A cyclist who travelled 13,000 kilometres along the Silk Route from China to Istanbul is coming to Parksville to present her journey through stories and photos and will speak about the fundraising initiative that was at the heart of her trip.
Brenda Trenholme, from Rossland B.C., will be at the McMillan Arts Centre (133 McMillan St.) on Friday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. with hopes of raising money for the Kenya Education Endowment Fund (KEEF).
Trenholme has been involved with KEEF, a small Canadian charity, for several years and says the organization helps Kenyan youth attend high school, which is not free in Kenya.
“The reason I feel strongly about this particular program, is number one…every penny that’s donated goes tot he kids and number two, it’s a hand-up not a handout. It helps the kids get themselves out of poverty,” Trenholme said.
Trenholme, a retired doctor, said she’s done volunteer medical work in Africa and that it wasn’t hard to miss the profound need from people without an education.
“It was astonishing and shocking to see the difference between the people who had a bit of education, they could take care of themselves and the people who hadn’t, they just couldn’t navigate the system themselves so I feel education is really key to making a dent in world poverty,” she said.
KEEF, Trenholme said, supports about 139 students and most of the people working for the charity are based on Vancouver Island.
With a goal to raise $20,000 for KEEF, Trenholme will present a slideshow and stories of struggle, beauty and accomplishment from her five-month cycling trip that began in Beijing, China.
Trenholme joined the Canadian-based tour agency, TDA, who supply the cyclists with a support vehicle, a doctor, mechanic and food in order to complete the trip safely.
“The cyclists supply the energy, all their own equipment and the enthusiasm,” Trenholme said. “We travelled for 150 days from Beijing to Istanbul.”
Trenholme said the cyclists would camp by the side of the road or off the beaten path and would get one day off each week.
“I guess the thing that is most striking about the first half of this tour is we were in such remote places that most tourists would never get to see, and seeing it from a bicycle you really get an intimate view,” she said.
The trip’s biggest struggle, Trenholme said, came when the group cycled through Mongolia.
“It was windy, often up to 40-kilometres an hour all day…and really, really hard terrain to cycle on,” she said.
Trenholme said Siberia and Russia were “spectacularly beautiful” and that she was surprised with how lush and mountainous they were.
“Kazakhstan was just lots of really flat grassland and we were happy to get through that, it was interesting just a bit monotonous,” she said.
The cyclists all carried their own equipment, which Trenholme said was a lot of gear.
“You take almost a whole second bicycle. I took 20 tubes, four sets of tires, a whole new drive change, break cables, all kinds of gear,” she said. “I am a skilled cyclist and I would not want to tackle this ride without skill because it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
This was the second long cycling trip Trenholme has completed. In 2016, she rode from Cairo to Cape Town to also raise money for KEEF.