I think it was as my kidneys felt like they were going to explode out the side of ribcage that I thought about what I was actually doing.
I was cycling downhill at a good pace after having just finished a fourth mammoth climb for the day at km 70. The reference to my kidneys was because the road I was riding on is more of a volcanic mountainside than a road but it is technically on a map and called a road.
So the summary of the facts at that current position as I rattled down the ‘road’ not being able to feel or control my hands, feet and kidneys I put together these realities:
- My arse was coming off a 35km torture from the day before as I cycled and carried 20kgs on my back without panniers, trailer or any other form of cycle touring gear
- My bike is a 20 year old Japanese mountain bike bought for $80 in Kampala
- It is a ladies bike (small frame), has no suspension and gives me 15 gears to use
- I don’t have any riding equipment like clip in shoes or padded bike shorts
- I’ve decided to cycle from Kabale to Kisoro in Uganda and then to Rwanda and 500km around this new country to me
- Rwanda is known as a land of a thousand hills – I can certainly agree with that
So in brief I am riding long distances on inferior equipment in some of the hilliest terrain on some of the worst roads BUT I LOVE IT and I am certainly taking on the Polish winter mountaineer’s motto of: ‘positive suffering’!
However the people and villages I pass in this part of Africa still face much greater challenges each day and not by choice. It is the learning I have received from them and their resilience and resourcefulness that inspires me and makes me continue to incorporate their mentality and get-on-with-it-happily actions (forced I must add in their situation) in to my own lifestyle.
I enjoy being caught in between two worlds –
- The developed world where I am considered a nutter who is riding a crappy bike, without padding on my arse on some of the hilliest and roughest roads around; and
- The developing world, where I get looked upon as a nutter who is wasting energy and doing this for fun when they have to face greater challenges, each day, forever and without choice
I think the more resilience we have the more complete and useful we are to ourselves and to others. When resilience isn’t there we make such a big deal out of trivial and small problems and when there is too much resilience you have to face not having enough to eat, can’t access clean water, have no health services and no means to make an ends.
The developed world has a lot to learn in resilience as it usually only comes naturally to us when forced upon us like in natural disasters.
I kind of hope my stupidity (my idea of fun) can be a stepping stone for people to understanding and put it into perspective of those who live their entire lives in A LOT more hardship and without choice as I ride pass them with my kidneys ready to jiggle down to my feet.
Luckily I got to ice my sore arse with my cold water bucket shower in the evening 🙂