‘Tour’ rider preps for 30-miler

Published 8:04 pm Saturday, March 8, 2014

Rob Vernon and friends participate in a prior Tour De Cure event. He has been riding in the American Diabetes Association fundraiser for about eight years. (Submitted Photo)

Rob Vernon and friends participate in a prior Tour De Cure event. He has been riding in the American Diabetes Association fundraiser for about eight years. (Submitted Photo)

Rod Vernon first got into the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure when one of his students at Western Branch Middle School told him about it.

“I started looking into it,” said the U.S. history teacher who lives in Suffolk. “I was diabetic, and it’s a great cause.”

Vernon, who turns 65 this month and is set to retire from the school system this year, said has had diabetes for 13 or 14 years.

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He first noticed something was wrong when he quit smoking and, rather than gain weight as he expected, he lost it.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute, it’s not supposed to be this way,’” he said.

Soon, he started getting the well-known symptoms of diabetes — unquenchable thirst and frequent urination. A nurse told him to go to the doctor.

When he went to the doctor, he was sent to the hospital because his blood sugar was so high.

“From that point on, I started going to the doctors and taking medication,” he said.

He’s now off the insulin and on a new medication that was developed with the help of the American Diabetes Association, which uses the money raised through events like Tour de Cure to fund research, advocacy and education.

More than 1,000 cyclists will leave from King’s Fork High School on April 26 and ride one of four routes throughout the city — 10, 30, 65 or 100 miles.

Vernon says he rides the 30-mile route each year. He does only a few training runs beforehand.

“I think we’re going to stick with 30 this year,” he said, adding this is about the eighth year he has participated.

He and his team of fellow teachers at Western Branch Middle School, Bruin’s Bikers, will be on the trail on April 26. He said the school has been very supportive throughout the years.

“I don’t think the ride gets the publicity that it deserves,” he said. “It’s a very worthwhile cause.”

Participation requires a $25 registration fee and $200 fundraising minimum. Participants can form teams or ride as individuals, and all that’s required is a bicycle and helmet.

For more information on Tour de Cure, visit www.diabetes.org/hamptonroadsvatour or call Amie Holman at 424-6662 ext. 3276.