- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 26 June 2009
The eight-rider team that is comprised entirely of athletes with Type 2 diabetes rolled through Taos, N.M., which is one of two intermediate checkpoints along the 3,021-mile (4,861 km) route. Teams must reach these checkpoints within a designated time to officially continue in the non-stop, transcontinental race.
Team Type 2 Manager Bob Avritt said the accomplishment was satisfying for him and teammates John Anderson, Bill Arnold, Bob Chaisson, Larry Cleveland, Peter Cowley, Mark Thul and Denny Voorhees.
“We’re also happy to be out-pacing another team, too,” Avritt said as he prepared to ride another shift on his Orbea Opal bicycle.
Through the first 1,044 miles (1,680 km), Team Type 2 is averaging 16.8 mph. At that pace, the squad will reach the finish line in Annapolis, Md., sometime Sunday morning.
Team Type 2 crew member Kevin Stewart said morale is high for both riders and crew. Unlike Team Type 1, which is participating in RAAM for the fourth time, this is Team Type 2’s maiden voyage in the event that is billed as the “world’s toughest bicycle race.”
“I’m real pleased with the way things are going,” Stewart said. “We’re doing our rider exchanges a little bit better and the riders are pleased with their times and how they are riding and how they are feeling.”
Avritt said he checked his blood sugar more than 20 times during a 160-mile shift Monday night into Tuesday morning. People with Type 2 diabetes have too much sugar in their bloodstream because their bodies either do not use insulin properly or do not produce enough insulin.
“We check our levels before we get on the bike and after we get back from each pull,” Avritt said. “We’re doing five-mile pulls with the goal of 15 minutes, which is a 20 mph average. Our blood glucose has been going down 50 to 70 points per pull, so we can tell it’s very demanding.”
Team Type 2 crew member Andrew Burgess said it has been inspiring to watch. He said at one point, Cowley – a 42-year-old Milwaukee resident who has had Type 2 diabetes for the past 10 years – was going more than 60 mph down a descent. What followed looked to be a tremendous challenge for the American Diabetes Association employee who lost 25 pounds training for RAAM.
“We knew Peter was excellent at descending, but when it comes to climbing we established that in this group, Bob (Avritt) and Bill Arnold are the climbers. So we had no intention of Peter doing the climb through Monument Pass. But it was like watching Rocky running up the steps. He was just killing it. It was a bittersweet moment. He was psyched he had done it, but glad he could call it a day.”