The definition of a road in Uganda can be loose. Misleading by nature and deceiving in technicality. And the terrain these roads traverse hides disobeying lies in their challenge. The people surround them, the traffic kareens about, the mountains pile behind one another and the destructive infrastructure leads to days and days weeks and months of pedaling where nothing but pain is all there is to feel.
The Trans-Uganda is brutal. The mountains stretch to the sky and the desert plains ache past the horizon. You bake in the sun and drown in the tropical rains. You choke on humidity and eat the same Chapati for hours miles days mountains and weeks. You will find food poisoning while running from dirty water and plastic pollution. You duck into markets looking for fun and find stabbing poverty. It’s everywhere, and all the while it prods at you with an open palm and puppy dog eyes. “Give me money Mizungu.”
The Trans-Uganda is impossible.
I couldn’t do it.
But here I am…
But here I am because I found beautiful, effusive life in its most desolate corners pulling me out and over to the next one. The route drags through countless communities nestled into mountains and under waterfalls, bordering the Nile and reliant on Lake Victoria. It invites single shack markets and bustling, flowing street markets both teeming with ripe fruits and guttural laughter, cheap beer and good conversation. It flounders with commanding vistas, sweeping forests and towering volcanoes where you push your bike and get lost in sweeping beauty defying reality.
I rode 2,300 miles in Uganda. Some with Ugandans, but most alone where the isolation let me sit with the world by day and by night made me wrestle with whatever it stood for that day. I met passionate people and listened as they talked intimately of their home. A world historically defined by injustice, corruption and war. But now love. A commonality of love for their land, their neighbors and their families. For God and for country. For new beginnings.
The Trans-Uganda is brutal. But it is this brutality that means you must love it. You must give the Trans-Uganda everything you have to give, because it is only when you sit on the shores of Lake Victoria and look back at 2,300 miles of incredible pedaling that you truly understand what you are capable of. That there is so much more to what you know back home and more to your ability than you understand. That underneath a tie and slacks lives a beast waiting for a true fight.
The Trans-Uganda is a chaotic blissfulness.
The Trans-Uganda is a true fight.