Riding the nation for transplant salvation
Kibby Evans got a little choked up when she saw the Welcome to British Columbia sign on her way into the province from Alberta.
“Coming into BC was amazing. It’s our home province,” Evans said.
Evans and her partner in life and cycling Daman Milsom were entering the province from the Rocky Mountains of Alberta on their cross-Canada cycling trip in aid of Trekking 4 Transplants.
The two embarked on their 9,000-kilometre cycling trip on June 2 and were having a rest in Kelowna, Milsom’s hometown when the News Leader Pictorial caught up with them.
Milsom, who met Evans while playing with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, said the couple tries to do seven to nine days of riding then take a rest day.
“Kelowna is the best rest stop because it’s home for me. It’s been great seeing family and friends. It’ll be tough to leave.”
The two have raised $22,000 in donations so far, and they have inspired many to sign up as organ donors. They were are raising awareness and funds for the cause because of long wait times for transplant patients, something Evans’ family dealt with first-hand.
“Kibby’s father was waiting for a liver transplant when we started planning this trek. Fortunately he was able to get the transplant in December,” Milsom said.
Evans’ father is doing well since the transplant, something that only provided evidence they were doing the right thing.
“His whole life completely turned around since he’s had the transplant,” Evans said.
The pair have visited several transplant centres along the way.
“It’s been powerful to meet some of the transplant recipients,” Evans said.
One of her most memorable moments is when they were given a tour of the pediatric renal dialysis unit and spoke with a 10-year-old boy who was undergoing treatment.
“He was so optimistic about transplant and life, what he had been through and what he was going through at such a young age.”
Evans said riding her bike has made it an incredible journey, “It’s such an amazing way to see the country. You don’t miss anything on a bike.”
One of Evans’ favourite places was the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia.
“It was just absolutely beautiful. It was probably our most challenging ride because the grades were so steep. But when you get to the top, it’s spectacular.”
Milsom can’t choose his favourite place, saying each province is so unique, but the people they met along the way have kept their spirits up.
“There is one group of people we met while stopped at Montreal River in Ontario who offered us a stay for two nights in their cabin at White River, further along our route. When we got there, the family was cooking ribs and the offered us cold drinks and a bed to stay in.”
It was a comforting change from the tent they camped in most of the way.
Evans said the elements make a difference to a day’s ride.
“Our biggest factor is wind. In the prairies, one day we could only do 45 kilometres, and the next day we were able to go 235 km. We knew by going from east to west we would be riding against westerly winds, but we really wanted to end at home.”
After the interview, the two embarked on the last 550 km of their trip towards Mile Zero in Victoria, BC, with a stop in Evans’ hometown — Duncan — on the way.
They arrive tomorrow in the parking lot of M&M Meats for a barbecue at 2 p.m. the following day, they leave from Cycle Therapy, who have sponsored the tour, at 10 a.m. on their way to finish line.
Evans’ father will be along for the ride.