Masaka to Mbarara

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

On Day 4, the B2B team tackled the 85 mile stretch of road between the town of Masaka to the town of Mbarara.  We were all thrilled to wake up at 5:45 AM and a quick breakfast of rolex breakfast burritos got us on the road at 7:15 for the day’s ride.  Over the first three days, we rode and drove on roads in various states of repair from the potholed, suspension-ruining roads in northern Uganda, to dirt ones that are under construction throughout Uganda, to the perfect roads that are starting to spring up everywhere.  Luckily for us, and more importantly for our butts, the road to Mbarara was in fantastic condition and made for an enjoyable ride.

Setting a good pace through the hills at 13 MPH, we stopped for a break at 12:30  with only 20 miles left in the days ride.   While Uganda has many amazing qualities, the most incredible thing about Uganda is its people.  Whether you get a flat tire not 2 miles into the ride on Day 1 and have a whole village help you out, or people willing to share whatever food they have, or just a friendly “Jamba” (hello!) in the east, the people never disappoint.  During our lunch break, a small group of children gathered across the road to cheer the team on and when it was time to do some streches, they helped us out with that too.


Western Uganda, as opposed to the eastern half, has many more hills and depends more on ranching than on growing its food.  Riding on the road, you can see cows grazing off in the distance, and in some cases, the cows are hanging out on the sides of the road making the ride just a bit more interesting.  Although it has more ranching, banana growing is universal across Uganda where people grow many different species of the common fruit.


With a short twenty miles left to ride, we though that it would be a little easier to deal with, but the distance and the hills were starting to get the better of us.  At our short break, the group couldn’t help expressing the way our bodies felt.


The group pushed on and shortly after 3:00 PM, the team rolled into Mbarara excited to finish the ride in the daytime and have plenty of time to explore.  We checked into the Romax Hotel with the help of a few friends, showered and set out to explore the town.  Mbarara proved to be a lively place filled with traditional open air markets filled with all sorts of fruits, vegetables and goods to buy.


We stopped into a brand new supermarket and were surprised to find it looked similar to those found in the United States which is a stark contrast to the markets we had found previously in the trip.  While several of the group split off to find a source of internet (very hard to come by, we had come to find out), a group of us spent the rest of the day with our adopted rider Jon getting a tour of the city.  Mbarara appeared to be a well off city compared to others in the country with nicer roads, big parks where kids could be seen playing soccer, volleyball or relaxing in the shade.  We walked by a construction site and coming from a construction background, there were many differences in the way the contractors in the United States operate versus their Uganda counterparts.

Jon told us that wood that is cheap by American standards which would be used for formwork, shoring and bracing is expensive in Uganda.  Workers in Uganda instead use posts cut from trees and use many more to make sure that everything is safe for the workers.  Passing by the main town green we saw a statue that depicted many symbols and values associated with the Ugandan culture.

After a nice meal at the restaurant next door, we all settled in to rest for the next days ride.  Day 4 was an amazing ride and as the journey moves one step closer to completion, our thoughts about the current state and future of Uganda continued to evolve and grow.  Uganda is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people doing beautiful things.  From the farms in the east, to the ranching fields in the west, Uganda has proven to be an incredibly resourceful society that wastes little and appreciates what they have.  Yet, they are working towards a higher standard of living by rebuilding roads all over Uganda and building new homes for the people which could lead to even greater things.    Let’s see what Day 5 of the ride will bring as we continue on to Kabale.

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