When Pleasanton resident Addie Hosier participated in her first Tour de Cure to fight diabetes, two things became clear: She had to get in better shape -- and she needed a new bike.
"I rode my first Tour de Cure with my old, heavy bike, in 2010 or 2011, in Palo Alto," Hosier recalled. "I had that bike for many, many years. I taught in a private school and would go on rides with the kids."
Because Hosier has type 2 diabetes, she is identified as a Red Rider and wears a special red jersey to show she lives every day with the disease. About 80%-90% of the riders are not diabetic, Hosier estimated, and when they pass Red Riders, they shout out, "Go, Red Rider, go!"
The cry is meant to be encouraging, but Hosier noted that on her first ride, as she struggled up a hill on her old bike at the beginning of the route, youngsters were leaving her in the dust.
"Eight-year-olds were passing me and saying, 'Go, Red Rider, go!'" she recalled with a laugh. "This did encourage me to get a lighter bike -- and since then I have lost weight, too."
She and her new bike will take part in the American Diabetes Association's third annual Women's Series Cure de Tour at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area on Sunday, Oct. 23, which draws about 400 riders.
Its three biking routes are a family-friendly 12 miles; a 35-mile intermediate route; and an advanced 55-mile ride, which has an eight-mile extension for an extra challenge. The cycling registration fee is $15, and participants must raise a minimum of $200; children 12 and under have to raise $50.
New this year is a walk -- 5K or one mile -- which requires fundraising $100, or $25 for children 12 and under. Kids in strollers are free.
At first asking for money was difficult, Hosier said, because that meant she had to inform everyone she was diabetic.
"I never told people -- I didn't want their judgment or for them to worry that I couldn't do my job," she explained.
But as she began to tell her story, many people thanked her, and she decided it was good to share.
"I wanted to say, 'This is what diabetes looks like,'" Hosier, 60, said. "I wanted people to know that you can manage it, and you should try to be more active."
Hosier now is a corporate trainer, specializing in construction safety. Her husband Jeff is a professional photographer, mostly doing executive portraits. They often walk the three-quarters of a mile downtown from their home on Saturdays, and they will bike eight miles to the wineries.
"We try to combine exercise with things we like," Addie Hosier said. "We're not like crazy athletes, my husband and I, but we ride together."
Hosier was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2000.
"I was experiencing symptoms that surprised me," she said. "I had an incredible thirst."
Her diagnosis motivated her to be strict about the size portions she eats, and she lost 50 pounds. She also did research to understand the bad effects of extra weight and the good effects of exercise.
"So far I have been able to control it with good diet, exercise and some medicine, but not insulin," she said.
Hosier recalled a business trip to India in 2005 where she and co-workers visited a spa that practiced ayurvedic medicine. She was surprised when a doctor looked at her and asked how long she had had diabetes, and she asked him for advice.
"He said, 'In India, we tell people to dig a well,' meaning do vigorous activity," Hosier recalled. "He said, 'Dig a well, then dig another one.'"
She took his advice to heart, began looking for ways to increase her physical activity, and decided to participate in the Tour de Cure. She rides the 12-mile route, and it takes her about two hours with a break halfway.
"The ride here starts at Shadow Cliffs and comes up that drive, not the steepest hill any bike rider has done, but it's steep for me," she said. "I do train for the ride because I'm not very athletic."
Addie and Jeff bike together to Shadow Cliffs on the day of the Tour de Cure but only she participates. Men are allowed to ride but are encouraged instead to volunteer to support the women.
"He definitely supports me," Addie Hosier said. "He comes to the start and meets me at the end."
"We ride our bikes from our apartment to the start," she added. "We might be the only people that do that. Then I am warmed up."
The events are fun, she pointed out, with delicious, nourishing food and entertainment. Although the weather can be a challenge.
"The first year was really hot. That was hard. Anybody can struggle in the heat but it seems to affect diabetics more," Hosier said. "But it's about the experience -- if it's too hot, or rainy, you do the best you can."
Learn more at www.crowdrise.com/womensseriestour.