Our morning with Cycling for Cities Changing Diabetes

On 16 June 2019 we took part in Team Novo Nordisk”s Cycling for Cities Changing Diabetes Ride. The start was in Leicester’s Town Hall Square with great support from local cycling organisations. Leicester Wheels for All was there supporting the event and the aims of Cities Changing Diabetes.

Or – Jake’s story.

We publicise our open events so that as many of our participants and the wider public can join in. Not everyone can join but we usually have a good turnout. For the Grand Départ, starting at 09:00 we had a lot of interest at first but then, as often happens, people found that they weren’t able to come. Some of our participants have care and support needs which means that getting up and out for a nine o’clock start in the middle of town is challenging. One of the things we have learned is that the ideal time for people in care homes or at home with personal assistance is usually in the morning between 10 and 12 o’clock.

One of our participants who has low vision caused by retinitus pigmentosa and who lives in Nottingham said, “I’m coming.”

“Great Jake, see you there at nine o’clock.”

We heard some more over the next week about bus connections and Jake was working out the best way to Leicester on a Sunday morning. Bus and train services are not very frequent on Sundays. We weren’t sure whether he could make it for the Novo Nordisk send-off.


8:45 and no sign of Jake. “He couldn’t make the connections work” we said. Then – white stick in hand – he appeared. “Get the tandem ready, Jake’s here! Great to see you, Jake. What time did you set off?”

“Five forty,” he said.

His journey needed three buses to get to Leicester St Margarets Bus Station and the route was via East Midlands Airport. What a journey to get to us for the Grand Départ“. It is clear how determined he was to get to the event and to show just how single-minded he is, he said, “I want to ride on the recumbent”.

“We’re going on the road, Jake – you can be stoker on the Dawes Tandem.”

“I want to go on the recumbent – I rode one like it at Sheffield Athletics track last week.”

Head full of risk assessments and road riding etiquette our session leaders started to reason with him. This is the public highway, Jake, let’s stick to the tandem for now.”

The Dawes Tandem, seen here outside Vista’s New Wycliffe Home in Rushey Mead.

Long story short – Jake was single-minded and set on riding the recumbent. We quickly formed a plan where Jake could ride in a shield of Leicester Women’s Velo members and Ride Leaders, for the first stage of the ride to Abbey Park. Jake didn’t put a foot wrong and everyone enjoyed it.

Our group at Abbey Park. Jake on the red recumbent centre front.
A view of Retinitis Pigmentosa – this is Jake’s condition.

More about urban diabetes

The Team Novo Nordisk Ride is to raise awareness of rising levels of diabetes, particularly in cities. Every member of the professional cycling team has Diabetes Type 1.

By 2045, an astounding 736 million people could be living with diabetes. Given the devastating human and economic cost that diabetes and its complications have on individuals, families and communities, this growth is simply unsustainable2.

Urban diabetes demands new ways of 
looking at old problems

Professor David Napier of University College London understands better than most how the problem of diabetes keeps growing, despite our understanding of the biology and genetics of the disease.

In cities like London, long commutes, unhealthy diets, desk jobs and lack of exercise create a perfect storm of diabetes risk factors. Find out why Professor Napier believes a multi-disciplinary approach founded on new forms of research and community action is the only way to conquer urban diabetes.

We must change the trajectory of the rise in diabetes – and that means setting a bold ambition that no more than 1 in 10 adults globally has the disease.

To achieve this will require ambitious action on the biggest modifiable risk factor for diabetes – obesity: we must reduce obesity by 25% globally between now and 2045 . If we do that, we will bend the curve on the huge rise in diabetes prevalence, and prevent an extra 111 million people developing the disease.

Professor David Napier on reducing urban diabetes.