African GLO Tour 2018
26 May - 1 June 2018

David's Daily Blog

Day 1   |   Day 2   |   Day 3   |   Day 4   |   Day 5   |   Day 6   |   Day 7

Welcome to the African GLO Tour 2018, a seven-day 777 km fundraising cycle around Rwanda in aid of Burundi, one of the poorest and most malnourished countries in the world, struggling to recover from civil war and genocide.

Over seven days, fourteen cyclists - Charlotte, Hank, Hugh, Joe, Kiki (from Team Rwanda), Kyle, Mariko, Mark, Phil, Sara, Simon, Tyler, Wesley, and myself - are riding 777 km and climbing 14500 metres (or 47,500 feet, in old money). Rwanda is known as the Land of a Thousand Hills with good reason. We are being accompanied by Tallis who takes amazing photographs (see below).

Here is the daily schedule.
Date From To Distance Ascent
26 May Kigali Musanze 102 km 1890 m
27 May Musanze Gisenyi 64 km 732 m
28 May Gisenyi Gitarama 144 km 2835 m
29 May Gitarama Kibuye 80 km 1402 m
30 May Kibuye Cyangugu 118 km 2591 m
31 May Cyangugu Butare 145 km 3353 m
1 June Butare Kigali 128 km 1981 m


The tour is organized by GLO, a remarkable charity pioneering the transformation of Burundi. Burundi is still in crisis and, for the past year, I have been raising funds for GLO. Every day they work selflessly to promote peace, advance education, and enable social enterprise through community outreach initiatives.

The response has been simply terrific and, so far, over 120 supporters have donated more than €13,000. I am immensely grateful for your amazing generosity.

Every donation makes a huge difference so, if you would like to make a donation, please follow this link to a Just Giving account where you can find out more about Burundi, the work being done by the organizers of the ride, GLO. I am paying all costs myself so everything you donate will go to the Burundi fund.

Please remember that any donation - even €5 / $5 / £5 - will make a difference to the lives of these people
so please consider giving something.

Bike for Burundi - Please Sponsor Me!

Day 1: Kigali to Musanze
102 km; 1890 m ascent


We've arrived in Musanze. It was a tough ride. My legs were fine but my lungs suffered. It's probably the after-effects last 'flu over the past ten days. The altitude didn't help I'm sure as most of the ride was between 1750 m and 2250 m. I felt okay when I got to Musanze but then discovered we had another 6 km uphill to get to our accommodation and suffered the dreaded 'bonk', i.e. zero energy and nothing in the tank. So, lots of rice tonight and then a good night's sleep after posting this blog.

Anyway, that's one day done. Tomorrow is an easier day, thank goodness, and then a really tough day on Day 3. But, one day at a time, and I'll remind myself of Gimli in Lord of the Rings: "Keep breathing, that's the key. Breathe".

Here is the ride on Strava.

The team before setting off (photo credit: Tallis Woomert).

And here is some video footage of the ride today.

The beginning of the first climb.


Down and up.


Cool rider.


Chasing the group from the top of the second big climb.


Descent from the second big climb ... though a village.


Descent from the second big climb ... through sweeping bends and a glorious straight.

Day 2: Musanze to Gisenyi
64 km; 732 m ascent

Lying in bed this morning contemplating the day ahead, I heard the one sound I didn't want to hear: rain! Most roofs here are made of tin or zinc so when it rains, you know about it. The so-called long rainy season was supposed to end a few weeks ago but it has lingered on and clearly it's not over yet. The rain wouldn't affect our climbing but it would make descending very tricky. In the end, it stopped before our departure and, a few sprinkles notwithstanding, kept away. Once we crested the one hill we were climbing today - this is the easiest day of the seven - we had a glorious descent to Gisenyi on Lake Kivu.

Tomorrow is a much tougher day and it begins by climbing back up that hill we enjoy descending today. Nothing comes for free.

Here is the ride on Strava.

The team at the start (photo credit: Tallis Woomert).

En route (photo credit: Tallis Woomert).



Reality check ... having trouble overtaking the local velo taxis!


Food stop on the climb.


We hit a 9% gradient and it shows.


The rain almost stayed away.


Rwanda - the land of a thousand hills.


The descent to Gisenyi.

Day 3: Gisenyi to Gitarama
144 km; 2835 m ascent

Today was hard. We headed back up the hill we descended to Gisenyi and then turned right to Gitarama. There were many 11% and 12% sections on the initial climb which was a bit of a shock to system as we headed off at 6:30. The climb was approx. 30 km followed by a 10 km descent to the turning. What followed was an amazing - challenging - 100 km ride through beautiful countryside. Sadly, I was too distracted to take some videos; when you whole focus is to "keep on keepin' on", (thanks to Georgina for sending me this) not much matters other than turning the pedals. Still, here are a few video clips from the early part of the day.

Here is the ride on Strava.

The first ascent with some fans


This is what bicycles are really supposed to be used for.



(photo credit: Mariko).


David and Mariko ... 1 km from the end ( photo credit: some nice person in Gitarama).

Day 4: Gitarama to Kibuye
80 km; 1402 m ascent

A shorter day today, thank goodness; sitting down is becoming an issue! It wasn't helped by some of the worst roads yet on the tour. The videos below will show you what I mean. It mean't progress was slow. That big hill was actually harder than I anticipated. Nevertheless, we all arrived safely and the views from where we are staying (at the top of a hill, naturally) are stunning; see the photos below.

