They don't look like professional bicycle racers and they're not. But this week systems engineer Bob Avritt, software consultant Mark Thul, vice president of technology Bill Arnold, and their six teammates on Team Type 2 are racing across America in a grueling cycling race from Oceanside, California, near San Diego to Annapolis, Maryland.

Race Across America (RAAM) is a bicycle race for solo riders and two, four, and eight-person teams. The multi-person teams ride in shifts, like a relay race, day and night, until they reach the Atlantic Coast. They started the race last Saturday and will finish this Saturday, if all goes according to plan.

These IT guys all have Type 2 diabetes, the kind that hits you after years of eating fast food, drinking sodas, and doing no exercise other than walking from your car to the elevator to your office. It's not an IT-specific disease, of course, but an unofficial tally of people you see at IT conferences indicates that many IT pros are Type 2 cases waiting to happen. But the message of Team Type 2 is that you can change this situation.

Bob Avritt's story is particularly compelling. It's not easy to work in IT and fit in time for exercise, but he has managed to do so and it has changed his life.

Team Type 2 is making its way through Indiana right now. The team of eight riders and its crew (which includes my husband, Curt, as navigator) is expected to reach Annapolis around 5 p.m. Saturday. You can track their progress via Google Latitude.

Team Type 2's "brother" team, Team Type 1, composed of professional cyclists with Type 1 diabetes, crossed the finish line early Friday morning, winning the eight-man-team category and establishing a new record for the race.