My world changed as the result of one number. That number was 7.5.

I received that number in February 2018. I had a physical, which included an A1C check as part of my bloodwork. A1C measures your glucose levels. Mine A1C measured 7.5, which is solidly within the Type 2 diabetes range. 

The news stunned me. I always assumed that diabetes was for obese folks, and that wasn’t me. I’d been heavy for years—and at that time, my weight was around 220—but I was never that guy. You know him—the guy people look at and say “poor fella…”

I’m just a shade over 6’ tall, so I didn’t have a huge belly. But I was certainly overweight, and had been for years. But… diabetes-level fat? No way!

Way.

Buying a Peloton

The numbers don’t lie, and they told me that I was a Type 2 diabetic. That’s the less severe type of diabetes, one that doesn’t require me to take insulin. So that was something. But still, I had diabetes. I was a diabetic. My life had to change.

That same week, I bought a Peloton bike. I’d ridden off and on for years on various road bikes (when I was young, we just called them “10-speeds”), but had a roughly decade stretch where I did very little working out. At the time, I’d only seen some Peloton commercials. I knew little about the bike, except that I could ride year-round, given that it sat in my basement. That was the main consideration for buying it.

A (bad) picture of my Peloton.

Fast-forward to today. Between that exercise and a good (though far from great) diet, I’m down around 40 pounds, and looking to shed another 10 to 15 before I go into “weight maintenance” mode. And my A1C was 5.7 last time I checked, which is in the pre-diabetic range. (I’m getting another one soon, and I’ll update that number when I can).

That’s why I got serious about cycling—really serious, to the point that I’m in actual training, doing structured workouts and hoping to do some “event” rides like grand fondos (long rides), centuries (really long rides), and some shorter races.

The Mental Side of Cycling

Cycling has been a crucial element of my weight loss and increased fitness, of course. But it’s also been good for mental reasons. I have a sedentary job that involves me sitting in front of my computers all day, typing away just like this. I love it, but physically straining it ain’t.

Cycling, whether in the basement or out on the road, helps me get away from that environment and forget about the client deadlines looming over my head. I escape those mental stresses, at least for a while. And when I’m back in front of the screen, I can deal with those stresses better.

But 7.5 was the beginning of it all. So strangely, even though diabetes will always be a major factor in my life, I’m actually glad it happened, if you can believe it. It’s the truth, too. Diabetes gave me the motivation that was lacking to get serious about my body again, and to get back on the bike. It gave me the push onto the saddle and out the door. So yes, we can be grateful even for bad news, if we’re intent on looking for the silver lining.

I still have diabetes, but it doesn’t control me—rather, I control it. That’s a good place to be. I no longer ride because I have diabetes. I do it now because I love it. The health benefits are secondary to the pure pleasure of turning the pedals.