Going to an island has always been one of the many things on my bucket list.
I have always envisioned that my first time would be some sort of mystery involving unearthing an invaluable treasure in one of the forests on the island. And while at it, find someone on the same voyage with whom I get stuck at some point during our treasure hunt, only to find out later that we are soulmates and bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla…….you know how the story goes☺ – just like in the movies
In all this day-dreaming however, it never occurred to me that the first one I would go to would be Kalangala, especially after the FATAL BOAT CRUISE incident on Lake Victoria that happened a couple of years ago.
When Ultimate Cycling Club(UCU), the entity I had my most remarkable birthday treat with, put out an advert about a cycling tour in Kalangala, I hesitated a bit – I mean, anyone else that knew someone that died in that accident would get in a sweat about the voyage 😏
But my adventurous self didn’t let that drag as I knew I wanted to go, regardless of my fears.
“If I can ride on the northern bypass route daily, why not sit on a boat to Kalangala?!” I convinced myself as I made plans to secure my place to go to the island
I don’t need to tell you how I accumulated butterflies AS the weekend for the escapade grew closer.
Morning of departure, a chilly breeze that swept across my face woke me up as rain pattered on my bedroom roof
“Oh Goshhh Rain 😖!!!!” I remember not receiving that quite well.
Like it would make me change my plans, anyway🙄
Under the drizzles, I got on a boda boda to Bugololobi, the meet-up place before departure.
The idea, as I learnt later was to have all bikes loaded on the vans before departure, to arrive in time for the prompt ferry, plus of course, the drizzles.
Not exactly how I had envisioned my adventure to start, considering I was fully dressed for a ride.
Meanwhile, can I confess how I had the titanic replaying in my head as we boarded the ferry?
While there, as the sight of the water waves and conversation with other cyclists distracted my thoughts, the noisy bunch of hedonists on the level of the ferry below where we stood brought back the memories of how noisy the crew was before they met their demise.
Let’s just say I was both NERVOUS and EXCITED for this trip
Fast forward: we arrived safely, got acquainted with each other and rested in anticipation of our tour that was to happen the next day, Saturday.
The following morning, just like the morning before, was a cold one characterised by mild drizzles that I had hoped wouldn’t change anything about our adventure.
For me, it was the anticipation of navigating whatever mystery that was ahead of us using a gigantic bike, that kept me optimistic to go for the ride under whatever weather – this should tell you I learnt my lesson of not having an appropriate bike for mountain biking from a similar cycling adventure 😄
The plan was to have novices and the kids do the first 30 km and the regulars to go all the way for 75 km.
We started it off with a massive hill on the route to a museum, that I reckoned was a great warm up for the grueling terrain ahead.
The beauty about that part was most people were looking out for each other: an adept cyclist sharing gear-changing tips with a novice when on a hill; a dad cheering his child on to endure that part of the terrain as it gets better with time; and the guides making sure no single individual is left behind.
Through the rest of the route we comfortably rode, as we approached the museum.
There was quite a lot to learn from that place, that is; the history of how the place came to be called Ssese Islands; the gods that were believed to be present even up to this day, the explanations for different myths and the what not.
By the time we finished our visit at the museum, the drizzles that followed were steadily thicker than when we started our ride
The roads were mostly murram and that by all means meant cycling on a soggy terrain
While it rained, and we rode, I didn’t hear anyone complain about the rain.
I guess this was because people had come with the idea that there was no giving up under any circumstances – yes, even THE KIDS!
It was amazing to watch!
Fact of the matter is; there were issues of tire, muscle cramps and some folks getting in the van, but that didn’t seem to halt anyone from having an EXHILIRATING muddy cycling fest.
Under the pitiless showers on a messy route with beautiful sights, we cruised as that was where most of the fun was
Being under construction however, the forepart of our 75km – route had become close to boggy and impossible to navigate under that day’s weather
That by all means meant getting on an alternative route – a short cut – to the lake, it being our final destination
Because there was not really another route to explore, we had to go back – uphill on one of the most brutal hills I have climbed my entire life.
Downhill, easy-peasy – uphill however was THE FAIR COW of that day’s ride
This hill was something else, my goodness!!!
If it wasn’t for the strong quadriceps I have developed with time, the gigantic bike plus the mentality of course – as my roommate FLORA, from the trip emphasized, I don’t think I would have made it to the top without getting off my bike.
The next destination was definitely the hotel as folks were already chilled and the ambience then, emanated freshening up as the only beautiful thing to indulge in at that time.
Not me though, as I still had the zeal to continue another ride for an hour or two.
After an hour’s rest from lunch under the then clear blue sky, the rest of the team that wanted to do another ride set out from the hotel for a second tour around Kalangala.
We went about on our gigantic bikes, pootling around places we thought were worth visiting – with guidance of a local boda boda guy.
While we were at it, I saw a route that we didn’t quite explore and my adventurous curious-self wanted to be sure it was just any other route leading to a dead end – the lake – as we happened to ascertain with the other routes.
Into the unknown, I rode off as the rest of the team followed the boda boda guy.
As I tootled, I happened to enter a jurisdiction I later learnt was guarded by vicious-looking black and tan dogs
These on seeing me, went ballistic with intensely increasing incessant alarm-barks that were coupled with growling, while chasing after me.
Yooooooo, I thought this was it; the part where you wander off to an island with a bunch of adventurous colleagues only to be devoured by beasts, as portrayed in horror movies
I tell you solemnly that you DEFINITELY don’t want to be in that place!
But you know, there is something fascinating about adrenaline and being super prompt at producing the fight or flight response, as I experienced in that moment
The terrain being relatively inclined and my direction being downhill, I swiftly got my gears harder as I maneuvered through the rugged surface while cautiously braking as I navigated the bumps.
“What if the dogs catch you, b*tch better make some noise!” I thought to myself as subsequently screamed out for help, in vain though, as the place seemed deserted😬.
Luckily for me, the route led me back to my colleagues and I guess the dogs figured I was only a curious sweet wanderer😇.
Phewwww – LOCAL GIRL came out alive y’allllllllll
Back to the group, our last route was in the middle of a thick green forest with a cascade around the point we entered it.
I was PHYSICALLY seeing this in real time y’all, not on the LOVE NATURE channel.
The sights from there were actually reinvigorating; connecting with nature and the beauty it manifests is MAGICAL – especially for an uptown local breed like myself that only gets to watch this on TV
I kid you not, I felt alive and my extraverted-self could not help SCREAMING and WOO-HOOING as we rode through that last route.
My bike on our way back gave up but that didn’t come in the way of my euphoric feels at that time.
At the day’s end, we had a barbecue and bon fire to mark our last night out together as a team
This was summed up by game night attributed with LOADS of fun by the midnight crew as christened by Samson, a cycling bud I met from a similar cycling adventure to Jinja.
On the whole, this experience for me, was more than just catching a ferry to and fro Kalangala.
It was the beautiful sights that happened in the company of amazing people
The deep conversations about the things that matter with like-minded individuals.
It was watching a dad MOTIVATE his son climb a hill, an experience he can always look back to while experiencing adulting hardships.
Listening to a mother train her child how speak to strangers
But most importantly, connecting with a bunch of folks from all corners of the world and being able to establish a safe space in JUST 2 DAYS.
And that my friend, is what I refer to being ALIVE and in fact looking forward to experiencing such EXHILIRATION on another cycling adventure.
Happy to know what you think or your questions about this adventure in the comments below☺.