For those that know me, or follow me, know that I heart wine – red wine- yummy, complex, big, beautiful wine (no I’m not drinking while I write this). Point being, living in Northern California just a 50 miles from Wine Country is a wine drinkers dream, lucky for me I get to live this dream. I can hop in my car and within an hour be at one of my favorite wineries enjoying a tasting.
This Sunday I traded in my sundress for spandex and headed to wine country while the moon was still out to experience Napa Valley from a different lens, that of a cyclist. I had the pleasure of participating in the Tour de Cure Napa Valley ride and rode 100 miles to show my support for the fight against Diabetes. Needless to say the tour de Napa was beyond beautiful. Who could be pissed off at hills and head winds when surrounded by blue skies, vineyards, uniquely architected wineries and nature’s music.
Riding for Diabetes resonated with me on a personal level. Diabetes affects 8.3% of the total U.S. population, but it affects 15-20% of the South Asian population. I remember writing an article 10 years ago for a South Asian online magazine the opening line was “I’ll have a cup of chai; hold the sugar” this reflected how commonplace Diabetes was becoming. 10 years later the prevalence rates have risen and Diabetes is a worldwide epidemic affected adults and children and severely impacting quality of life. A number of my friends and family members live with Diabetes and although treatments exist to ease management, the cure lies in prevention. Prevention in the form of food, movement, and meditation.
Getting on a bicycle and riding around town is a good way to burn calories, and clear the mind. I was thrilled to see so many riders on the road on Sunday who were riding WITH Diabetes. Although everyone was there to support a bigger movement to fight Diabetes in doing so they were also supporting themselves by being active and preventing Diabetes! For some, it was their first time on a bike, for others it was their first time doing a long distance whether it be 10, 25, 50, 80, or 100 miles. One woman told me it was her first time doing 80 miles; the look of accomplishment is worth a thousand words. Her next goal was 90 miles. Like the famous sang goes “every journey starts with a single step” and each step brings you closer to health and well-being.
For me, it was my first time doing 213 miles in a weekend (113 miles on Saturday for ALC training), it was my first time riding through Napa, and it was my first time supporting a cause that hits too close to home. I started cycling in January 2011 as a complete newbie not even knowing how to shift gears, with each pedal stroke I learned something new and now here I am. I still have lots of learning to do… looking forward to it!
Thanks Tour de Cure for putting on a well-supported and overall outstanding event. I will definitely be there next year!
Ritu Riyat, MPH