Pedals and diabetes, the journey of the two cyclists to raise awareness of disease, safety and the environment

Cycling from Mexico to Alaska. It is the undertaking of ten amateur cyclists, two of whom with type 1 diabetes, engaged in a relay race over 9,400 kilometers long. Started last April 10 from Trincheras in Mexico, they have now reached the penultimate stage, precisely near Yellowstone National Park, in the United States. The final destination will be Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, which the last two relay runners should be able to reach on 12 July.

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One of the two cyclists who will close the company is Alberto Fiorin, a Venetian writer who has traveled the world on foot and by bicycle for over 30 years. “This project was born in the memory of the cycle traveler Mauro Talini, and has the aim of continuing his message, unfortunately tragically interrupted”, says Fiorin. Mauro Talini, a cyclist with type 1 diabetes, has made numerous bicycle tours around the world to raise awareness of governments and populations for better diabetes care and assistance, especially for people in the poorest and most disadvantaged regions of the world. His mission ended in 2013 when he was killed in an accident.

Now the associations “Still traveling. Diabetes no limits. Poverty no limits” and ANIAD onlus have decided to take up the baton and continue that path. “The initiative is aimed in particular at raising awareness and informing on three highly topical issues with a strong social impact: in addition to diabetes, our message concerns road safety in favor of cyclists and environmental protection”, says Fiorin . The intent of the promoters of “Traveling … towards Alaska” is to contribute financially, thanks to a fundraiser, to the construction of 30 toilets on the outskirts of the integral promotion center “Arco Iris de l’Alegria”, in Bolivia, where the missionaries of the Immaculate Father Kolbe work, of which Mauro Talin was a member.

This special tour is continuing successfully. In fact, the penultimate stage currently underway has started for about ten days. Before the baton passed to the two new cyclists it was the turn of 36-year-old Alessio Fresco, who cycled from San Francisco to Salt Lake City. It was an incredible undertaking, considering the difficulties that the personal trainer from Lanciano, a village in the province of Chieti, has to keep under control his disease, type 1 diabetes. Alessio Fresco he is certainly in great shape, considering his profession and his passion for sport in general.

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But, needless to hide it, diabetes can be a major obstacle for such an enterprise. But the athlete from Abruzzo made it: he cycled for the beauty of 1,233 kilometers. “I admit it: it was tough,” Fresco confesses. “Not so much for the disease, but for the climatic conditions and for the route we took: about 9 thousand meters uphill and in certain points we were at temperatures close to zero”, he adds. As if cycling 12 hours a day was already easy for anyone.

Diabetes has certainly complicated things a bit. But Fresco had prepared well, logistically and mentally. “I learned to listen to my body and anticipate the effects of the disease,” he says. “With the help of an insulin pump, a small device connected to a sensor and a needle-cannula, I was able to monitor my blood sugar well and to schedule stops and breaks in time to prevent hypoglycemia with meals and insulin injections” he adds. “I traveled in a cooler bag in which I kept insulin, which I then put in the fridge in the evening at the hotel,” he says. Alessio Fresco is the living testimony that diabetes is not a limit.

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“With adequate knowledge and skills, the disease can be absolutely well managed, and it does not prevent the realization of one’s dreams and passions,” he stresses. “For me, diabetes was a severe teacher. It taught me a healthy lifestyle, the importance of taking care of yourself and eating a balanced diet,” adds Fresco. He never says it’s easy. “I certainly can’t say that,” he points out. “But as my participation in this bike relay shows, it can be done. I did it, without ever having a cramp”, he concludes.

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