I’ve been back home in sunny Lancashire for almost a fortnight since finishing what was the most difficult challenge I’ve ever done. Cycling 3600km in 47 days through 10 countries on a second-hand bike I bought for £80 sounds like something you would watch on one of these adventurer documentaries, and to be honest, the highs and lows from the trip could probably fill an hour or two of National Geographic air-time.
It still hasn’t sunk in that I’ve done it. The challenge was just a little idea that popped into my crazy brain before drifting off to sleep one night early in February, and by April, I was in Athens with a mixed bag of emotions that only compares to the first day of High School. Now that I am writing this, it’s the first time I am looking back through the photos since I finished and I can honestly say it was both the best and worst adventure I’ve ever been on. It had incredible moments of pure bliss almost like meditative cycling, taking in every view, to demoralising lows of having a bent wheel on day 2, having my bags stolen in Croatia half way through, being alone and away from friends and family for so long, wild camping, puncture after puncture etc. But it’s moments like… making best friends with a little puppy that slept in my tent and followed me around, or local children giving you a drink of water or sweets to push you on after a hard hill, or cycling with a smile on your face knowing that this is going to change peoples lifes, or knowing that this was my way of paying my respects to my best friend and our leader, Herbert Niwagaba, that made it worth it. What a journey.
There were a lot of times that I questioned whether I could do it or whether I had bitten off more than I could chew. There were moments when I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, especially during the first two weeks of hill after hill after hill. But I have to say, for me, it would have been harder to quit that carry on; and now that I have finished I can say it’s incredible to realise what you can do when you put your mind, efforts and energy into something you are passionate about… And I’m talking about the Zuri Project and Herbert, not cycling. I don’t really like cycling.
The challenge managed to raise over £2500 in total and everyone at the Zuri Project just wants to thank every single one of you for your support. Now that I am sat here on a soft bed, back home having raised this huge amount, I can say the pain, chaffage and lows were totally worth it. This is going to go a huge way to completing the single largest project that we as a charity have supported; in the completion of the first ever Secondary School in the community.
The support was overwhelming on the cycle, you all pushed me on and were with me every hill, every km. And the ‘Hens 2 Amsterdam’ laughs were getting me through some tough times. But I have to say, whilst I was putting in the effort on a painful 10cm seat for just shy of 50 days, it’s Ross that works tirelessly, as always, without recognition, behind the scenes on co-implementation and co-designing how the funds will be going to give the opportunity of education to hundreds of children, eager to attend school and learn. It’s his dedication and also that of the Team out in Uganda that ensures The Zuri Project continues to support the projects. To be honest, it wasn’t just the news of how much had been raised that kept me going during the cycle, it was also the exciting updates that I got from Ross every few days on how the funds are going to make a difference in the community where we work that got me through weeks of rain, 10 hours of cycling a day and weeks of chaffage. And now that I have finished it is really exciting to see what’s next for The Zuri Project Uganda! Especially with the Zuri Cafe and our ventures into coffee, along with the Summer Ball and 3 Peak’s in 12 hours challenge fundraisers on the horizon, so stay tuned.
I would just like to say a final thank you on behalf of myself, Ross and the whole Zuri team both in the UK, Australia and of course in Uganda! We couldn’t do it without you.
So, I really hope you enjoyed following the cycle and now I hope you are just as excited as we are to follow the completion of the Secondary School!
The cycle was dedicated to my brother, my best friend and Zuri Project Leader Herbert Niwagaba.
May his legacy continue.
Together we can make a difference!
If you would like to donate, you can still do so via this link… https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/6164
If you would like to check out the blog I wrote during the cycle here it is… Athenstoamsterdamblog.wordpress.com