Type 1 Challenge – We Did It!

It is difficult to put into words how good the Type 1 Challenge was, it was a spectacular success! After months of hard work organising the event and training for the ride, the results for everyone involved could not have been better. In summary:

  • We raised close to $140,000 for JDRF (thank you to all our sponsors and supporter who made this possible!)
  • The JDRF One Ride event raised $1.1M (second highest in the events history)
  • We featured on TV news, Radio and in the Newspaper, raising awareness for Type 1 Diabetes
  • We meet with families in Bendigo and Sea Lake (which was really inspiring for us T1D’s)
  • We had amazing feedback through social media on @JDRFAus, @Type1_Challenge and @Type1Athletic
  • All 15 cyclists and 8 support people made the full journey (some supporters even cycling a bit) from Melbourne to the Barossa Valley (910km)
  • All 15 cyclists participated in the 160km JDRF One Ride in the Barrosa Valley, two leading the way in the leading bunch and also taking out the KOM for the day (I’ll congratulate my self for that one)
  • Received so much interest from people about participating in the Type 1 Challenge next year that it can’t not go ahead again
  • I received a special thank you award from JDRF for founding this ride and pushing it to achieve the successes that it did
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Smiling as we charge out of Melbourne and into the hills on day 1 (the smile last the whole week)

 

When we arrived in the Barossa Valley on Friday afternoon I have never been so proud and I had a real moment of reflection on the amazing things that we had all achieved (fundraising, awareness and cycling). When I spoke to the JDRF One Ride group at the Friday night briefing I noted that as a cyclist, a T1D and as a JDRF Ambassador, this ride had truly been a life changing experience.

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Meeting Blair (T1D) in Sea Lake. What an inspiration this kid was, doing so much for T1D in his isolated regional community! What a champion!

The ride itself could not have gone better. We had no incidents or mechanicals (only 3 punctures), the weather was perfect (no rain) even having a tail wind most of the way, and our organisation/logistics ran so smoothly (100% professional).

The people on the ride really contributed to the great time we all had. You couldn’t have asked for a better group, everyone had a fantastic attitude and we had a lot of fun together. I think that we have made some life long friendships and cycling mates out of the trip. The support crew was absolutely fantastic and the ride wouldn’t have run as smoothly without them. Managing 15 cyclists for 5 days is not easy job and to keep everyone happy and well feed (always on time) was just spectacular. Several of the support crew even jumped on their bikes and rode in the peloton each day and we were happy to sit them at the front and enjoy the ride. A special thank you to my wife who supported me from the beginning and has made a massive contribution to the success of this event (a often stressed cyclist and type 1 diabetic is not easy to live with).

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Type 1 Challenge cyclists, support crew and JDRF representatives at the send-off 

 

The ride was all about type 1 diabetes and having three type 1’s riding really had an impact on everyone and the event overall. Myself, Trevor and David nearly all cycled the entire way and has no major diabetes issues. Riding, eating, recovering everyday whilst managing our type 1 was not only great for ourselves but also gave everyone else in the group an insight in to what we have to deal with everyday. Feedback from other was that this was really powerful and contributed to the swell of support for JDRF.

 

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Great cycling roads, fantastic people, perfect weather and country bakeries made for big smiles

This was really a inspiring and I think life changing event for me. I have a real passion for everything about this event (cycling, T1D and awareness) and I am already thinking about what we can do next year to build on what we have achieved. Already excited!!

Thank you for all of your support and donations.

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That’s who we’re representing – JDRF and type 1 diabetes

 

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Type 1 Challenge – 1,000km Melbourne to the Barossa Valley

The time is finally upon us! After many months training, organising and fundraising we are one week from starting our ride 1,000km ride from Melbourne to the Barossa Valley in support of JDRF One Ride and type 1 diabetes research. The training has been long and hard, we have fund raised tirelessly and the planning/logistics meetings are finally complete. There has been fatigue, frustration and stress, but over the last week the realisation that this amazing event is about to happen has really energised me and I couldn’t be more excited to get started on Monday 1st of May.

The ride has been named “Type 1 Challenge” which aims to reflect the association with type 1 diabetes and also the challenge of the event along with the challenge of living with type 1 diabetes. The way the idea has flourished has led me to commit to running a “Type 1 Challenge” annually in conjunction with JDRF to build on the amazing base of support I  and the concept have received this year. The more I reflect on what we have achieved, and the more I speak with people about what we are doing, the more I am motivated to make this bigger and better. But know we have the 1,000km of cycling to get through before we can really celebrate!

