Friday, June 14, 2013

Courage...

Courage. It is quite a word, courage. It is a favorite of cycling writers, of those who document the sport, its heroes of the past and competitors of the present. This word is used in an attempt to convey a sense of the character of individual humans during a moment of competition. Courage in the face of adversity. Courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Courage to persevere through extremes of weather. Courage to surmount an impossible mountain road. The myth, the lore and legend of the professional cyclist has largely been built around the image of the courageous rider engaged is solitary battle.


Last night I had the opportunity to hear a few stories of courage that had nothing whatsoever to do with cycling. They were the stories of people who face and overcome challenge every day of their lives. They were the stories of people living with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recognized four men during their annual Father of the Year Awards, one of whom was my wife's uncle. I won't take up your time with each of their stories, suffice it to say that each are either closely tied to an individual with the debilitating disease, grapple with it themselves, or in one case, both of these scenarios.

With nearly 30% of the population afflicted with the disease, most of us know someone who deals with its effects each day. My first experience with it was during my younger years, early teens I guess. A friend had to take daily insulin injections, and had been doing so for quite some time before I knew him. Just the thought of a needle makes me cringe, but there he was each day jabbing his thigh. The week-long backpacking trips with scouts required some special creativity to ensure that the medication maintained its integrity. Not the kind of person to let his life be limited, he got into mountain biking, became a member of a Santa Monica Mountains Mountain Bike Patrol, and then a founding member of CORBA, the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association.

The connection between living with diabetes and cycling / living an active lifestyle was brought to the fore a few years ago with the creation of Team Type One, known these days as the Team Novo Nordisk! Their motto "One Team, One Goal: to educate, empower and inspire everyone affected by diabetes" says it all. It says that, while living with diabetes may be a challenge, it need not be limiting. The annual Tour de Cure is another well-known tie linking the cycling world to efforts at finding a cure for diabetes. The ways that cycling challenges us, as both racers and everyday riders, to rise above the normal, the standard, to at all times be aware, to strive to constantly improve, make it especially apropos to the active lifestyle I constantly heard talked about last night.


Courage is something unique to the character of each individual. Whether one is a four-year old facing a lifetime of injections, or a seventy-year old looking back on a lifetime with the disease, there is a courage in these people that most of us rarely give thought to. My intent here is not to compare (nor confuse for that matter) courage born from necessity with courage derived from choice. They are two separate creatures, though both spring from the same well, and as such exist intertwined and often in tandem. Even so, the courage spoken of last night was not used for dramatic effect, it did not bolster the image of the lone rider in competitive battle. Truth be known, I don't even recall hearing the word. This courage was of a more humble nature, but to anyone listening, it was there, its essence clearly discerned in the individual stories being told; the day to day facing of fears, of the inevitable potholes, oil slicks, rockfalls that suddenly appear in our paths as we ride through each day.


like myself, Martin Sheen was neither a presenter or recipient, but was there to show his support.
super nice guy, approachable and easy to talk to, he posed first with my son, and then the wife and I

2 comments:

  1. Michael,

    We at Shimano had a great time meeting and riding with Team Novo Nordisk earlier this year out in Atlanta. it was their development team, all young guys and girls. And unbelievably strong riders. They helped participate in a Wheel Camp we were putting on for dealers. They were fantastic and broke the legs off some guys that thought they were of Pro race caliber. And it was their off day!!

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  2. I can imagine the good time. One of these days we run into each other I am going to have to find out what you do at Shimano, it sounds pretty interesting.

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