NEW GLASGOW – Bob MacDonald and Lloyd McLean are excited to get some company on the last leg of their Craig Gives Back tour.
Lloyd McLean and Craig Aucoin. Vision Fire Studios
Craig Aucoin, the original cyclist with the tour who was injured early on, along with MacDonald’s wife Laureen and McLean’s wife Andrea, will be joining the Lyons Brook men in late-October for the last three days of the journey.
“Craig is going to join us in Vancouver and I will get a bike somewhere and finish out the last leg with them,” said MacDonald during a break from the tour in Calgary on Friday. Aucoin, with Laureen and Andrea, will fly out this month and plans are still being made for them each to have their bicycle when they arrive.
MacDonald joined the Craig Gives Back tour in mid-August after Aucoin suffered an injury to his ankle and knee while cycling in Newfoundland with Lloyd McLean. Aucoin was expected to be back on the bike when it left Pictou County in mid-August, but he broke his wrist during another fall. MacDonald is partially sighted and like Aucoin; he also has retinitis pigmentosa.
MacDonald said he is looking forward to seeing his wife, along with Aucoin and Andrea, admitting some days there is a lot of silence on the road because he and McLean have run out of conversation ideas.
“There have been times when the silence was as long as three or four hours,” he said with a laugh.
MacDonald said the men have been averaging between 100 and 150 km a day because some strong winds in Saskatchewan put them behind schedule a bit.
“Some of the winds were 50 km an hour wind gusts,” he said. “At one point, we laid in a ditch on the side of the road for a while with the bike on top of us in hopes of blocking the wind a bit. We biked about another 7 ½ km and pitched our tent beside a building so we could block the wind.”
He said Saskatchewan has more hills than most people think because it has been a steady climb on the road from there to Calgary.
The men will be spending an extra day in Calgary with Aucoin’s cousin before they begin their trek into the mountains. MacDonald said people have been very generous to them along the route, including one woman who met them in a diner in Sudbury and arranged for some media coverage for them in Brooks, Alta.
“The truckers have been amazing,” he said. “They see us some much on the highway and they honk every time they go and give us lots of room.”
MacDonald said the road conditions have been good for the majority of the journey, but there were a few hairy moments in Manitoba where the shoulder of the road was almost non-existent.
“I was the one motioning to traffic,” he said, “I would tell Lloyd if he had to move over to the gravel shoulder. We had to do that a few times. It was rough.”
MacDonald said both he and McLean are holding up well mentally and physically, although he had a few days where he had to get his own diabetes under control.
“I had a few rough days,” he said. “I am a diabetic, but I haven’t really been watching what I am eating. I thought my sugars would be high but they were really low. Now I drink about two litres of pop a day and eat junk food. It’s all good now.”
The Craig Gives Back tour is raising money for Canadian charities that Aucoin credits with helping him turn his life around. The Craig Gives Back Tour will raise funds and awareness for CNIB, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind and YMCAs in Canada. Donations can be made online at www.craiggivesback.ca.
The Craig Gives Back tour is expected to reach Victoria on Oct. 27.