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The Type 1 Challenge: Ride to the Barossa cycling kit full of our wonderful sponsors logo’s

The Type 1 Challenge is now 15 cyclists and 8 supporters who have raised over $160,000 for JDRF. This is a significant contribution which will allow 1yrs further research to be funded. This not only includes the money raised by the 15 cyclists but also direct corporate support for the Type 1 Challenge from; Mastercard, Cuscal, Telstra, Bendigo Bank, Placard, Nokia, Prosegur, Art Series Hotel Group, Sterling Products, U-Haul Australia, NCR, Transaction Network Services and Wilson Plumbing & Drainage. I a truly thankful for all of the support given by these companies (as the founder of the Type 1 Challenge and also as a type 1 diabetic).

Our ride will take us 5 days cycling an average 200km per day. We will be stopping in Bendigo, Sea Lake, Pinnaroo and Murray Bridge before making a triumphant (yet very tired) entrance to the JDRF One Ride event in the Barossa Valley on Friday afternoon. As a group we have ridden nearly 50,000km cumulatively in 2017 (so far) to train for this ride and after out last group training ride on the weekend I am confident that we will all enjoy a safe and highly successful journey to the Barossa Valley.

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The Type 1 Challenge Team post final training ride enjoying the prospect of 1,000km to come!

We will be leaving Melbourne on Monday 1st May and arriving in the Barossa Valley on Friday 5th May. The best way to follow our progress will be through instagram via @type1athletic, @type1_challenge and @jdrfaus. Looking forward to a great ride, a great JDRF One Ride event and continuing to raising awareness of type 1 diabetes and inspire people!

You can still donate to JDRF through this link: Donate to JDRF/Type1Athletic

JDRF One Ride & my new team

It’s been about one month since I launched my JDRF One Ride fundraising campaign and the response and developments have been fantastic. Firstly, I have to thank everyone who immediately donated and we have raise nearly $2,500 to date!! Secondly, and more personally satisfying, has been the number of people offering support and coming to speak to me about Type 1 Diabetes. I really enjoy talking to people about the disease and my experiences, and through my association with JDRF I can now also emphasis how important research funding is and how this actually makes a tangible difference to my life. I now understand that the more people that know about the disease the better, and although less than 5% of the population has Type 1 Diabetes, many more people than I thought are touched by the disease. This first month has certainly energised me to work even harder for my JDRF fundraising.

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Team Telstra JDRF Ride Event on the Morning Peninsula, this group included Matthew Keenan (TdF Commentator) and Justin Morris (Team Novo Nordisk Cyclist)

My big plan to ride from Melbourne to Adelaide has also been met with enormous support and had the desired effect of motivating people to donate. A common response has been “you’re doing what?” followed by “that’s amazing!”. My original plan was to ride solo from Melbourne to Adelaide in 3 days, an epic challenge for me but with an unknown impact for Type 1 Diabetes awareness and JDRF. I can now confirm that I have been joined by up to another dozen riders who have committed to tackle this journey with me, and we now have a fantastic team working on this project. The route has now also been revised and we will be completing the 900km ride over 5 days arriving at the JDRF One Ride Event on Friday afternoon and also stopping in communities along the way to promote and support the JDRF network and local type 1 diabetes initiatives. Going from one cyclist pedalling across the border, to now having a strong team of cyclists and corporate supporters, the broader impact of this trip could be really significant.

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The new ride route which we’ll ride in 5 days, stopping in towns for some T1D and JDRF events with the local communities. 

Not only are we being supported by some fantastic organisations including JDRF, Telstra and the Bendigo bank, there are now three type 1 diabetics riding in the team! Three Type 1’s with three different diabetes experiences and three inspirational stories to tell on this journey. I am really looking forward to sharing this experience with them and I know that I will get a different perspective on how people manage their own condition and I am I sure that I will learn plenty from this. With the introduction of more Type 1’s, a dozen cyclists, corporate’s and on-road supporters this ride can only have a positive impact on our JDRF fundraising and on the One Ride event itself. I am excited and grateful for everyone’s involvement and enthusiasm.

So what happens next? Cycling, fundraising, more cycling, JDRF events, more cycling, planning, more cycling, more planning… you get the picture. It’s pretty exciting stuff and I am really looking forward to working with this great group of people, making new friends on the bike, talking about Type 1 Diabetes and most of all spending lots of time riding my bike. It is also going to be a lot of work but if it was easy then everyone would be doing it.

