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UNOFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE CYCLING REVOLUTION Issue 64 August 2010

Unlikely Uganda by Emma Scragg


A bicycle tour through Uganda that kicked off Back on the mainland we headed west, away
with a ride on the back of a scooter-taxi to catch from the capital Kampala, towards Uganda’s south
a leaky fishing boat across Africa’s largest lake west corner and the Rwanda border. Our route
promised to be a unique adventure. And it was. mostly avoided main roads with eighty percent
Our journey across Lake Victoria took three of our riding on dirt roads peppered with the
hours and unlike an infamous previous trip, occasional singletrack. When arterial roads were
the weathered Dutch captain remembered to unavoidable, we experienced African traffic
put the bungs in this time. Pulling up on the from the safety of Sabrina’s belly. When cycling,
shore of Bulaga Island in the Ssese archipelago, the main hazards were potholes, rocks, over-
we celebrated our safe passage with a swim enthusiastic children and the odd chicken.
and cool beers on the beach. Chef and keen Alas gentle terrain seldom lasts forever. On
mountain-biker Manu prepared the first of the second cycling day we left the steamy
many delectable camp dinners while we were lowlands for the cooler, more temperate hills –
introduced to a line up of generous dome tents known as Uganda’s Switzerland. Our campsite
– our homes for the next fortnight. Later our at Lake Bunyoni was almost 2000 metres high.
fearless leader and owner of Escape Adventures, The lake stretched its watery fingers between made camp, we were also lucky to spot a pride
John Etherington, described in more detail the steep slopes patch-worked with intensively of lions hunting.
route and adventures that lay ahead. farmed crops and small mud villages. The The last four days in eastern Uganda were far
My cycling companions comprised three Poms, next morning, along steep and winding dirt less wild. Life was dominated by espressos,
two Canadians and a Kiwi with ages spanning roads, we made our way slowly through the fruit smoothies, luscious cakes, internet cafés,
20 to 70. The support crew along with myself, folded landscape towards the border town of relaxation and a bit of cycling. We crossed the
an Australian, made a total of eleven. It was a Kisoro. Beaming children in dazzling pink and equator (an obligatory photo stop) as Sabrina
diverse and entertaining group of travellers. blue uniforms called to us “Wazungu, how are carried us towards Uganda’s adventure capital,
Normally an independent cycle tourer, I slipped yooooooooou?”. Jinja on the Victoria Nile. The gushing waters
easily into the comfort of having someone else Neighbouring Rwanda enticed us with the attract foreign money and plenty of confusion as
design the route, negotiate permits, hunt ‘n’ promise of meeting our Darwinian forefathers, adrenalin junkies and the good-willed live side
gather and carry my gear. the gorillas. Apparently the first group of cyclists by side. Our rest day options included r ‘n’ r in
to cross the border for some time, we received the city, rafting some of the best white water in
Uganda did not feel overly threatening compared the world, or helping out at some inspiring local
to other parts of Africa I have previously visited, a warm welcome from the officials. News of
our arrival spread quickly and on the highway to community projects authored by
yet we enjoyed an unconventional safety in www.softpowereducation.com
numbers. Whenever we stopped curious locals Ruhengeri we felt like Tour de France stars. The
would materialise and observe us with an road was lined with enthusiastic fans, waving Our last cycling leg took us around the fringes
unwavering intensity. Tricky when you’re busting. and shouting “bonjour” while stretching out their of Jinja on hidden singletrack. John guided us
We found that the group could conveniently palms to be slapped as we passed. through a labyrinth of mud huts, local meeting
distract the spectators while those in need found We were not disappointed by the substantial places and plantations of banana and cane.
privacy behind a nearby rock or tree. cash outlay required to obtain permits so we A lot of fun but all too soon we were back at
could visit the gorillas. One mesmerising hour the banks of the Nile, somewhat improbably
Our first day’s riding allowed a pleasant reunion piling our bodies and bicycles onto a long boat
between our bodies and bikes, with all the with a family of 14 on a forested slope of the
