This Rwandan Cyclist Climbed l’Alpe d’Huez on a 40-Pound Single-Speed Bike

Lyle Ellerbee

This article was initially printed by CyclingTips.

Even when you are driving Alpe d’Huez, it’s steep—a brutal opening ramp, 21 switchbacks, and the July solar beating down on your back again. Now picture doing that with a one-velocity bike that weighs 40 lbs.

That is how Rwandan bike owner Adrien Niyonshuti spent his Thursday early morning, crossing the line a couple several hours right before the Tour de France peloton.

Niyonshuti’s experience was uncomfortable, but he’s defeat much much more in his lifetime. Just after he survived the horrors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide—six of his brothers were not so fortunate—Niyonshuti learned biking at the age of 16. He was one particular of the authentic users of Group Rwanda, the biking venture launched in 2007 by Us residents Tom Ritchey and Jonathan “Jock” Boyer, which aimed to make a national racing workforce to inspire more Rwandans to journey.

By 2009, Niyonshuti’s talent experienced attracted the attention of the MTN Cycling team, with which he grew to become the initially Rwandan experienced cyclist. In 2012, he was the flag bearer for Rwanda at the London Olympics, using in the mountain bike celebration, and returned to the Olympics four yrs later in Rio, this time on the street. Soon after retiring at the close of the 2017 time, Niyonshuti has transitioned gracefully into a vocation as an ambassador for cycling in Africa, founding the Adrien Niyonshuti Cycling Academy in his hometown of Rwamagana and developing the Continental level Skol Adrien Cycling Academy team.

He never ever realized his aspiration of riding at the Tour de France, however, so these days was an psychological a single. On the steep slopes of Alpe d’Huez, thronged with admirers at each individual of the legendary hairpins, Niyonshuti slowly and gradually floor his way upward on the weighty bike with a person velocity. By contrast, most prime-stop racing bicycles weigh a paltry 15 lbs ., and have 22 or so gears to select from for the gradient.

“Some people had been pondering who this dude was, wherever I arrived from,” Niyonshuti advised me at the summit with a large smile on his experience. “I explained to them I was a two-time Olympian driving to help Qhubeka, and they have been very pleased about it. Each individual child that grows up in Africa and is familiar with biking would like to go to the Tour. Anyone rising up is wondering about the Tour.”

The trip is a fundraiser for the South African cycling charity, which supplies bikes for men and women in Africa to make improvements to entry to educational and small business possibilities. The Qhubeka bicycle is a toughly created solitary-speed with a metal body and a massive yellow rack at the again to have goods—“15, 16 kilograms [35 pounds],” Niyonshuti explained, examining it with his fingers.

Niyonshuti understands from practical experience the impression that entry to a bike can have for another person seeking to get forward in Africa—he’s been there in advance of. “I have witnessed for myself how they [Qhubeka] use bicycles to transform life.”

With the sun beating down on us, Niyonshuti appeared incredibly fresh as he advised me about his cousin and nephew, who in 2012 had acquired a Qhubeka bike. That served them comprehensive their education and learning: “They went to college, concluded key college and higher school, and in the stop they obtained encouragement to carry on their cycling, and now they are in France [ed. racing for a French team].

“The Qhubeka charity is anything that can change training in Africa, and assist African young children for their schooling. That’s the most important issue,” Niyonshuti informed me. “But perhaps it can also adjust their desire to develop into a bike owner.”

And so, now on Alpe d’Huez 1 aspiration was recognized and the seeds were being planted for a lot of additional.

To locate out additional about the fundraising initiative, or to donate, visit

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