Well it’s three weeks until we set out from Rwanda on our motorbike adventure to South Africa. Latest intel from Andrew who is riding up is that the extended rainy season has left some of the roads he and the Northbound team travelled almost impassable. That's really unusual for this time of year. Good job there’s no such thing as climate change hey? Our route South is a little different and hopefully, the roads will have dried out a bit by then, or we may be snorkelling to Johannesburg.

As for me, I’m flying out in 2 days in order to greet Andrew when he arrives and visit with our team at Wellspring. then I'll be welcoming the rest of the Southbound team and showing them a little of our work, before we set off on August 1st. I’m currently enjoying the fun of trying to fit two railway cars worth of kit into two saddle bags and deciding if I really do need that polar underwear. Clearly, my Gucci travel accessorized wardrobe will have to be a little reduced.

I’ve also been checking out my home on the road. It’s compact and bijou.

Next stop Rwanda!

Andy

Hi everyone.

Thanks so much to those of you who have gotten us to nearly $9,000 in sponsorship already! Amazing! Wellspring reckons that it’s about a dollar a month per child to cover the cost of the work in the schools of Rwanda, so we’re already having an incredible impact together. We now have just over $16,000 to get to our goal, so please check out the sponsor button at the top of this page and jump aboard the bike with us!

Tomorrow is our last pre-ride meet up with the team and there is some pretty frantic activity going on as we get ready. Andrew and the Northbound team are doing well and you can track them using the track button at the top of the page on the way up to Kigali. It looks like he’s made it to Tanzania. Can’t wait to be there myself!

Let’s ride!

Andy

Hi everyone.

If you go to our track page you'll notice a little motorbike sitting in Cape Town. That's because that's where Andrew is as he's preparing the bikes for the great adventure. But wait! it's a buy one get one free situation, as we're also going be tracking him as he rides up to Kigali with a group of friends in a few days time. Yes, he's going both ways. Crazy man! So log in and see what's going on. You can also follow him on Instagram at ridedownsouth - he sure does take pretty pictures.

In the meantime the southbound team is getting ready, practicing our off road moves...and our small bag packing. We arrive in Rwanda the last week of July and set out on August 1st. It's getting real.

 

It's two months to go until we set out from Kigali and as we're starting get ready for the epic 6,000 kilometre trip to Johannesburg South Africa, it's time to meet the team.

From left to right we have Kaitlyn, Faith, Lisa, Lenard, Lee Ann, Wes, Andy and Danielle. Missing are Les and Andy....and no, Lenard won't be riding the Hog through Africa!

It's hard to imagine what adventures lie in wait for us when we get on those bikes and start the engines. All we know is we're excited and raring to go. We're looking forward to having you join us on the journey, so please sign up for updates and also please think about sponsoring us on our sponsors page. All proceeds will go to the Wellspring Foundation for Education  and their work in providing quality education to over 175,000 children in Rwanda.

Let's ride!

So friends, we have some big news. Three years on and its time to ride back to South Africa!

On August 1st Andrew and I will be leaving Kigali, Rwanda to spend a month on the road, heading down to Johannesburg. I'll be riding the motorbike and Andrew will be driving the support vehicle, because this time, we won't be alone!

The original 2015 Cape2Kigali Ride created a lot of excitement so this time, we'll be joined by Lisa, Lenard, Lee Ann, Kaitlyn and Wes riding bikes and Faith, Danielle and Les riding in the support vehicle. It's quite a crew and quite an adventure, over 6,000 KMs and through 8 countries in East and Southern Africa.

Along the way we’ll need to avoid hidden potholes that can shatter a front wheel; traverse sandy tracks that can bog down a motorcycle; survive corrugated dirt roads that rattle eyeballs; and stay focused on long, long stretches of tar road through the southern reaches of the African continent.

Our aim is to raise $25,000 to help Rwanda children get a quality education through the work of the Wellspring Foundation for Education and we would love your support. All personal expenses are taken care of so all funds raised will go directly to the project.

Join us on this journey of discovery and connection in Southern Africa. We’ll be posting updates, photos and videos  as we prepare and as we ride the route. Stay tunedIMG_3628

Hi everyone

I am delighted to be able to tell you that as of today, thanks to some wonderful donations to the Cape2Kigali motorbike ride, we have been able to fund the work of Wellspring Foundation in a Rwandan school for a year. That's hundreds of children who will get a quality values based education that will give them opportunities they would never have had without you.

