Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Experience of a Lifetime

The entire weekend, from the time we arrived in San Francisco, to the time we arrived back in Knoxville was truly a memory of a lifetime. When Jessica and I set out on this trek back in February we knew it would be tough but we didn't know truly how challenging, time consuming, yet rewarding that it would be. The entire journey was much like many diseases, including diabetes, in that you have good days, bad days, and from time to time, a learning experience.

We arrived in Sonoma County in a Chevy HHR rental car. It was a cross between a flintstone car, a Pontiac Aztec, and something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Quite the site. We didn't make it up to Santa Rosa until around 3:30pm PT. We immediately checked in with the hotel and with JDRF, took our bags to the room, and took a quick dip in the pool. At 6:30pm we had a welcome reception and dinner. However, our first day in wine country would not be complete without a wine tasting of course! After dinner we hit up the frosty freeze in Santa Rosa for two milk shakes and then our favorite grocery store, Safeway, for lots of bottled water and snacks for the weekend. We were in bed by 9:30pm that night....a long day of traveling.

Friday morning started with breakfast, a mandatory safety meeting with the entire Sonoma Ride team and then a tune-up ride. The tune-up ride was only about 2 miles but was crucial for us to work out the kinks with our bikes since they had been FedExed over 2500 miles in a cardboard box. I must say that the staff in the bike room from Velo Cycles was incredible! The rest of Friday was free to explore the area until dinner time. We went into Healdsburg, a great little town north of Santa Rosa. We had lunch at Zin and enjoyed the best fried green beans imaginable! We "pushed our lunch down" with a little organic yogurt from a place on the Healdsburg Square called Snowbunny. Excellent!

When we got back from being out for the afternoon, there was a motivating "thank you" package in front of our hotel room door from diabetic children in the local JDRF chapter. That package certainly helped put things in perspective. Friday closed out with a pre-ride celebration dinner full of carbs and a few awards. The main award of the night went to a woman who is the mother of a diabetic and is also an aerobics instructor. She was the top fundraiser for the event and personally raised over $120,000. Truly awesome. We tried to relax after dinner, continue to hydrate, and then quiet our nerves in preparation for the next day's ride.

Saturday morning came really early as we were up at 'em by 5:30am. Breakfast happened for us at 6:00am although we were not very hungry since we were so nervous for the day ahead. At 6:20am we headed back to the hotel room to gear up and then we were at the start line in time for the National Anthem at 6:50am. By 7:05am, we had crossed the start line and were on the road. The day ahead really could not be put into words. Every single person on the ride was there for one reason, to help the cause to find a cure for diabetes and its complications.

The ride was tough, really tough. It was full of blood, sweat, and tears, literally. There was the time at 50 miles when we didn't know if we could make it another mile and that is when we met two guys who carried us for the duration of the day. Thomas Anderson and David Nestvold are the reason that we were able to continue the ride. David is a JDRF Ride coach (diabetic himself) who works for Boeing in Seattle. Thomas is the father of a diabetic and is a bank executive in Cleveland, OH. From around the 50 mile mark that day, The Shafer Ten Year Team doubled in size.

The four of us pushed each other the rest of Saturday afternoon. The hills were steep, the temperatures reached over 100 degrees, and the terrain was desolate. We both drank gallons of water, Gatorade, and heed. We ate pounds of fruit, sandwiches, pretzels, and pickles. Finally, around 5:30pm, we crossed the finish line. It was a very trying day for both Jessica and me. Jessica unfortunately started to dehydrate around 95 miles but we were able to cross the finish line together. We had come a long way that day but more importantly, I hope that we made a difference in the fight for a cure.

Saturday night, I could not have been prouder as Jessica received one of the red polka dot (see pictures) ride jerseys as one of the "spirit award" winners. Our coach, David Nestvold, awarded Jessica with the jersey for her perseverance on ride day but also for her love that she showed over the last few months by training with me for this ride. However, the biggest note that David emphasized was that as a diabetic, he knows how much his wife puts into their relationship through care for him on a daily basis. I cannot think of a better winner for the red polka dot "spirit" jersey than Jessica because she is certainly the most supportive wife of a diabetic that I could imagine.

On February 12th, Jessica and I registered for a program that we knew very little about. In fact, Jessica didn't even have a bike! We have come a long way in 5 months with our cycling knowledge but the ride weekend in Sonoma will never be forgotten. I mentioned earlier that David and Thomas joined our Shafer Ten Year Team on Saturday and our team doubled. However, the truth is, everyone who donated, gave us words of encouragement, or even asked how diabetes is treating us is all part of our team. We are all in this together. In ten years, I am very hopeful that we will have a cure. When we do, we will all celebrate. You have all made a significant impact on this diabetic and the lives of all 171+ million diabetics worldwide. Thank you.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Home Again. Home Again.

