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‘The Diabetic Cyclist’: Introductions are in order!

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When I was a kid, having a bike was everything. It meant freedom—freedom to travel, freedom to explore, freedom to see new things and go new places.

Sound familiar?

Yes, bicycles have a lot in common with RVs—more than you might think. They both enable us to go on adventures and enjoy the beauty of nature. Just like your travel trailer or fifth wheel, bicycles are recreational vehicles, and a great way to get around. That makes them a perfect topic for this new RV Travel column.

Many RVers are also cyclists. And much like the RV industry, there are a ton of choices for your next bike—enough to make your head (and your pedals) spin. There are many factors to consider, often starting with cost. You don’t buy a Class A RV if your budget is $5,000. Similarly, you don’t buy a road bike if you’ll mainly be riding on trails in the woods.

In this column, I’ll help you make decisions on which bike is best for you. I’ll declutter the landscape, and demystify the terminology and confusing aspects of bicycles. I’ll help you understand the differences among bikes, what each type of bike is best suited for, and how bicycles can improve your health, both physically and mentally.

Bicycles are a big part of many RVers’ lifestyles. In fact, they’re buying a lot of ebikes these days, so I’ll put a special emphasis on these battery-powered steeds.

Whether you want an ebike or a leg-powered-only bike, there’s one out there for you. One of the most exciting trends in the bike industry is the specialization that’s occurring. There is no “one-size-fits-all” bike out there. There are bikes for folks who want to bomb down mountains, bikes for people who want to pedal leisurely down oceanfront boardwalks, bikes for people with bad backs who can’t ride a normal bike and need a more standard sitting position (they’re called recumbents). And many, many more.

How I became ‘The Diabetic Cyclist’

A natural question that may have occurred to you by now is, “Why should I listen to this guy? Does he have any idea what he’s talking about?” Hey, I’d ask that question, too.

Here’s a brief bit of background. I’ve been a journalist for 30-plus years. I’ve interviewed Barbara Bush, interviewed a murderer in a Pittsburgh jail, covered Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, and reported on Microsoft extensively.

In February 2018 I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. At that point, I turned to exercise and dieting to get my condition under control without medication. (You can read more about my story here.)

Within four months of getting on a bike and cutting carbs and sugar, I was off of metformin (typically the medication prescribed for new diabetics). Within eight months, I’d lost about 40 pounds and ridden thousands of miles on my bike.

In the nearly four years since then, I’ve kept the weight off, and reduced my blood sugar levels to a sub-diabetic range. Plus, I feel better than I have in decades.

Cycling has become central to my improved health. What started out as a method of getting in shape has become a joyous activity. Most days, I can’t wait to get on my bike. If I go a few days without riding, I get antsy. Riding provides a crucial escape from the worries of the day, and clears my head. Just like RVing does for you.

For me, riding is magic. I call myself The Diabetic Cyclist because it encapsulates my journey back to good health. Your health may be good or bad; you may be a cyclist now or a wannabe cyclist; wherever you are in your cycling journey, I’d love to be a part of it.

Whether you’re getting on your RV or getting in your RV, that journey starts now. 

Keith Ward, a veteran journalist, writes about cycling, health, and the intersection of the two at thediabeticcyclist.substack.com. His newsletter is all about helping you improve your life through improved diet and exercise.

Do you have a bike and enjoy bike riding? If so, tell me about your adventures and your bike in the comments below. Thinking about getting a bike? Tell me what kind you’re interested in! 

Also from Keith:

I’ve been bitten by the RV bug. Did it happen to you once too?

##RVT1076

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LaDonna Sullivan
1 month ago

We own a Class C and are seriously thinking about getting 2 e-bikes instead of towing a vehicle all the time. I am 2 yrs out of breaking both ankles (but doing great) and my hubby has a pin in his hip and knee from a work related injury 4 yrs ago. My only issue with biking is we have a fear of wrecking/falling off and reinjuring ourselves. How safe are they??? I haven’t heard of anyone getting hurt on them btw.

Joseph
1 month ago

Love to ride. We don’t ride as much as we once did and definitely not as much as I’d like – shoulder trouble.
Toughest ride I’ve ever done – Assault on Mt. Mitchell. Toughest ride recently – Ride to the top of Currahee Mountain.
Let me know if you’re ever in the area!

Stay safe and keep spinning,
Joe

Last edited 1 month ago by Joseph
Joseph
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith Ward

We live in NE Georgia just a few miles from the base of Currahee Mountain – home of Easy Company 506th PIR (Band of Brothers).
Check out tourdetugaloo[dot]com – coming in October 2023.

Margaret
1 month ago

I’m interested in a pedal assisted bike. I’ve tried a couple of e-bikes, but found them too powerful and too fast. I got a cruiser, but cannot ride very far under my own power due to a medical condition. Any ideas for a slower power assisted option?

Billinois
1 month ago
Reply to  Margaret

Most ebikes have adjustable settings which will enable you to select throttle, no throttle, throttle only, and different levels of pedal assist. Our Lectric ebikes provide these options through their Settings menu.
Ebikes, however, are not like riding the bikes we all grew up on. Most are very heavy, unless you’re willing to spend a lot of money. They can be difficult to handle at slow speeds. Practice is key. There is a learning curve but once you have it dialed in ebikes are a lot of fun and get you back to cycling when you thought you’d have to give it up!
You can also buy kits to convert your traditional pedal bike to pedal-assist, but I have no experience with those.

Rick Edgar
1 month ago

I’ve been a serious cyclist for almost 50 years. After retirement my mileage increased exponentially. 5-6000 miles a year now. I own a MTB and a Gravel Bike. What cycling has done for me over the years is beyond description. It is one great sport.