Distance Travelled: 95.6 km
Calories Burned: 4,801
Saddle Time: 7 hours, 27 minutes
Total Ascent: 2,142m (gross!)
NOTE: Sorry this is going up late, a cellular blackout in Rutana meant no internet to be able to post the blog!
Well, the dreaded 2nd day of the tour has come and gone! I think all of the 11 riders on the tour this year are feeling a little sore this evening as we settle into bed.
This day of riding is a unique one, difficult to train for*** and difficult to successfully ride. It begins and ends with two nasty climbs. After a nice easy 5 km to start off the day, comes 15 km straight of uphill, as we climb more than 800m in one go!
*** it also helps if you’ve had time to actually do some training on a bicycle, which wasn’t in the cards for me this time around!
I’m proud to say I made it up that climb, something I wasn’t able to do last year (I had to ride in the “Truck of Shame”).
I can’t say enough about how great it is to ride with our team. We have people here with all sorts of backgrounds; business, ministry, healthcare, first time to Africa, billionth time to Africa, you name it! That sort of diversity always makes for good conversation as the day passes on. It’s a little tougher to talk when you’re attempting to push yourself up a 16% incline (if you don’t know how steep that is, just understand that it sucks!), but the moments in between and the achievements of getting through those climbs throughout the day really make this ride one to remember.
I’m sure our rear ends and thighs will remember it for a while!
Building relationships here on the ride has made me think of the relationships we’ve been blessed to have found here in Burundi. Missionary families, coworkers, church members, fellow volunteers, it’s incredible how we’ve been blessed with such an amazing, loving and supportive group out here, and it really does feel like a family.
In talking with one of my fellow riders this evening, it came up that relationships and friendships don’t seem to be valued as much as they can be back home in the “western world.” It’s a natural side effect of the presence of so many other things that we attribute value to: Sports, TV, movies, school, materialism, etc. It’s not so much that relationships here are deeper or stronger (to say we’re not better at it), but that the absence and removal of the things that detract from that value allows it to truly be seen.
I also think of my lovely Nadine, and the special bond we share not just as husband and wife, but as best friends. The value of that relationship is made even more apparent as we suffer through the same trials and challenges together. I really do thank God for her, and for what the last two years have meant to us and our marriage.
Another rider gave his testimony, and he shared about how the breakthrough moment for him, when the Holy Spirit managed to change his heart from stone to flesh, is when he reconciled with his mother after 15 years of anger and bitterness. Not only do our relationships here on earth matter to us, they matter to God as well.
Today as we rode, the distractions really melted away, as I really just began to focus on “climb, climb, climb!” How often is it that we get to remove distractions and obstacles in our lives so that we can get to the items (read: people) of true value?
I’m crushed when I think about leaving my best buds here in Burundi. Someone I once idolized as a hero (and I still do), I now count among my closest friends. God gave me a best bud over a year ago when a guy our age showed up from the UK. God has given Nadine and I true family here, that extends beyond into the superficial and gets to friendship at its core, which is love.
I hope that you can take stock of the relationships in your life, and take account of their true value. Perhaps even there is a work that God wants to do in your life, and bitterness in your heart towards another is preventing him from achieving it.
Either way, I’m just so continuously grateful to God to grant me this privileged time of reflection. I have no clue if what I’m writing is utter nonsense or pure genius (I hope it’s not the former, pretty sure it’s not the latter though), but I hope something in here can reach you. I didn’t bike almost 100 km uphill for nothing after all!
Tomorrow, we go home to Gitega! It’s a nice short recovery ride, so we’ll have time to visit Shammah Health Center, Homes of Hope Orphanage, and Gitega International Academy (and my wife!).
Love you all, talk soon.