Bob MacDonald and Lloyd McLean are biking coast-to-coast for charity.
Not your everyday endeavour to be sure, but something that Canadians seem to do from time to time, since Terry Fox attempted his historic run in 1980.
The difference here is MacDonald is legally blind. He and McLean rode into town on Sept. 10 — four minutes ahead of schedule — and attended a community celebration hosted by A & J Home Hardware.
The cyclists are hoping to raise $300,000 from the ride to support the CNIB, the YMCA and the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. Representatives from all three were on hand to welcome the cycling duo to Sudbury.
These agencies were pivotal in Craig Aucoin’s journey back from depression when he lost his sight due to retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 15. Aucoin, of Pictou, N.S., was the original blind cyclist on the journey.
Looking to give back to the organizations that helped him, he conceived the 8,630-km cross-country journey. His longtime friend, Lloyd McLean, an avid cyclist, joined in to assist, and on Aug. 4 they set out.
However, on Aug. 8, Aucoin had to leave the ride to recover from an injured Achilles tendon. To add insult to injury, while recovering at home, Aucoin fell and broke his wrist, keeping him out of commission until Oct. 2.
McLean is continuing the ride with Aucoin's backup rider, MacDonald, who climbed on the unique back-to-back tandem bike in Sydney, N.S.
Like Aucoin, MacDonald is also a CNIB client with retinitis pigmentosa, though he retains tunnel vision in one eye at present.
“It’s a great advantage because he’s in the back (of the bike) and sees traffic coming. If he sees cars are coming too close he motions them over, which is very valuable on some highways,” said McLean.
A close call or two on secondary roads has been frightening at times, but highways have been a different story and McLean said Ontario drivers have been great.
“Truckers are terrific and they give us extra room whenever they can,” McLean said.
Aucoin is expected to return to the ride somewhere between Calgary and Vancouver.
When that happens, MacDonald said he can’t see not finishing the ride with them.
“I am able to ride my own bike if I follow someone,” he said.
“I don’t see how I can walk away from it. You can say that you’ll come back to finish that last section but chances are you’ll never get the opportunity to do it again.”
McLean agreed the three should ride into Victoria, B.C., together on Oct. 27.
“Even if we have to duct tape Craig to the bike, he’ll be at the finishing line,” he joked. “We’re a team now and we’ll finish as a team.”
For more information visit craiggivesback.ca.
Shannon O'Connor is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury.