Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Team Rwanda Training Camp Week 1...1.5

It's already Wednesday night of our second week of camp.  I was hoping to write about camp each week.  One of the reasons I need to write more often is that so much happens in one week, one day, one waking 12...18 hour period that if I don't it piles up and writer's block sets in.  It's more like writer's panic as to which story should I tell.  I have said before, never have a lived a life like this where every night when my head hits the pillow I marvel at the thought that it was only one day.  How possibly could that much happen in one day?  I'm a week and a half into our 2012 Season and I'm thinking, how did that all happen in the last 10 days?

We started our first training camp of 2012 last Monday, January 9th.  We had thirteen riders, veterans Kiki, Obed, Nathan, NicNic, Gasore, Rocky, Emmanuel "Boy" and Abraham, more about him in a minute.  We also have our newer riders some of whom rode in the Tour of Rwanda in November, Jacques (who now writes his name as Jock) and Kadona (super new kid), and Tour riders Emile, Janvier and Joseph, the winner of the final stage of the Tour.  This year started off very differently.  We came off such a great training season prior to the Tour and then incredible success at the Tour.  The riders stayed in shape and trained during their six week hiatus and all came back ready to amp up their training and eager to learn more about the effects of nutrition and their new found love of yoga on their racing.  Everything seems easier, in a typically exhausting way.  We have limited camps to only 13 riders for economic and staff bandwith issues.  We continue to live in four month financial increments and we do it with only the three of us.  This time, however, the rider's have definitely pitched in more, especially the veterans, teaching the newer riders.  

Abraham is back and he's makes us all happy.  2011 Abraham spent most of the year off the team and only returned shortly before the Tour.  It was a tough year for him emotionally and financially.  For us, it was hard to watch him battle the forces around him.  Finally, near the end of the year he came to us and asked for another chance.  This is Rwanda, Team Rwanda forgiveness is granted.  This man has a story that I believe no one has ever really heard.  I think he still battles demons.  He was a teenager during the genocide, he lost his first wife to a mysterious death and then had to put their newborn up for adoption.  Abraham is stubborn, more stubborn than anyone I have ever met, that is probably what has saved him in the long run.  But, Abraham seems very different and he is here and he is laughing, riding hard and embracing yoga, he is the total team player again.  He has the best laugh.

Obed, Kiki and Nathan are all leaders.  It is so comforting to watch them handle situations that even two years ago, we would have to deal with.  Tonight Nathan led the stretching class.  We used to call it stretching and then when our volunteers extraordinaire Mel & Jess started leading "yoga" in October of last year, the boys latched on to it and now I'm teaching 45 minutes of yoga every evening.  Very happy I had all those yoga classes in Kenya last year and a handful of old DVDs.  

Janvier is excited about heading to South Africa to train for two months in February and March.  He also just bought a new house for his family from his Tour winnings.  Today we got his passport!

Rocky is well, Rocky.  He got his glass eye, he still kills it in the sprints every day during training.  He is the jokester of the bunch, his English improves daily and he finally can touch his toes in yoga.  Today he was riding "wheelies" in the lawn at the Team house on a mountain bike and biffed it.  I just shook my head and told him no more doctors (he has major dental issues we're still dealing with).  He just kept laughing, all the riders watching him were laughing saying, " is finished!"

We spent the first couple of days last week laughing at all the pictures of Joseph's win where he collapsed in a spread leg position immediately after the finish line.  He had never seen the pictures.  At first I think he was embarrassed but then really, how could you be, it truly was the funniest finish ever.  Don't think Lance Armstrong has ever had such a classic finish!

The riders come in on Monday afternoon.  They train Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and leave Friday morning back for their homes throughout Rwanda.  After their training rides we have lunch, our team meeting, 2-3 hours of down time and then yoga, core workout, dinner and then bed.  We generally head to Kigali on Friday's for supplies and then regroup Saturday, do all our paperwork, accounting, admin on Sunday and we all start over again on Monday.  It's week two and camp fatique has already settled in.  

