Several thousand people turned out to support more than 1,300 riders in this year’s Tour De Cure Race at Reston Town Center June 20. The event is part of a nationwide series of events to raise money for the American Diabetes Association, one of the leading fund-raising and research charities dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes. Last year, the ADA raised more than $17 million from 80 races around the country.
This year’s goal was set at $610,000. Each rider had to raise at least $200, which they turned in prior to the start of the ride. The race offered six different rides people could participate in, ranging from a 1 to 12-mile Family Ride to a 100-mile Century Ride that took cyclists all the way to Lovettsville, Va. and back. The 100-mile ride was the most popular ride of the afternoon, as more than 400 people took part in it.
RIDERS could come as individuals, as teams or with their work colleagues as a team.
"These races are so unique, because every single rider here has a story. It could be a loved one that has diabetes, or someone from their office," said Brendan Foley, manager of the Tour De Cure. "It’s a real community event. It starts with maybe just five people, but once the ball gets rolling, all of a sudden even more people turn out. We had one team with 95 members."
Participants had plenty else to do besides just ride a bike Sunday, as the pavilion was set up with a live stage for live music — such as a trio of hula dancers — as well as refreshments and information tables. This is the eighth year a Tour De Cure event has been held in Reston Town Center.
"We’ve been blessed every year with generally good weather and always enthusiastic people," said John Seng, the chair of the Community Leadership Board of the ADA. "We’re happy that Reston as a community is so supportive, because diabetes really affects everyone, and it’s nice that for a few hours, people can show up and do a lot to help."
Seng was impressed with the way that lines of bicycles on community paths throughout Reston was enough to get some people involved. "We were just riding through the communities and people would ask what was going on, and we would tell them, and their response was always ‘well, what can we do to help?’" said Seng.
Dana Rand, a 13-year-old from Millersville, Md., rode in the 12-mile family ride for her cousin Corey and thought it was a fun experience. "Even though I’ve never done anything like this, it was a lot of fun," she said. "I hope to do it again."
Some teams rallied around the memory of people that have died from complications of diabetes, such as the friends of Greg "Bam Bam" Walker, who died in September. Sixteen of his close friends rode under the moniker "Team Bam Bam" and they even wore customized jerseys.
"This is the first time we’ve rode together to remember our friend, and it felt good," said Sara Astle of South Riding.
Some families took advantage of the fact that Sunday was Father’s Day and turned the ride into a family outing. Mark Giebel of Reston was joined by his wife Kim, son Ryan and daughter Morgan as well as eight other members of his family to ride for his nephew, who has Type I diabetes.
"It was a great day for a ride, a little hot, but we got a nice breeze on the way back," Giebel said. "I’ve done similar rides years ago, but this was our first as a family team. It was a blast, I’d absolutely do another one."
THROUGHOUT the entire event, many riders wore red jerseys with the ADA logo on them. These "red riders" were the reason everyone showed up, as they were the riders that have diabetes themselves.
"The support out here is really meaningful, that we’re all out here for the same reason," said Jennifer Smith of Alexandria, who has been living with Type I diabetes for the past 22 years. Smith is part of Team WILD, or Women Inspiring Life with Diabetes. Participating in bike rides is old hat for Smith, who regularly does triathlons with Team WILD, and they’re even gearing up for the Wisconsin Iron Man in 2011.
For more information on the ADA, or other Tour De Cure events, visit www.diabetes.org.