Changing Burkina one kilometer at a time.
Greetings dear family and friends,
I would like to start this post off with a thank you to all of you lovely people who donated to the 2012 Burkina Faso Bike tour. This year we raised a $6,477.07
, the extra 7 cents is what makes this figure extra special.
I spent the last month or so putting together a final report. It has detailed humorous accounts of everyday in our journey, loads or fun pictures, and statistical data about the tour (if you're into that kind of thing). I hope that you enjoy it.
Click our snazzy bike tour logo to read the report!
If you don't feel like reading the report in it's entirety I will post a few entries below.
Wednesday, August 29th (day 1)
Number of riders 9
Distance Biked 45km
Time on the road 3.5hrs
Hosts Lyndia M., Kate A., and Sami A.
Activity Mosquito Net activity/ Bike Race
BurkinabÃ¨ participants 100+ spectators 22 racers
Weather Rainy, mostly cloudy
A little bit of rain never stopped a bike tour from starting; neither did a lot of rain. The first morning in Dedougou was gloomy. The rain held off long enough to have an amazing ceremony complete with a 22 women bike race; observed by hundreds of spectators and invitees, including the Mayor, Chief, and the Director of the Womenâs Center.
After a ceremonial start to our tour and a brief wait for the heavy rain, we set out towards Sono. For the next 3.5 hrs we sang, dodged muddy streams, practiced bike tricks, wrote haikus, watched birds, and got to know each other (ohâ¦and we biked.)
We finally arrived to Sono in good health and high spirits. If you want to feel like a celebrity, go to this village. We were greeted by a massive crowd, filmed, photographed, and followed. This lent a hand to the malaria awareness campaign and mosquito net relay race that followed the village tour. The crowd went wild! All and all the 1st day of the tour went swimmingly.
Friday, August 31st (day 3)
Number of riders 12
Distance Biked 40km
Time on the road 2.5hrs
Host David G.
Activity Tofu and Neem Cream (anti mosquito repellent)
BurkinabÃ¨ participants 15+ 100+spectators
Weather mostly cloudy
After about 7.5 hrs of sleep we crept out of Jasonâs mud palace to start the third day of our journey. With the use of fancy spoon bowls we dumped bouillie (an enriched millet porridge) down out gullets. On the damp road to We, we encountered cowherds, lush forested swamps, and water logged fields or rice. Todayâs ride proved to be very straight forward due to the fact that David lives 40ishkm down the road from Jason. About 15minutes outside of We there rests a buzzing village called Di. Di is home of the American funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), hungry hungry hippos, and one of the biggest markets in the Sourou valley. We stopped in Di for 30 minutes for a bread/water break.
We continued down the muddy road through valleys and dams to finally be greeted by David G in his usual vans skinny jeans combo. After biking through his village we reached his swanky bachelors pad, which resembled a quaint beach house (minus the beach). We immediately started making tofu from scratch with the aid of Davidâs dynamic counterparts. After gobbling down all of the tofu shish kabobs we departed for the local health clinic to check out the malaria situation. (Rainy season- increased malaria cases) We soon discovered that in the small village of We more than half of the population will fall ill with malaria. With this information we decided to do an activity on malaria in the local market. Under the watchful eyes of over 100 Burkinabe we demonstrated how to make an anti mosquito lotion repellent with local affordable ingredients. We ended the activity by giving out modest sample sizes. After a tour through the village we returned to Davidâs abode to enjoy a candle lit dinner and a ukulele sing along session with our very own Dan Sharon.
Sunday, September 2nd (day5)
Number of riders 11
Distance Biked 100km
Time on the road 6hrs
Host Eric L.
Activity burying our dead
BurkinabÃ¨ participants --
Weather night, then dawn, then overcast, then rain, then mud
We met at the school at 5am to begin our short journey arduous expedition deathcapade. The first half hour was spent interpreting suspicious shadows cast by the moonlight onto the dirt road. Within fifteen minutes, the carriage of Carreyâs bike rattled over a pothole and her toothpaste dislodged from her pack. It fell into the darkness. Like soldiers trained in stoic indifference, we left the toothpaste behind. We didnât have time to recover any lost items today. Today, we were biking.
As the minutes became hours, we thundered forward with the boldness of youth. Our spirits and bodies were high, thanks to the righteous power of banana bread. But all our vigor would prove to be an illusion, created by the same carefree spirit that we had believed to be our ally. By the time we reached Kimbara, a village nearly 50km into our route, we felt accomplished. There, we greeted the new volunteer Amelia and delivered to her some much-needed supplies from the big city. Brash from our successful morning, we set forth at a speed onlookers might have referred to as âill-advisedâ.â We reached Zogore (70km) by 9am.
