Racing Bikes With Diabetes


Team Novo Nordisk is a global all-diabetes sports team of cyclists, triathletes and runners, spearheaded by the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team.

The team’s mission: to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes. Off the bike, Team Novo Nordisk riders meet thousands of people every year who are inspired by their message and empowered by their actions at races spanning the globe. The team also engages regularly with their more than one million Facebook fans, which is nearly double the following of any other professional cycling team. Team Novo Nordisk’s 2015 season will take them to numerous countries around the world in South America, Europe, USA and Asia, as they continue racing to change diabetes. Diabetes is a condition requiring careful management and attention even for an everyday person. How has it shaped you as an athlete? I have always been active even before being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at eight years old. Yet, I don’t think my mental strength, planning and preparation would be as good if I were not a person affected by diabetes. It has really shaped the person I am today. Who are your diabetic sporting mentors? Personally, I don't have a diabetic sporting mentor as such, but I do really admire what Sir Steve Redgrave achieved through his career and would love to meet him one day. Someone I have always looked up to is Anna Meares, an Australian track sprint cyclist who recently claimed her 11th World Title. Her professionalism off the bike is something I admire. She is a true sportswoman. If you could let the world know one thing about being an athlete with diabetes, what would it be? I don't use my diabetes as an excuse; I use it as motivation. I see myself as a normal athlete when lining up for a race. My race preparation is the same as any other rider turning up, including pre-race meal, warm up and fluids. The exception is that I take medicine. I am concentrating on what I need to do to execute the best ride, not my diabetes. My job is to turn up and be the best bike rider I can be. Your toughest moment as a professional cyclist? My toughest moment is not necessarily on the bike, but in a way it has had a massive impact on my professional cycling career. For me, it was being told I had to lose weight to achieve the best power to weight ratio. Personally, it was hard to accept that I needed to lose weight while I was still setting personal bests. It tough needing to accept and trust with those around me. I struggled with believing they could make me the best bike rider I could be.
in the Skoda Elite & U19 Track National Championships at the Avantidrome, Cambridge, New Zealand, Thursday, January 29, 2015. Credit:NINZ / Dianne Manson
What are some of the misconceptions people have about you and Team Novo Nordisk? Most people are unaware that I am affected with diabetes, but people become curious and want to learn more about what we are going through, but when we are racing we are just like everyone else. We want to win. Your toughest moment in managing your diabetes? The day I became a person living with type 1 diabetes and accepting that challenge. It will be with me for the rest of my life, and it is what it is. What changes would you like to see in the future as you inspire, educate and empower people living with and affected by diabetes? The mission behind Team Novo Nordisk is to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes, which is so important to me because when some people are diagnosed with diabetes, they think it means they won’t be able to live life the same way. I would like to see more people help the growth of awareness and respect towards people who are affected by diabetes. Those who are affected should not have to use the disease as an excuse whether it's for a sporting, lifestyle or business career.
in the Skoda Elite & U19 Track National Championships at the Avantidrome, Cambridge, New Zealand, Thursday, January 29, 2015. Credit:NINZ / Dianne Manson
I'm sure Team Novo Nordisk has a variety of allied support and health services to make sure you are all in tip top condition. Tell me who you rely on, apart from your coach or trainer? As I am located in New Zealand, I rely on the various New Zealand High Performance Support staff offered: Psychologist, Physiologist, Athlete Advisor, Nutritionist and Strength and Conditioner. Team Novo Nordisk has such a high caliber of medical staff at hand. I rely on them to help me manage my diabetes so I can be in the best optimum performance state.

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