Howdy, So glad you’re visiting! Please don’t forget to subscribe to the email list by filling your email into the box on the right side of this article.If you’ve seen the picture below on any of our social media platforms, then you’ve already met the face I am yet to discuss in today’s blog. Luuk is a Netherlander whose story I particularly got interested in after he revealed that he cycled all the way from Namibia to Uganda crossing over six countries that’s Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Tanzania, and from Rwanda up to Kampala- Uganda! It took him a whopping four months to get to Kampala, it will probably take him another three months to Cairo – Egypt’s capital, and he is even considering cycling all the way back to the Netherlands ha-ha! When I first heard this ambition I thought it was utterly crazy. But after spending over forty-eight hours with Luuk and even having him as a model for the Lunkuse Label, I thought, why not? If this story has awoken something in me, it should be able to enlighten someone else about their life as well and perhaps inspire them for something bigger. So I decided to just interview Luuk, ask him a few questions, get his perspective of the world and yes, here we are!
Dun, what inspired you to cycle all the way from Namibia to Kampala?Ah, that’s a good question. I was searching for adventure, for things that normal people don’t do.
Ohm, strange… Is that your motivation?
Well, I have been thinking about this a lot and I think I am really looking for adventure, but also searching for what’s giving me the purpose of existence. In life, we can choose to work, go to the office every day and do things, but for me, that doesn’t really contribute to me as something that would make my life really valuable. So I try to look for something more.
Say at this point in my life I have no responsibilities such as a wife or children, I am young and super strong, which gives me plenty of
opportunities. That’s what made me move. But when I started doing this, the intention was not there to cycle across Uganda or to Cairo or even home, even though the dream was always there a little bit from the start.
So now I am half way to Cairo and I know I can make it! I can make it home so I will do it.
So, have you then found the purpose for your existence?
No, actually, it’s more than that. I do not necessarily find answers, but I experience and see. I learn a lot form the African culture and with the whole cycling experience, there is not a real moment to think about my
purposeor whatsoever because the whole day you’re just very busy with very elementary things like cycling, finding a place to sleep, finding food, and life somehow becomes very simple.
Maybe it’s not really about the purpose of living because that always sounds very strange, but at this moment I can say I am running away from normal society so I can do something completely different and that thing adds value to my life. That’s cycling!
What possibly could you say found strikingly similar or different across or the countries you’ve cycled through? This is in regards to the culture, people and the economy.
The Similarity is that you see more people taking care of each other than in my country. Here you take care of your community, of your neighbors, of each other, which makes me think that maybe there is less privacy in a sense. The connection is very close. This is unlike back home where everyone is fenced up, locking doors and no one is coming in and here it’s more of an open door policy with people living more together and maybe not necessarily because they want to but maybe because it is the way it is. That taking care of each other is something that I find really good.
Discovering Art in an abandoned building near the Design Hub with Luuk. PhotoCredit @Luuk see below!
Okay, that’s more in the social sense though. Did you notice something in maybe the economic or political way for life that struck you as strange or interesting?
Of course, I already traveled many parts of Africa and generally, there is a lot of struggle and a high rate of poverty but if you go to the rural areas, life is not so bad. They have food, they have water and they have a lot of time. So life is actually pretty good there but you only have that if you stay there.
And in the cities, life becomes very hard because there are a lot of people and everybody is trying to have some money, to survive. That’s what I see. There is a real struggle in the cities. Of course, there is always that place with the development, the universities, etc. but there is still some struggle somewhere.
So, do you think anything could be done about your observations maybe especially in the city areas where everyone seems to be struggling?
I think that’s just the normal way our countries develop. We always have a lot of people moving to the cities because there you find everything you need, too many people in a small area, etc. So I think I wouldn’t have a solution for that.
You introduced me to the design hub and the Ultimate cycling hub in Industrial Area Kampala, could you briefly tell me what this place is about in your perspective.
Yes, this place is just the place where young entrepreneurs all come together with their start-ups, so we have a lot of people together, all trying to make new business. So when you go there, you’re surrounded by the people who are doing the same thing as you (Entrepreneurship) and by doing that you can thrive with each other to the next level. Now that’s something that’s very good for young companies.
