Osoyoos Times | Osoyoos man bicycles to coast to raise money for India’s oppressed Dalits

The hardest part of Trevor Caldecott’s three-day bicycle ride from Osoyoos to the coast was the long climb from Princeton to Manning Park.

Caldecott, 63, from Osoyoos, raised $3,915 from the ride to assist the downtrodden Dalit people of India, commonly known as “Untouchables.”

Caldecott was still stiff from his first day of riding which took him into brutal headwinds in the early June heat between Osoyoos and Princeton.

“You start off out of Princeton and you climb constantly,” he said of the journey to Manning Park, which took him over Sunday Summit and Allison Pass.

The new road near the mine above Princeton was smooth, but the roads in Manning Park became a different story.

“The beginning of Manning Park was fine, but then the road surface became extremely rough,” he said. “It’s rutted and the ruts are quite wide. You’re riding on tires that are inflated to 100 psi (pounds per square inch) and you’re hitting those ruts. You can’t avoid them because of the traffic, so it’s pretty brutal. Your backside takes a bit of a pounding.”

Fortunately the long downhill into Hope on the other side was an easy coast and the winds co-operated, changing to blow from his back.

“I couldn’t believe how fast I got to Hope,” Caldecott says. “It was really fast through Sunshine Valley before Hope and I just roared through there. The best part of the whole ride was getting into Hope.”

Caldecott and his wife Sandra Shaw became engaged in raising awareness and funds for the Dalit people after a trip to India in February 2016.

The 250 million Dalits are considered impure and below the Hindu caste system. They are exploited, face discrimination and they perform the last desirable jobs, such as cleaning up animal carcasses and working in sewers.

The funds raised are going through the Dalit Freedom Network Canada in Surrey to help with microloans enabling Dalit people to start small businesses. It may be as basic as helping a woman to purchase a sewing machine or a water buffalo to produce milk.

Shaw drove behind Caldecott throughout his journey, carrying items such as food and spare tires.

Fortunately, she was behind him when Caldecott got a puncture outside of Langley. When he replaced the inner tube, it exploded just a further 100 metres up the road. Caldecott thinks the tube got pinched in the beading.

His wife even heard the explosion from the distance, which destroyed not only his only replacement tube, but also the tire itself.

She was able to get him back on the road for the final stretch through horrendous traffic into Surrey to the headquarters of the Dalit Freedom Network.

He was welcomed with balloons, refreshments and signs congratulating him.

“It was a really great welcome for us,” he said. “There was a big poster, ‘Welcome Trevor, you’ve done it.’ It was so uplifting.”

Caldecott says the trip gave him the chance to educate people about the Dalits. He was particularly happy to have a long conversation with a dairy farmer near Mission, who took an interest in the issue.

He acknowledges he sometimes encounters people who think he should direct his attention to those in need closer to home – such as First Nations in Canada.

Nonetheless, he says the plight of the Dalits is a huge problem.

Caldecott finished the ride in 19 hours and 20 minutes of cycling time, which was right on his target.

His fundraising of $3,915 fell a bit short of his $5,000 goal, but he says he’s especially grateful for the support he received from the Osoyoos and Oliver communities, notably Osoyoos Baptist Church and Valley Congregational Church near Oliver.

Those wishing to donate can go to http://my.dalitfreedom.ca and find the link to Trevor Caldecott’s Bike Ride to Freedom for the Dalits at the bottom of the Women: Economic Development page.

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