UPDATED April 15, 2024

BY Guest Author

IN Tour d'Afrique

no comments

UPDATED April 15, 2024

BY Guest Author

IN Tour d'Afrique

no comments

When The (TDA) Circus Comes To Town


Yanez Novoa is a long time TDA staffer who was helping out on the 2024 Tour d’Afrique Expedition in Rwanda & Uganda.

What do you get if you mix 50 strangers and several tons of steel, food supplies and bikes together? Something like a TDA expedition.

And what is a TDA expedition really? I have heard it being described in many ways: a forced march, a circus, a family. What it is, is big and noisy with lots of sharp and shiny bits; it is high vis-vests and flashing bike lights, chain lube and back up derailleurs. Add up all these miscellaneous parts and you end up with a TDA tour.

In the beginning it starts with the banging of pots and truck doors too early in the morning; soft chatter that grows into a chorus of questions, complaints, compliments, and laughter. And eventually, a lot of laughter. But mostly is it the hum of idle chatter as the 50 strangers get to know each other better.


When we arrive in a village, we are often the main attraction. Young and old come together to watch us set up camp and live our new lives on the road. At organized campsites and hotels, we often catch management on the back foot as we slowly dominate the space that they usually control and make it our own – the TDA takeover we call it.

Mia getting ready for her birthday celebration at Via Via

This was the case at Via Via in Entebbe, Uganda, which was our home for three nights. The team at Via Via were super helpful and surprisingly adept at handling something like us. It is a definite stopover for anyone visiting Uganda. On the second night it was Mia Hunter’s birthday and she and Hans bought everyone a drink at the bar. I sat back and watched the 50 strangers bond and move towards what they inevitably will be, 50 people from different cultures that rely on each other and look out for one another to reach their final destination.

The mud bath roads require some walking every now and again

The next morning it started again with the rattling steel, the patter of rain and the rustle of tents being packed up. The hum slowly died down as riders finished their breakfast and the circus spread out over the 116 km of riding that day – made up of 36 km of tarred road leading to a jetty and a 15 minute boat ride. It took 7 trips to get all the riders across that rainy bay. After the boat ride it was a 20 km mud bath to get to the tarred road that would eventually lead them to the town of Jinja.

Ulee and Eva hop off the boat after a short ride from Entebbe

Uli and Eva hop off the boat after a short ride from Entebbe

The mothership, the big dinner truck, was the last to leave Via Via. Sharita and myself left the tour in Entebbe. As the big truck rattled away with all its pots and pans and assorted emotions we heard the birds and the sound of people starting their day, filling the space that had just been full of the 2024 Tour d’Afrique. A moment later, you would almost not believe that the circus had been in town.

All that was left were three black bags. One for organics, one for reusable and one for garbage. The garbage we often have to take with us until we can reach a site where local authorities can deal with it appropriately. The reusable gets recycled or used by locals to keep and do… just about anything they want. The organics goes to a farmer, some wandering goats or, as at Via Via, a compost heap. We try to have as little impact as we practically can and when we do that it will be a positive one.

It might not be our country, but for this little slice of time, it is our home.


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