We made it back to Knoxville just a couple of hours ago. It was certainly a great weekend in Sonoma. I am preparing a full ride summary and hope to have pictures loaded from the event in the next day or two. Below are a couple of photos in the meantime.

The Beginning.

And The End.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

We Made It

Details and pictures to come...

Thanks for everyone's support to help find a cure!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tomorrow is the day

Tomorrow is it. It is what we have worked towards. It is what you, our friends and family, have supported over the last several months. We have raised close to $9,000. Wow! That is far more than our $6,000 goal and you should be proud. I am thankful, unbelievably thankful. Diabetes is a bad thing. A bad, bad thing. Jessica and I are truly appreciative of your support. Your moral and financial support in addition to your thoughts and prayers have helped us make it to Sonoma.

We have met some great people over the last couple of days. We have had a little downtime to collect our thoughts and hydrate. Now, it is time. We are about to eat dinner with the whole team that is riding tomorrow and then try to relax, maybe take a dip in the pool, and get some sleep. 5:30am will come early and 102 miles will get long so we better take it easy while we can!

The temperature when we take off in the morning will be around 55 degrees and the climate will change dramatically during the ride. As we head west from Santa Rosa and hit the coast the temperature should stay moderate but then as we head back towards the hotel on the second half of the ride temperatures are likely going to hit the mid-90s.

Follow us tomorrow and for the remainder of the weekend on Facebook or on Twitter. Our first update after the ride will likely occur through a tweet at

Hopefully this will be the last time that a "Ride to Cure Diabetes" is needed. Maybe next week, next month, or next year will be when the time for a cure comes. Whenever the cure is found, please know that through your support, you have helped make it happen!

Monday, June 22, 2009

One More Thing....

This sums it all up. This is just proof that it isn't about me, it's about finding a cure for the over 171 million people worldwide with diabetes. Please take a minute to watch the video at the link below from a Dad in Jonesborough, TN.

Click Here

It's Time

Four days, 8 hours, 12 minutes, 34 seconds. Not long now until we start The Ride to Cure Diabetes on Saturday morning in Sonoma County. We are making final preparations before flying out on Thursday morning and are anxiously awaiting what has been a long time coming, 102 miles!

Jessica and I started talking about doing this event long ago but it wasn't until February of this year when we decided to take the plunge. Without the encouragement of Jessica to do this thing....we wouldn't be here today!

As JDRF often says "we're in the business of putting ourselves out of business." Hopefully we have been able to help JDRF meet their goal over the last 5 months as we have trained and fundraised for this important goal of finding a cure to diabetes.

It has not been an easy road as we have certainly encountered it all....rain, snow, extreme hot and extreme cold (sometimes in the same day!), snakes, owls, wild dogs, and cows, just to name a few. If it lives or happens in the wild of East Tennessee, we have probably encountered it.

We fly out on Thursday morning at 7am, connect in Memphis, and then arrive in San Fransisco around noon. We'll pickup our rental car, find a good spot to hit up for lunch, and then head 50 miles north of the city to Santa Rosa. JDRF has events planned for each day of the weekend and I will try to update the blog as often as possible throughout the weekend. I also hope to post a picture or two to help you share in our experience. In addition, I will "tweet" as much as possible and you can follow us on facebook or on Twitter (aashafer).

I can't say it enough....Thank You for supporting our journey! It has been a fun ride but the big one is now upon us. We hope to bring some great memories home and hopefully a cure will not be far behind. I do just want to mention one more time why we are doing what we are doing. When I was diagnosed almost 11 years ago now, I was told by the doctors that it was likely that we would have a cure within 10 years. Obviously a decade has passed since the 23rd day in October, 1998, and we do not have a cure. It's time for progress. We are...The Shafer Ten Year Team.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Done and Done

Well Sunday marked our last training ride, woo hoo! We completed 70 miles in just under 5 hours on Sunday morning/early afternoon and then happily loaded the bikes up in preparation for drop off at The Bike Zoo on Monday morning.

As I said last week, we have come a long way since February 12th when we first registered for the ride. At the time, we had absolutely no idea how trying, time consuming, and rewarding this experience would be. The hard work is over. We have done the training, worn the spandex, held a great event at the Square Room, and raised the important funds for diabetes research (closing in on $9,000!). Now, we just have to ride 102 miles in Sonoma County on June 27th, no problem, right?

We dropped the bikes off at the shop on Monday and they immediately went to work disassembling and boxing the bikes up for shipment. FedEx will pickup both bikes tomorrow and they'll be stop Sonoma!