I visited our work over the last few weeks and am so pleased that we've been able to move the Gasabo district to the best performing school district of the thirty in Rwanda. This is a huge achievement and we now have a model that can transform the education system of this nation and beyond.

Thanks so much for being part of the adventure. The journey towards seeing hundreds of thousands of lives transformed through the provision of life changing education goes on!

 

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... or at least the first half of the trip? We've just launched a way for you to do that.

An idea that was born in the first few days of the trip - that others would probably want to experience the things we were loving - has taken shape in the last few weeks. Through a new start-up, Ride Down South we've planned a trip for 4 riders that tracks 4200 kilometers of the Cape2Kigali ride through South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

... with a few extras thrown in - like a day of paddling down the Orange River, a visit to the Fish River Canyon, the sand dunes at Sesriem, and two nights at the world-famous Etosha National Park, home to Africa's Big Five.

Check it all out at www.ridedownsouth.com

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It’s been two days since I rolled into Kigali, two days that have been filled with activity, friendship and laughter, but also two days that I have been in my own head, trying to put the last month into some kind of perspective. My body is still vibrating from all the crazy roads and that wonderful single cylinder thumper that carried me over 9,600 kilometers. My eyes are still gritty from dust and no matter how hard I try, my left hand won’t straighten out, as it’s so used to holding the handlebars and working the clutch. In some ways I feel I’m still travelling.

It would be easy to say it was a wonderful adventure, one that's good for conversation and a few memories. But I have had a lot of those in my life and I know how they feel. I am starting to realize that the Cape2Kigali was more than that…..

I just paused for an awfully long time after I wrote that line, as I tried to think what it was. There is still a lot of reflecting to do on that, but here is what I know for now. It’s deeply personal but then, this whole blog has unexpectedly taken on that tone, so please forgive me for being so open with you. In true Andy style, I will break it down in three ways.

I discovered something about myself and about this world. Or rather I rediscovered it.

My life has been incredibly blessed and I have been given privileges and gifts that I have never felt I deserved. I often wonder how I got to where I am, to be in the friendships and roles that I get to be in and I simply don't understand it. I have just gone with it and tried to make my life count. But in that I have sometimes run too fast, taken on too much, tried too hard to make things work. I have become responsible for lots of things, projects and people. In many ways, I like that, I’m called to that, but it’s come to define me. And that is wrong.

The last 30 days I just sat on a bike, a seat with an engine. And I left it all behind.

As the days went by, the responsibilities, the burdens, the worries, all faded into the rear view mirror. Instead I rode across deserts, gazed into the heavens on incredible starry nights, woke up to hippos breathing nearby and met the greatest creation of all, gloriously, wonderfully, beautifully made, people.

People from every background, from many races and places, local people and fellow travellers who all had stories. People who I got to listen to as they told them, some with seriousness, some with gales of laughter and some with tears. People, many of whom were trying to find who they are and what they are meant to be doing to bring meaning to their lives and the lives of those they want to travel with.

People who have decided that they want to make a difference in the world. Some of them by the incredible projects they are working on. Some of them by standing for justice in difficult situations. And some of them by being kind to strangers they meet on the road.

I remembered that I love people, that although solitude and silence is a beautiful and profound thing to me, that holding people dearly, listening to their stories, trying to encourage them as they encourage me and doing all I can to show them dignity and worth, is how I want to spend my life. I know that to make empty promises about how I will do this now would be unwise. But there are a few things that are on my mind and a few ways of being that I would like to embrace, that I think are important for the next season.

I also discovered something else. This world is stunningly beautiful. It is full of incredible sights and wonders, places and things that simply leave you gasping at their magnificence. And we miss them. We’ve all watched the nature specials on TV and some of us have ventured out a little. But by and large, we spend our lives running so fast that we don't take the time to stop, look, listen, celebrate the incredible splendour of the creation we inhabit.

More than that, we are actively wrecking it on a daily basis, both by our own choices and the macro choices our society is making. I rode past so many plastic bags and bottles, so many rubbish dumps, breathed in so much diesel from oily truck exhausts, saw so much ugliness that was often framed by the most spectacular scenery. At times it was heartbreaking. And I know that the environmental destruction in Africa is as nothing to what we are doing to our own countries, that the pollution created here is a small fraction of that in the West.

We make choices every day that contribute to this. We can do better. We have one life to live, and only one planet to live it on. This is all we’ve got and this is the only time we have. So why throw it away?

The final thing I remembered is to be thankful.