Here is the ride on Strava.

The first descent of the day ... watch out for potholes (little did we know what was coming later in the ride).


And watch out for the gutters.


The vista at the top of the climb.


The road (and the drivers) deteriorated badly and then improved at the end ... but watch out for the bamboos.


First stop (photo credit: Tallis Woomert).

Team photo at the top of the climb (photo credit: Tallis Woomert).


The view from where we are staying tonight.

Day 5: Kibuye to Cyangugu
118 km; 2591 m ascent

Today was really tough - the hardest so far. The route was beautiful, if you like scenery, but the continual ups and downs were challenging. A real lumpy route. My legs are getting tired and sitting is getting no easier (chamois cream helps but there's only so much it can do). The last big climb had a false summit so here were mind games at play as well. We arrived and I'm now contemplating the route tomorrow - by far the most difficult of the seven - and having to climb back up the hill I just descended into Cyangugu this afternoon, just to get the day going. Tomorrow, there will be pain and anguish, of that I am certain.

In the meantime, here are some clips from today (at 4x speed). I've also added an extra one to yesterday showing the route into Kibuye and the - shall we say - challenging road surface. It was exacting because you never knew what was around the next bend.

Here is the ride on Strava.



Day 6: Cyangugu to Butare
145 km; 3353 m ascent

I wrote last night that "there is no other way of putting it: this day is a brute." Well, I wasn't disappointed. The first hill was a bit of a shock to the system but nothing compared to the second climb through Nyungwe forest. What I wasn't prepared for was the difficulty of the traverse across the top of the mountain range and even less so for the last 30 km into Butare on a road under construction, comprising totally of sharp crushed rock. Unfortunately, by that time the battery on my video camera had run out and I couldn't record the desparate surface. The consensus among the other cyclists is that this surface added an extra hour and a half to the ride. Nevertheless, we all arrived safely, but not without accidents. Mariko took a nasty tumble after hitting well-camouflaged speed bump on the road under construction and Hugh came down too. As you'd expect there were several punctures and it looks like I have a slow puncture too so I'll have to fix that before we depart tomorrow at 07:00 am.

Here is the ride on Strava.

If only the roads were like this at the end of the ride (speed x 2).


Since I was focussing so much on riding today, and not paying attention to getting good shots, let me share some photos that were taken by Tallis Woomert who has been our photographer for the tour, riding ahead on a motorbike, keeping us posted on the whereabouts of other cyclists when necessary, and taking stunning photographs from some amazing vantage points. I'll post more of his great photography in due course.

Photo credit: Tallis Woomert


Photo credit: Tallis Woomert


Photo credit: Tallis Woomert

Day 7: Butare to Kigali
128 km; 1981 m ascent

Day 7 - the final day - was a long 130 km ride back to Kigali. It looked innocuous enough but there was quite a lot of climbing (1808 according to my Garmin) so it tested my legs and a few other parts of my anatomy! It was a ride of two halves. The first half to Gitarama / Muhanga was a glorious 80 km ride of super roads (after the last 30 km yesterday, these roads were particularly welcome). The second half from Gitarama into Kigali was nerve-wracking because of the traffic. You'll get some idea of it from the videos.

Here is the ride on Strava.

Here it is on Relive.


Super roads for the first 80 km (speed x 2).


The arrival back in Kigali (speed x 2).


It is all about the bike! This is what got me over those hills. Those of you with sharp eyes will see I bought it at Wolfi's Bike Shop in Dubai. I want to say thank you to Wolfi, Gaby, and Robert at WBS for their great support over the past several months leading up to this tour and for their great advice on nutrition: those protein shakes after every ride made a big difference.


We're done!
Back row, left to right: Kyle, Wesley, Mark, Hugh, Joe, David, Simon.
Front row, left to right: Hank, Mariko, Phil, Charlotte, Sara, Kiki, Tyler.


And finally, bearing in mind that the whole point of this cycle to raise money for GLO to help the people in Burundi, I am delighted to tell you that we raised approximately $90,000 in total. Of that, almost $16,000 was donated by you, the 130 very kind people who supported me over the past year. Thank you all again for your amazing generosity.

I have been saying all along how much impact your donations will have but, to close this blog, I'd like to give you two concrete examples to make this statement more real.

$6 pays for a child to go to school for full month: buy her or his books & uniform and pay for a daily meal. The meal is crucial: without proper nutrition, cognitive development is impeded. Also, without the meal, parents may not be willing to allow the child to go to school because they often see the meal as the main benefit.

$1000 buys a pregnant Friesian cow that provides an income for an entire family and their neighbours: selling milk, selling grass to feed the cow, transporting the milk, and various the other services. It creates a small ecosystem for that community. Over time, the owner pays back the capital from the profits and then that is used to buy a cow for another family. A friesian cow is easy to take care of so the children don't have to mind it and they can go to school. It's a win-win all round.

Thanks for joining me. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did and you have not already donated something to support GLO and the people of Burundi, maybe now is the time.

Any donation - even €5 / $5 / £5 - will make a difference to the lives of these people
so please consider giving something.

Bike for Burundi - Please Sponsor Me!