she met fellow diabetic Cheryl and they quickly formed a bond.

Cheryl and Diane

Their friendship led them to the Tour de Cure, a series of fundraising cycling events held in 43 states to benefit the American Diabetes Association. This June 4-5 will mark their sixth year doing the ride.

“I got diabetes as a young child and had a pretty normal life, but always had a fear in the back of my mind. I thought that if I played too hard or was just too active, my blood sugar would plummet, and I would pass out with no one around to help,” said Cheryl. She got over her fear about six years ago when she did her first triathlon, half marathon and her first 150-mile bike ride. “I finally realized, I could be active and fit and didn't have to be scared.” On June 4, she'll be riding her first Century Ride, or 100 mile bike ride in one day.

Diane is planning on doing the double Century over the two-day event this year.

“Doing this ride is super inspirational for me - I love showing others who are newly diagnosed that having diabetes does not have to hold you back,” said Diane. “Having such an amazing support group of friends from the Y has really helped me reach my goals and greatly enriched my life.”

"There are many people out there fighting this disease who are missing toes, legs, eyesight or have nerve damage. I'm riding for those folks, I want to make a difference," explains Cheryl. "I want to see a cure found in my lifetime."

If you want to support Cheryl (Team Red) and Diane (Team Cheetah) in this year's Tour on June 4-5, visit and click on “Find Your Local Tour.”

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