Total ascent: 2325m
Total descent: 3300m
Calories burned: 4502
Distance Travelled: 130.1 km
Average Speed: 18.1 km/h
Ride Time: 7 hours, 12 minutes
I feel drained. Just gutted out. What a day. We all thought day 2 would be our most difficult challenge. That looks easy in comparison to what we just went through.
It was our longest ride today. We did more climbing today than any other day. It was rough, but the team did great. All 10 of us rolled along into Cibitoke this afternoon safe and sound. Praise God. It was a tough haul getting there.
We thought today would be downhill. We were going from the mountains to lake level. We didn’t realize we had to climb over even more mountains to get to where we wanted to go! We started the day off with 10km of straight uphill, and thought the worst was behind us. Oh, the naiveté!
We had some wicked downhill turns today, tons of fun, but each downhill into a valley road meant that eventually, usually sooner rather than later, we’d have to gut it out of that same valley. It became a challenge just looking ahead and guessing which mountain we’d be climbing up.
That being said, we were rewarded with the best views and sights of the trip! The team stuck with each other, held it together even though we were all hurting, and we were able to enjoy a few moments of triumph together.
It was a hard day for me though. Right at the beginning of the day, I heard a new sound on my bike that shouldn’t be there, and immediately it escalated into a significant problem. For some reason, my rear gear cassette (where my chain sits on the back wheel) began to rotate forward when I wasn’t pedaling. This would cause the chain to slacken up and drop onto the bike frame. I reduced my speed, attempted to combat the slack by pedaling myself to keep the chain tight, but very quickly I was not able to keep up with the cassette’s forward rotation and my chain dropped, hit my front gear cassette, got wedged in behind it, and it ripped a chunk out of my carbon fiber frame.
My bike was done. No way I could use it with a cracked frame. I was devastated. Make no mistake, a possession is just a possession, but this hurt. It was a gift from both my parents and in-laws, a piece of home, that had made this whole bike ride possible for me. To be honest, I felt like I had a little piece of Mom and Dad, and my other Mom and Dad, with me on the entire ride thus far. To have that stripped away so quickly and suddenly just was a punch in the gut. I would have rather broken a leg than broken that bike.
Riding like this is so much more than physical ability, it’s a mind-game too. Mine was shot today. I still feel defeated in a way. Demoralized. We finished day six, probably the most difficult physical feat I’ve ever accomplished, and I just can’t bring myself to be happy about it.
We had a spare bike. A mountain bike. With suspension. I can tell you how fun that was, but I won’t. All I can say is that I’m glad I can still walk. Severe pain in my knees and in my arms still persists right now. What a day.
I had a devotion prepared for the men this morning. I was trying to give some inspiration for the tough day ahead. Turns out I was giving it to myself:
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
- Jeremiah 6:16
I’m still trying to find that “rest for my soul” part, but I still prayed to God for every single kilometer today, no matter how trashy I was feeling.
In a way, the ride finished today. We have a short haul into Bujumbura tomorrow, right back where we started. We started with 10 riders, and we’ll finish with 10. We even plan on having a time trial with the four riders who are most game for it (I’ll give you a hint, one of them isn’t me)!
We feel like we’re participating in a bit of history here. Nobody has ever done what we did this past week. I’m sure others could have done it better, but we were here, and we got it done. I’m proud of this team and happy to call them my friends after a short, but intimate experience like this one.
Thanks to all of you who have been praying, reading, sharing, and just supporting me. In a way you’ve encouraged the whole team as well.
I’ll give you a final blog update with our big celebration tomorrow.
We’ve been to Cibitoke before, and I’ve already blogged about it, but here’s some information on the area. It’s one of the most poor and disease-stricken provinces in the country. There are very few medical clinics that service this area and its population. Burundi Youth for Christ has a Homes of Hope compound here, just as they do in Gitega. They have an orphanage with 20 amazing children. They are opening a primary school this fall as well as building a medical clinic there. It’s pretty busy! They also operate a business that sells homemade baked goods, and work with the local churches and pastors to provide training and education for church leaders. Tonight, we went for a quick visit to Homes of Hope, and got to spend time with the kids, see the playground that is being built for them, and just enjoy ourselves. We were greeted with a fantastic song and dance put on by the kids, some of them not even 3 years old yet! It was a great, uplifting way to end the day. Nothing like the smile of a child to make you forget you can barely walk.
Enjoy the photos, and God bless you! Please share!