Jessica and I head out next Thursday, the 25th and will then be ready for a full weekend at the Ride to Cure Diabetes! I will post details about our ride weekend because there are events Thursday through Saturday, culminating in the awards dinner Saturday evening, post ride. We were also excited to receive our ride jerseys on Monday, they look great and I will try to post a photo of the jerseys soon.

We've prepared physically, now it's time to get our minds ready for 102. Please remember us over the next two weeks and any words of encouragement are appreciated. Who knows, maybe this will be the last year of the Ride to Cure Diabetes. Maybe we will help put JDRF out of business. This would be great! We'd have a cure.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Our First Metric Century

Twenty days until "The Ride" and 114 days since we registered and started training, it is certainly hard to believe! Today, Jessica and I competed in the American Diabetes Association's (ADA - "competitor" of JDRF, don't tell anyone) Tour de Cure. This was our first actual cycling event and one that we were looking to for a little motivation and confidence as we move into the last week of training. Fortunately, we had great weather and met some good people on the road as we finished 65 miles and our first metric century (62 mile, 100 k).

The day started with a wake up call at 5:30am, a Panera Bagel, a quick shower to wake up, two glasses of water, and then off we went to register and stretch at the event starting point in Loudon, TN (20 min. west of Knoxville). We certainly did not feel as alone as we do from time to time when it is just the two of us along with some rabid dogs barking and chasing as we ride through rural East Tennessee. These types of rides have been all too common during our training!

The finish line for today's ride was filled with a large group of folks cheering us on. We had a great catered lunch and then even enjoyed a short massage thanks to one of the sponsors of today's event. However, the most humorous point of the day came when Jessica "mooed" at a field of cows as we passed by and then at least a dozen big cows stampeded towards us. Fortunately a barbed wire fence kept them at bay!

We move into this last week of training with excitement and anxiety as the big event is 3 weeks from today. Our bikes ship out on the 18th and we arrive in Sonoma on the 25th. I will try to do a better job of posting entries between now and then. A picture from today's event should be available soon as well.

Final Note of Interest: Thanks to the generous support of friends, family, and even a few strangers, we have successfully raised over $8500 for diabetes research. We try to always remember this number when climbs get long and temps get hot. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Too Long Since Last Time

It has certainly been too long since our last post on the blog! We are still training and plan to post a lengthy summary of recent events and our upcoming final two weeks of training over the weekend. Depending on how the next couple of days go, we may do the Knoxville Tour de Cure (an American Diabetes Association event) on Saturday as a warm up event to our ride which is now only 23 days away!

The heat is making training tough but we are pushing through and are trying to stay hydrated and focused on the goal. Any words of encouragement are being accepted and again, we will post a longer entry this weekend!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

56 Miles and a little Broken Glass

Today marked 40 days before our ride in Sonoma on June 27th! We are finalizing our travel plans and getting psyched up for what we hope to be a great weekend with 150 of our closest friends as we all Ride to Cure Diabetes. The ride program is not just one day of riding but rather is a full weekend of events, culminating in the ride itself on Saturday morning at 7am.

We left Knoxville just before 11am this morning en route to Townsend, TN for a 56 mile route up the foothills parkway and Chilhowee Mountain. The mountain consists of a 3,000 ft. climb over 10 miles on one side and then a nice coast down to hwy. 129 in Maryville on the back side. Today, due to frigid May conditions and a sudden downpour, we were forced to turn around at the top of mountain and head back towards the car. Going down was much easier than going up!

As we rode back to the car in rainy and cool conditions, we were almost a mile from the parking lot when a blue truck stopped us to ask if we were driving a silver Honda. Indeed we were and come to find out the car had been broken into while we were riding! It was quite the day as we were only able to ride 30 of the 56 miles we intended to ride and then we get back to the car to find out that the passenger window is broken but the only thing stolen is our trusty GPS...I hope the thief enjoys Jane (our British voice who gives directions).

Although we did have some setbacks today, I couldn't help but think about the troubles as they relate to diabetes....a constant struggle. There will be good days and there will be bad days. In the words of Steve Jobs "there will times when you want to turn around, pack it up, and call in quits, these are the times that you know that you are pushing yourself..."

We will have our next ride on Tuesday, hopefully the weather and Knoxville area crime will both be a little more favorable!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Show Must Go On

Three hours west of Knoxville, in Nashville, there is a local breakfast nook called The Pancake Pantry. At the Pancake Pantry, their slogan is "rain, snow or shine, there's always a line." The same goes for our training; rain, snow, cold, hot....the show must go on and we must still ride! Training is going well and we are preparing both mentally and physically for our 50 mile ride this Sunday, our longest to date.

