Cycling tour ‘Gives Back’

UPDATE: Blind cyclist was celebrated in Vernon Saturday, earlier than expected

The Vernon Craig Gives Back community celebration rode through town earlier than expected.

Riders Bob MacDonald and cycling partner Lloyd McLean of Pictou, Nova Scotia, rode into Vernon Saturday (they were originally scheduled to be in Vernon Thursday). The change was needed in an effort to give Lloyd and Bob some much needed recovery time (they just finished the toughest legs of the tour from Golden to Revelstoke).

The local celebration took place at Home Building Centre.

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History is in the making as a Canadian man is set to become the first blind cyclist to ride coast to coast on a two-wheeled bicycle.

Bob MacDonald and cycling partner Lloyd McLean of Pictou, Nova Scotia are not your ordinary cycling enthusiasts. They have cycled over 7,800 kilometres as part of an 85-day, 8,260-kilometre bicycle tour across the country on behalf of blind cyclist, Craig Aucoin (who started the tour but was forced to stop due to an injury).

MacDonald, who is partially sighted, and McLean, are scheduled to arrive in Vernon on Thursday, Oct. 17 – where the Craig Gives Back team will be welcomed by a community celebration hosted by Home Building Centre – Vernon at 4601 27th St. at 9:30 a.m.

The Craig Gives Back national ride is raising awareness and funds for three major Canadian charities that Aucoin credits for changing his life: CNIB, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind and YMCAs in Canada.

“Craig’s commitment to the cause and amazing story embodies what we do at CNIB. Our dedicated specialists work with people of all ages in their own homes, communities or local CNIB offices – providing the personalized rehabilitation support they need to see beyond vision loss, build their independence and lead the lives they desire,” said John Mulka, executive director and regional vice-president – B.C.

After beginning the tour in Eastern Canada, the inspirational Aucoin was forced to withdraw due to cycling injuries to his Achilles tendon and wrist. To ensure the tour could continue while Aucoin recuperated at home, Aucoin and McLean enlisted the help of friend and avid cyclist MacDonald to occupy the second seat on the bike.

MacDonald, who is partially sighted and like Aucoin, has retinitis pigmentosa and is a CNIB client, joined McLean on the Craig Gives Back tour in Sydney, N.S. on Aug. 12. Aucoin will rejoin the tour in Vancouver with MacDonald cycling alongside Aucoin and McLean until the finale in Victoria Oct. 27.

Aucoin’s selfless decision not to rejoin the ride until its final legs allows MacDonald to accomplish one of the goals of the Craig Gives Back ride – for the first blind cyclist to cross Canada coast-to-coast on a two-wheeled bicycle.

“I’m very grateful to Bob for stepping in to help. Both he and Lloyd have done an incredible job at raising awareness across the country for three extraordinary causes,” said Aucoin.

The Craig Gives Back team are travelling on the Altena Janus, a back-to-back recumbent tandem bicycle – the only one of its kind in Canada.

For more information on the Craig Gives Back-to-Back Cross-Canada Bicycle Tour or to make a donation, visit craiggivesback.ca and ‘like’ Craig Gives Back at facebook.com/craiggivesback.

To donate $5 on your mobile phone, text 45678 with the keyword CRAIG.