This past weekend I had the honor of being with members of the Team Novo Nordisk Development team as the raced in the New Haven Grand Prix and the Mayors Cup in Boston, Massachusetts. This was my first time being in the crowd for a CAT 1 bike race and my first time being behind the scenes to see just how much work a team does before the race.
The New Haven Grand Prix
I would be interviewing Brais Dacal and Quentin Valognes, two men that I know nothing about, I know that they are great cyclists but after that I knew nothing. Luckily Friday night was like a mid July evening so that I could say that I was sweating because of the heat and humidity. As I approached the team van I was shaking like a teenage boy that was about to ask a girl to prom. I'm not sure if I stuck out like a sore thumb but Brais saw me with my camera and came right up and introduced himself, not far behind was Quentin. As Quentin approached I was worried that he was the Team Novo Nordisk security guard. Quentin is a big boy, his quads are the size of small children and he has the upper body of a body builder. I was quickly put at ease as he shook my hand introduced himself and pulled up a chair for me to sit in. That was the common theme of the weekend as I was with the team, they are just amazing people that are very caring. As we sat down I knew that I had about twenty minutes and didn't want to disrupt anything before the race. I always love to ask Team Novo Nordisk members what the jersey means to them, Brais would give one of the best answers that I have ever heard "As I put on my bib, I think... I'm lucky to be with such a great team. The jersey means the world to me, it inspires so many and inspires me." Quentin would say "It means that we are inspiring, educating and empowering everyone affected by diabetes. I'm happy to be a part of that" As we chatted more about how they got into cycling and their dreams we started to talk about diabetes. This was the perfect opportunity to ask what they would say to a child that was newly diagnosed. Brais who is a very genuine, caring, and unselfish individual would say "Diabetes teaches you a lot, for a newly diagnosed child diabetes can be scary, when I was diagnosed I was scared. As time went on I worked with my doctor, I learned more and more, I would say that it takes work but you can still pursue your dreams. Diabetes doesn't have to stop you!!" As I was taking my notes I got chills, if I had a week to prepare an answer for that question I don't believe I could give a better answer.
As the interview came to a close I quickly thanked Brais, Quentin and the team for their time. They would insist that I could stay but I didn't want to be in the way so off I went to get a good spot to watch the team race.
TD Bank Boston Mayors Cup
As the bikes were unloaded and prepared for the race the team sat down and talked about the course and how to ride the course. As an amateur rider it is amazing to see the details that they go over pre race. As the pre race meeting ended Brais came over and asked if I would care to join him as he went to find a coffee. This was not planned, I was just going to take some pictures and be on my way. Brais and I walked a block and talked about my story, here was a pro cyclist living with that I look up to and he wants to hear about me. I gave the readers digest version of my story and Brais said "You are why this team means so much, you are the inspiration for all of us. We race for people like you." I couldn't believe it and I still don't.
As we arrived at the Dunkin Donuts, I warned Brais that this was not coffee. What he calls coffee and what Dunkin Donuts calls coffee are two different things. He looked around and quickly said "Lets try the store!!" At the store Brais and I discussed just how different his home country of Spain and the United States are. He looked around the "pharmacy" and said "Spain doesn't have this, pharmacy just have drugs, butcher just have meat and supermarket has all the other stuff" After hearing that I had to ask about how different the food was, after a quick laugh he said "Very different, lot more stuff in the food here. I put on two kilos (5lbs) after a week of coming here, I can't lose that." Hearing that was very interesting and I'm now very interested in traveling to Spain to see just how different the foods are.
As we arrived back at the van I got to see the work that the team does when it comes to diabetes. All of the work that I put in while training and racing is the same work that the team puts in. It doesn't matter the level that you are racing at, you have to put in the work when it comes to diabetes. You may have to test your blood sugar multiple times before a race. The team keeps a very close eye on everything when it comes to the riders and their diabetes. I was blown away by the amount of work they do and how they truly monitor every single item that enters their body when it comes to food before a race.