Hopefully if we can do 50 miles on Sunday with a relatively uneventful conclusion than we will be on a good track for 105 in Sonoma next month. Our longest training ride that we will complete before the actual ride is 70 miles, per our training plan. I mention that we hope this Sunday will be "uneventful" because last Sunday was not. The meteorologists were wrong once again when they predicted a break from 10a-2p in the week long monsoon that has hit Knoxville. We started off in a light mist that soon turned into a downpour. Ten miles into this ride, I hit an uneven part of pavement and me and the Trek both went skidding across the pavement at 15mph. I think we came to a complete stop around 10 feet from where the fall began and I immediately rose to my feet relatively uninjured. My bruises and sore right shoulder are all healing well and that makes the "fall count" for Jessica and I 1-1.

Notes of Interest
  • Although not yet noted on our website, we have hit $7500 in fundraising, well over our goal. My personal goal has been $10,000 for ten years of diabetes but that is likely unrealistic, however, we will keep plugging away.
  • Additional pictures have been loaded onto the album in the column to the right of this entry.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Great Show @ Happy Hour 4 a Cure

Thanks to everyone who made it out to The Square Room last Thursday evening for the Happy Hour 4 a Cure! Taylor Corum played a great show while folks filed in and out for drinks and dinner prior to Sundown in the City. After Corum played his peace, he and his band cleared the stage for main event, the Dirty Guv'nahs!

The Guv'nahs played two fantastic sets in addition to two encores featuring some of their latest hits off their newest self titled album (available on iTunes!). James, Mitch, Justin, and all of the Guv's are owed many kudos for their awesome show that drew quite the crowd. Well over 200 folks packed the Square Room and danced long into the night after Sundown.

We were also able to net a great pile of cash that will go directly into our fundraising efforts for the Ride to Cure Diabetes. We are proud to announced that with this addition, we are now well over $7,000 in capital funds raised for this event to help us word towards achieving our goal, a cure to diabetes!

Once again, thanks to the Square Room, the Dirty Guv'nahs, Taylor Corum, WBIR - Channel 10, the Knoxville News Sentinel, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell and Berkowitz, PC, Sigma Nu, and Shafer & Huguley Marketing Communications. All of these organizations have played an integral part in making this event possible.

Now we turn our focus back to training. Time to get some miles burned this week, if it will stop raining...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tonight's Happy Hour 4 a Cure

The Happy Hour 4 a Cure is finally here! Tonight, starting at 5:30pm at the Square Room downtown, some of Knoxville's best music will be performed before and after Sundown in the City. Of particular note, the Dirty Guv'nahs, our main event for tonight, will take the stage at 9:30pm, immediately following Sundown. Once again, $10 gets you a wristband, allowing access in and out of the Square Room all night long and all proceeds benefit our ride team and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation!

5:30-7:00pm Taylor Corum and Happy Hour
7:00-9:00pm Sundown in the City with Big Head Todd & The Monsters
9:30pm The Dirty Guv'nahs

A special note of congratulations to the Guv'nahs for being voted #1 band in Knoxville in today's Metro Pulse. Their show at the Square Room tonight will be their first time at the venue, voted as runner-up in the Metro Pulse as the best Concert Venue in town. However, the restaurant at the Square Room, Cafe 4, was voted Best New Restaurant in Knoxville!

Thanks to the Square Room, the Dirty Guv'nahs, Taylor Corum, WBIR - Channel 10, the Knoxville News Sentinel, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell and Berkowitz, PC, Sigma Nu, and Shafer & Huguley Marketing Communications. All of these organizations have played an integral part in making today's event possible.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Hour 4 a Cure - This Week - Thursday

It is here! This Thursday is the event that we have been talking about for several weeks now, the Happy Hour 4 a Cure. The event, scheduled for The Square Room in the Market Square area of Downtown Knoxville, will feature several local musical artists in conjunction with Knoxville's Sundown in the City.

The schedule for the evening is below and $10 will buy you a wristband for admission in and out the Square Room, to and from Sundown, all night long! Enjoy Taylor Corum and our Happy Hour prior to Sundown, head out to the square for Big Head Todd, and then come back in to see Knoxville's #1 local band, The Dirty Guv'nahs!

5:30-7:00pm Taylor Corum (acoustic) and Happy Hour
7:00-9:30pm Sundown in the City with Big Head Todd
9:30pm The Main Event - The Dirty Guv'nahs

CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS. Tickets will also be available at the door and all proceeds will benefit our ride team and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Training Progresses - Big Night in One Week

On Tuesday afternoon, we had a great weekday ride up and down Knoxville's Greenway through Bearden, Tyson Park, the UT Ag. Campus, and then continued all the way to the South Knoxville bridge. The weather was beautiful, the bikes were fast, but the greatest thing of all was the fact that my blood sugar stayed between 95-112 during the entire ride.

