By LUCAS DAUGE
I live in the Alps and the Tour de France passes by every year. Since I was seven years old, my parents would take me to watch the race. Nobody in my family is a cyclist, but my parents would take me as a distraction and enjoy the race caravan. The caravan is the promotional part that arrives a few hours ahead of the race and hands out free gifts to spectators.
The Tour de France made me fall in love with cycling. But like everyone else at Team Novo Nordisk, I had a hurdle to overcome.
I was 18 years old and in three weeks I lost so much weight and was thirsty all the time. I would go out on the bike, and after 30 or 40 kilometers I started cramping. It didn’t feel normal.
I searched the internet and all the symptoms pointed to diabetes. I didn’t know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes but knew there was some connection with sugar and carbs, but that was about it.
I went to see the local doctor where the blood tests confirmed type 1 diabetes. I was sad, but within a week or two, I quickly accepted it. I know some people find it hard, especially teenagers because they don’t want to take insulin or wear a CGM. For me, neither of those things was a challenge.
The doctor told me to rest for 2-3 months, then I could start cycling again. After two weeks, I was on my bike. I learned how to manage the condition through trial and error and was driven by the passion to still be a cyclist.
My doctor was older and didn’t know much about diabetes and sport.
When I searched on the internet, “Can I do competition with diabetes,” I found Team Novo Nordisk. I went on the team website and sent an email to the talent ID director, Morgan Brown. She told me I could possibly attend camp that summer.
I wasn’t worried about the cycling part of camp, I was afraid about the plane. I had only been an hour-long flight and was intimidated by the long-haul flight over the ocean.
When I arrived at camp, I also couldn’t speak English. I could only say “hello” and “thank you,” so all of that coupled with the travel was overwhelming for me but I learned to adapt quickly.
There were 40 campers at the camp and my test ended up being strong. I was the only guy to receive an invitation to join the development team that year. I’d just finished university, so the timing was perfect.
And after two months, I felt comfortable speaking more English.
Since being part of the team, I’ve learned so much about my diabetes management. My doctor is retired now, but the last few years, we stayed in touch via email. She was fascinated by my data of being a high-level athlete competing with type 1 diabetes.
She told me she had another teenager diagnosed with type 1 after me. He was a cyclist and she could use my experience to help him. She would send me some questions connected to him and she even went to a conference and shared my story and data with other doctors in attendance.
She said that I taught her so much because she didn’t have a passion for type 1 before meeting me because her career focused on helping older people with type 2 diabetes.
I love that we get to inspire others, including our own doctors, as part of Team Novo Nordisk. Sometimes on Facebook, people ask me how I do endurance training with type 1 diabetes and I’ll share my knowledge and tips.
Two years ago, there was a young guy in a local race. I was wearing our “Changing Diabetes” kit. He asked me questions about diabetes. He’s a triathlete and asked me how I keep a good glycemia for long-distance events. I explained that everybody is different but shared what works for me.
We’ve stayed in contact and I saw last year he did the Embrunman triathlon. Just to finish that triathlon is very hard as the bike leg goes up the Côte d’Azur.
Since racing three years with the devo team, it has been my goal to get to the pro team. Now I will realize that dream! I’m thrilled and so are my parents. They’ve supported me in this journey from the beginning, long before my diabetes diagnosis, and it is fantastic for all of us to see it come together.
The ultimate dream for me would be to get into the Tour de France. Imagine riding the biggest race in the world, the pride of our nation, right on my doorstep. That’s where it all began for me when I was seven years old.