Project Rwanda 50-mile ride

Saturday I rode a 50-mile mountain bike ride to benefit Project Rwanda with Max and Jack. Years ago I read We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families (here on google books) so I know a little bit about Rwanda. Project Rwanda was started by Tom Ritchey, the same guy that was around for the beginning of mountain biking and the guy who makes the break-away system I have on my track bike. On the website he says, ‘To me, the bicycle is just a freedom tool to a bigger vision for Rwanda.’ I couldn’t agree more, but I don’t think its use as a freedom tool is limited to Rwanda. He was on the ride and Jack and I chatted with him about our track bikes (‘How exactly did you get them?’ he asked), but I didn’t mention this to him.

I rode my freshly painted Cross-bike that was recently rebuilt with a bunch of new parts:

Jack rode his Kona mountain bike, that is set up fixed gear:

The ride started at 7am at Cook’s Corner, a place famous as a motorcyclists’ hangout. The route(with photos!) was made available beforehand and I had planned from the beginning to take my cross bike. I was a little concerned when about 75% of the bikes were full suspension! The course was beautiful and after only a few miles the hundred plus riders spread out.

Can you believe this is Orange County?


I was riding strongly, passing people on the climbs (I have a compact road crank, 50/34 and a mtb cassette that is 12-32) and getting passed on the descents. Cross-levers made the technical downhills much easier; which I learned the day before when Jack and I rode El Prieto in the San Gabriels. You can lean way back and still have access to the brakes. About 15 miles in I guess I was leaning too far back and pinch-flatted on a technical downhill. Probably for the best as it made me take it a little slower. Jack caught up while I was attending the flat and we rode together long enough to run into the guy from Planet Ultra who then told all his buddies about us at the HooDoo 500 earlier this year. With me on Cross and Jack on fixed the ‘look at us!’ factor was high.

A woman’s single-speed


The terrain was varied with fire roads, double-track, some fast, packed sections, technical single-track with stream crossings and steep, long climbs. I even passed some jumps that took all of my discipline to not go off of. Finished in about 5 hours, in time to hang out with Megan and Sufiya who had volunteered. They even had veggie burgers at the BBQ! I heard the fat, leather-wearing guy running the grill say, ‘We should of known all these healthy cyclists would want veggie burgers.’ Also, during the raffle the woman running it (also from Cook’s Corner) kept making reference to cyclists shaving their legs. How many mountain bikers do you think worry about healthy food and shave their legs? I don’t think very many.

Jack, Myself and Max giving the sign of devil to counter the earlier prayer


My only complaint (even the t-shirt is dope!) about the ride was the presence of god. At least two of the organizers are into god and insisted on talking about it and even had the audacity to have a prayer before the ride. They are not working directly for Project Rwanda, but I still think it reflects poorly on the project to have Christianity involved. The last thing Africa needs is more Christianity. Like the earlier statement about the bike as a freedom tool that is probably true for the whole world.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Project Rwanda 50-mile ride

  1. Good work on finishing that course! I’ll see you at the LA Marathon… or at least will be within a few miles vicinity of you while running it.

  2. Hey Matt :) Happy New Year! Are you doing the 200k brevet on Saturday? George will be riding it but I’m trying to limit the babysitting favors from Grandma to my main events for the year, so I’m opting out this time. I’m going to drive down with him though and ride home to Huntington Beach instead. If you’re going to be there, look for me at the start! Brandy

  3. Yeah, the New Year’s Day ride was very cool to see…and to latch on to for the 10+ miles I was with them. I’m just not that fast…I’m hoping that next year I will be able to do the ride with them! I saw the Mt. Wilson ride, it looked very cool. What’s on your schedule for this year? My first event is Butterfield again. Looking forward to the new route since it leaves from Irvine (closer to home) this year!