Typically, it is common practice to have a hard time keeping blood sugars in that range during high intensity exercise, however, with the help of my "Diabetes Coach," Bob Hanisch, we have finally found a formula that seems to be working. Cutting back on the amount of insulin that I take for about an hour before the ride, eating at least 50 grams of carbs during the ride every 15-25 minutes, and testing often...hopefully this formula will help keep my blood sugar in normal range for many rides to come. I can say one thing, normal blood sugar during rides sure does make the ride easier!

The picture above is of our headliner (the Dirty Guv'nahs) for next week's Happy Hour 4 a Cure! Tickets are still available online for $10 and will also be $10 at the door that night. Please, join us! Tell your friends and lets pack the house at The Square Room next Thursday night.

Friday, April 17, 2009

We Made It!

Seventy days from today, Jessica and I will be riding 105 miles in Sonoma, CA. Sonoma is a great place but we may be cursing their hills on that day, June 27th. On that day, however, it will be beautiful because we will be riding for a cure. We will be riding to raise funds for research to help us find a cure for diabetes and its complications.

The only way that this event is possible is through the generous support of our friends and family. Today, 70 days prior to our ride, we are proud to announce that we have met our goal of $6,000! In fact, we have surpassed that goal and we will continue the fundraising all the way through our ride in June. Join us on April 30th for the Happy Hour 4 a Cure as we raise additional funds to help find a cure and celebrate this great achievement! In the 63 days since we first registered for this ride we have learned about the kind hearts and generosity of every person, every business, and every organization involved in this grand journey. We will find a cure and it is in large part due to your generosity...thank you!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Best of the Best

Now that Jessica and I have been training for this bike ride for over two months, we are to the point where we are doing long rides that are high risk and high reward. Finishing our 32 mile ride this past Sunday (Easter) felt great but was certainly met with our fair share of interesting occurrences.

Until last week (Sunday, March 5th) we had not yet had any real snafus as it relates to our training. Jessica did fall in Kingston Pike, which could have been real bad, but she was a trooper and got up, dusted her shoulders off, and kept on burning up the pavement. The snafu on 4/5 came when the backpack that I was carrying for our 25 mile ride that day suddenly drenched my back. My fears were confirmed when I stopped, opened up the bag, and found two inches of Gatorade saturating a silver, perfectly functioning Blackberry. This wasn't my first encounter with moisture and cell phones but the crazy thing was that as I stuck my hand into the puddle of lemon-lime electrolytes I realized that although dead, the blackberry was seizing, or vibrating, as it may have been. I took the battery out, dumped the Gatorade out, and kept time to sweat the small stuff!

This Sunday, however, we encountered "Lover's Lane," the Little River Railroad Museum, and even a snake being attacked by vultures on our scenic tour of Townsend, TN. We were also able to enjoy two swinging bridges and also encountered nice tourists from south Alabama. Ahh, the great American vacationers of the Great Smokey Mountains!

Our rides are getting longer just in time for the warmer temperatures of spring in the south. However, Jessica and I both are continuing to build up our endurance, find our cadence with our bikes, and learn what it means to stay hydrated and full of plenty of carbs during each and every outing. We're learning more about the sport of cycling everyday.

One Final Note: We are proud to announce that we have already sold 57 tickets to our Happy Hour 4 a Cure event. Today we secured Taylor Corum as our acoustic performer to start the evening and the Dirty Guv'nahs are looking forward to their first show in Knoxville since their big CD release party at the Bijou downtown last week. Buy your tickets today!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Hour 4 a Cure - Special Guest Announced

We are proud to announce that The Dirty Guv'nahs, fresh off their CD release show last night at the Bijou will join us on Thursday, April 30th as the headliner for our Happy Hour 4 a Cure!

The Guv'nahs were voted the #1 band in Knoxville by the Metro Pulse last year. In addition, they are preparing for one of their biggest shows ever at Bonaroo this summer. We look forward to hosting the Guv'nahs at the Square Room on April 30th and we hope to see a big turnout for a fun night, all for a great cause. Proceeds from the evening will benefit our ride team.

The evening will start at 5:30pm and go late into the night with a variety 0f musical acts in conjunction with Knoxville's Sundown in the City. Tickets are only $10 and that will buy you a wristband, allowing access in and out of the Square Room, to and from the Sundown mainstage, all night. The lineup for the whole evening is below. Buy a ticket, tell a friend, and join us on April 30th to raise money to find a cure for diabetes its complications!

