Cross-country cyclist defying disease
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL ” Cycling allows Kerry White a brief escape from a disease that forces her insert needles in her veins eight times each day.
The race is a chance to feel “kind of normal,” she said.
“It’s a huge sense of freedom,” said White, an 18-year Vail resident. “It’s a snippet of time in my daily challenges where I can mentally redeem myself from all of those things.”
White wants to bicycle in a race on state highways from Oceanside, Calif. to Atlantic City, N.J., to raise money for a diabetes cure. This will be the third time she has done the Race Across America with help from team members riding stretches of highway in shifts, she said.
This will be the first time she will peddle the mileage alone.
White’s goal is to ride an average of 250 miles each day from June 10 through 22 in the Race Across America. She wants to ride 18 to 22 hours each day with only two to four hours of rest, all while drinking fluids, eating Power Bars and one meal before sleep.
“That’ll be the only time I’ll eat sort of normal food,” she said.
Along with difficulties that pester every athlete, such as staying awake and riding through wind and rain, White’s disease will make the ride that much more difficult.
While riding, she has to test her blood sugar 15 to 20 times each day by pricking her finger to draw blood onto a paper strip for testing on a small one- by two- inch monitor mounted below her handlebars.
She will stop several times each day to inject the insulin that controls her blood sugar level.
Normally, White checks her blood sugar level four to eight times each day and injects insulin accordingly, she said. If she fails to take those precautions, she would likely suffer from complications such as blindness, heart disease, kidney failure or others.
“It’s kind of this constant vicious circle of testing and eating so you can try to balance and stay within that range,” she said.
She can’t do things that others take for granted, such as drinking wine or eating cookies or cake.
She has had to balance all that with a job, a personal and social life and her passion for cycling and mountain biking, she said.
White quit her job a couple months ago to train full-time for the race. She now rides 400 to 750 miles each week.
She won’t be attempting the ride alone: Eight crew members ” three of which she has yet to find “will prepare food, maintain and repair cycling equipment and drive. At night, at least one car will follow her to provide light.
Others would rest in a recreational vehicle, she said.
Having an adequate number of crew members is an essential part of White’s ride because “when you get to day nine or 10 and the person behind the wheel is hallucinating and sleep-deprived, that’s not what I want,” she said.
Local cyclist Brett Malin, White’s friend, died in the Race Across America in June 2003 in New Mexico when a semi truck hit him.
The Race Across America is significant for Vail Valley cyclists because of Malin’s death and White will ride in his memory, she said.
“You go through a lot of positive and negative emotions,” said White, referring to thinking about Malin’s life and death while riding. “Those are the type of memories that absorb your mind.”
Stephen White has provided some of the money and moral support for his wife’s race, he said. He will meet her halfway in Kansas to become a part of the crew, which also consists of White’s parents.
“It’s a huge undertaking,” Stephen White said. “In order to train for something like this, you have to quit your job. Now we’re a one-income family.”
White isn’t planning to win the race ” the women’s record is nine days, four hours and two minutes ” but she hopes to educate people about diabetes, she said.
White urges those with a diabetic relative to have a doctor test their blood sugar once every four months to prepare for the possible onset of diabetes, she said.
Some give up on living a full life when they are first diagnosed with the disease.
White wants diabetics to know some people with the disease live really active lifestyles, White said.
Athletics helps White escape her disease and gives her confidence, she said.
Diabetics also should know that there are new treatments and medications on the market that can make their lives better. White acknowledges that a cure may be difficult to find, but she pointed out that scientists are “a lot closer” to finding one than they were 25 years ago, when she developed the disease.
White hopes that scientists will find a way to prevent people from getting the disease, though she hopes they will find a cure, she said.
Until then, she will continue to ride her bike and live with diabetes.
“It’s not a disease that’s easy to live with ” ever,” she said. “Every day you have to live to the challenge. Otherwise you’ve chosen not to live.”
Kerry White still needs three more crew members to help her ride across the United States.
Call 390-6956 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If you would like to donate money, equipment or supplies for White’s ride or to help find a cure for type one diabetes, visit http://www.teamtype1.org.
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.
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