Since today is Columbus Day and many are talking about historic journeys, we thought it'd be the perfect time to share the story of a Texas woman who recently rode clear across America on her bike -- all to mark her 40th anniversary of living with type 1 diabetes.
This isn't the first time Tracy Herbert has done something to honor her "dia-versary," this amazing 3,527-mile bike trek across the country from the Golden Gate Bridge to Brooklyn Bridge (!) is not the finish of her story, either. Nope, Tracy has multiple projects up her sleeve that she hopes to use to both inspire others with diabetes and raise awareness among the general public.
Aside from that major biking feat, Tracy is a published author with a book released in the summer of 2016 and she's now writing a new book about her cycling adventure, filming a documentary about it, has just released a new podcast talking diabetes, and she's even decided to start a new non-profit foundation to help those who can't afford diabetes technology.
"It's about being better, instead of being bitter," the 57-year-old quips, reiterating a tagline she's said many times over the past several months during her journey.
Tracy's Diabetes Story
Diagnosed in 1978 at the age of 17 during her senior year of high school in northern Indiana, Tracy remembers being told she wouldn't survive past age 20 and that she'd endure an unpleasant, complication-ridden life before it was cut short by diabetes. Many diagnosed back in those "dark ages of diabetes" know that frame of mind well, as many heard the same thing from the medical profession at the time.
Clearly, that didn't happen. Now, two decades later she's in her late '50s, without any diabetes complications and a healthy mother of two kids. She has learned about the nuances of diabetes -- all types of it -- through her athletic adventures and her work as health / wellness coach and author who channels her energy into teaching others about diabetes.
When her bigger milestone dia-versaries near, Tracy admits she likes doing something a bit crazy.
Her previous adventures include completing the Hotter N Hell 100-mile bicycle ride in late August in Texas to mark her 20th year with T1D, and competing in a triathlon ten years ago to mark her 30th dia-versary, despite being afraid of water.
For her 40th, though, she upped it a few notches and went all out.
Riding Across America
To make this recent bike trip happen, Tracy and her husband Fred decided in May to sell their Texas apartment and buy an RV. They stretched out what might normally have taken her about 1-1/2 months to three full months, from mid-June through Sept. 13, 2017, in order to enjoy the journey.
Fred followed along in the RV, where her insulin and diabetes supplies were stored -- along with all the other necessities they own. They also had along for the ride Tracy's service dog, named Indiana Jones!
Over the course of the trip, Tracy made multiple stops along the way to speak at diabetes camps and organizations, community groups and just to meet people in the street. While she started this venture with a very personal mission, Tracy ended up being inspired by everyone she met and turned the bike ride into a way to increase visibility and awareness about diabetes. News stories and broadcasts began to pop up in places she'd made an appearance.
Meanwhile, Tracy's riding pace ranged from roughly 50 to 80 miles a day, with her time through Wyoming including stops every 76 miles based on rest stop locations. Along the way, she wore her OmniPod pump and Dexcom CGM sensor, and had a smartphone connecting to the CGM app attached to the top bar of her bike, below the handle-bars.
"The overall experience was even better than I could have imagined," she said. "Before leaving Texas, my husband and I said, 'if we can just encourage and make a difference in one person’s life, this ride would be worth it.' As it turned out, from the responses I received along the way, this ride encouraged hundreds of people. Many parents reached out throughout the ride and said I was giving them and their children with type 1 hope and inspiration."
That sense of inspiration and hope is what fueled her to continue, Tracy says. She'd eat her oatmeal in the morning, keep track of her blood sugars through CGM, and manage with her Omnipod -- taking breaks regularly to keep everything in check. She even scheduled in rest days, to recharge herself.
The journey was rough, she handled it like a boss -- even in the 118-degree heat, carrying her bike on her shoulders for 7 miles over boulder-terrain, and navigating the fierce winds of Nebraska.
She hopes folks will look at her and think, "If an old lady and grandma can make it this far and do this, then why can't I?" she says with a smile.
More Writing and Speaking
Tracy and Fred are currently still on the East Coast, but plan to return to Texas soon to figure out what happens next.
As noted, when not cycling, Tracy actually works as a health coach who also travels regularly around the country sharing her story and serving as a voice of inspiration in the D-Community and beyond.
The book she wrote in June 2016 is called Diabetes Tragedy to Triumph: 40 Years of Beating the Odds. While it's largely a basic educational guide, it also includes some distinct "motivational" aspects and tales of her own D-life throughout the 100+ pages.
She's now in the process of penning a new book about the cross-country cycling experience and is working on a documentary about the ride as well. And if all that weren't enough, she also just recently launched a new podcast, called Your Diabetes Breakthrough.
A New Foundation
And to top it all off, Tracy was so inspired by the Diabetes Community she encountered all over America that she's decided to establish a new non-profit foundation to help PWDs in need get access to the latest tools.
"Because of so many parents I met this summer during the ride, I felt led to start a Foundation which provides technology that often insurance companies do not provide, or their parents can’t afford their out of pocket expense," she says. "We are currently working through the legal structure and hope to have it operating before the end of the year."
What a cool story! Tracy is definitely someone who doesn't let diabetes stop her from doing anything she wants to do -- and even using the condition to help inspire and help others. Interested in her "Triumph" book? Read on for a chance to win.
A DMProducts Giveaway
Interested in winning a free copy of "Diabetes Tragedy to Triumph" that Tracy Herbert will personally sign for you? Here's how to enter:
Just leave a comment below, being sure to include the codeword "DMBooks" somewhere in your comment so we know you're in it to win it. Since our comment system requires log-in, you may also email us your entry directly at [email protected] with the subject header "TracyHerbert."
You have until Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, at 9pm PST to enter.
And just to reiterate: Please be sure to monitor your Facebook messages or email, as that's how we contact our winners. If we can't reach you within a reasonable period of time, we'll have to choose another winner.
Good luck, Friends!
This contest is now closed. Congrats to Stuart Schaffert, who submitted a comment by email on Oct. 10 and was chosen by Random.org as the winner for this giveaway!