  • 5:30-7:00pm - Acoustic Performance by Taylor Corum and Happy Hour
  • 7:00-9:30pm - Sundown in the City - Big Head Todd & The Monsters w/ Joan Jones
  • 9:30pm - Until - The Dirty Guv'nahs

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Diabetes Technology

Several years ago, the first "Continuous Glucose Monitoring System" was released. This product, although not very accurate and honestly not very helpful at the time, was quite expensive and not seen as a necessary piece of treatment by insurance companies. Now, after much refining and an increase in clinical trials for the products, the CGMS is thankfully supported by most insurance companies.

Fortunately for me, our insurance company is now covering the cost of the device. This device is certainly convenient and is an improved treatment for folks like myself with type I diabetes. Basically, the device is yet another attachment to my skin that goes everywhere with me. It tests my blood sugar every 5 minutes and sends the reading to my insulin pump wirelessly. I still test my blood sugar with a finger prick 4-6 times a day to calibrate the device because the CGMS is only designed to show trends in blood sugar and not actual readings. However, the CGMS will be very helpful during our training and during the ride so that I can see these blood glucose trends in real time.

This device, although not perfect, brings us one step closer to an artificial pancreas. I want to stress one thing though, this is a treatment, not a cure. Today was one of those days when I am reminded that I am still diabetic and although these fancy devices are great and may help extend my life, they are simply advanced treatments. Today I was unexplainably, in the 300s, for much of the afternoon making the simplest of tasks quite difficult. These days need to end for me and the millions of other diabetes worldwide.

Please continue to help us find this cure by supporting our team and joining us on April 30th at the Square Room.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Hour 4 A Cure - Tickets on Sale

The Happy Hour 4 A Cure is finalized and tickets are on sale now. Get your tickets by clicking here!

We are excited to be partnering with The Square Room in downtown Knoxville's Market Square to make this event a reality. The date has been changed to Thursday, April 30th for a number of reasons. Mostly, however, we hope to be able to attract a large number of walk ups attendees that night before, during, and after Knoxville's Sundown in the City event. Sundown happens every Thursday in Knoxville from April-June directly on Market Square, only feet from The Square Room!

The evening will start with an acoustic act from 5:30pm-7:00pm followed by the Sundown concert that week by Big Head Todd & The Monsters with Joan Jones. Sundown's concert will be followed by our headliner that night at 9:30pm. Our main stage act will be announced on Saturday, April 11th but I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $10 at the door. Wristbands will be given to all attendees allowing you to come and go from the Square Room to Sundown throughout the evening. Great food and drinks will be available from Cafe 4. Sign up today, tell a friend, and support diabetes research and our Ride to Cure Diabetes team at the Happy Hour 4 A Cure on Thursday, April 30th!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Let Me Upgrade 'Ya

Jessica and I upgraded our bikes on Saturday to new and improved pedals. It is common practice that cycling enthusiasts and experienced riders (which we are not, yet) use what are called "clipless pedals" on their bikes. These types of pedals come with shoes that you wear that actually "clip" together, essentially forcing our foot to stay with the pedal at all times.

This equipment allows your legs to both push the pedal, just as you can with athletic shoes and regular pedals, but this also allows you to pull the pedal. Basically, we should be able to improve our speed but more than that we can improve our riding efficiency. Hopefully, this will give our legs more muscles to use and provide us with a little more endurance training. How's that for a technical explanation of cycling from a non-technical new cyclist?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

Finally! Yesterday was a beautiful day in the Knoxville area and fortunately I was able to carve out a good 40 minutes to ride in the early evening hours.

As you can tell from the photo at left, much of the weather in Germany last week was not necessarily conducive to long, sustained rides. I tried to ride one day but you can see what happened to the bike. Danka schoen.

Today marks the 92 days before the ride in Sonoma. I feel like we have made great progress in terms of being comfortable on the bike, shifting gears, finding a cadence, etc. However, we still need to work on getting those longer rides in. This weekend, we may tackle our longest ride yet, a 24 mile journey. Jessica was able to track down a fantastic guide to Knoxville bike routes. For those interested, The Bike Zoo carries the book, Bicycling Routes by Elle Colquitt and Jon Livengood. The book has rides that range from 20-65 miles.

Although it is not yet reflected on our JDRF Donations page due to some offline donations, we are around the halfway point towards our fundraising goal. Thank you to all who have donated to date! It has been overwhelming to see such great support from our friends and family. A special thank you to those who have shared their personal stories on how diabetes has affected their life. These stories, among too many others, are the reason that we are training for June 27th in the first place. Let's beat this thing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Global Biking

Our training has been slowed this week with a trip to visit Jessica's sister in Germany. Her and her almost-1-year-old son, Nathan, are living about an hour east of Frankfurt. Christina's husband is in the military and is currently deployed so we thought we would pop in for a quick visit to keep them company.

