Calgarians embark on seven-day cycling trip across Oman for Lankan charity



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After being left for dead after a hit and run in 2014, a Calgary cyclist has recently finished a two-wheeled trek across the scorching trails of Oman. Retired geologist Wallace King, 64, joined fellow Calgarians Pat Dodge and Yuri Lipkov on a 1,438 km ride across Oman — a country in the Middle East adjacent to the Arabian Sea — to raise money for the Rainbow Centre, a UK-registered charity helping Sri Lankan children in need, said a report published by the Calgary Herald yesterday.


It said: King said he was cycling near Bragg Creek three years ago when he was hit, and spent five months in Foothills Hospital recovering from a serious head injury, five broken ribs and a broken collarbone. The driver, said King, fled the scene and was never found.


But the accident gave King a renewed vigour for adventure and, when the retired Calgarian heard about the fundraising trip to Oman, he immediately jumped on board.


"It was a marvellous trip," said King, who returned to Calgary last week.


"The people there were so friendly. I was so surprised — the drivers there treated us with so much respect. When they’d drive by, they’d wave and give us a thumbs-up. If we did that anywhere else, they’d probably throw coffee out the window at us," he said with a laugh.


The troupe left Canada in late February and joined five other cyclists for the weeklong fundraiser, which raised more than $30,000 for the Rainbow Centre.


King was enchanted by the high mountains and deep canyons, and said heavy amounts of sunscreen were slathered on as the terrain changed and the group had to pedal through miles of sandy desert.


Biking about 200 km a day, King said the days were exhausting but fascinating.


Nights were spent camping under the stars on beaches bordering the sea, and during pit stops during the day they’d be invited into village homes to munch on dates and paper-thin bread baked outside.


"One day we got our vehicles stuck in the sand and couldn’t get them out," said King, who spent a week touring the country with fellow cyclist Lipkov after the bike trip. "All of a sudden a couple of Bedouin tribe members appeared. They left their goat herds behind and got on their hands and knees and helped us out — it was amazing."


Now back home in Calgary, King said he’ll have to wait and see where his next cycling adventure will take him.


The one-time trip was inspired by one of the rider’s brothers, Stevie Graham, who died in a car accident 40 years ago. Graham had always wanted to cycle around Sri Lanka to raise money for the Rainbow Centre, which operates out of the country’s capital city, Colombo.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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