A group of three Calgary cyclists have recently wrapped up a 1,438-km fundraising ride across Oman, the Middle East country that sits on the southeast coast of the Arabian peninsula. The group of eight cyclists raised more than $30,000 for the UK-registered Rainbow Centre which provides support for sick and bereaved Sri Lankan children and their families.
Calgary’s Wallace King was one of these riders. He is a retired geologist who in 2014 found himself in Foothills Hospital for five months after being hit near Bragg Creek by a driver who fled the scene of the collision and was never found cycling k. After a long recovery from the injuries sustained in the hit and run which included a serious head injury, five broken ribs and a broken collarbone King had a reaffirmed desire for adventure.
King, 64, joined the charity ride in Oman after hearing about the fundraiser. Calgarians Pat Dodge and Yuri Lipkov also rode. They left for Oman in February and joined five other cyclists for the seven-day ride.
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“It was a marvelous trip,” King told Post Media after returning to Calgary in mid-March. “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.”
The group were riding 200 km a day. They spent the nights camping in the wilderness, under the stars and on the beaches bordering the Arabian Sea and while out on the road they’d be invited into villages to share date and bread with the locals. The ride started in the mountains and canyons outside the capital but the terrain soon changed to exposed desert. Lots of sunscreen was required for the sandy kilometres through the desert.
“One day we got our vehicles stuck in the sand and couldn’t get them out,” King recalled speakin to Post Media on returning to Canada. “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.”
Inspiration for the trip benefiting the Rainbow Centre came from one of the riders deceased brothers who was killed in a car accident 40 years ago and had wanted to cycle around Sri Lanka in order to raise money for the organization. The Rainbow Centre is based in the Sri Lankan capital city of Colombo.
King’s desire for adventure has not subsided since his return to Calgary but is unsure where or when his next adventure will take place. While in Oman he also took some time to tour around and see the rest of the country after the exhausting journey across the country.