Germany is certainly an interesting place. Among other things, we have noticed that the country is very bike friendly. Bike paths are abundant in quite random areas. In fact, random doors even apparently lead to paths directly adjacent to the infamous "autobahn."

I was able to get a very short ride in earlier this week in their village of Oerlanbach but that is about it in the way of cycling this week. I will post pictures of that ride later but until then, please keep checking the blog. Next week, our longer rides begin and postings will be more regular at that time. Thanks for your support as we continue the fight to train for 105 miles and find a cure for diabetes, or zuckerkrankheit, in German.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bad Sugar

In a recent letter that was sent to many of our friends and family, I mentioned a statistic that if diabetes is not cured by the year 2025, 380 million people will be diagnosed with the disease worldwide! This number is certainly astounding. However, the good news is that we have 16 years to see that we never get to that point. Diabetes is already an epidemic but 380 million would most certainly prove disastrous.

I had the opportunity today to speak at a film presentation on campus called Unnatural Causes (as part of the Diabetes Advocacy Board). The film is split up into many segments and is being shown this semester on campus at UT. The segment shown today was called Bad Sugar (click to see clips). While the film focused mainly on type 2 diabetes, it looked into the daily lives of a Native American community in Arizona. The community has one of the highest instances of diabetes diagnoses in the world.

My comments after the film touched on some of the statistics that we all hear, $218 billion is spent in diabetes health care annually in the US alone, yada yada yada. The biggest thing that I wanted to emphasize is that we all have the ability to make a difference. We can all impact this cause and we can all do our part, no matter how big or small, to help ensure that this thing is truly cured in 10 years or less! Again, when I was diagnosed I was told 10 years...give it 10 years and we'll have a cure. Today's film was just one example about how communities near and far are affected by diabetes and its complications. It is time that we all step up and make a difference.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Happy Hour 4 a Cure

Last week we mentioned that a big announcement would be coming up soon. Well, it's here...

April 27th, The Square Room, downtown Knoxville, mark it on your calendars! That evening, from 5:30-8:30pm we will be hosting the Happy Hour 4 a Cure in partnership with The Square Room and a special musical guest.

The purpose of this event is help fulfill one of our goal's in participating in the Ride to Cure Diabetes. We want our friends, family, and the entire community to be more aware of the need for diabetes research. Throughout the evening and in between musical sets we will be interjecting short facts and stories about diabetes, the ride, and our team.

Tickets will be available for purchase online very soon and at that time we will be posting an announcement on this site as well. Tickets will be $10 in advance and $12 at the door. What's more, parking is free in downtown parking garages in the evening! Proceeds will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation through The Shafer Ten Year Team.

Please begin to tell your friends, coworkers, neighbors, cousins, bosses, mechanics, whoever! We want to see a great turnout on Monday, April 27th having a good time and supporting a great cause. We can do this! We can cure diabetes, one mile at a time.

Quick Training Update: This afternoon, we completed our longest ride so far, 16.25 miles. It was a 90 minute ride on Knoxville's Greenway; a beautiful afternoon to be in saddle!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Diabetes Affects Everything

Most people think of diabetes, or "the sugars," as some in the south so affectionately call the disease, as a condition that prevents anyone from eating sugar. Fortunately, that is not the case! Diabetics can eat sugar! In fact, diabetics can eat just about anything, in moderation that is.

Moderation is key for any diabetic's daily routine. Whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or happy hour drinks, diabetics can eat anything, anytime, as long as moderation is observed.

Not only does diabetes affect one's eating habits, it can also affect mood, physical activity, and work, just to name a few items. However, one activity that can greatly affect blood sugar control is the bi-annual time change. This Sunday in the early morning hours everyone will turn their clocks forward one hour. For diabetics, this means taking care of a few other responsibilities as well. Click here to see a list of tips for diabetics as we spring forward!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Last weekend the Shafers had one of our six, 7 hour visits to the convent in Nashville. We visited Sister Gloria Christi and updated her on our latest endeavor, riding 105 miles to help find a cure to diabetes. She was moved and decided to take a spin around the Motherhouse in their very own bike herself. It was quite the site, with Mardi Gras beads nonetheless!

Since we started this blog two weeks ago over 200 unique visitors have frequented this site and read the pages that have been created. Once again, we hope that this journey to June 27th and the ride will be a story of hope for a cure. We want everyone to realize the need for support of diabetes research.