-The Eye of the Hurricane-
The kindly people of Zogore prepared for us magnificent tofu brochettes as we sprawled about on benches in anticipation/lactic acid therapy. It began to rain, to our delight. The refreshing reprise rolled forth on blooming silver clouds. Little did we know that all of that silver was but the liningâand the bulk of the metaphor was contained within.
When we laughingly bounded upon our steel steeds, we were alarmingly reminded of our true physical state. Each revolution of the pedals lit the map of nerve endings in our legs like a city power grid. The road had become a quagmire of mud. If we tried to burst forth into a more familiar momentum, Mother Natureâs glue simply reminded us of her presence and called us down into her tar. 17km are passed thusly. 17km of Luciferâs most cruelly-devised justice, reserved for only the emptiest of souls.
But hark! There was a light ahead. PCV Alex, aware of our coming, had gathered sweet juices and cold, filtered water for our arrival in Sissamba, her village located 8km away from our final destination. We recharged and viewed the remaining 8km as a home stretch. Soon, this distance would be conquered, but not before our young volunteers better came to understand the limits of their capabilities and the eager susceptibility to surrender that was their waning willpower.
Showers, naps and good food turned our bikers into respectable humans again. There was no organized activity; but as it took all of our force to do so much as stand, we saw that both BurkinabÃ¨ and Americans will be better off with an evening of repose.
Later, the greatest trial of all befell the merry band when Eric, the leader and most beloved of the bikers, announced that tomorrow he will be returning to his site. Traumatized by the depressing news, the PCVs begged him to stay, saying that if Eric wouldnât continue, neither would they. Everyone except for Eric cried. Verily, the entire bike tour was on the verge of disbanding; but in an eloquent display of wordsmanship, Eric persuaded them to press on, using the memory of his raw, motivational charisma to fuel the remainder of their adventure. Martyrdom.
Saturday, September 15th
Number of riders 11
Distance Biked 120km
Time on the road 7hrs
Host Puja P.
BurkinabÃ¨ participants --
We woke us at the extremely early (late night?) hour of 3am to the glorious tunes of Third Eye Blind (compliments of Dan). We headed out by 4am and could still see some lightning in the distance from the overnight rain. The first 10km were on a dark bush road and it took us nearly an hour to find the actual paved road! We took a break there waiting for Emily Fâ¦.and waitedâ¦and waited. We saw her coming in the distance and bolted out of there hoping to make this long day as short as possible.
The paved road around Koupela was more like a âcarpetedâ road and we made good time to Zorgho (30km west of Koupela). We stopped here to eat a breakfast of omelet sandwiches and fried bread. This is where the problems began.
About 50km from Pujaâs site Bridget R. thought she was going to throw up so she stopped on the side of the road and proceeded to evacuate her digestive system from all orifices. (No joke- I saw some vomit go up and out of her nose.) It then became evident that she was not going to continue biking. She nearly passed out so she was carried off to Ouaga to be treated for heatstroke. She make a quite recovery a day or so after the incident.
PCV Louba had a string of bad luck with 2 flat tires on the way. She stopped the Peace Corps car to take another bike. The bike that she took was Emilyâs (she was riding in the car).We then figured out why Emily was biking so slow. It was her bad genes, the breaks on her bike were rubbing against the front tire making even the shortest ride excruciating.
We all finally made it to Pujaâs site in one piece and chilled at her market for a while gorging ourselves on grilled corn, rice and sauce, sweet potatoes, and black eyed peas. We later went to Pujaâs house made dinner and prepared ourselves for out 2nd 100+km day.
Monday, September 24th
Number of riders 18
Distance Biked 65km
Time on the road 4hrs
Host Daniel N.
Activity Neem Cream+ closing ceremony
BurkinabÃ¨ participants 200+ participants
Weather SUN SUN SUN!
Bruised, dirty, broken and saddle sore, we hit the dirt road just as the sun ascended in the sky. Making multiple stops along the way to dine on bread and tea, the tour took its time on the windy trail, as if to savor the last day after over 1,000 hard earned kilometers.
The city of Gaoua is a large sized metropolis perched on the green hills of the south. The scenery was beautiful, but the hills were brutal on the whole crew after such a long day. Daniel Neptune is nicknamed âChief of Gaouaâ, and lived up to this moniker during our two day stay, arranging arguably the best chicken in country, and personally made pizzas. We jam packed our two days with neem cream fabrications, tours of the city and the Lobi culture museum, and a large closing ceremony with the newspaper and radio there to celebrate our accomplishment with us. The tour closed out with 6 riders doing the full route, and over 30 volunteers participating. We learned so much about the country we serve, met tons of inspiring Burkinabe and got to see our fellow volunteers in all their glory.
Thank you to everyone that participated and a big shout out to Jalysa Boose-Sheppard who was the Chief of the tour, and did an amazing job keeping the team together, and making the bike tour a reality. Cheers to dollars raised, and the end of another amazing âTour du Burkinaâ!
If you want to read more check out the link above!