Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Aftermath of the Tour of Rwanda

The Tour of Rwanda ended a week ago tomorrow.  If you're not a follower of Team Rwanda to bring you up to speed...we won...BIG.  We took first, second and third in the General Classification.  We won three stages and took home the top team.  It doesn't get much better than this.  We did what we came to do.

I'm not sure if it's due to the drama the week preceding the Tour of Rwanda, the chaos of the event itself, the crashes, the sickness, the aggressiveness of the crowds, the three stolen iPhones, the one stolen pair of Oakleys off Jeremy's face after the final stage, but I have struggled with why is a sense of joy and celebration completely void in my world.  There is simply nothing....

I am proud of our staff and coaches who led these young men to victory.  I am proud of the boys themselves who pulled together after walking out on strike a week before the race.  I never thought we would do what we did.

Why then do I still feel...empty?

Throughout the entire tour I was praying we could simply keep it together.  I had no idea whether the team was still a team, we didn't have one 8 days before the event.  It was the proverbial wait for the second shoe to fall.  It didn't.  

We also had always finished with our complete teams.  This year we didn't.  Ephrem ended up in a crash on Stage 2 which caused yet another concussion, his second in two months.  He raced another 3 stages before being pulled by the race doctor.  

Valens collapsed after Stage 5, 166kms from Musanze to Nyanza.  In the race Valens came to our car and said, "Coach, I am not okay, no power."  Sterling just told him to hang in there.  In a show of solidarity his teammates, Bonaventure, Janvier and another Team Rwanda Karisimbi cyclist all gave Valens a much need hand to the back, a slight push, to keep him with the peloton.  In the end Janvier and Valens were both fined 20 seconds for the push.  We didn't care, that's just what these guys did to help their ailing teammate.  Unfortunately, Valens passed out for over 20 minutes at the finish and although he recuperated over the next couple of days, his Tour of Rwanda was over.  The 2014 Tour of Rwanda champion was finished.

On Stage 6 from Muhanga to Gisenyi, a very controversial crash happened only 800meters from the finish taking out Patrick and Joseph Areruya.  We heard it come over the radio.  Luckily it was in the 3km rule so as long as they both finished they would be awarded the same time as the group they were in.  When we got to the scene of the crash, Joseph was already gone, Patrick, however, was on the sidewalk with the doctors already attending to his gaping wound on his head.  Patrick was sitting 4th in the GC.  He just needed to finish and he would retain his time and position.  And so he did....

As the week went on, the pressure built as we had held the yellow jersey since Bosco's record breaking Prologue win on Sunday.  Finally, on Stage 7, Bosco sealed the win by riding away on the rain soaked cobbles of Kigali.  Stage 8, the final stage, simply became a formality.

And then...on a rain soaked Sunday in Kigali, around a 10 lap 12kms circuit, Team Rwanda won...again.

At the finish all the staff worked to protect the riders and the bikes from a crowd that had simply gone mad with enthusiasm.  Frankly, it was scary.  There was no Team Rwanda staff at the protocol to celebrate the win as they were all trying to find riders and bikes and keep the crowds at bay.  The Rwandans all celebrated and we collected transponders, found bikes, escorted riders to a waiting car....we did our job.  

And then that was it....

In the end I wondered why had no one even taken the time to simply say thank you.  I struggled with that immensely.  I know this is my job and I don't do it for anyone other than, in the end, the riders, but nothing...

And then today, Mr. AM read me this from Oswald Chambers:

We have a tendency to look for wonder in our experience, and we mistake heroic actions for real heroes. It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us. If we are not looking for halos, we at least want something that will make people say, “What a wonderful man of prayer he is!” or, “What a great woman of devotion she is!” If you are properly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the lofty height where no one would ever notice you personally. All that is noticed is the power of God coming through you all the time.

And on Monday we start camp again....


  1. Congrats on the awesome results! Unbelievable.

    Nice post as usual, I love it when people wear their hearts on their sleeves. Reminded me a bit of #4 in Tegan's blog post:

    Hope you guys all still doing well. We'll keep following the miracle.

    Love from the crazy cycle touring family
    Stuart, Di, Teg and Carly

  2. Thank you for all the insights. And please be aware it was a great thrill to know - from twitter - while I gave my kids breakfast in London - that Bosco was ok and then had won. We don't know the half of what you are going through but, if it helps, a lot of Rwandans and Friends of Rwanda got a lot of pride and happiness from the team's success particularly after all that went before.
    When you get time please update us on the injured cyclists - tough for Valens to win one year and then not finish this time. And also sometime what do you think about road safety and bikes sharing roads with cars? As cycling increases in London there are more (and bad) accidents. On my rare visits to Rwanda I wonder if driving is getting any better?

    1. Thank you for your encouragement. Valens is fine. He did some bloodwork which all came back negative so all is good. We have some very exciting announcements coming in the next few days so watch our Team Rwanda FB page and/or Twitter. Driving is actually getting more dangerous in Rwanda, sadly. Too many inexperienced drivers. Good roads which are good, however, people then drive too fast. PLEASE, should you visit Rwanda, come see us at Africa Rising Cycling Center on the Kinigi road 4kms from Musanze. We would love to meet you!

    2. Might come to Rwanda this year. Trips are normally taken up a lot with family stuff - umugore wanjay numunyarwandakazi - but in future we hope to get around a bit ourselves and it would be a thrill to come and see you. I regard trips to Rwanda as stressful but your later post on 48 hours is mindblowing - not sure how you cope with it all - beyond me anyway.
      Great to see Bosco winning in Cameroon and it seems some new talent coming up to follow our four new pro riders. Keep up the good work. And all the best.

  3. Thanks for the great piece of insights, your guys did a great job that no one would express in words enough on the final day, I guess that why no one come to say thank you. Hahahhaahaha. Your article reminded me of one of my Favourite quotes. " It's amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn't matter who gets the credit"

    1. Thank you Ivan...PERFECT quote! Words to live by.