Virunga Volcanoes made our overnight diversion paddled by one man. It was a hilarious albeit
usual mechanical and physical teething issues. slightly precarious crossing. However it softened
Children shouted and waved at us while into this mountainous nation unforgettably
worthwhile. us for an even smaller vessel that took us to our
truckloads of men cheered, or perhaps jeered. last stop, the secluded and totally idyllic Hairy
Over and above their friendliness we were Back in Uganda, we pushed north towards Lemon island retreat. The perfect finish to an
undeniably alien with slinky clothing, helmets Queen Elizabeth National Park. Villagers inspiring trip.
and mud-splattered white skin. swarmed us to check out our shiny bikes. Disc
brakes, shocks, gears and computers fascinated Uganda and Rwanda, both with unfortunate and
Getting off Bulaga Island necessitated another bloody histories, may not be the first nations to
boat journey – this time on a heavily overladen them. So different from their own ingenious
wooden bicycles... Flintstone-style wheels spring to mind when planning a cycling holiday.
ferry. Like most public transport in East Africa, However, both have bounced back from their
the maximum load stencilled on each bus, boat fashioned from tree rounds held together with
old planks, saplings and vines. tragic pasts with the same optimistic gusto
and truck is actually a challenge, to be at least and enthusiasm with which they greet tourists.
doubled whenever possible. This trip was no Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo National Parks Bicycles are highly valued and versatile tools
exception as our support bus ‘Sabrina’ was offered typical African sunbaked landscapes of in East Africa. Travelling by bike provides an
somewhat precariously squeezed on. Like Dr fever trees and grasslands. The ambient grunting instant connect with the locals. I can’t think of a
Who’s Tardis, ‘Sabrina the Bike Witch’ was a larger- of nearby hippos made for a memorable evening better way to experience these two spectacular
than-life essential on our tour – constantly on our at the end of that day’s ride. Deceivingly cuddly, nations.
tail and ready to offer sustenance for the weary, these lethal animals demonstrated their raw
shelter from rain or protection from wild animals. power late that night as they chased each other
past our tents. At a fighting weight of around The Nitty Gritty
two tonnes they are frighteningly fast on their Uganda is 10% smaller than New Zealand but
feet. Fortunately, that was our first and last close with almost seven times as many people. It
encounter with one of Africa’s more dangerous offers a colourful diversity of culture, abundant
animals. friendly faces and rich, tropical landscapes.
Cycling through Uganda’s National Parks was English is the official language in Uganda; French
exhilarating with buffalo, baboons, grazing in Rwanda.
zebra, Ugandan kob, impala, giraffe and Emirates offers the most direct routes from
warthogs in attendance. With a mixture of Australia or New Zealand to Entebbe via Dubai.
trepidation and excitement we crossed damp Options abound from the UK.
elephant footprints at one point. Sabrina
John at Escape Adventures made the trip fun
was always close behind the peloton as an and practical. Sadly Uganda is no longer a
emergency refuge. Butterfly alley was a before- standard offering but they offer trips to Kenya
you-die magical wildlife moment – a stretch and Tanzania from June to October.
of damp dirt road where our whirring wheels www.escapeadventures.co.nz
stirred up clouds of butterflies. Just before we
UnderGround is published by Ground Effect, PO Box 4536, 10 B Tussock Lane, Christchurch, New Zealand. Phone +64 3 379 9174 ernie@groundeffect.co.nz www.groundeffect.co.nz
Ernie’s Tech Tips Trail Tales
According to legend, Jack Kerouac wrote his seminal road trip novel ‘On the Road’ Accessibility
in just three weeks, on a continuous 36 metre scroll of paper that he cut to size and • Gravity Downhill Club Kapiti has leased a
taped together. We can now reveal that literary scholar and eBay shopper Ernie has substantial chunk of local forest and is busy creating
discovered a previously unpublished manuscript of the sequel ‘On the Road Skills’ a network of shuttle-access trails ranging from fun
where Kerouac applied his caffeine-addled brain to the art and science of navigating ‘n’ flowing to steep ‘n’ fast. Ground Effect helped
the concrete jungle on two wheels. cover the costs of building a bridge over the
shuttle road, and provided trail building books
