This post and the “Uganda B2B” blog series are from cyclists who rode across Uganda in December 2013. 

After staying the night in surprisingly fancy accommodations, everyone was ready and rearing to hit the road. Of course, the bikes needed a few extra tune-ups. John (later dubbed “Doctor John”) tinkered with and adjusted everything to suit our fancy. We walked down the street and had an amazing breakfast of Rolexes (Chipaties with omelettes wrapped within). After thoroughly gorging ourselves, everyone was prepared to knock out some solid miles for the trip.


With all the bikes tuned up, B2B riders amped to start, and the route extensively scoured, nothing seemed to stand in our way. Of course, even the best laid plans can fall prey to fate. The exceptionally well-prepared Muyambi had somehow misplaced the key. After all this preparation, it was agonizing to search the hotel top-to-bottom, especially because our endeavors were unsuccessful. Regardless, we put our trust in our ace-in-the-hole, Baker. When problems arise, who do you call? You call Baker. He’ll find keys, fix bikes, douse you with water, and show up with the much needed Rolex when you’re running low on energy.

Eventually, our ride got under way. No matter what each rider’s expectations were, they were blown out of the water. We started, right off the bat, with winding through the serpentine, traffic-filled streets of Mbale. Most casualties were avoided, but Eric’s sunglasses fell victim to an over-zealous Ugandan with a backpack full of tea leaves. Luckily, as far as casualties go, this is by far the most innocuous. With a blistering pace, we left the city behind.

With the initial adrenaline rush behind us, we were well into the bulk of our riding. While some of the riders were drafting within the peloton, John decided that now was as good of time as any to fulfill his single track obsession. With most of the group conserving energy for the inevitable hills to come, he was adroitly navigating the perilous walkways that lined the road. His death-defying bunny hops garnered raucous cheers from the locals.

With easily 25 miles under our belts (the miles weren’t easy, but the company was great), we decided to stop at a gas station to use the facilities. While Kevin schmoozed with the locals, Will and John were busy accruing numbers for Muyambi (we have been constantly in search of potential girlfriends for him). Jack, after efficiently emptying the tank, jumped on his bike and set a blistering pace. Sadly, as was pointed out to him by 50 heckling locals, he was headed the wrong way. Have you ever seen a 62-year-old blush? We have.

Obviously, everyone on the team realized that the biking was going to be challenging. What we didn’t realize was the amount of support that we would receive. Few things are more encouraging then a group of kids chanting “MZUNGU, MZUNGU” as you attempt to climb one of Uganda’s steep inclines. Out of all the sore muscles that the riders had at the end of the day, the worst were our wrists and cheeks from waving and smiling at the locals. Oh yeah, our thighs were pretty tender, too.

The ride was a helluva way to start out the trip. Each rider, no matter what his or her preparation might have been, was impressed by the challenge Uganda had to offer. Between the intimidating climbs, scorching heat, and ever-present cramps, we had finally made it to Iganga. Originally, this was our stopping point, but we thought (naively) that we could make it to Jinja. We took a much needed stop in Iganga and were surrounded by tons of kids who were excited to see what these exotic Mzungus were all about. Within minutes, we were enveloped amongUgandan munchkins who were clamoring to try out our fancy bikes (thanks to Kampala Cycling Club for these stupendous steeds). Few things revitalize the riding spirit more effectively than these kids who are so filled with energy and excitement.

Even though the sun was high in the sky, we knew that we needed to press forward to complete our route. Speaking of the sun, one needs only to look at Kevin’s body to see how it affected us. How would someone describe it? Well, just envision a fried chicken peddling on a bike, and that should give you a sufficient mental image. With Will leading the group, we kept an impressive pace and climbed the hills with confidence. As all of us will attest to, for every uphill, there is a downhill on the other side (and vice versa, except on our way to Masaka; I think that ride was entirely uphill). With everything going according to plan, the group flew down a hill with only a few miles to go. Ironically, our diligent safety lecturer, Muyambi, took the first tumble of the trip. The group can describe the fall in many ways, but “chicken explosion” seems to be the most fitting. Luckily, all was well with Muyambi (the chicken was halfway to Kenya when Muyambi rudely disturbed it), and we continued, with fading light, to Jinja.

Climbing our final hill (who am I kidding, these were mountains), we finally caught sight of Jinja. Baker expertly navigated the streets while protecting the riders from any wayward Boda-bodas. With his help, we reached our destination. Exhausted yet satisfied, we all plopped down in our seats and devoured vats worth of beans, rice, and chipaties. With full stomach and ache-y legs, we retired to our rooms, far too tired to think of the adventure that the next day might hold.

-Lauren & Eric Fohl

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