Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Short story for The Diabetes Diaries


Short Story Submited to The Diabetes Diaries (150 words or less)

My name is Dave Nevins and I run, bike, kayak, bungee jump, sky dive, base jump, climb, am a photographer, writer, adventure seeker, direct a diabetes group and I also happen to have type 1 diabetes. I have had diabetes for over 35 years and while it can be difficult, it has positively shaped me and created who I am today. The disease has given me a passion to encourage others with diabetes At times, diabetes has been a challenge but I have found that by staying active, and focused on my health and diabetes care, I am able to live healthier than most individuals and I have been free of diabetes complications and I look forward to what my next adventures will be and hope to inspire others along the way.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A True Honor

A True Honor

Medtronic Global Heroes 2012

A hero is a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal. 

Earl Bakken is an original hero.  Growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Earl had a fascination with electricity from a young age.  By age 9 he had built a telephone system that stretched across the street to a friend's house.  As well as being fascinated with wires, cords, plugs etc. he was also inspired by the movie, "Frankenstein."  Life restoration by electricity "my career dream"  What intrigued him the most as he sat through the movie again and again, was the creative spark of Dr. Frankenstein's electricity.  Through the power of his wildly flashing laboratory apparatus, the doctor restored life to the unliving."

On April 29th, 1949, Earl Bakken and Palmer Hermundslie formed a partnership to service medical electronic equipment. They called the company:  "Medtronic."  Over the years Medtronic adapted technologies for the human body, including radio frequency therapies, mechanical devices, drug and biologic delivery devics, and diagnostic tools.  Today Medtronic technologies are used to treat more than 30 chronic diseases affecting different areas of the body. 

Director of Diabetes Research Katie Szyman (in red) surrounded by five heroes. All wearing insulin pumps. From L to R - Celine Parent, Daniela Arantes, Gabriela Arantes, Katie Szyman, Dave Nevins and Torbjorn Harstad

Medtronic Global Heroes:
Medtronic Global Heroes are 25 people who, have heroic qualities or have performed a heroic act.  They are also runners who have been diagnosed with a medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes, spinal disorders, chronic pain or neurological disorders.

Matthew Taylor giving an inspiring interview after his race

Recently I had the great fortune and privilege to spend time with the 24 other Global Heroes.  It was a true honor to mingle with individuals, who despite difficult, challenging conditions, are taking life head-on and living life without limits!

Group Huddle

A cooperative effort between Twin Cities in Motion and the Medtronic Foundation, Global Heroes is a first-of-its-kind program that brings runners from around the world, who benefit from medical technology, to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota to run in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon events and to spend time with Medtronic staff and fellow heroes.  This would be the 7th year of Global Heroes hosting extraordinary runners from 9 different countries. 

The term 'Hero' sounds a bit overly dramatic, but as I spent time with the Global Heroes, it made sense!  They are heroes because they are amazing!  Each hero dealing with medical challenges, while still being triumphant and impressive role models for others.

         with my parents, Pat and Marilyn Nevins, during an enriching time in Minnesota

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

5 Rides to make a difference

5 Rides to make a difference 

Only 18 miles left for the JDRF riders

Five rides to make a difference, to change lives and to find a cure for diabetes.  The last JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) ‘Ride to Cure Diabetes’ was the El Tour de Tucson in the beautiful desert terrain of Tucson, Arizona, which has become known as the most prestigious bicycling event for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Bicycling Magazine selected this event as "one of America's ten best centuries."

JDRF riders arrive at the JDRF aid station
Approximately 170 riders from around the world ride the whole race or sections of the popular perimeter ride through the saguaro studded landscape of the Old Pueblo.   These riders have two challenges:  raising money needed to fund research for better treatments and a cure for diabetes, and reaching a personal training goal to prepare for a destination cycling experience.
                                            LtoR: Allison Sytz, Joe Maissano, Lauren Sytz and Molly Sytz
                                                         In the middle:  tons of food to fuel the JDRF riders

Luck, fortune, karma, blessing or a combination of all landed me in Tucson during the El Tour and a connection with a friend on the JDRF support team, Manny Casillas, who opened an opportunity for me.  We set up an aid station at miles 28 and 93 to furnish the JDRF riders with fuel, drink, humor and smiles.  Our insanely crammed van included Manny, Joe Maisano, and the Sytz cheering squad:  Lauren, Molly, Allison and myself.  Even though Lauren was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 14 years ago, she will be playing on the varsity field hockey team this year!  Her father, Steven, pedaled the whole El Tour course like a pro, seeing as this is his 7th year of participating in Ride to Cure Diabetes.  The gals received a well-earned shout-out and were rewarded as co-winners of the ‘Spirit’ award for their awesome participation! 

