I’m a huge cycling fan. So much so that I even occasionally go out on my lovely Genesis road bike and tootle about the Pentland hills, which is always rather nice. But every July everything stops while we have the wondrous Tour de France and I’m always glued to the box to catch up on the latest developments.
It’s slightly different this year in that, for once, a British cyclist – the very talented Mark Cavendish – has actually won two stages already and is likely to break Chris Boardman’s British record of eight stage wins. However, being a sprinter he’ll probably drop out before the race hits the mountains and is unlikely to actually finish anywhere near the top of the rankings.
Also worthy of note is the truly remarkable Lance Armstrong. He won the Tour a ridiculous seven times, then he retired – having reasonably earned the right to a good rest. However, now he’s come out of retirement and entered the race again. I suspect he’s doing this just to take the piss. But he’s already looking to be a serious contender – probably much to the chagrin of Alberto Contador, supposedly Armstrong’s team leader.
Anyway, the thrills and spills of the Tour reminded me of Team Type 1 – a professional cycling team mostly made up of people with Type One diabetes. They’ve also recently expanded to include Team Type Two which is, you’ve guessed it, made up of competitors with Type Two.
As a diabetic I’m afraid I don’t find many things that raise the profile of diabetes particularly inspiring. If I read about a diabetic who raises £500 with a sponsored parachute jump, it’s undoubtedly a Good Thing, but it hardly makes me leap off my chair and be proud to be pancreatically-challenged.
However, my attitude is somewhat different when it comes to Team Type 1. I think this is because their determined aim is to seriously compete at a global level and they will not compromise simply because some of their pancreases don’t work. Given that cycling is surely the greatest and hardest endurance sport out there, I do actually find them hugely rousing. If they can train for and compete in a professional bike race with no ill effects then surely I can make it through the day in my office job without too much of a problem!
Team Type 1’s stated aim is to enter the Tour de France, and I’m hugely supportive of this. If that happened it would raise the profile of diabetes in a hugely, immeasurably positive way. And nothing would make me prouder as a diabetic than to see Team Type 1 heading down the Champs-Élysées in Paris thrashing the hell out of Lance Armstrong!
Allez, allez, allez boys!