It’s possible to go through life wishing we were doing something else, wishing we could run away, start again. Wishing we could be someone else. We can run so hard we only see the obstacles that get in our way, the problems and the poor relationships we are part of. The entanglements that trap us and the responsibilities that weigh us down. We miss the beauty and the wonder that is all around us, the good things that are happening, the everyday moments of splendour that make life so worth living.

For 30 days I left that behind and now, as I head back towards it again I am entirely thankful. Thankful for the life I’ve been given, for the wonderful people I share it with, for an incredible family and group of friends and for a job that is meaningful and life giving. I am thankful, so thankful to The One who makes this possible and the one thing I will tell you that I am committed to is this. I will make sure I thank Him every day. I will celebrate and not mourn.

I also want to thank so many of you for travelling with me. I have been overwhelmed by the numerous emails and posts, the texts and tweets. It really has been a surprise how many of you have engaged with this adventure. A number of you said you had been using this blog in groups and sending it to others which amazed me. I’ll l keep it up for while, so please feel free to do whatever you like with it.

I want to thank everyone who donated to the ride. You were so generous and we so appreciate you doing that. Both Andrew and I are still raising funds for Wellspring and the Youth Hub and our work goes on. In fact being here in Rwanda, watching our team at work has reminded me of the profound difference that is being made in the lives of tens of thousands of people. So if you want to donate but haven’t yet, please feel free to click on the sponsor link above.

I want to thank Louise Reilly for putting together possibly the best and most appropriate playlist any human being has ever created. There were many moments I couldn’t write about, but most of them had your songs playing at the right time. One to give you a taste. A few days ago a truck pulled out into my lane so close I could almost touch it and we were closing at about 180KPH. I had a split second to decide what to do and I had nowhere to go. So I left the road doing a hundred and flew over a mound that sent me airborne. In mid air as I looked at the rutted ground below me, I decided to gun the engine and try to fly across it in a desperate effort to get back on the road behind the truck. It worked. And all the while, Seal was singing “Oh we’re never gonna survive, unless, we get a little crazy”.

I want to thank my incredible wife Helen for letting me do this and for being my fellow traveller and adventurer, even though she didn't ride the bike. She doesn’t like me writing about her much but I need to tell you that one of the biggest things I give thanks for is her. In the words of your favourite artist “You’ll be with me next time, I go outside”. Also my kids Chris and Sarah, the best friends a man could have, who cheered me on all the way. See Sarah…. I didn’t die!

I want to thank Andrew. Andrew mate, I missed you every day when you went home. I couldn’t have traveled with a better partner a more patient teacher or a kinder friend. I wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for you and I owe you big time. That road to Bulawayo……

I want to thank that wonderful bike Kayla. You might think it's a collection of moving parts made on an assembly line, but it's not really, she’s a personality. And this weekend I will put her to bed in a locked up shed in Rwanda. There may be some dust in the air when I do. I don’t know when that glorious engine will start again, but I know it will fire first time and it will fire true.

And deeply and profoundly, I want to thank my God. I found you again. I found you in people, in places and in the solitude of my crash helmet on days when I felt I was the only person in the world. I found you in crazy traffic jams and as I tried to negotiate my way out of police checks and over borders.  I found you in the faces of the ones in deep material poverty and the ones coming alongside them. I found you in the sunsets and the moon rises, in the roars of animals and the smiles of new friends. I remembered.

That's it. That's all I can say for now. I‘ll work out the rest later.

Thanks for travelling with me. See you on the road sometime.

Andy

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I rolled into the Wellspring Foundation compound in Kigali at 3.27pm, a whole three minutes ahead of schedule. 30 days and 8 hours, 9,627 Kilometers, ten countries a gadzillion speed bumps [everyone of which has left an impression] and untold police blocks after leaving Cape Town, the Cape2Kigali ride is over.

It was perhaps the most beautiful day of riding yet, a wonderful way to finish. The mountain curves leaving Uganda and coming into Rwanda are a motorcyclists dream and I found myself grinning from ear to ear as each corner opened a whole new vista over lush mountain valleys and spectacular terraced hills. Ah Rwanda, you are almost beyond belief in your beauty.

The grin got even bigger when a motorcyclist shot past me on the other side of the road, pointing right at me. My friend Richard Jelsma had worked out what time I was coming across the border and rode out to meet me, Yep, I had my own motorcycle escort into Kigali.

