Rising From Ashes Film

6,000km away from the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland lie the red roads of Rwanda.

If it’s been a heavy week of revelations, rules and more that takes us too far from what cycling should be about, the film trailer above is a reminder that there so much more. It feels a million miles away from the troubles of pro cycling.

Rising From Ashes tells the tale of Team Rwanda, a project set up in the country to help develop cycling. You might not think it at first but cycling is very big in this small African country but largely because the bicycle is cheap, a means to get people and goods from village to village.

The country became infamous for the genocide in the 1990s but has since become enjoyed rising prosperity, albeit from the lowest of bases. Life is still simple and perhaps over a century ago in Europe, cycling is an emerging sport and a chance for some to escape poverty even if it is via hardship on the bike.

The film tells the personal tales of those who have joined the country’s de facto national team and is miles away from the Euro racing scene… until one of their riders qualifies for the Olympics.

It will be screened in several film festivals so keep a look out for something near you.

24 thoughts on “Rising From Ashes Film”

  1. I just did a cycling tour through Uganda last month, and actually entered the country via road after flying to Rwanda. Within 10 min of leaving the airport in Kigale, I saw atleast 8-10 recreational cyclists (as opposed to people to travel by bike b/c they have no other choice), including 3 road bikes. By contrast, in 3 weeks in Uganda, I saw only 1 recreational cyclist.

    Before that, the only other time I have seen roadies in Africa (excl South Africa) was when I once saw 3 Kenyan kids hammering it in a loose paceline in the Rift Valley.

    I wonder what makes Rwanda unique. Cycling is very common all across Africa, but it is mostly utility cycling due to a dearth of other options. In Uganda, I was struggling to drag my 40kg laden bike up insane gradients (20% plus) on dirt tracks, and on the other side, I’d see locals struggling to drag *their* bikes, laden with bananas up the slope as well. A lot of understanding and sympathetics nods and smiles were exchanged 🙂

    • Rwanda is a big cycling country, for transport that is. As you say people transport goods and they also use cycle taxis, pedal rickshaws in the cities. Apparently it is big in Eritrea too, as transport and sport.

    • I’m surprised you didn’t see any recreational cyclists in Uganda: The first thing I saw on the trip from Entebbe to Kampala was a paceline of about 10 cyclists in lycra. One was on a carbon De Rosa which was quite a lot nicer than what I ride…
      The transport/ work bikes are pretty incredible too- I’ve never seen anything endure such a beating and survive for so long!

      • I didnt spend enough time in that region – my riders were in the southwest/west part of the country (Bwindi to Murchison Falls). Were those expats or locals, out of curiosity?

        Those Hero/Avon cycles are known as “milkman” bikes in this part of the world, as they are associated with the milkman doing his daily home-delivery runs with 2 big jugs of milk attached where the panniers would be. Well, 20 years ago, anyway – these days, most urbanites get their milk from the shops, but the association remains.

        • They were locals as far as I could tell, they kept a pretty good line in amongst the mental traffic…
          Did you visit Masindi area at all?
          I was considering buying a crankset as a souvenir: better than all the tourist tat you get…

  2. thank you. i really don’t want to see the words EPO, doping, steroids, etc on cycling websites anymore. this really is a beautiful and majestic sport. hopefully the future will be better than the past

  3. Magic – I will be taking my kids to see it. The BBC did a nice documentary podcast on this team recently, it was funny as many young guys just turn up for a try out, and they give one to everyone!

  4. One of the riders in the film is turning professional with Team MTN-Qhubeka next year. He is an incredible talent. They did not expect that when they started the program in Rwanda.

  5. Great post – thanks, looking forward to seeing the film.
    What about someone marketing the Team Rwanda kit? They could no doubt use some money, and it looks fantasic !!

  6. Read about the Team Rwanda and their American Coach a while back in the New Yorker. The article didn;t shy away from the coaches dubious past either, i wonder whether the film will touch on this aspect?

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