The cycling Hub also does quite of that except it’s a setup of bicycle brands and Gorilla bikes. So, they’re producing bicycle brands, where they produce the frames in Taiwan but the bikes are built here. That’s not all, as the owner Justus is also trying to attract more attention to his company; he is advocating for cycling tourism, in other words, he is trying to get more people to talk about race cycling. He is even ensuring the set-up of a national (Ugandan Racing) team that would finally participate in the Olympics.
They organize races, events to get people on the bikes, for tourism and general they’re popularizing bicycle sports in Uganda.
I am still curious as to why you didn’t use a bus, or fly, or any other means, but you chose a bicycle of all things.
It’s because I love bicycles. I have cycled my whole life. I started cycling when I was four years old and of course cycling in the Dutch culture is embedded. But for me, it’s even more than that. As I started at a very young age and I started racing when I was twelve years I did these competitions for about five to six years when I realized I wasn’t that good that I could compete anymore since as you go to a new level or new age, you are supposed to be more professional, so you should be spending more time doing it so that you can be the best. I realized that just simply was not meant for that. I wasn’t meant for racing. I stopped, didn’t do it for quite a long time actually. What I did was start doing the BMX riding.
I just enjoy being on a bike and last year was really good feeling back! I enjoyed riding with my racing bike all the way to here. Also previously I had just cycled twenty-five
kilometresto my graduation and back; it was a good feeling. It’s something I have enjoyed all my life. This trip though, is really more of combining a passion for riding bikes and a passion for adventure week after week, without even realizing.
What kind of message do you have for someone who would like to pa-take such ambition or adventure?
I think you should just GO because I did not plan on going on a bicycle ride for four months. Actually I just bought a bicycle for three hundred Euros in Namibia and I was like, Let’s see if I can go to Winsor, or Livingstone, but once I started riding the idea came and I was like, sure, why not? And, I am cycling in countries where people live, where you can always find food and water and that’s actually the most elementary need. If you have pain somewhere, you try to solve it, if a bicycle needs fixing you do it, so, that’s how simple it is. Just go. Don’t wait, just go.
I mean you can prepare, you can read blogs, you can do whatever for a long time but what is very easy to do is to not go in the end, to always postpone, which is not nice either. So just do it.
Because,I think now I am quite strong and I can cycle 150-200 km a day. But if you do fifty kilometers a day, it’s also fine and I think everyone can cycle 30-50 km/day, and you can always do it your own way. I met a lot of people doing the same on my way here. When you are alone, it’s like you are crazy, but when you go, you realize there are a lot of people doing it. I like it because everyone has their own way of doing it. A different bike, different kilometers, others travel with nothing, others with a stove and pan and make pancakes, everyone with their way, and it is okay!
You must have met so many faces on road. Faces from Namibia to Kampala, faces you’ve forgotten.
Yeah, that’s why I write down everything. I write down a lot of things in my diary because all those people that I meet, that’s actually what makes my travel. They’re the people who make me keep on going. I meet so many cool people. There is a lot of hospitality. People invite me for their dinners, people invite me to their places, they show me their homes, houses and cities, and they let me sleep in their beds!
Would you like to add something that I have not asked, maybe something you would like to say but I created no room for?
Okay, I just love doing this. I love riding the bicycle. I know it may seem hard, or something one could get tired of, but for me it’s not like that all. I love doing it because every day I am adding to the story and the dream of cycling home becomes a little bit more alive every day and it gives me goose bumps to think of that. When I am on a bike, and I listen to some music, and I think of what I am doing, I really get emotional with that. It really gives me goose bumps, thinking of what I am doing and how I am enjoying it, everyday!
In the beginning I didn’t dare to dream of cycling all the way to Cairo or the way back home to the Netherlands but when you do to 1000km, 2000km, 3000km, you begin to think oh, this is nice, this is quite easy, I can do this, this is going to work and yeah, now I am here and I love it! I am so happy, I have never been so happy in my life. I feel strong, I feel good. I meet new people, every month I am in a different country where everything changes. When you cross the border, food changes, money changes, language, culture, and you have to continuously adapt and sometimes you don’t want to because you may very much like one country but it’s always good to change and keep changing and I think that attitude is great! I keep looking forward to that; I appreciate every country I have been to.
For us at www.Lunkuse.com, meeting Luuk was even greater as he ended up modelling for ‘The Lunkuse Label.’ Cheers Luuk! We appreciate you very much and have a safe trip to Cairo!