And I thought yesterday was hard

Today’s ride was for Nakyambadde Peninah and I needed her motivation every pedal stroke.

I was wrong about yesterday being hard. Even though we did a lot of miles, they were relatively simple and on pavement. Yesterday’s rain was cooling and the overcast skies made the day pretty comfortable. Today was a different story altogether! The sun was out the entire time and the temperature averaged 94°F. And the timing of our ride put us at the most difficult section in the harshest heat of the day. The first half of the ride was relatively simple. We had a good breakfast of coffee, eggs and potatoes and set off around 9 o’clock. We overshot a turn about 10 miles in and had to backtrack a bit on some dirt roads, which were lovely and provided excellent scenery and close proximity with the local farmers and school kids.

We had two main stops which gave us some time to connect with local vendors. One man went out of his way to get us some bananas and rolex and made sure our drinks were cold. The other stop seemed to involve an entire family who spoke Luganda so I was able to make some connections and of course, make them laugh. It always surprises them to hear that I am 50 years old and riding a bicycle. In fact, I have only seen three women so far riding a bike. I wish I could make it look as effortless as they do. But I somehow get covered in grease all over my shins within about an hour. Every.Single.Day.

I knew that the last part of today’s ride involved a significant climb up Mount Elgon. But I had no idea what we were in for. We climbed over 3000 feet in about 8 miles and I don’t think I have ever sweated so much in my life. My shirt and shorts were soaked through and my face was dripping on my shoes. I had to wipe the sweat off so much, that I ended up wiping off my sunscreen and ended the day with significant colour. It was so steep that I had to push my bike for a lot of the climb. Even John, who is the strongest man I know and can ride his bike in any situation for as long as possible and carrying huge amounts of gear, said it was one of the hardest climbs he has ever done. It was unrelenting, and just so hot… the kind of hot where your body sweats and has goosebumps in an attempt to cool off. I turned on some music to try to distract myself and thought back to our ride in Arizona when I had a meltdown in the heat. I reminded myself that the climb would end, that I knew I had a good place to sleep for the night, and most likely some good food waiting for me. But it was hard not to cry a little bit.

Thanks to the Millers, some good friends who gave us some money to spend on ourselves during this trip on whatever we needed, we decided to spend two nights in Sipi at a lodge near the falls. We are staying in a sweet little banda with a shared bathroom and we can hear the waterfall outside. They are providing great meals and tomorrow will be a day of much needed rest. We plan to hike to the falls and laze about. I can’t wait.

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