DAY FIVE

Muyinga to Kayanza

Top Speed: 86.1 km/h (new team record!!)

Distance Travelled: 109.8 km

Calories Burned: 3640

Total Ascent: 1875m

Average Speed: 20.7 km/h

What a journey this has been. I just want to take a moment and thank everyone who has made this possible for me. My parents, Dean and Melissa Edwards, United Cycle in Edmonton, and each one of you who has donated in the name of the Tour du Burundi. God bless you!

Day Five, done! What a day it was. The challenge here is monumental. Burundi is a land of hills, mountains and valleys. They do not build bridges. They do not build tunnels. They build roads that go up and down and around. I think we’ve done over 7 kilometers of total ascent over the past five days.

Good news is I’m getting better up the hills, and beginning to find my strength. My back is holding up, and we’re stopping every 10km as a team to stretch, strengthen, fuel up, and get back on the saddle.

I know I sound like a broken record, but all ten of us reached the finish today. It was a tough, tough slog for Dean. We had some monumental climbs today, and that is what taxes his knee the most. The good news is Dean’s rear-end hurts the least out of all of us riders, but that’s because he spends most of his time out of the saddle. He’s an absolute machine. If he hadn’t injured himself on day one, he would be leading the entire pack of us for sure.

Every day we go through our highlights as we eat dinner. We had tons today. We had some monumental speeds, as three of us broke 80 km/h, and I crushed a downhill at the beginning of the day and hit 86.1! Don’t worry Mom, I’m fine!

But there were tons of good memories. Jacques, our cook, preached to a group of 20+ men on the side of the road, and almost every one of them lifted their hands when they were asked if they wanted to accept the good news of Jesus. Next year, we’ll definitely make evangelism a priority for the Tour, and hopefully I’ll be able to join in speaking fluent Kirundi.

This group of men is fantastic. There was one point where five of us were pushing each other up the last hill of the day, each with his right hand on the back of the person to the side of him. It’s hard to describe what that feels like to be a part of.

Burundi is beautiful, and the scenery again today just blew us away. And the up and down of the roadways here is challenging, but fun. If it sounds like I’m bragging, it’s because I am. If you’re jealous, shoot me an email and ask how you can get involved next year.

The road we were on today took us past Busiga, a commune where there is a small population of Batwa. Batwa are the smallest tribal group here in Burundi, both in terms of population, and actual size. They are commonly referred to as pygmies. Here in Burundi, they are viewed as the lowest of lows, a group that sits just below the definition of human. Harvest for Christ, a Burundian-led organization here, has been working with this group of Batwa for 3 years now. Nadine, Dean, Melissa and I had the opportunity to visit Busiga a week ago and experience their work in the village.

Batwa live an average of 27 years. They have little knowledge of agriculture, health, and finance. They eat maybe once a day, typically only on a diet of burundian sweet potato and cassava, which are mostly stomach-fillers, with little nutrition. As a result, children who appear only 3 or 4 years old will turn out to be 8, or even 10.

Harvest for Christ works with the Batwa population of Busiga providing agricultural training, new housing, and gives porridge to each child under the age of 7 in the village. We were truly humbled by our experience there, and want to share a glimpse of it with you through some photos.

Tomorrow was listed at 83 km, but we just found out today that the route is 132 km long. Darn it, google maps! It will be our longest and most difficult day of the tour. Good thing it is at the end, when we’re all knackered (as my new British friends would say)!

God bless you all, and I look forward to checking in with everybody tomorrow!

Josh.

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