On the Road Skills to enlighten the workforce. Being private land
The bike is a great tool for getting around town. But many of us have developed bad and mindful of liability issues, access is restricted
habits that add risk and annoy drivers – which in turn adds more risk. The wisdom of many to signed and paid-up members. Descend on
experienced commuters and advocacy groups is summarised here. Some may seem dhkapiti.weebly.com to join or lend a hand.
counterintuitive but don’t be tempted to cherry-pick those that suit – the approach only works • Mackenzie Country locals are busy developing the
as a whole not in isolation. Lake Tekapo Recreational Park. Located within
1. See existing forest 1km from town, the intention is
Traffic awareness is your first line of defence. Take a continuous stock take of what’s around to foster a range of activities including mountain
you. Glance over your shoulder every ten seconds or so – your peripheral vision lets you see biking. Ground Effect chipped in for the hire of
what’s back there with only a minimal twist of your head. some rock crushing equipment and donated a set
of trail books. Check it out at www.ecan.govt.nz/
2. Be Seen advice/recreation-and-parks/lake-tekapo/Pages/
The most frequent ‘learner’ mistake is to hug the kerb. It feels safe tucked away from speeding tekapo-regional-park.aspx
cars but it’s actually quite a risky place to hang out. Drivers seldom wait for an appropriate
place to pass. They’ll squeeze past as soon as they can without altering their course – often • With the drought officially over in southern NSW,
dangerously close to you. Better to guard your lane – about a metre into the road – away from the Eurobodalla Cycling Club is now fighting a
car doors and the assorted hazards that linger in the gutter. Occupy the centre of the lane losing battle with the sudden explosion of foliage
when you are able to travel at the speed of the traffic or if it feels unsafe to be overtaken. Move threatening to swallow the Maulbrooks Mtb tracks.
to the side and let cars pass when you feel they can do so safely. Ground Effect funded a scrub cutter to help battle
the triffids. The club has recently been granted
3. Light Up access to develop another trail network nearby.
Wear bright clothing with reflective bits – especially at dawn and dusk or when grey and More at eurobodalla.org.au/cycling.html
stormy. Use a headlight, tail light and reflectors at night.
Ground Effect has always supported initiatives
4. The Invisible Man that improve the lot for cyclists. If your club or
Make every effort to be seen, then assume you’re not. Watch drivers’ eyes to see if they look in organisation has a worthy project that needs
your direction. Guard against them turning in front of you even when you’ve got right of way. funds to make it real, bang a note to
Position yourself where drivers expect to see other traffic... so avoid riding on the footpath, slushfund@groundeffect.co.nz.
especially against the flow on the ’wrong side of the road’. Never launch across a side road
from the footpath.
5. Be Predictable
Hitting The Streets
... but never boring. Avoid erratic movement, weaving though traffic, manualing along the kerb • Shopping when you’ve got
and the like. Ride smooth and straight so cars can avoid you with ease. the munchies or reviewing
eateries with a couple of
6. Communicate hundred hungry kilometres
Use hand gestures correctly. And we ain’t talking flipping the bird to bad drivers or half- under your belt are equally
heartedly raising a limp arm. Instead, check behind, then stick your arm out assertively to foolhardy pursuits. Yet when the Kiwi Brevet rolled
indicate your intentions. If this feels scary or wobbly then “more practice riding with one hand, into St Arnaud the Style Police awarded two
grasshopper”. Remember: look, signal, move. thumbs up and a set of crossed knives ‘n forks to
Elaine’s Alpine Café. Service, food, coffee and
7. Start With Care sandflies were all first class – their omelette’s so
Before starting off, position yourself to be seen from a distance. Wait for the Red Sea to part popular that they ran out of chickens.
then hop on your bike from the left hand side. Starting on the footpath or between parked
cars makes it more difficult for drivers to spot you. Select an easier gear before stopping so
you can get up to speed quickly and without the wobbles. Practise slow riding in a straight
Gig Guide
line at your local park. • Whaka 100, 17 October. The ultimate 100km
challenge around Rotorua’s legendary singletrack,
