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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Ride to shine light on Chinese abuses

July 13, 2008

Race for Rights will take man across Canada
Angela Hickman
THE Kingston Whig-Standard (Canada)
July 12, 2008

On Sunday, Kingstonian David Kay will put his feet to the pedals and
begin his Race for Rights.

In an effort to draw attention to China's human rights abuses, Kay
will be cycling the Canada Trail from mile-zero in St. John's to
mile-zero in Victoria.

Kay is planning to ride between 180 and 200 kilometres every day -
except for his one day off in Toronto - covering the 7,700 km route
in only 44 days.

"It'll be a beautiful six weeks," he said. "It'll be isolating and

But it won't be the first time Kay has undertaken a long journey on
only two wheels. Eight years ago, Kay biked to Guatemala and back,
cycling the full 14,000 km.

"It's a great way to travel," he said. "It was just for fun."

And that's how he's approaching this summer's trip, which will take
him through 46 major Canadian cities from one end of the country to the other.

"It's very freeing and vulnerable in an emotional kind of way -
physically too, which is unfortunate," he said.

Despite the length, the terrain and uncertain weather conditions Kay
will deal with, he said he's employing a "blue collar" training
program: working at the Sleepless Goat and doing carpentry.

"There's only so much one can do to prepare for a ride like this," he
said, adding that because of its solitary nature, the trip will
likely be more strenuous emotionally than physically.

Kay is doing the ride in support of the Canadian Tibet Committee, an
organization he has only been part of for a year.

"I went to see the Dalai Lama speak when he came to Canada and I felt
like I was in a unique position to do what I could to support his
cause," said the long-time athlete.

Kay is a former member of the Canada Games rowing team and a Pan
American medallist. Cycling, he said, was a natural progression from
rowing because it's similarly aerobic and competitive in nature.

Although Kay is riding to spread awareness, he said he's not sure if
he considers himself an activist.

"I'm apprehensive to be an angry activist. ... The Dalai Lama,
Buddhism and the world's religions all say the same thing: tread
lightly, be non-violent," he said. "I'm pretty ambivalent and
confused when it comes to activism of any sort and I feel like the
ride, it's very simple, it's very peaceful, it's low impact and I
think ... the content is the message."

In the spirit of embodying the message of peace and simplicity he
hopes to spread, Kay will do the ride without a support van. Instead,
he will carry what he needs on his bike and avoid, whenever possible,
staying in hotels.

"The Canadian Tibet Committee is billeting me as much as possible,"
he said, adding that the organization's nationwide membership has
been very generous in volunteering their homes.

Although the committee will be paying for Kay's flight to
Newfoundland and return flight from Victoria, Kay said the overall
cost of the coast-to-coast ride is a lot lower than most people think.

"It's pretty cheap actually. It's pretty simple."

Kay, who is a self-employed carpenter and part-time Sleepless Goat
employee, said the ride will put his income on hold.

"I don't know if I thought much about it [beforehand]," he said.
"It's certainly inconvenient."

But, for Kay, the ends justify the means.

All funds raised during his journey will go to the committee, he said.

"They're going to take part of the funds raised to purchase
kilometres of the Canada Trail to dedicate to victims of China's
human rights abuses."

As an additional memorial, each province Kay passes through will be
dedicated to a Chinese activist or victim of the recent Tibet uprising.

But Kay said the consciousness-raising aspect of his ride is more
important than fundraising.

In keeping with that, he said part of what he's really looking
forward to is the peace the journey will bring him.

"I'll have a radio, just to keep up with the news, but I really look
forward to the silence."

There will be a send-off event for Kay at the Memorial Centre tonight
beginning at 5:15. Community members interested in meeting,
supporting or riding with Kay are welcome to attend.

Kay will begin his ride in St. John's at 9 a. m. Sunday morning. He
plans to finish in Victoria on Aug. 24, the day of the Beijing
Olympics' closing ceremonies.
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