If you are following my blog or fundraising campaign, thank you for your interest and support. If you are thinking about making a donation, then please do. The changes in diabetes management I have experienced over the last 5 years has been fantastic and my quality of life is now better due to these advancements. Insulin pumps and continue glucose monitors are just a couple of examples of these developments which have been funded and supported by JDRF and which your donations help fund. Any donation, no mate what size, will make a difference (Please Donate Here).

My JDRF Fundraising Story

To kick start my fundraising for my JDRF One Ride participation I wrote an email which I planned to distribute to all of my contacts. I was aiming to connect my personal diabetes story with the JDRF cause and positive outcomes to get as many people to support me as possible. As I wrote the email though I became quite emotional as I realised how challenging living with type 1 diabetes is and how significant and life threatening the complications can be. It actually brought me to tears when I read it out to my fiance. Below is an adapted version.

As you may be aware I am a type 1 diabetic, I was diagnosed when I was 11 years old and I have been living with the condition for over 22 years now. Type 1 diabetes affects the body’s ability to produce insulin which is what allows the body to process sugar to create energy. Without insulin, the body literally starves as it cannot process food and the sugars which remain in the blood stream then cause other complications. To manage type 1 diabetes, I must keep my blood sugar levels as close to the normal range as possible by dosing insulin, something that is very complicated and difficult to maintain.

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You would have seen me testing my blood sugar levels (nearly 50,000 finger pricks) and giving myself insulin (over 30,000 injections) and from the outside I would appear to be a very healthy young man; at the moment I thankfully am. The longer I have type 1 diabetes though, the risk increases that the disease will ravage many of my organs and bodily systems leading to health complications including kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputation, heart attack and stroke. The potential complications though are secondary to the daily challenges of keeping my blood sugar levels within a safe range whilst being active and living a normal life, all while trying not to stress about the condition. Type 1 diabetes requires constant management 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I have had type 1 diabetes for nearly 8,000 days, and counting.

Type 1 diabetes is one of the only conditions where the patient determines their own doses of medication (insulin), and that this medication both keeps them alive and can also kill them. Insulin is required constantly or at minimum with every meal every day of a diabetics life.

Type 1 diabetes has not stopped me living an active life, nor achieving my goals. Through school and university, my working life, completing many endurance events including an Ironman, and most recently getting engaged and starting to plan for a family. Along the way I have overcome the daily challenges of having type 1 diabetes which have included hypoglycaemic events (which can be fatal), always planning ahead and carrying my diabetes supplies and food, and trying to fit the strict nature of diabetes around the spontaneous nature of life. Although I have managed my diabetes well there have been plenty of scary incidents; being resuscitated by paramedics due to severe hypoglycaemia, breaking my hand during another hypoglycaemic event and various times where things just didn’t go to plan and I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I can’t imagine my parents stress when I was a teenager and now what my fiancé feels when I head out on a solo adventure with all of that to worry about.

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So I am fundraising for JDRF through the One Ride Event  because I understand how challenging living with type 1 diabetes is and it scares me that even with good control there are high risks of potentially fatal complications. I have also received the benefits of recent technological developments which have made living with type 1 diabetes so much easier; I am on an insulin pump and I use a CGM to monitor my BGLs. I am cycling 1,000’s of kilometres to inspire all type 1 diabetics that this disease should not stop them from doing anything their heart desires and that achieving their wildest goals is within their grasp. My plans for my fundraising activities can be found here JDRF One Ride 2017

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I am currently preparing for the Ballarat 70.3 Ironman on December 8th, my only triathlon for this coming summer and one which I really want to do well at. After that I will be focusing on cycling as many kilometres as I can to raise funds for JDRF, raising awareness about type 1 diabetes, inspiring other type 1 diabetics to join me, and also prepare for my ride from Melbourne to Adelaide in May 2017. There’s also an engagement party and a wedding in there which will be a lot of fun!

I have not previously done much fundraising and before starting to work with JDRF I didn’t really understand how important it is. JDRF has invested nearly $2 billion since its inception and has delivered a pipeline of innovative therapies and technology to people living with diabetes including my insulin pump and continue blood glucose monitoring which I have found absolutely life changing. By making a contribution you will have a direct and significant impact on the lives of all diabetics, making it easier to live a healthy and complication free life.

If you would like to donate and support me on my JDRF cycling journey please donate through this link Alex JDRF One Ride

I can honestly say that your donation will contribute to making a significant difference to my life and I will forever be grateful.