8. Hazard Warning but there’s something for everyone with 25km,
Scan ahead for poor road surfaces or obstacles. Avoid, or treat carefully, slippery painted 50km and team options. www.n-duro.co.nz/whaka
surfaces, metal service covers, autumn leaves, gravel and oil patches. • Molesworth Muster, 6 November. 80km of shingle
9. Prepare to Stop road from Molesworth Station to Hanmer through
Fingers should be permanently resting on your brake levers so you can stop on demand. If this New Zealand’s largest high country station.
feels unnatural then adjust your levers closer to the handlebars. www.bluedogevents.co.nz
10. Anticipate the Left Hook • Sydney to the Gong Bike Ride, 7 November. Join
The dreaded slip lane, standard left turn or roundabout all invite vehicles to cut you off as 10,000 cyclists for Australia’s premier one-day
they turn while you continue straight ahead. Sadly cycle lanes are often poorly designed – be recreational cycling event, a choice of 58 or 90km.
on your toes where they fade out or are crossed by other traffic. Be aware of the ‘courteous www.gongride.org.au
driver’ waving a car across your path when you’re in a cycle lane undertaking a queue of • Dirt Works 100km Classic, 7 November. Only
stationary traffic. Also guard against car doors opening on you and vehicles (especially buses) one hour’s drive from central Melbourne and 40
pulling away from the kerb in directly in front of you. minutes from the airport this event incorporates
some of the best singletrack in the state in Wombat
11. Beat the Blind Spot State Forest & Lerderderg State Park. There is
Don’t ride or stop where a driver is unlikely to see you. Long vehicles like trucks and buses cut
across corners when turning. Never cycle on their inside when approaching intersections. absolutely no tarmac, guaranteed.
www.maxadventure.com.au/100kmclassic/vic/
12. Give Way • The Highland Fling, 13-14 November. Australia’s
It’s staggering how often cyclists sneak a furtive free-left turn without checking for other traffic. Mtb Marathon Championships – 110km starting and
Don’t assume there isn’t a car driving on the shoulder, a bus pulling over or another cyclist finishing in the picturesque village of Bundanoon,
occupying the left hand corridor that you’re turning into. NSW. Enter as a Full Flinger (solo 110km), Flinging
13. Ride with a Friend Threesomes (relay team of three), Half Fling (solo
Getting around by bike is convenient, healthy and fun. Ride with an experienced cyclist to 55km), or give it a go with a Casual Fling (solo
learn good habits and scout quiet cycling routes. 14km). www.wildhorizons.com.au
• Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, 27 November. Ride
And if this list is too lengthy to ingest, tattoo this into your top tube: see, be seen,
communicate. 160km on the road around Lake Taupo with 1000’s
of your best mates. Get a team together or go solo.
Further reading www.cyclechallenge.org.nz
Bikeability Cycle Training, Cycling Advocates’ Network (can.org.nz/cycle-training)
For up-to-date information on all Ground Effect
How to Not Get Hit by Cars by Michael Bluejay (bicyclesafe.com) events check out www.groundeffect.co.nz/events
Inside Out We sneak a closer look at the Frosty Boy and
Ice Queen winter riding tops.
Often Licked, Never Beaten
Remember the winters of our childhood? Crisp mornings with the bitter tingle of frost tickling your nostrils. Cruising to school on your one speed
with a hand knitted scarf wrapped four times around your face. No rain and no helmet of course.
The best selling Frosty Boy and women’s Ice Queen were born of these memories. These combination tops have a windproof fleece front and
thermal back. There’s a certain liberation when going light and fast in cold, dry conditions – without a jacket and layers of padding. Laminated
WindFoil™ fleece shoulders, sleeve fronts and collar take the edge off cold winds. They’re best worn with a light merino base layer to manage
sweat against your body. Slim fitting, they feature an extra long front zip to manage your body temperature in a wide range of conditions.
The designs has been tweaked and refined over their ten-year life. The rear pockets now have security zips, are low profile and lined with a
moisture management treated mesh – no more sweaty lower back. The original blue with navy has given way to today’s colour palette of titanium
grey, limelight and burnt orange.
So as we pass the shortest day and move into winter proper, we can anticipate those invigorating cold, dry winter rides with Frosty Boy. Often
licked, never beaten. Frase, Ground Effect Product Designer

