Cycling to support Ethiopia aid efforts

Windermere teacher tests her humanity in Summerland's endurance mountain bike race.

Windermere elementary teacher Rhonda Shippy wants to help Ethiopian aid efforts by promoting the Test of Humanity mountain bike race event

Local elementary school teacher Rhonda Shippy has taken her mountain biking a little more seriously in recent years, and the effort has paid off.

In a cross country mountain bike endurance race held in Summerland on September 23,

Windermere Elementary’s Grade 6 Intensive French teacher put her mettle to the test in support of Ethiopia and placed second in the women’s Elite over 40 category.

The annual event, called Test of Humanity, is designed for mountain bikers of all levels, with individual categories for all ages and abilities. All proceeds from the race are used to support the Canadian Humanitarian Organization for International Relief and its projects in Ethiopia, and this year’s event raised over $30,000. Registered participants were also asked to bring with them one small bag of non-perishable food items to support the South Okanagan Food Bank.

“I would like to promote the event so there is more participation for next year,” Shippy said.

According to the Test of Humanity website, “Ethiopia is a country that UNICEF has reported to be home to 6 million orphans, which is 33 per cent more than the entire population of B.C. In addition, nearly 60 per cent of the 84 million people in Ethiopia are illiterate.”

In 2010, Shippy travelled and camped through Africa, from north to south, on a climbing expedition. She spent a month in Ethiopia, travelling around the small villages, staying with the local people and visiting schools.

“So I could see firsthand what the living was like and how difficult it is, and how hard it is for them to get good education,” she said.

By riding in the Test of Humanity, participants support Canadian Humanitarian programs that provide children and individuals with literacy and vocational skills, and the tools to break the cycle of poverty, states the website.

Shippy wants to see more people come out for the event next year because the race is for such a good cause.

“It’s such a well-organized event and the people that run it are passionate and they put a lot of time and effort into it, and it’s a lot of community support for the event,” she said.

In addition to her second place finish in the four-hour Test, which involved riding a challenging 10-kilometre singletrack loop as many times as possible in the allotted time, Shippy was third in the women’s overall.

“I was mountain biking in the area and heard about the race course itself and I was racing a little bit this year so I was looking for other events to participate in,” she said.

Earlier this year Shippy raced in Kimberley’s Round the Mountain Race, placing fourth in her category. Last year, she competed down in Cave Creek, Arizona and placed fifth.

This year’s Test of Humanity was her first time on the podium and she plans to keep up the racing next year.

“It’s nice to have a goal, a training goal,” she said.

To learn more about the event, visit www.testofhumanity.com. For more information regarding the Canadian Humanitarian organization, please visit their website at www.canadianhumanitarian.com.