7-13 June 2013 #659

Pedal power

A team of bikers, among them three tetraplegics, plan to cycle all the way from Lhasa to Kathmandu

Ever since the first ascent of Mt Everest in 1959, the Himalayas have become a symbol of mankind’s attempt to challenge nature and push the limits of human endurance. Recently, two amputees – Arunima Sinha of India and Sudarshan Gautam of Nepal – made it to the top of the world.

Now a team of bikers, among them three tetraplegics, plan to cycle all the way from Lhasa to Kathmandu (see map), through the roof of the world and to the Chinese side of Everest base camp, crossing 10 high mountain passes in 28 days. This gruelling ride of extremes is part of a campaign led by The Catwalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust to raise one million dollars to fund the research of a possible cure for spinal cord injury.

For the woman behind Catwalk, Catriona Williams (pic, right), the debilitating injury hasn’t kept her away from her passion for horse riding or from leading an independent life. Williams used to be a professional equestrian who represented New Zealand during the World Cup finals in show jumping in Sweden before a tragic accident in 2002, where she fell off her horse, left her incapacitated.

Today she is channeling all her energy to draw attention to the plight of people around the world suffering from spinal cord injury. “Together we can show that we are not afraid to take on a challenge no matter how high or difficult it is,” says Williams.

A team of 15, including Williams and two other tetraplegics, their caretakers, friends, family, and members of the trust will land in Kathmandu on 12 June and fly to Lhasa before pedaling back 1,200km to the Valley. Williams’ team representing Catwalk will also be visiting the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre in Dhulikhel, a hospital that owes its existence to spinal cord injury to one of its founders, Kanak Mani dixit.

With increased funding, Williams hopes research into the field will grow and eventually help patients with spinal cord injury get back on their feet. Her personal dream: to be able to walk and dance again.

Sunir Pandey

www.spinalnetwork.org.au/bigcycle

To donate:

www.fundraiseonline.co.nz/TheBIGCycle

www.spinalnetwork.org.au/bigcycle

Read also:

Scaling new heights

Arunima conquers two Everests

The Intouchables

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