Frosty Boy NZ$169


Fabric: WindFoil™ with micro-fleece 100
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Colours: Limelight/Titanium;
Burnt Orange/Silver;
Titanium/Burnt Orange
Weight: 410 gm

Jack Bites
With the UK weather apparently predictable only in its unpredictability, a suitable
arsenal of clothes to combine in various ways is something of a must if you’re keen
Cherie-ness next to Godley-ness. Photo: Lee Howell/kaptured.com

to ride all year round (and you are, aren’t you?). New Zealand’s Ground Effect
has an extensive range of well-thought-out kit that’s all designed to play happily
together, with the Frosty Boy covering “crikey, it’s really cold out” eventualities.
Cut is eminently sensible non-flappy but not too snug, as befits a garment
designed to be worn on top of a base layer and under a shell. It’s notably long in
Ice Queen NZ$169 the body, and of course even longer at the back. The sleeves are a decent length
and incorporate thumb loops in the cuffs to stop them riding up – something of a
Fabric: WindFoil™ with micro-fleece 100 Ground Effect trademark.
Sizes: WS, WM, WL, WXL As is typical of Ground Effect gear, you won’t be overburdened by features but
Colours: Burnt Orange/Silver; Ice Blue/Titanium get all the ones you need. Reflective trim along the zip, on the elbows, around the
Weight: 350 gm back of the collar and across the top of the twin zippered rear pockets enhances
visibility. And of course, there’s a tube repair patch tucked away in a secret
location...
WindFoil™
We’ve always been impressed by Ground Effect stuff, and the Frosty Boy is no
WindFoil™ fleece combines the exception - it’s light, it’s warm, and it’s been through a healthy number of wet/
quick-drying and insulative benefits of polyester fleece muddy/wash cycles and still looks like new.
with a totally windproof yet highly breathable barrier.
The WindFoil™ membrane is sandwiched between the Verdict: This is another solid performer from Ground Effect – it may not get cold
micro-fleece outer and wicking-mesh liner to provide enough to need it all that often, but when it does you’ll be glad of it.
effective protection in cold, dry conditions. Performance 5/5 www.bikemagic.com
free bandanna Got a couple of mates who are itching to join the Cycling Revolution, and who live at a different
address from you? Scratch down their details and we’ll spring you a free Bandanna.
First Name: . .........................................Surname: .......................................... First Name: . .........................................Surname: ..........................................
Address: ........................................................................................................ Address: ........................................................................................................
....................................................................................................................... .......................................................................................................................
City: ..................................................... State/Post Code: ............................. City: ..................................................... State/Post Code: .............................
Country:.......................................................................................................... Country:..........................................................................................................

I have a complaint about your Double Happys. Whilst when


originally purchased, I subscribed to all the splatter about not
wearing out and lasting for ages, I didn’t take it too literally. The
problem is that I’d now quite like a new pair, but this requires
approval from the Chief Financial Officer (my wife). Problem is she asks me several questions before
granting approval:
Q. Are they uncomfortable? A. No.
Q. Have they worn out? A. Well the stitching is slightly flattened under my bum.
Q. Have they faded or is the fabric damaged? A. No, not really.
Q. What’s wrong with your current pair? A. Ahh, nothing really, I quite like the new colour though.
The damn things are coming up eight years old with 100’s of muddy/dusty/rainy/sunny rides chalked
up. So my complaint (if that’s what you want to call it) is that I can’t wear them out. Damn you Ground
Effect for making the best bike shorts out there. Looks like I’m stuck with the old model for quite some
time yet :-) Glenn, Christchurch

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