Cyclists Support Great Cause

A closed freeway Sunday morning may have delayed the start of the sixth annual Ride to Defeat Diabetes (R2D2), but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the nearly 200 riders who came to support the cause.

Bill Marlin of Vacaville was diagnosed with diabetes 20 years ago, and is insulin dependent.

Sunday’s ride — he chose the 25-mile — was his fourth appearance in R2D2, and he proudly wore a red cycle jersey with the word, “Diabetic” on his back.

“I’m here to show people you don’t have to be that person who says you can’t do things. A lot of people feel it’s too much. They get overwhelmed, but I have a long list of things for them to try.”

He rides as many as 4,000 miles a year, and says it does a lot to lower his blood sugar levels.

This was the first year riders with diabetes were offered “red rider” T-shirts with the R2D2 logo.

Jocelyn von Strong, a 30-year Vacaville resident, signed up to do her first 60-mile event. Her daughter, Sierra Costello, was there for support with a sign reading, “Come on Mom, RIDE like a Bear is chasing you ... again.”

According to the story, her mom had a close encounter during a hunting trip but was able to crawl away.

She’s in better shape now, down 46 pounds and ready to run — or ride.

The 60-mile ride was postponed by 15 minutes because of a freeway closure, but cyclists were in good spirits as they departed, and other rides — a 25-mile and a 10-mile — took off as planned.

With a festive balloon arch strung between the start signs, Ken McCollum, vice president of Human Resources and executive sponsor for the ride, explained before each ride why NorthBay Healthcare focuses on diabetes.

“With one of the highest rates of diabetes in the state, it’s our mission to educate the community and support those who are struggling to control their diabetes,” he said.

Money raised from the event has helped create a support group for anyone in the community with diabetes — not just NorthBay patients, said Dr. Deborah Murray, director of the Center for Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Vendors cheerfully offered coffee, juice, popsicles, massages and more as riders and supporters gathered in the parking lot on the NorthBay VacaValley Hospital campus. Ray’s Cycle pumped up tires and checked gears before each ride.

Participants and volunteers wrapped up the day with lunch and music under canopies as the temperature crept up to 100.

“Another great ride under our belts,” organizer Theresa Travers told the R2D2 Committee.