Since Jinja, I’ve been cycling on my wide knobby mountain biking tires. They are a bit tiresome on good tar, but give me a good grip when it’s muddy. “At least I don’t have any punctures,” I keep comforting myself when pushing my heavy bike on perfect roads. Some other riders have been busy fixing punctures incessantly, and I don’t know how they keep up their good spirits when their tires constantly let them down.
My energy levels—both physically and mentally—have been restoring overnight, and my cycling was going good again. I was no longer the slowest rider on the road, but about to catch up towards the front of the group again. The fact that I’d survived my diarrhea and managed to hang on to my EFI was a big relief for me.
A few kilometers before lunch, the road was under construction, but no major problem. We just had to navigate a few potholes. All of a sudden, however, I found myself riding on a flat tire! That tube had been intact since Cairo. I wouldn’t be able to identify the source of the problem, but a flat tire it was. No problem—having made good progress on the bike, with high spirits (just bought a new battery for my phone—see below), no rain and not far from lunch (i.e. access to a floor pump), I almost enjoyed the process of changing my tube.
A local guy had stopped and watched me all along. That happens quite frequently because we’re such a curiosity. Just stop, and people will surround you from out of nowhere. However, in this particular case, I think the chap was truly more interested in watching and learning how to change a tube, rather than simply staring at me. Happy to help and share my newly acquired know-how 🙂
Stage 32: Lake Mburo – Ruhanga (Uganda), 114km
Road & traffic condition:
After back-tracking the dirt road from Leopard Rest camp . . .
. . . mostly good tar with a wide shoulder.
Some kind of chicken broth/stew.
On a local note, check out these marabou storks congregating in front of the butcher—quite a curiosity, huh?!
Everyone in our group knows that Rob is cycling with Winnie the Pooh, his lucky charm. Rob is one of those people in our group who’re always friendly and happy to help. I owe him for my home SIM card that I thought I had lost in Dongola, until Rob picked it up from the side of the road.
Who would have thought that Rob gets to meet his lucky charm in persona today at lunch—this little Pooh bear has definitely caused some entertainment in our group!
We’re camping at Uganda Lodge tonight. The proceeds from the lodge are used to fund an adjacent school that focuses on farm children who otherwise wouldn’t have access to education. In the evening, the kids had prepared a special singing and dancing performance for us. It was very entertaining and nice to watch.
The school is constantly looking for volunteer teachers. If anyone is interested to do something meaningful during your next vacation, please contact Ann:
I managed to find a new battery for my Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone in one of the electronics stores along the way in Mbarara, a bigger town, for 50,000 shilling (about 17 USD). Now I can get my phone to work again. However, the problem seems to be not only the battery but also the connection inside. It’s still a bit of trial and error to get it re-charged, so I’m still glad that I’ve brought a back-up.
Lunch was kind of fun. The more the overall state of exhaustion of our group, the more entertaining lunch seems to be. Tallis was attending the lunch truck on Wynand’s behalf today, and Henry (TDA’s founder) was there as well.
“Never cycle without a helmet!” Henry shout after me as I was about to head off again.
Tallis shook his head in disapproval.
“Whoops, haha, thanks, that’s only because I usually never take off my helmet over lunch”, I defended my stupidity. I was almost back on the road when I thought I’d better re-check the directions.
“At what km was camp again?” I returned to the lunch truck.
“Alex, I’m really getting worried about you”, Tallis shook his head again in disbelief.
“No no, that’s just because I usually take note of the directions and have a photo, today I have neither”, I defended myself again. In truth, I was really feeling quite good and strong again.
“Just take it easy”, Tallis ordered.
I was still curious about the mud situation when cycling out of Jinja, and the kids trying to carry my bike for me. Here was my chance to clarify:
“Hey Tallis, so what exactly does it mean—EFI? You said walking is allowed, right? So suppose my bike gets transported but I still walk, would that count?”
“No, you have to be with your bike.”
“And what means WITH my bike? We had this situation the other day in the mud when the wheels didn’t spin anymore and the kids wanted to carry my bike . . .”
“Then you’ve lost your EFI already”, Tallis couldn’t care less, or perhaps was relieved that I’d be finally over it.
“No, no, because that’s what I feared, so I didn’t allow them to carry it. You can ask Leo, he was there as well . . . But that means, had they carried it, I would have lost my EFI?”
“Yes,” Tallis nodded.
“Ha!” I was excited that I didn’t go through all that hardship for nothing.
“But you know how I feel about EFI”, Tallis reminded me again.
“Yes, but it’s not about how YOU feel about my EFI, it’s about how I feel about MY EFI.”
“It’s about your health”, Tallis wouldn’t have me have the last word.
“Yes, but EFI and health are aligned goals. I can only make EFI if I stay healthy. However, racing and health are not aligned.”
“Yes, racing is crazy,” Tallis finally agreed with me.
I know it’s stupid and no one cares, but for me EFI is a major motivation that keeps me going and gives me a lot of satisfaction, especially after learning that my hard work was not for nothing! So that conversation kind of was one of the highlights of my day.
Amongst my other highlights, I’m also sleeping on a proper bed again tonight (though still very basic). I came in again too late to secure a room on my own. However, I got lucky because there had been a double-booking for another rider, and Wynand kindly helped me secure that second room. He knows I’m in dire need of some sleep and recovery–haven’t slept in a bed (nor had a good night’s sleep) since Dongola in Northern Sudan! Thanks Wynand, really appreciate that!!!
I was hoping to catch up on my blog tonight. However, fixing my tube from my puncture earlier, and yet another leak, would steal my much-anticipated free time until late evening—the pleasures of bike touring! 🙁