We shot through the traffic, dodging between vehicles and slipping down side streets, Richard leading the way with ease. I remember when I used to think Kigali traffic was insane, but after you’ve ridden through Nairobi in rush hour and dodged into Bulawayo in the dark, well it wasn’t so bad, And it’s sort of home.

It was a pretty intense experience rounding the final corner and coming into the Wellspring compound, made even more so by the crew of friends and colleagues who were waiting to greet me, complete with cake and welcoming songs. I felt so grateful to be here, be in this place which is so special to me with this wonderful team. And then to spend a few hours this evening sharing it with some great friends who are in town from Vancouver just topped it off.

But what do I say now? I wanted to write a post that summed up all my feelings, that put it all into perspective, but I can’t, not yet. I’m tired, happy, a little more emotional than I let on to people tonight and still a bit overwhelmed by it all. So I think there is one more post for the blog left in me before I leave Rwanda on Monday. I just need a day or two to figure it all out.

In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that I’m here, alive and kicking and to thank you for all the lovely comments on the blog, Facebook and email. I’ve felt propelled and lifted up by you all and I deeply appreciate that.

Chat to you more in a day or so. Now, to sleep!

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So here I sit on the last night. I’m in a really lovely guesthouse up on a hill overlooking Masaka, Uganda, sitting under the stars in the garden, which is lit by oil lamps along the walls and by my side. It’s perfect.

Actually the whole day has been pretty much perfect. I had a beautiful ride though Uganda and it’s so easy to see why it’s called the Pearl of Africa. I rode across the Nile this morning, through beautiful scenery all day long and crossed The Equator this afternoon. Even the three abreast semi trucks that caused me to take an unscheduled ride onto the dirt couldn’t dampen my mood. In fact I quite enjoyed it, which was good as I was there about twenty times today. Road lanes in Uganda seem to be a philosophical rather than physical construct.

This afternoon I had the chance to visit the Duncan Africa workshop. Jay Duncan is a friend who founded this social enterprise, a guitar making company that manufactures guitars here in Uganda and sells them in North America. And what guitars! These are world class and they sound simply amazing. But the most amazing thing is that all the profits are distributed here to the local community, so as well as training young people in a valuable skill, everybody benefits. The workshop manager Simon showed me around and I was blown away by the process. Seriously, if you like guitars and you want to make a difference in a local community, buy a Duncan Africa!

After riding into Masaka and settling into this rather spectacular guesthouse, I had the great privilege of spending an evening with Jeff and Shannon Dyck and their family. They run the Kibaale Community program and the Timothy Center a training project for teachers, which is close to my heart. They are also pretty wonderful in every way. Shannon was holding a baby they are fostering and the kids each took turns to look after him as we talked about the work they are doing and how they are incarnating into the local community. I could have talked to them for hours. They are genuinely beautiful human beings who have sacrificed so much to see other peoples lives changed, yet in the way of all heroic people, they don’t see any of this as a sacrifice. People like Jeff and Shannon cause me to seriously evaluate my life. I want to be like them when I grow up.

As I sit here on this final night, lit by the lanterns and listening to the hubbub of Africa coming up from the town, so much is going through my mind. I think of all the beautiful people I have met and the breathtaking things I have seen. I am full to overflowing with images and memories that are burned into my mind and so thankful to God that He gave me this opportunity. It’s so hard to believe this all ends tomorrow. In a few days time I’m going to have to put Kayla into a shed and walk away [Yep I gave the bike a name… I know, embarrassing, but she’s been all that’s between me and disaster. I am at the stage where we are so in tune, I don’t even have to think a move, she does it for me,. Total Yoda stuff. She’s never let me down and she’s as real to me as a person]. All I wanted to do when I got to the Equator was for us to carry on to the Tropic of Cancer and hit the hat trick, to keep this partnership going; but sadly, all good things come to an end.

I have a life to go back to, a family I love, friends I want to see both in Kigali and at home and a job that is incredibly meaningful. My life is rich in every way. And on this last night, as the oil lamp at my side flickers and the night-watchman hums a tune in the corner of the garden, I feel complete. More complete than I have ever felt before, filled to the brim with contentment and resolve to live my life in a better, more meaningful fashion.

Before Kayla and I part ways, I have a final 400 KM to go to Kigali and one last border to cross before arriving at Wellspring, probably around 3.30pm. I hear the ride is beautiful. That would be a fitting way to close this adventure, to ride though creations magnificence into the country I have grown to love on a bike I have grown to adore.

See you in Rwanda.

 

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