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Riding Motorcycle Support in the Tour Du Rwanda Bicycle Race

By Muriisa Robert On:4 May 2016

The scene repeats itself dozens of times each day. My passenger, a professional photographer named Mjrka, yells into my helmet. “Stop here, on the right!” I pull over, and he scrambles up the adjacent slope to get a better view of the oncoming Tour du Rwanda bicycle race.

document 5859 I wait. At first, there is no one. But then, without fail, I hear the call, from somewhere deep in the underbrush: “muzungu!” Here, in the Rwandan countryside, I stand out like a gibbous moon, even beneath my helmet. I am a muzungu, or white man. What follows has an air of inevitability. Within moments, I’m surrounded by the chatter of dozens of children, reaching out to touch me, and my motorcycle. document 5860{Two decades ago, 800,000 people died here. Today, a bicycle race offers pageantry, excitement and hope.} I take their picture, and they take mine, our cultures reverberating through the lenses. The bravest ones sidle up and rest their palms gently on the gas tank, or drape their fingers casually around the twistgrip, as if to say: We know each other. We’ve been friends all along. document 5861{In the very smallest towns, life stops when the race passes through. In large towns, like the capital city of Kigali, it is simply chaos a challenge for any motorcyclist.} document 5862{In the chaos of Rwandan traffic, a truck in the ditch is of little concern but does supply excellent seating for a passing bike race.} document 5863{During my time in Rwanda, it rained every single day, hard a challenge for bicycle and motorcycle riders alike.} document 5864{I am taking pictures of them while they take pictures of me, our cultures reverberating through the lenses.} document 5865{Every time I stop, in even the smallest village, I am swarmed by children, who want to touch the BMW F800GS and me. I welcome the interaction.} document 5866{“All this will seem like a dream,” said my host. And so it was.} document 5867{Kids stand by the road side to watch the riders.} {{By Robert Muriisa.}}

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