After a full day of working the Telluride Yoga Festival, Nancy Stechert, the owner of the Yoga Tree in Hotchkiss, loaded up her stuff and headed back home, where a group of about 20 bicyclists from all over the world were waiting for her, road-weary and hungry, having just pulled into town on their 50th day of a cross-country bike ride to bring awareness to the issue of Type 1 Diabetes. Stechert and the Yoga Tree hosted the riders last Saturday, providing a place to stay and a hot meal.
Team Bike Beyond is a group of riders which began an epic, 10-week bike ride, beginning in New York City, and will finish in San Francisco later this summer. Their message is all about showing folks that life -- enriching, active, healthy and happy life -- is possible despite having Type 1 diabetes. All the riders, who hail from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., have the disease themselves. The group met online and formed the cycling group. They call themselves a party on wheels, and at their various stops around the country, they've proven that to be true, with parties, meet-and-greets, and other community events hosted in their honor. Their goal, as they journey across the country, is to destroy the stereotypes surrounding Type 1 diabetes and show people what living beyond the disease looks like.
The Town of Hotchkiss and the Hotchkiss chamber were contacted by Team Bike Beyond's planners and told the group would be in town on July 22. Stechert jumped at the chance to host the group. Many of her yoga clients themselves live with the disease. "I think it's a great cause," Stechert said. "Type 1 diabetes is a huge crises in our country, and in Delta County in particular."
Her role in hosting Team Bike Beyond consisted of finding lodging for the 20 cyclists and their support team, as well as providing dinner that evening. Stechert arranged for the cyclists to camp at Hotchkiss K8 School. Her good friends, and yoga students, Dona and Chuck Keck, prepared the evening meal at their home. Other students of Stechert's pitched in by donating food or funds to host the riders.
"The riders are trying to promote that if you have diabetes and take care of yourself, if you take care of this problem, this doesn't have to affect your life," Stechert explained. "That's an important message for people to hear. I think it's a great cause, and these guys are doing something about it. I really wanted to support these guys, and it was great for our town to sponsor them and support them."
Team Bike Beyond rode into Hotchkiss from Carbondale. When they left Sunday morning, they were heading to Grand Junction, and then to Moab. By the time they reach San Francisco, the team will have ridden a total of 4296.1 miles through 15 states. They'll finish the ride on Aug. 12.
The ride is made possible by Beyond Type 1, a non-profit based out of San Francisco that aims to educate, advocate, and cure Type 1 diabetes. "The goal of our ride is to show the world that Type 1 diabetes shouldn't keep people from doing the things they want to do, even things as crazy as riding a bike across the USA," said Matt Swain, the main organizer of the event. He said the team has already beaten its original fundraising goal of $100,000, and they're still going.
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, autoimmune condition that occurs when the body's own immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. This attack leaves the pancreas with little or no ability to produce insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Without insulin, sugar stays in the blood and can cause serious damage to organ systems, causing people to experience diabetic ketoacidosis. Type 1 diabetes is an incurable, autoimmune disease, not a lifestyle disease. Type 1 diabetes accounts for roughly 10 percent of the more than 420 million global cases of diabetes, and people with Type 1 are insulin-dependent for life. As many as 3 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; about 15,000 children and 15,000 adults are diagnosed each year.
More information on Team Bike Beyond and its journey can be found at www.bikebeyond.org.