Field Hockey time for Lauren Sytz

LtoR:  Lauren, Allison and Molly Sytz: the Cheer Squad!

This was a first time for Ethan Erickson, a 13 year old with Type 1 diabetes who cycled through 111 miles of insulin pump challenges and rolled through the finish line with an incredible effort.  Ethan even pocketed the ‘Best Youth Rider Award’. 

                  Adam and Ethan Erickson

All the riders and crew would shared a life changing-memorable experience.  Ethan’s mother, Tiburon Erickson, said it out well when she said, I believe the best way to beat diabetes - riding to cure it.                                                                     
Ethan Erickson taking care of business (both on and off the bike)

 JDRF will add a 6th Ride to Cure in 2013 with a stop in Nashville, TN.
2013 Ride to Cure Diabetes Events:
Burlington, VT - July 25-28
La Cross, WI - August 15-18
Lake Tahoe, CA - September 6-9
Nashville, TN - September 19-22
Death Valley, CA - October 17-20
Tucson, AZ - November 21-24
For more details visit

-Dave Nevins

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Nearly Endless Trail Book Project

The Nearly Endless Trail Book Project

In a zippered binder, bout 4 feet from where I am plunking on the keys on my piece of my junk laptop, sits a nice, neat stack of loose papers that are numbered 1-293.  Those pages are packed with stats, details, descriptions, maps, photos as well as many memories! 

Each of those pages reflect a journey to the stunningly beautiful mountains, dramatic desert canyons and magnificant alpine lakes that make up the glorious (and hill ridden) Idaho topography.  Those pages are slowly being woven into a new trail book for the Boise, Idaho area, Boise Backcountry Adventures.

One afternoon in the summer of 2001, Boise rock climbing guidebook author, Sandy Epeldi, and I were discussing the boundless potential for trail running in Boise and came to the conclusion that a trail book was long overdue. Much of my paycheck each week went toward gear at an outdoor store.  That store had no Boise hiking/trail running books on its shelves as none existed - yet!  A week later we were at the Military Reserve trail system to begin the fieldwork for our book.  Since we were both trail runners dealing with some time contraints and some horrendously long trails to cover, we made a brave decision to run all the trails (except the canyoneering sections).  This seemed to throw in a little extra challenge to a duanting project. 

Over a thousand miles later and 11 years........a trail book is near completion.

smallest of the Warrior Lakes near Swanholm Peak (Idaho City area)

There have been many delays:  trail additions/subtractions, trail changes, kids being created, homes being purchased and remodeled, Dave moving to Alaska, other pressing projects........but Sandy, who has done the bulk of the work, has done an amazing job with incredible detail and accuracy.  I was a grime assistant, involved in the initial coverage of trails by 2 sets of running shoes.  Guess I was a partner in grime. 

Brown's Creek Canyon in the Owyhee's

Little did I realize that this project would slowly etch a mark on my life.  Within a couple summers we would cover mileage in Idaho's backcountry that the average Idaho Joe might have a difficult time covering in a lifetime. We saw amazing sights, ran nearly endless mountain climbs, waded through deep canyon pools, endured snow, ice, scalding heat, finished in eerie darkness, scrambled some challenging rock formations,and got lost (oops, I can't list that. We are guidebook authors!).  
Sandy Epeldi

The value of this piece of my rather unique life is coming into focus as the book nears.  Not just because of the actual product (book), but of the many opportunities that it offered.  In the gain category:
  • The memories pasted to the ceiling of my brain. 
  •  The value of being in good shape and almost being able to keep up with Sandy.  He may be a climbing guru but truth be told, the dude can run.
  • The experience of being involved in a publishing project and being a co-author
  • The diabetes element.  Not gonna let this disease stop me! I hope to encourage others through this slice of my life
  • The many invaluable pictures gathered en-route
  • The value of rising to the challenge of each day, no matter what the distance, elevation gain or what mother nature was chucking out direction

    In the loss category:  weight.

