The Red Rider
When planning a trip to Las Vegas, many Angelenos labor over whether to drive or fly. But if you’re Huntington Beach resident and Type 1 diabetic, Lenny Isaacs, you may decide to cycle the 300+ miles. And that only begins to tell the story of this unstoppable rider.
With absolutely no family history of diabetes, this hi-tech sales enablement trainer with IBM found himself with a life-altering diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes at age 29. It would be nearly two decades later, and a coast-to-coast move, before the recreational cyclist raised in Long Island, New York, would marry his love for cycling with his disease, and find his passion.
Lenny arrived in SoCal with his family in 2007. As they drove along Pacific Coast Highway, a peloton of riders pulled up alongside. It was on that first day in the Golden State that Lenny announced, “That’s what I want to do.” In the years that followed, Lenny became an unwavering advocate for the sport and a front-line ambassador for the American Diabetes Association.
So, what’s the connection? As a Type 1 diabetic, Lenny is dependent upon insulin. He monitors his glucose levels throughout the day with mathematical precision. What Lenny discovered, is that by building up his endurance from a modest 30-mile ride to a 100-mile century ride, he was able to minimize – and often eliminate for a single day – his dependency on insulin.
“It became clear that exercise needed to be part of my lifestyle when I made the connection between it and its effect on my insulin needs,” Lenny candidly shared. “What I have found is that riding gives me the ability to determine my limits, not the diabetes.”
Without question, Lenny pushes the limits.
Determined to do more, he got involved in the Association’s Ship to Shore Tour de Cure ride. “The Tour de Cure family invigorated my desire to ride, provided opportunities for healthful exercise, and gave me a better outlook on life,” said Lenny. “Now I ride for a cause – a cause that I believe in.”
Although not entirely by choice, Lenny is a member of an elite group known as the Red Riders, people diagnosed as diabetic who fundraise for Tour de Cure to help stop diabetes. “When I asked myself what my purpose in life was, family and managing my diabetes wasn’t enough. I wanted to help other diabetics improve their lives, and to be a role model for the individuals suffering from this disease.”
“I strive to be approachable,” said Lenny, who travels the world on business. “I proudly wear my Red Rider jersey or jacket to let others know that, if they want to talk, I am there to listen.”
On May 1, 2016, Lenny will join fellow riders in Long Beach for the annual Ship to Shore Tour de Cure ride. He and co-captain, Judi Shapiro Thiel, will lead Team Dia-BEAT-THIS in a ride that’s more about having fun with a purpose than speed. “We will all be there to ride for an important cause, and it’s a chance to ride across the great port bridges.”
And the next time you see a Red Rider jersey, shout out “GO RED RIDER!” You’ll inspire them to keep on the journey to stop diabetes.
Feeling inspired? With six courses ranging from 5 to 100 miles, all levels of riders are welcome. To join Lenny at Tour de Cure, start your own team, or sign up to ride with Team RED for individuals, visit diabetes.org/shiptoshoretourdecure