Fancy a bike ride? Saturday morning around 200 women and a smattering of men — husbands, brothers, friends, lovers — gathered at Leadbetter beach for the first annual Tour de Cure Women’s Series.
The ride was created by the American Diabetes Association t raise awareness and funds to stop the disease “one ride at a time,” according to the event’s poster. It was also a way to directly encourage a more healthy lifestyle by taking to the streets on two wheels and seeing Santa Barbara and Carpinteria up close.
The statistics on the disease are sobering, with nearly 10 percent of the American population having some type of the disease. It’s the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and a quarter of the nation’s senior have it, according to this year’s National Diabetes Statistics Report.
Riders had four choices of distances along the same route. The shortest, 8 miles, headed to Butterfly Beach and back. The longest, 67 miles, went to Carpinteria and looped back over State Route 192 to Goleta and then back to the beach. The two other distances, 22 and 37 miles, offered plenty of options to all skill levels.
Robin Farina, pro cyclist and head of the Women’s Cycling Association, led the event. She’s been racing for the last 13 years on the pro circuit and started the WCA last year to promote getting more women on bikes.
“This seemed like a great opportunity for the WCA to come and help promote what the American Diabetes Association is doing, to get more women on bikes, and encourage a healthy lifestyle.”
Ms. Farina said California is “ahead of the game” in terms of cycling and exercise, so starting this event in Santa Barbara made sense.
Ms. Farina hails from Nashville, Tenn., where, she said, few women used to cycle. Her hope is to get similar events happening across the country.
“Being active is important; being sedentary leads to stress.”
Donna Mudge and Amanda Arcuri brought two co-workers from the Sojourner Cafe. Ms. Mudge was the most experienced, having ridden centuries (i.e. 100-mile rides), and was up for the 67-mile loop. The others came ready to go the distance.
Ms. Arcuri is also a kickboxing instructor, so she is already fit.
“I’ve been training with Donna since I was a kid,” she said, “but this organized riding is new to me. I’ve fallen in love with it, and I’m thinking of doing the Solvang Century.”
Ms. Mudge has a brother-in-law with diabetes, but he’s just as fit, having finished the Hawaiian Ironman triathlon. “He’s been an inspiration to me. I’m aware of diabetes because of him. People can fight this and still live a normal life and do amazing things.”
Deborah Burns, had come from Ventura for the ride, bringing her friends Kelley King, Heather Quest, Leslie Lang and Martie Wolter.
Ms. Burns father died young of a heart attack from diabetes and the disease runs in the family.
“I thought it was a good way to give back and stay in shape and get my friends involved,” she said.
Mrs. King’s husband has the disease, too, which he helps with exercise.
Some of the women were already into cycling, and Ms. Burns changed to cycling after trying running and finding marathons left her more in pain than good health.
“You feel good after, it’s not hard on the joints, it’s not jarring, so I got into that.”
“It reminds me of childhood too, when you lived on your bike all day,” said Ms. Quest. The women trained by trying out the new safe bike path that connects Carpinteria to Ventura.
A mother-daughter duo drove up from Camarillo to take part. Linda and Whitney Davis are both new to long rides and this was going to be their longest so far, at 37 miles.
“It helps to have somebody to ride with,” said Whitney, “You can just enjoy the scenery.”
“And you get to spend time with your daughter,” added Linda.
Whitney is a nurse and says that half of her patients have some form of diabetes.
“You can’t tell all the time. For some it’s diet and lifestyle choices, but for others, no.”
Riders in the event who have diabetes wore a red jersey to show that the disease wasn’t stopping them getting out and exercising. One of them was Joan Estes-Lindskoj, 55, who counted down the first round of cyclists at the finish line.
Back when she was 13, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and at the time the only way to treat it was insulin injections and checking blood sugar.
“There are a lot of devastating consequences that can happen over the years with Type 1,” she said. Ms. Estes-Lindskoj lost a kidney, had a detached retina, and her entire left foot collapsed completely, leaving her with 10 screws in her foot to keep it together until it got better.
“Different people have different complications,” she said. “Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of them.”
However, she says, her regimen of cycling 100 miles a week means she takes one-third less insulin.
“Cycling is fantastic for a diabetic,” she said. “And for everyone.”