Baboons and blisters

Today’s ride was for Ssenyonga Eric because I knew it would be long and push my limits. This little man is special to me as he was one of the main inspirations for this project.

“Yeah, let’s get up at 7 and pack our bikes first and then order our breakfast to be ready at 8 so we have an early start – it will be a long day if we want to ride over 100 km.” Well, we didn’t receive our breakfast until 9:30 and didn’t get riding until just after 10. Such is Africa. We could hardly complain because Samantha (pictured below) was such a gracious helper and made us feel loved and special during our stay at the Harmony Guesthouse in Bulugi. And the breakfast of eggs on fries, although served cold, was delicious.

I was pretty worried about being able to do the miles required today in our push to get to Sipi Falls tomorrow for a possibly day of rest. I have never ridden so far before. The late start didn’t help my confidence but we wisely chose to ride the highway again.

What a good day. It was such a varied landscape and there was always so much to look at. It poured rain twice at which point we just found some shelter along with boda boda drivers and rested until the rains slowed. We stopped for a cold Coke and some water which we do every day after about 2-3 hours of riding and enjoyed joking with each other about once again being the spectacle. I rode alone more than usual today – either out front to get a head start or lagging behind after being dropped on the uphills. Or the downhills. Let’s face it – I get dropped no matter what. But today it didn’t matter. I rode my ride and made my miles and enjoyed myself along the way.

We saw our first “wildlife” today – lots of baboons who were lazily eating and picking at each other along side the road. It was pretty cool – I didn’t know if they would be aggressive or what so I just gave them lots of space. Like most other animals we have seen so far, they completely ignored us or just slowly moved off the road.

I have been so motivated by the friendliness of the Ugandan people. Today was no exception. If I ignore the whistles and inappropriate calls from the roadsides as we move through various communities, the encouragement has been non-stop from almost everyone. The truck drivers honk and wave, the boda drivers and their passengers almost always give a thumbs up and a cheer and the kids on the side of the road yell out greetings from surprisingly far distances. I even got a high five from an old man on a bike today. And one woman yelled out, “Hello, my sister!” From the back of a boda. Both gave me goosebumps and a heart thrill.

We rolled into the chaos of Mbale in late afternoon with one goal – find a safe and clean place to sleep and hopefully a cold drink. Mission accomplished. We found good accommodations with a restaurant and the most appreciated thing is the quiet. Towns in East Africa are loud and chaotic and after a long day of riding, it’s overwhelming on the senses and you just need to escape it. I had a couple of close calls with some traffic but feel pretty good about getting through these places in relative safety. John always leads the way and I just keep my wits about me as best I can and ride with confidence like I know what I’m doing.

Oh, the blisters. Yeah – can’t be avoided. Riding day after day in one of only two pairs of shorts can cause issues. I’ll let you fill in the details.