When I began thinking about buying a bicycle, I asked our local bike expert how much a new ride would cost. UGX 130000 was the answer (about $50 US). I then asked what about a used bicycle, and was told UGX 120000. I couldn’t believe how little these things depreciate. What actually happens is that new bicycles come with cheap tires, seats, and carriers. A good used bicycle will have all of these items upgraded, not to mention the bike that I got is jet-black and covered stickers for European football teams (Chelsea!).
Before you get envious, it’s still a cheap local bike. The brake pads are made out of old tires. With the custom kickstand, it weighs about thirty-five pounds. And the bell never works when you want it to.
This is the bike I was riding when I went for Bible study with Emmy, the young man who teaches, out to the village of Nariko through a drizzle that was leftover from a long night of heavy rain. As long as we followed the main road, we were fine, but as soon as we veered off on the goat path the runs to the village, my bike began sinking in the mud. I had forgotten that I was not riding a mountain bike, but a cheap, local apparatus not well-suited to the conditions at hand. By a half-mile in, the fenders had collected so much mud that the wheels would no longer turn, even by force. So, for a quarter-mile, I pushed the now-defunct conveyance through the mud against its will. Losing patience, I covered the last quarter-mile carrying the bike on my shoulder.
As we arrived, serious rainclouds were massing and Bible study became a distinct impossibility. Thankfully, there is a borehole in the village and there were some very helpful youths who assisted me in unsticking my wheels. Emmy and I waited it out beneath the meeting tree while the rain poured down. The road back, while colder and wetter than the ride out was much easier. The fresh rain made the mud much slicker , preventing it from sticking to the bicycle.
It’s been a mediocre year for rain at best, so the last couple of storms we’ve had have been a welcome change of pace, but I think the season of biking to Nariko is over, and the season of walking is upon us.