Wyatt Grainger, 14, recently returned from a Team Novo Novo Nordisk cycling camp. He’s also one of the founders of the Equipe Cycling Club in Red Deer, a group of about 25 cyclists that he brought together three years ago. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate staff)

Cycling through the adversity: Wyatt Grainger’s winding road toward cycling success

Wyatt Grainger was sitting in a hospital, unsure of what it all meant.

In January, waiting for doctors’ orders, he had just one question: “What about cycling?”

That was a critical concern for the 14-year-old when he was told he had Type 1 diabetes.

He’d been competitive in the sport for the last four years, and even started a cycling club in Red Deer called Equipe Cycle Club after watching the Tour of Alberta in Edmonton.

In the last three years, the club has grown from five of his friends to 25 members who ride a couple times a week. They have a website, their own kit, and travel to races regularly throughout the summer.

Grainger said it’s been a challenge trying to manage cycling with his diabetes (sweet treats like Skittles and Rockets are his go to right now), but his most recent experience has him believing anything is possible.

Grainger just returned from a week with Team Novo Nordisk cycling camp for youth who are recruited from around the world who compete for spots on either the junior or development team, which may one day lead to a position on their professional team.

The program is also made up of all diabetic athletes, with a mandate to “inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes.”

Shortly after Grainger was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, he looked the team up on Instagram and emailed them to see how he could get started.

They responded with a training program for him to follow. But he also received the news that at 14, he was a year too young to participate in the camp this summer in Athens, Ga. They told him he would definitely be invited to camp next year.

His dad, Sean, then followed with a email, thanking the team for their support and sending along the training program. He eventually received a message from the founder of the team, Phil Southerland.

Southerland said since Wyatt’s racing age is 15, as long as someone was willing to accompany him to the camp, he’d be allowed to participate. Sean jumped at the chance to help his son.

Wyatt said while at the camp, it was amazing to interact with athletes all over the world who were just like him.

“Basically a professional style camp, we rode 85 kilometres three times throughout the week,” he said. “It was a good experience… I really learned what it takes and what it means to be a professional cyclist and an ambassador for the sport.”

He’s even found a role model on the pro team as well, Canadian Reid McClure who is based out of Calgary.

“I really look up to all of the pros and how they put a lot of work into it and how focused they are. I think that’s really cool that they’ve worked so hard and they’re just great ambassadors for the sport,” Wyatt said.

“Managing diabetes is a really hard thing to do and professional cycling is also a really hard thing to do. So to combine those two things is just really exceptional.”

Wyatt has to give himself insulin four times a day to manage his diabetes, as well as eating a very specific diet. He also has to carefully regulate his blood sugar leading up to, during and after races and rides.

He said cyclists from all over the world shared tips on how they deal with their diabetes at the camp.

“You’re constantly learning something. There’s so much information. Learning from the other campers at the program was very beneficial. How does a cyclist in England or the United States manage their diabetes? It was really cool,” he said.

Wyatt is going into Grade 10 at Lindsay Thurber next year and will cycle through the summer mostly in Alberta, then anxiously await news about the junior or development team spot. He won’t be deterred if he doesn’t make it this time around, as either way he’ll be back in Georgia again next summer to participate in the camp.

Wyatt one day hopes to succeed at the highest level in the sport and spread the message of hope for other people with diabetes.

“I’d really like to get onto the team. I hope I can achieve something at the camp next year …” he said. “I would be really happy if all the work I had done, all this training I have done has paid off and I’ve gotten to the top level.”


Just Posted

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

Rent subsidies for Asooahum Crossing tenants sought from Red Deer city council

Coun. Lee feels the city should be ‘last resort’ for housing subsidy requests

Castor murderer denies he’s a killer

Jason Klaus tells courtroom he loved his family who were murdered in December 2013

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

RDC chosen to host 2019 men’s volleyball national championship

Sports enthusiasts in Red Deer will have more to look forward to… Continue reading

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month