My days start at 6:00 making breakfast for half the group, then helping with rider testing, slamming out emails, coffee, coffee and more coffee, feed the dog, the cat, make sure Felix knows what he needs to do for the day and has money, get the laundry off the line from the day before.  Get the Cytomax made, the water jugs out, bananas, find my bike, fill my bottles and try to find my clothes in the pile of 13 rider kits.  I usually roll out right before the boys, sometimes with them depending on how brutal I want my ride to be.  I get home about an hour to an hour and half before them, grab a shower, do my marketing/logistics work, make the hard boiled eggs and recovery drink right before they walk in.  When they get in from their training the riders have it down.  Within 10 minutes I have a bucket of dirty kits, and the riders at this house are already in and half way through their showers.  I get the laundry started, head to lunch, sit in during the team meeting, yes, the riders all want to know how my training was and why they dropped me on the hill.  I did attack them today on the flats!  Then back to the house by 3:00, try to do some writing, you can see that's not going so well, get the laundry out on the line, thank goodness for dry season.  Then answer all the questions, "Kim, can you print a picture for me?  Kim, can I use Facebook? Kim...."  Then head to the Team house for 6:00pm yoga and stretching, 7:00pm dinner and back to work at my computer by 8:15pm.  Welcome to my glamorous world!  I would not trade these days for anything.  Today during yoga, when Nathan was leading the class, I just thought about how far we all have come, that we really are building a sustainable team.  I am so lucky to work with these guys.

But, I'm tired....very, before you armchair internet quarterbacks throw in your two cents about, "Why don't you not ride and save a couple of hours a day?"  I ride for two main reasons, my sanity and freedom from my bitchiness for those around me.  The third would have to be respect.  Respect from the riders that I know what I'm talking about when it comes to cycling and that I'm willing to train hard for no real reason.  Not like I'm going to be starting a racing career at 45!  Plus, they see I do that and take care of them.  It ups the respect factor in a traditionally patriarchal country. 

The best thing lately on my training rides has been the women.  The women walking along the roads I ride.  The young girls are generally quite obnoxious and sometimes even rude, but the older woman, the ones hauling 50 pound bags of potatoes on their heads are my biggest fans and I am theirs.  They always make my day when they see me coming up the road on a long climb and they're looking and looking and then they smile and wave and cheer, Komera, Be Strong.  Lately, we are starting to pass each other at the same time and place every day.  They make me thankful for growing up as a woman in America and to never take my lot in life for granted and hopefully I show them that women can do more than haul potatoes.  That we all have opportunities.  I love these women.  

The regroup Saturday last weekend was not so much.  Monday came again too soon and here it is Wednesday.  One more day of training and then Friday back to Kigali.  Tomorrow NicNic goes back to the dentist in Kigali and Janvier goes for the first time.  I truly opened a Pandora's Box in the dental arena with these riders.  After Janvier we might need to take a break, a financial break!  NicNic goes to the hospital on Friday for xrays on his ankle he broke in the 2010 Tour of Rwanda which continues to plaque him.

Next week we have a Dutch journalist from South Africa coming along with a photographer.  Philip Gourevitch is also going to stop hopefully for a day or two to catch up with the team.  NicNic will go one afternoon (3 hour off road round trip) to a doctor in Butaro who just happens to be an American Foot/Ankle Orthopedic Specialist living in Rwanda and working at a Partners in Health Hospital.  We went there the first Wednesday of camp to take a Brazilian ER doctor up there to meet Dr. Geoffrey Tabin who was here doing cataract and cornea transplant surgeries.  She had heard of us from the Tour of Rio, small world.  We also have a real yoga instructor coming to teach some Rwandan girls to be yoga instructors.  Our boys will be the guinea pigs for a few nights.

If this blog seems like story arrows shot from all directions, it's because it is.  I seriously can't even remember everything that's happened in the last 10 days.  I guess the most important thing, however, has been the announcement of Forest Whitaker as the narrator of our Team Rwanda documentary which hopefully will be premiering in the US in April.  Keep your fingers crossed and I will keep you posted on when and where.

6:00am comes is finished....oh, and I haven't even told you the story of Celestin, our new cook.  For another day....


  1. So what do the riders have for breakfast and what does the dog have for breakfast please?

  2. In the Rising from the Ashes excerpt the music is not Rwandese #justsaying