Our last day of riding. Wow. I can hardly believe I’m saying that. It was for Namaganda Scovia and it was a short one – only 35 kilometres.
John woke up with a sore stomach but he was able ride it out. I even thought to myself, “He’ll be fine once he starts riding. He’s always good when he’s riding.” And he was. Vincent and Luke met us on a motorcycle and leapfrogged us all the way from Mityana to Kasanda. He took photos and video of us riding during various parts of the ride. It was so good to see Vincent again and he just kept shaking his head in disbelief that we had travelled 2200 kilometres around the country on bicycles in 30 days of riding. You couldn’t wipe the smile off his face, except when he tried to lift John’s bike. “It’s so heavy!” he kept repeating. John told him it was because of all my beauty products. In truth, my beauty products consist of a tiny tube of deodorant lotion, a few hair bands, and a razor. I haven’t washed my hair once (don’t judge – I try to rinse it well on most days), and I caved and bought toenail polish today because mine is so bad and I have to wear sandals. They didn’t have my choice of colour so I let the teenage worker at the shop choose a colour for me. So now I will have purple toenails, a first for me.
I have embraced the abnormal and you can see the toll it’s taken on my body: biking in Uganda is a great weight-loss program. One tends to edit her approach to life while on a long ride like this. It’s like sandblasting your thoughts. I hope that life becomes simpler after this ride, not more complicated.
The ride today was the shortest of the trip, and it felt great. It flew by. Riding into Kasanda was surreal. There was a boda boda driver who was in front of us, honking his horn like we were in some kind of parade. We followed him to the hotel and there was about seventy-five school children (a few of our Get Schooled students scattered among them) and their teachers lined up on both sides of the gravel highway cheering us as we rode in. As soon as I saw them, my heart swelled and I burst into tears. We rode through them as they cheered and then turned around and rode through again to give high-fives all down the line. They were so kind and sweet and I felt like I was in an ocean of awesome when we all shared a group hug. All the pain, sweat and tears of the journey were entirely forgotten in a moment. And I am so proud of John and so very thankful for him. He sacrificed so much to get me here, keep me safe and make sure I was successful. And it was never lost on me how hard he had to fight to get back to the place where he could do this after his accident. I am blessed to have such a humble, courageous, forgiving, strong, wise and adventurous man in my life. I can’t even tell you.
The ride was too short to sort through all the emotions I’m feeling and I know that will take time. Stay tuned to our blog this week as we continue to sort through the emotional journey now that that the physical one is done and share our final celebration with you. I’ve told many friends that I fully expect to be a bit depressed when I come home. That feeling of emptiness from yesterday can’t be shaken off so easily. But today I felt as if I was being pushed from behind (which I literally was at one point when three schoolgirls pushed me up a small hill). I had flashbacks of training on my fatbike in the snow when I couldn’t feel my hands and feet and this day felt so far away. I reminisced about certain songs on my “Uganda 2019” playlist that fed my hope of completing this accomplishment and helped me embrace who I was made to be. I remembered getting the call about John’s accident as I watched him push the pedals up a hill in front of me, wondering about his grit and determination. I thought of my kids and the strength I get from watching them flourish as adults and rested in the knowledge that this mama has made them proud. I was reminded of an email I got from a dear friend right before we started that said when things feel difficult on this trip, it’s only because I am “carrying the weight of all the people who love me” and “the burden of 54 children whose lives might be changed.” I have thought about her words so often at various times of this journey and it has kept the pedals moving. And today? It felt like all the weight was dropped, the burden laid down and the dream accomplished. Thank you for doing your part to make that happen. I am so grateful for each of you, for the encouragement you’ve given and your belief in us.