Cycling at Night in Kampala: A Lesson and Triumph in One Night

Adventure!

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 ?!

Potholes on one of the roads I use

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.

Going home. PC: Lucy Namuli

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😅

How I showed up for the dinner

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

Ouch!

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!🤗

12 Comments

  1. Nze ndaba buy a torch and stick into the bike 😂😂
    Anyway growing there were those bicycle headlights I didn’t know how they worked then never really cared but when I think about it they could have been powered by the dynamo!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha that was on my mind btw. I just haven’t found the right glue!!
      I will hit the market once more just to use the last sentence in your comment to see whether they are in extinction!
      Otherwise, what are you doing awake at this time?!😳

      Like

  2. hahahaha you really need to get a headlight lol or atleast those LED flashlights with straps which you can put on your head hahaha or wrap around the handle bars
    Laughing a bit too much on the comment about finding the right glue I think what you need are wires and cable ties to secure the torch thats actually an easier or doable quest than finding glue ha

    What ever happened to those lights with dynamos??? hmm you might have to buy from the internet and wait for them to ship

    I went jogging at one night and my final thought to that was that only fools jog at night in a street without street lights, I sprained my ankle in a pothole

    ~B

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha flashlight with straps on head, wow! Not bad though, just never thought about it!

      I’ve been thinking about the option of securing the flashlight somewhere close to the handlebars using cable ties, just haven’t got the right flashlight that will be stable on my bike specifically.

      I imagine getting one shipped would be equivalent to buying myself a whole new bicycle with a headlight!

      Ouch! Sorry about the ankle and thanks for the thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. you may want to check out places that sell those lights that are clipped onto helmets like for miners for a headlight hahaha

        good luck with the flashlight search

        hahahaas for online you are right it might cost like buying a whole new bicycle but you could keep an eye out for the Black Friday sale some places give upto 90% discount

        ~B

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Flashlight on my head, hahaha just not yet sure how that would work actually considering it would be up in the sky(I am that tall while seated on my bike). The light might be too dim by the time it reaches the actual ground I want to see while I ride. But I am definitely thinking about it as something worth trying out – or even blog about😁

        Blackkkkkkk fridayyyyyy, you are right!!!! Might use that opportunity as well

        Great ideas for shoooooo!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the zeallll
    …As for the headlight….I think u can try the one as if for miners….😉i think someone has talked about it up there..
    Otherwise big ups to the helpful strangers who show up at just the right time..😄😄….That bajaj guy…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks thanks!
      I am in the process of getting me one that a friend recommended and yes, those strangers have a special place next to Jesus, Angel Gabriel and Angel Michael

      Thanks for passing by, boo!

      Like

  4. Hahahha, had so much fun reading this, was so anxious though at the part of the boda boda guy, thank goodness it ended in one piece.
    If you should feel even the more applauded, I can’t even ride a bic in a compound **** crying emojis*** I honestly fear for people riding on Kampala streets though.
    Be safe mama!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, thanks love for passing by!

      How can I proudly say I am your mummy if you cant ride a bike.😪 Riding in Kampala is safe if you’re very cautious and infact, would be super fun for a personality like yours.

      Thanks for passing by 🙃😊

      Like

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