Many of our friends and family have answered the call to give. Thank you! For many others, letters are going to be mailed next week. We appreciate everyone considering a way that they could give even in the smallest way. Fountain City Pedaler gave us a discount on some bike gear. A local print shop agreed to print our letters and correspondence cards. Generosity is abound and we can't say thank you enough!

One more note of exciting announcement about our team could come as soon as next week. All that I can say is mark your calendars for Monday, April 27th, exactly two months before the ride. A special event in Knoxville is being finalized.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Training Full Speed Ahead

One week down, 17 to go. We believe that our official training schedule for the ride is going to be a 12 week program, however, the catch is that this program assumes that you can already ride 20 miles on a bike "comfortably." What does 20 "comfortable" miles on a bike feel like? We do not know yet but hopefully we'll be able to figure that out over the next month as we work our way up to 20 and then move into regular "long" rides leading up to 105 on June 27th.

Last week was productive as we learned more about finding our "cadence" on the bikes and anticipating inclines and declines so that we can shift gears accordingly. Bike riding is much more scientific than I first thought it was when I learned to ride a bike without training wheels or rented one of those cheapo bikes at the beach to ride around on a warm summer day.

Away from the bike riding front, last week was also productive in another way. On Thursday I met with my endocrinologist and she was very helpful in talking through the management of my diabetes during our training and the long ride on June 27th. She also was nice enough to offer to talk with another patient of hers who is a more experienced rider. I am hoping to get connected with him so that I can have a fellow diabetic to strategize with as I learn more about managing blood sugars through strenuous exercise.

On Friday, Jessica and I quickly learned that riding bikes in sub-32 degree weather is a big mistake! After work we decided to try our hand at a quick 5 mile ride but less than a mile into the ride learned that ears and finger tips don't do well in extreme cold temps on bikes. We ended up getting a little over 4 miles in but wow, it took hours to thaw out.

One final note: we would like to send a special thanks to those individuals who have already contributed to our ride team. Although official solicitations will not be sent until next week, several folks have generously contributed and for that we are extremely thankful. As I go low after some rides or have days where my blood sugar is unexplainably high I remind myself that there is hope for a cure thanks to those who continually contribute to the funding of promising diabetes research.

This week we move to 7 mile rides for at least 3 days. We'll then have our first 10 mile ride next Sunday as we mark the 1st day of March.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

The First Ride

Jessica and I got our bikes this week and set off on the road for the first time today. We successfully completed 5.5 miles, only 99.5 more on June 27th! The steep inclines in a few spots on our route today were difficult but other than that we both felt good after the ride.

This past week we tried focusing on getting all of the equipment necessary for this journey and found a great local bike shop to help outfit us (Fountain City Pedaler). They were very generous in helping us with minute questions and even a 1 on 1 training to teach us how to change a busted tire tube.

Now that we have been able to get equipped for the training, this week we are going to start actually riding and learning more about our training schedule. We think that our coach for the ride will be Tim St. Clair who ironically lives and works in my hometown, Greenville, SC. I was told by the staff at the Ride to Cure Diabetes that I will also be assigned a "diabetes coach" to help me manage my diabetes during the training. Although I have always been active, I have never done something so physical for such a prolonged period of time. We estimate that the ride itself will take us around 8-10 hours but who knows, maybe we'll get faster during the training period. Either way, we will be on the road a long time so testing my blood sugar often will be crucial. Today before our ride my blood sugar was a little high at 256 (normal is 80-120) but that is not too abnormal for diabetics after they eat (I had just eaten lunch about an hour earlier). However, after our ride I was down to 77 and obviously needed to eat. This diabetes coach will help make the ride smoother.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Officially Registered

Well, we took the plunge and officially registered for the Ride. This blog will serve as our online hq during our training from now until June 27th. This site will also be updated during the weekend of the ride. For those that may be unfamiliar, the "Ride to Cure Diabetes" is a fundraising event to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

This year, to commemorate my ten year anniversary since diagnosis (October 23, 1998), we have decided to participate in this big event. Not only do we hope to raise a considerable amount of money for diabetes research, we hope to raise awareness in our community about the need for research funding worldwide.

We've been talking about this concept for some time but with my bike getting ready for training in a local shop and Jessica's bike on hold in the same store, we thought we should go ahead and register. JDRF does a great job with online registration and donations and they create a fundraising page for each registrant. For simplicity, we're going to collect most of the donations for this ride on the "Andrew account." You can view that account by clicking HERE.

Together, we are the Shafer Ten Year Team. A formal letter to family and friends is being finalized and should be in the mail within the next few weeks. We invite you to visit this blog often and look for us on the road, 105 miles in one day on June 27th sounds like alot when you are not bike riders by nature! Thank you in advance for your support.