If you know me, you know I am the one person that will try out almost anything just because well, I love to be alive and trying new things is one certified recipe for great results.
I have my limits though!
Riding at night for example
Before I started riding, I considered folks that rode their bikes at night super crazzzzzyyyy
I mean how much can you hate your life to decide to ride with the LOWLIEST OF VEHICLES which NEVER come with HEADLIGHTS, on roads with SEVERELY DEEP POTHOLES dominated by BIGGER VEHICLES – all BUSTLING to get the Johnny-on-the-spot title on reaching their destinations ?!
In fact, I assured my mom (who is btw very very very concerned that I ride a bike) that “HELL NO, mummy, why would I do that? It’s insane!”
But here is the thing, NEVER SAY NEVER
Its until you have a proposal submission deadline at 6:30 pm that you realise, you would rather be worried about hitting the submit button before the deadline, than what time the sun will set.
It has happened to me before.
So yes, I am one of those very insane cyclists I once thought I would NEVER be
And as of now, I have mastered my route back home well enough to ride with my eyes closed.
I thought that’s as far as my insanity would go
Till my friend’s birthday dinner happened, when I cycled at night through a route I had not explored before
And today I will give an account of what initially was a pitiful situation, gave me the most unforgettable cycling-night of my life, so far
My friends and I had earlier planned to take one of the guys out for a surprise dinner on his birthday, at a fancy restaurant in Kampala
Regarding transport, I had my options clearly laid out: either go with my bicycle and get to the after-party venue with it or catch a bodaboda to the restaurant and get a lift to the after-party venue from one of my friends.
The dinner was meant to start at 4pm and I had some errands to run around town before the event so you know what choice I went with
MY BIKE, DUDE!
It was the most convenient choice considering I wasn’t in the mood of spending on just running errands
Plus, the dinner didn’t require “actual” dinner clothes
So yes, my boyfriend jeans and a crop-top were FLY enough for the PARTY!
Tiktok on the clock, it was a half past three – a few minutes before the dinner could start.
I got onto my bike to head for Karveli Restaurant as I continuously reminded myself, “I have ridden at night before!” just to ignore any thoughts that tried talking me out of using my bike
Also, I do love to be eccentric sometimes – yes I won’t deny!
And from my experience of cycling, being a regular female cyclist in Kampala is regarded as one remarkably eccentric and unconventional thing.
So you can imagine, I considered ascertaining if I will be viewed as that, at this fancy restaurant (For the sake of being a researcher and a tinge of being adventurous😄)
And yes, just like I had imagined:
I got those otherising stares from the entrance guards at the entrance and even the people in a Mercedes Benz I had parked next to.
I could attribute the attention to my height and my flamboyant look – happens to me every other day and please don’t argue with me😅
But, I am more convinced it was really the bike, as Karveli is one of those places I believe is frequented by tall girls that dress like I was dressed that day
Cutting the story short to get to the actual adventure, my friends and I had a fun evening attributed with catching up, eating delish food and cake, singing and taking loads and loads of photos.
When it was time to head out for the after-party, everyone convinced me about how it was too late for me to ride at night and how my bike would fit in one of the cars taking us to the after-party venue
And by everyone, I mean EVERYONE
The car we are talking about was a Subaru!
I must say, its interior seemed spacious to carry my bike
However, after myriad efforts of trying to fit the bike within the boot, we came to terms with the fact that it was never going to fit
And I mean, I was already feeling guilty for having my bike become an inconvenience at that time and a stumbling block to the next big hang-out, for everyone.
You might also be wondering why in the freaking world, I have to be such a fanatical cyclist that I brought my bike that day and put everything on a pause just so everyone makes sure I am comfortable.
Well, one: I mentioned it being a convenient mode of transport for running my errands earlier that day
Then two: I envisioned I would eat a lot (which I did) and cycling would be a catalyst for cutting down the food
Lastly, that was a test for my friends – which they past! 😃
Considering that one went on to offer to ride the bike instead of me, as he considered it risky for me to do so at night.
That was sweet, right?!
Not as such, because well, in my head I was thinking, “okay, I know Jonah didn’t mean to be sexist but what difference does it make if he rode it instead of me?”
Plus, I had occasionally ridden at night and I was not sure if he had done so before and so I trusted me more with my bike at night.
Eventually, I went verbal about my latter thought as Lucy attested to it since we sometimes part ways from work, at nightfall.
After pragmatically reasoning it out with Jonah and Lucy that I can ride at night, I got on my bike and assured the crew I would ensure to reach not so much later than them – even when most of them still thought it wasn’t a good idea
In fact, this gave me more zeal to prove them wrong
Onto the road, I swayed 😎 – I find myself doing so when in high spirits!
From Karveli, I headed out for the route I use from work and this time round not getting off the bike when I approached the hills I usually consider unmanageable – such is the power of adrenaline and zeal combined.
I mean I had a target to hit: to reach as early as possible and also prove how good I had gotten at cycling, let alone at night
Meanwhile we are talking about 7:30pm-night not 11 pm – I know my limits (seriously)
The ride was as smooth as it could be as I not only had my route lit with street lights but also tarmacked, which cut from Karveli to Lugala (a village close to the village where the after party was)
The actual terror started when I got onto the rugged terrain off the main road that for the most part, had no lights
It was the longest intolerable bumpy ride I have ever had my entire life!!!!
Potholes and darkness on a bike is not something you want your worst enemy to experience!
And trust me, bumping into a deep pothole is like a stab to the part of the body that makes contact with the bike’s seat post – VERY DISCOMFORTING
In that moment, I swore, “NEVER WILL I EVER RIDE MY BIKE AT NIGHT USING A ROUTE I AM NOT ACQUAINTED WITH!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Good for me, right?
Not yet! 😛
As I continued through my horrifying journey and giving myself the “you-can-do-this-Brenda” pep talk, a miracle happened
Not an actual one per se, but in that moment, it was the most impossible thing I expected to happen
A bodaboda came from behind and out of the blue, decelerated on getting beside me.
“Of course, he is going to blurt out the “usual” comments I get!”, I thought to myself as I considered to be heedless to anything he said
Meanwhile, it was about 8 PM and there were pedestrians on the road, so I wasn’t worried about him getting physical with me (in case it popped into your mind)
Anyways, surprisingly or not surprisingly, the rider goes like, “WOW, good for jogging!”
Not sure whether to contemplate what part of jogging I was doing or just digest the statement as a compliment, I just decided to go with the latter.
“Thank you!” I replied
He goes on, “I am happy to see you riding a bicycle, let me light your way…. hopefully you are going to Sentema road”
Yas dude yassssssssssssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I wasn’t that verbal about my excitement of course, in an effort to stay COOL😎😄
But given the jolting experience as a result of the potholes in darkness, his offer deserved more than just a Yes
A huge thank you and a great conversation about cycling is what I gave in return as he lit my way to my next route that was better lit and tarmacked.
Better still, I reached the venue before my friends who of course applauded my guts and attributed their tardiness to traffic – clearly they need bikes!
From that day, I learnt my lesson – trust me!
I don’t remember if I have dared to ride through a new route after dusk, ever again!!!!!
And yes I know, I need me a head light!
I have since been searching for a headlight for my bicycle but in vain and I am at the stage of making one myself
Your feedback about this post and recommendations for how I can DIY a headlight are very much welcome in the comments below!🤗