  4. While it is clear you do not believe in God, you are misguided about the role of Christianity in Africa. I am Kenyan and no white missionary ‘forced’ religion on me or my family. Many many villagers in Africa look to Christ for strength and power to overcome very difficult circumstances, and FIND IT. I do not mean any disrespect on your website but I find your understanding of our situation poor.Akeyo

  5. If you could ask the thousands of Africans killed in the 19th Century because they refused to give up traditional beliefs and take Jesus as their savior I am sure they would disagree with you. Lots of people benefited from the 3rd Reich, but that does not make Nazism morally acceptable.

  6. Well I was just going to post a simple Amen! after reading your post. However, after reading the comments, the simple Amen!, doesn’t seem right. So instead, I wanted to tell you what I was going to say, in order to come across as witty, yet considerate. And yet saying it absolutely ensures it comes across as neither.

  7. Matt,Are you referring to the Crusades? There were also many Christians killed because they would not accept Muslim faith and traditions as well. You as a white American male, born into privilege you did nothing to earn, have no right to tell Africans what to believe. You live, like many Western people, with your head only where you want it to be. Seeing only what you want to see. If you don’t like something you simply change the channel. You might ride your bicycle for Rwanda but you understand nothing about Africa.Akeyo

  8. Dear Anonymous, I agree 100% about privilege and the way that white americans behave. I am not trying to tell Africans what to think, that is the same erroneous thinking of the Missionaries . My point is simply this: Belief in a mythical being has no role in creating a just, sustainable world. In fact, belief in mythical beings (and the accompanying rigid absoluteness) is one of the great hindrances of creating a just world. Believe what you want, even in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Just don’t slide it into an event that includes those who do not believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  9. Akeyo,I believe the author is referring to colonialism and the European colonization of non-European Africa in the 19th century. What are your thoughts on this?

  10. Chris & Matt,I believe that Colonialism has caused many heartaches to my country. Anyone with eyes can see that. Capitalism seems to be accomplishing the same thing only on a much larger scale, including much of what you might call the “developed” world. Many people here in America are just as colonized in their minds and hearts by capitalism as we in Africa have been by Colonialism.But to tell people that “belief in a mythical being has no role in creating a just, sustainable world” is insulting in many many ways. It seems to me that many American people want a ‘just’ world but who will decide WHAT is just? Since you claim no moral accountability, what is to stop you from committing the same atrocities as Hitler, or any of the French and British Colonialist leaders? I have just finished reading an account of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who stood against the Church, the State of Germany, and Hitler and was executed for his actions and beliefs. Only in hindsight (sp?) could anyone know that his conspiracy to kill Hitler was the correct course of action.If the entire nation of Germany (including some within the church) can be misled due to greed then how can you claim that you yourselves would be able to avoid such a fate? You have nothing with which you use as a measure of your own goodness or purity of desire. Even when someone respectfully questions you about this you respond with taunts and cynicism against ANY belief that is not “rational”. Yet many seemingly “rationale” individuals, those given completely over to scientific belief as a standard, commit grevous errors in the name of self interest. How can you hope to do any better if you have nothing with which to guide your own actions than your own minds, which you have already expressed as closed to any thoughts other than what you already want to believe.Respectfully,Akeyo

  11. Akeyo,You seem to be a very intelligent and aware person, so the question that concerns me more is what moral questions could you possibly have that the bible would answer? Are you a drug abuser that needs help? Have you had personal trauma and needed guidance which wasn’t available at the time? Why is it an independent and freethinking adult needs religion?Perhaps you’re not familiar with Christianity’s recent endeavors within America, which include, but not limited to such noble things like contesting evolution, denying a woman’s right to choose, linking Christianity to family values, and protesting US soldiers’ funerals because god hates them(a fringe group, but everyone’s got them).What shame I should feel, as a godless liberal, to not have an archaic soap opera to cling to for emotional and spiritual guidance in creating a just and sustainable world. I’m out of time, but I’ll close here by saying though I find Christianity to be a crock, I have met some very respectable and admirable individuals who happen to be Christian. I do not view their religious choice to be a crutch or chip in their image. They are just who they are and it is okay.