Diabetic cyclist to cycle 18,000km to raise awareness about diabetes!

CHARLES LEE | 7th Jun 2016 |NEWS

Diabetic patients know that an adequate amount of exercising plays a pivotal role in curbing diabetes.  But 27-year-old Chiara Ricciardi is taking one step further – She will be undertaking a cycling expedition that covers a vast distance of 18,000km in a bid to raise awareness about the metabolic disease that have long been known to cause such long-term complications as stroke, kidney failure and blindness.

The sporty-looking Italian will be commencing her two-wheeled voyage from her hometown in Italy from June.  Her photographer boyfriend Riccardo Rocchi, 33, will be accompanying her for the trip.  Their plan is to end the year-long expedition in Singapore. 

When asked what is the one thing that both of them are looking forward to in Singapore, Chiara professed that she is yearning for a slice of the best cake that can be found in Singapore.  Cakes are simple indulgences for many people.  However, to Chiara, the carbohydrate-filled delicacy could potently harm her health, even if consumed in reasonably small amounts.  Terming her cycling expedition as “For a Piece of Cake” is an apt description to spread the word that sugar-laden foods can cause diabetes.

Chiara was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old.  People with Type 1 diabetes are not able to produce insulin.  Without the ability to produce insulin, the body will not be able to transfer the glucose from the bloodstream to the cells of the body.  Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults.  Chiara is hoping to make use of this awareness project to inspire diabetic sufferers that they can still lead a positive life.

Whilst this is not the first time that Chiara and her boyfriend are embarking on a long-distance cycling expedition (they have cycled 1,600km from Trieste, Italy to Patras, Greece), this upcoming voyage is their longest expedition to date.

Given that uncertainties may occur during the journey, both are devising plans to mitigate unforeseen circumstances.  Apart from climate and weather issues, one of the main challenges that Chiara has to face is the constant need to store her insulin injection packs at 2 to 8 degree Celsius.  Fortunately, they have found a special route that allows her to obtain insulin supplies.  In an e-mail interview with AsiaOne, Chiara said: “The quantity of insulin for the current month will be divided between all of our bags, so that possible theft would not put us in critical situations.”

When asked about how is she going to manage her insulin levels, Chiara said that her regular exercise regime has helped reduces her dependency on insulin.  Both of them are currently putting in extra exercising hours to prepare for the expedition.

The expedition will begin in Italy.  They will first cycle to Turkey through the Balkans.  Thereafter, they will continue their journey towards Iran.  By the time they reached Dubai, they would be some 7,000 km away from Italy.  Both will also be travelling to Mumbai, India and Myanmar before coming to Singapore.  They are planning to cover an average of 1,600km every month.