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800-Mile Ride Through 'Diabetes Belt' Takes Cyclist From Chicago To Atlanta

By Justin Breen | April 26, 2017 4:49am
 Edwin Velarde, a former Chicago resident, is planning a bike ride from Chicago to Atlanta to promote a healthy lifestyle and inspire others to take control of their wellness.
Edwin Velarde
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CHICAGO — Edwin Velarde is tackling his Type 1 diabetes with what he's calling an "epic" bike challenge that begins in Chicago next month.

Velarde, a former Chicago resident who now lives in Oak Park, Calif., will pedal his bike from the Adler Planetarium to Atlanta — a journey of about 800 miles — from May 30-June 8. He's raising money for the American Diabetes Association.

"I will do all I can during this ride to promote healthy lifestyles and inspire others to take control of their wellness," said Velarde.

He said he's excited to meet "people along the way and able to talk about diabetes, and how I manage my condition. 

"That’s exciting as I hope there are possibilities of inspiring others," he said. "I change one life, it makes it worth the effort through all this."

 Edwin Velarde, a former Chicago resident, is planning a bike ride from Chicago to Atlanta to promote a healthy lifestyle and inspire others to take control of their wellness.
Edwin Velarde, a former Chicago resident, is planning a bike ride from Chicago to Atlanta to promote a healthy lifestyle and inspire others to take control of their wellness.
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Edwin Velarde

Velarde was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 29. He said he struggled with high blood glucose until a friend gave him a bike a few years ago. Since then, he's avoided thousands of insulin injections and kept his blood glucose levels stable.

His route will take him through Terre Haute, Ind., Evansville, Ind., Nashville and Chattanooga, Tenn. before arriving in Atlanta. He also posted information about his ride to The Chainlink site hoping for guidance on the safest routes from Chicago.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the area the "Diabetes Belt" of America because 11.7 percent of the people within it have diagnosed diabetes, compared to 8.5 percent outside the belt.

Velarde will arrive in Chicago a few days early to train on the Lakefront Trail and near his former home in North Park.

"I am doing this ride to give back by raising awareness about diabetes and modest funds for the American Diabetes Association," he said. "I am hoping to meet other cyclists around the places I pass through. There’s this bond I think among cyclists and would like to expand my circle. Maybe they can spread the word also about what I’m trying to do, maybe even ride with me parts of my epic journey."

For more information on Velarde's challenge, click here.