Team Rwanda Cycling

I know there are so many great cycling organizations around the World, but there is something about Team Rwanda that totally inspires me.  I first heard about this team through a post by Jeep Gorilla that mentioned an upcoming DVD called “Rising From the Ashes”.

It caught my attention and I’d like to help spread their story.  It might be a little long, but I invite you to read “Abraham’s Story”, and learn more about Team Rwanda Cycling.

Abraham’s Rebirth

- Team Rwanda Cycling

When I started first testing riders here, in 2007, there was only one whose name kept cropping up: Abraham Ruhumuriza. Despite the continual mentions, he was nowhere to be seen. I even found out that he was a local of Butare, the town where I lived at the time. Not only that, but his bike was one that he borrowed from Tim Schilling, who was the father of the family that I was living with.

It all became even odder when, after three weeks of riding and testing, there was still no Ruhumuriza, who was touted as the best cyclist in Rwanda.  More and more comments were being translated as: “He did not need to be tested, he was the best”.  He eventually did come, got tested and scored very highly but the selection for the Cape Epic in South Africa had already been made.  Adrien and Rafiki were the first “official” riders to race in the Team Rwanda colors.

Being from the same town, it was easy for Abraham to attend our training camps but he always arrived hours late.  When we rode together outside of the camps, he would ride on the left side of the road facing traffic and I would ride on the right side of the road – it was impossible for me to convey to him that we could and should ride together.

Abraham Ruhumuriza has been the most difficult member of Team Rwanda since its inception.  Yet his story is not just one of stubborn defiance, of arrogant pride or of bullish force, though that conclusion would be easy to reach.  Abraham’s God-given talent includes all of the above.  Yet he is the nightmare team member, a waste of incredible talent, a toxic influence to new members and veterans, young and old.  A young man who clings to abhorrent behavior with the tenacity of an octopus, clinging to it not really knowing why, just knowing he does not want to let go.

Abraham has been the test of just how far one should really go.  My dilemma has always been how far I should allow a person to be so destructive to both himself and the team.  From the outside, it seems like a very easy decision, but when I witnessed a slice of Abraham’s life, my natural instinct was to reach out to help him in any way I can.

He was 15 during the genocide; he lived in Butare, one of the bloody epicenters of slaughter. There are stories that this man holds within that are so terrifying they haunt his inner core, inaccessible yet simmering under the surface.  Inside the stadium in his home town, 20,000 people were corralled and hacked to death.  Within one year of knowing Abraham, he lost his mother, whom he took care of and who lived with him, to a mysterious illness.  Two months later, his wife became ill one evening; by morning she was dead, leaving him alone to take care of a nursing child and two young boys.  When we returned from a stage race, he found his brother-in-law and sister had taken over his property and the house left to him by his now dead mother.  He suspects that out of jealousy they poisoned both his mother and wife to get the property.

Page 1 of 3 | Next page