                                                                Sandy on the trail

     concentrating on non-runnable sections

Memories from the trail:

Favorite Trails:  Hart Creek Canyon, Red Mountain Lakes, Jump Creek Canyon, William Pogue National Recreation Trail, Jenny Lake

Most Difficult Trail:  Cottonwood Creek ( A rather rough day with the diabetes)

Time it took to nail a title for the book:  10+ years

When can you buy Boise Backcountry Adventures?:  Should be this summer!

Favorite Area:  The Owyhee's.  The canyons are awesome!
a little canyoneering in the Owyhee's

wild horses in the Owyhee's (near Murphy, Idaho)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

20 Second Therapy Session

20 Second Therapy Session
I lifted my left leg and swung it over the roughly 4 foot high railing that seperates the spectators from those with a death wish, or those with a wish to live life to the fullest.  It was an odd feeling as my dangling leg stretched to find purchase on the wood platform that had been inserted just a few minutes ago.  I lowered myself down to the platform, now assuming a truly unique and somewhat freaky view off the harrowing edge of 486 foot high Perrine Bridge in Twin Fall, Idaho. 

Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho

With the railing at my back, I was one step to free-fall and the river.  To prolong my 20 second therapy session, I requested an additional photo.  Not just a regular snapshot of Dave doing his first base jump but I wanted something a bit out of the ordinary (as if leaping off a bridge is ordinary).

No Longer a spectator

Ok, so while I was attached to my trusted friend, a 1 inch piece of webbing that secured my harness to the bridge, I inched toward the end of the jumping platform.  Man, what a sick view! 
Despite the nerves, it was a unique spot to be as I leaned forward and snapped some history with my Canon Rebel and  handed the camera back to Summer Eldridge, a bungee jumping friend, who had come out to watch me test gravity off of another really high stucture.   

On the Edge once again

In his book, Extreme Fear, Jeff Wise shares that while most of us try to avoid stress in the course of our daily lives, it's the stressful, emotionally intense memories that will live with us the longest. 
This bonus bucket of stress was compliments of Tandem Base, the only company in the world that offers tandem base jumps.  They had just opened up this heart in your throat opportunity just a handful of months before I would be traveling through the area.  I have had some special moments attached to a bungee cord at the Perrine.  I have swan dived off the bridge a couple of times,  been thrown off (pall bearer toss) and now a new chapter in my life, a base jump.   I had wanted to join the base jump crowd for many years.  True story, but the script had no plot, no storyline and no hope of reality until tandem base jumping arrived in Idaho.  Base jumping has a gravity cousin called Sky Diving.  In Base, instead of exiting a perfectly good airplane (or at least one that flies) you are bounding off of a bridge, antenna, span or earth.  No time to flail for a back up parachute, so get it right the first time.

Topsy Turvy feeling

Speeches were rather short while on the platform.  A quick clip to the amazingly tall, Mark Kissner,  and an unclipping from the webbing that was temporarily connecting me to the railing while I climbed over and took the "I was there" photos off the end of the platform.  After we sauntered to the edge, I was told to let gravity do its thing and gradually lean forward.  hmmm.  Guess I'll check that theory out. 

Theory worked, and we dropped with staggering speed.  The parachute was quickly deployed and a quick veering to the right and then the left, with the side of the canyon looming to our side brought us into the landing zone.  Therapy Session success. 

There are 3 common routes for exiting the canyon.  The climbing option in which you ascend straight up the canyon wall, the hiking option, in which you follow the river to a turn around point in the road, or the boating option which will drop you off at the park. 

Ribbons for those who had leaped off the Perrine without a parachute or bungee cord

The 50 foot climbing section is not terribly hard but can be a little intimidating for someone who doesn't climb much.  A short note from a base jumping page encourages those on the climbing route to be careful because there are spots on this rock where falling could certainly mean serious injury or death. Point taken. 

I spent a lot of quality time on the bridge taking pictures of the beauty that encompasses the canyon, the Snake River far below and the desert that engulfs the area.  It was an incredible sight to absorb but the real experience and the memories that will always be cherished were the more stressful, emotionally intense moments of hoisting myself up and over the railing, making my way to the edge of the platform, a lean and a flight. 

Climbing option out of the canyon

View looking toward the west side of the canyon

My leap on Youtube:


One of the views from the Perrine Bridge