The Little Things

Today’s ride was for Namuga Agatha and Nagawa Aminah Scovia. I hope I get to meet as many of the kids as possible when this ride is finished but Aminah’s story is personally moving for me. I encourage you to go the Meet the Children tab on our website and read about what she wants to study and why.

After last night’s sand and chicken pizza, we crawled into bed rather later than usual. Because of the night club’s being directly below our room, we each took a tranquilizer pill, bought over-the-counter from a local pharmacy, to hopefully help us rest despite the thumping bass. I had just started to fall asleep when I had one of my common, but paralyzing, leg cramps. I yelled out in pain and John knew immediately what was happening and offered all kinds of assistance. Those of you who have ever suffered from bad cramps know that there is little anyone can do to help you. You just have to try to get into a comfortable position and wait it out. I was actually sobbing while covering my mouth to keep anyone from thinking that someone was being murdered in our room. I breathed through the dumb thing and eventually it tapered and went away with no repercussions for the rest of the night. Man, I hate those things.

Today we rode almost sixty kilometres and climbed 3100 feet. It was a relatively nondescript day as we crossed a number of mountain ranges. On the gravel roads we’ve ridden, they don’t tend to grade out the steepness of the hills and instead simply follow the contours of the land. So at times we were climbing grades of 12% or more, which is fine if you can let the speed open up on the way down the other side. Unfortunately, all the sandy, dusty, narrow and sharp corners covered in jagged rocks force us to clamp down on the brakes and lose a lot of momentum.

We did have more kids than usual run alongside us for incredibly long distances today and a few people took video of us as we rode by. At a pop stop, a young man was taking photos and selfies with us, trying to make his baby stop screaming long enough to snap a picture. He showed us the pictures and John was cut out of most of them. Hmmm. And I did have one rather emotional moment that was unexpected. I was flying down a hill with a good song playing in my headphones and a boda driver was coming up the hill in the opposite direction with a passenger who had a huge smile on his face and both arms raised up in the air cheering us on. He seemed to represent all of my family and friends who have been cheering me on from the start of this project and throughout this trip. It struck me with great significance that I am actually going to complete this ride. That I put in the training to be able to complete this ride. That I have a best friend who did everything in his power to make sure that happened. I was overwhelmed with gratitude, relief and felt the pure joy that comes not only from feeling a sense of accomplishment, but also the kind that comes from just riding a bike downhill.

I found today pretty hard and I totally blame yesterday’s ride and last night’s poor sleep. So fortunately getting to our destination in Bushenyi by 2 o’clock was helpful for recovery for tomorrow. With a little more time at our hotel we were able to meet some of the staff and spend some intentional time getting to know them. One guy that John connected with was the security guard named Moses. He is quite friendly, twenty-seven years old and had been working at this post for about six months. He is still single and supporting his mom. He’s an only child and his father died when he was only seven months old. His father was in the military and died fighting in the Somali war. Following in the footsteps of his father, he joined the military for a few years and is now really into working as a security guard. He was proud to tell us that he has seventeen goats and twenty-eight chickens. When John asked why he wasn’t caring a gun, he made it clear that he tries to talk to people during the daylight and help calm potential problems down with words. But at night he gets out his AK-47. So, of course, John asked if he used it very often. He shot back with unnerving ease, “Oh yeah, I’ve shot lots of people. I’m pretty accurate.”

“Why would you have to shoot at them?”

His simple answer was at night people snoop around. With that, John brought him a grape pop and a bag of banana chips and told him he was thankful and will sleep well tonight.

On hard days like this I am always really thankful for little treats. And I mean little. I’m sad to say that today I used the last of my Crystal Light drink packages, of which I’ve allowed myself one per day since the trip started. Even when it’s warm, the sweet and fruity drink just tastes so much better than water. I agonized a little bit about whether I wanted to save it for later, but I’m not that great at delayed gratification and thought it would be nice to have it on a day that I knew would be hot and have some climbing. Another little treat we sometimes allow ourselves is a candy bar. I brought four king-sized Salted Nut Rolls with me from home, a good salty choice with protein which won’t melt in the heat. I’m not sure that I shared any of them with John, but all four of them were gone within the first three weeks. So now we can sometimes find Snickers bars. I try really hard to make mine last at least over the course of a day, but sometimes my stomach is rumbling with hunger because we never stop for lunch and I wolf the whole thing down before anyone can see me. I know this sounds rather pathetic, but another little treat is wearing one of the two pair of socks that I brought. I find it a treat to wear the ones that have little flowers on them, even when they are dirty enough to stand up by themselves.

We have things down to a pretty standard routine once we have finished for the day. I go in and register, while John watches the bikes. We then wrestle the bikes into the room, sometimes up many flights of stairs. John takes a shower while I unpack a few things, claim the side of the bed furthest from the bathroom and get our devices charging. After we have both showered, we try to find some food. Most places we have stayed have a restaurant, some better than others. You might remember I mentioned that the menus are more like wishlists. So we find out what they have available and how long it will take. If nothing looks that great, or when not much is available, we get out our stove and make something from our own bags such as rice, Ramen noodles, or oatmeal. Tonight we enjoyed one of our best meals, an avocado salad, fish and chips, and chicken, while watching the Netherlands beat Sweden in the women’s FIFA World Cup. It was a great afternoon and I didn’t have to cook.