Dirt, Sweat and Fever

 Dirt, Sweat and Fever: Conquering the 1.000 hills around Rwanda

 Ulrich Bartholmoes started RaR 2023 with the goal to win, but the universe had some surprised for him. He presents Dirt, Sweat, Fever, a documentary about resilience, determination and the unpredictability of ultra-cycling.

Movie premiere at 7pm on 24 October via YouTube (below)

Cycling holidays in Rwanda

Are you keen to discover Rwanda on a bicycle, but not able to join the Race Around Rwanda? We offer bespoke cycling trips, training camps and cycling themed holidays all year round through Komeza, run by RaR organizers and friends. 

Visit and discover all the options, from full training camps to relaxed tours through the land of a thousand hills. 

Results RaR2020

The inaugural Race Around Rwanda is over. Extreme weather made the course even more challenging than expected, yet almost everyone managed to reach the finish line. Find the final results here. 

Solo results RaR01 2020

Pair Results RaR01 2020

The inaugural Race Around Rwanda took place from the 2nd to the 7th of February 2020. It was an eagerly anticipated event which brought together 67 participants from 23 different countries to take on a challenging route across the Land of a Thousand Hill’. 

While the participants gathered in Kigali there were a lot of conversations about the weather, with many trying to predict when the ‘dry season’ might actually start, and what tyres would best deal with the conditions! Despite the uncertainty from above, the race kicked off at 0430 on a dry and misty East African morning. The racers headed off to the East taking in the rolling hills close to Akagera National Park and it wasn’t long before there were some splits in the field. By 0730 Jason Black had summoned the strength to mount his bike, leave Kigali and begin the ‘catch up’, all done while dealing with severe food poisoning.  

During the first night all riders experienced a large tropical storm, this was.especially felt by those out on the second gravel section! Gravel conditions were extremely challenging and the tarmac was treasured!! The only abandon of the race happened at this point, completly worn out brake pads, no spares and still 600k to go, Josh Ibbett could not see any other option than to DNF while being 2nd place at the moment.
The racers then made their way through the Volcanes and then to the shores of Lake Kivu before turning South towards Nyungwe Jungle. By the middle of the race there was a clear leader in Ultan Coyle, but 2nd-5th places were hard on his tail! Rob Gardiner put in a strong effort of 500km straight to try to close the gap. The pairs race was in full flow with 2 Rwandan teams battling out for the lead. This was made all the more impressive as it was their first ever ultra race.

After a beautiful cycle through the oldest jungle in Africa the competitors were into the final stretch of the race. The one remaining gravel section changed dramatically over a 48 hour period after heavy rain and then baking sun….but this only added to the challenge, adventure and race. All riders found their way safely back to Kigali in time for some well deserved beers at the finishers party!!!

The Journey

Not every cyclist is a racer, some ar journeyers too. All participants were free to use shortcuts and alternative roads as they wished, we did not keep a ranking, but their time at each checkpoints was registered nonetheless and can be found on the livetracking page:

Why Rwanda?

Known as the land of a thousand hills (Le Pays des Mille Collines) thanks to the endless ‘ups and downs’ in this stunning country. Rwanda’s breathtaking scenery and warm, friendly people offer unique experiences in one of the most remarkable countries in the world. It is blessed with extraordinary biodiversity, with incredible wildlife living throughout its volcanoes, mountain rainforests and sweeping plains. Of note, Rwanda is one of the only places in the world where you can visit the endangered Mountain Gorillas.

Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is a land locked country and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Rwanda is ranked as the 8th safest country in the world by the World Economic Forum and 11th by the 2017 Gallup poll.

This safety and stability has dramatically increased investment, tourism and economic growth over the last 10 years. The relaxed and welcoming feel will be apparent from the moment you land and get your ‘visa on entry’ and continue right through your cycle adventure!

2022 will mark the 28th year since the Rwandan Genocide which took place in 1994. Since then all in Rwanda have taken huge leaps forward in creating an incredible nation …. one that is perfect to experience from the saddle!

Cycling – Getting on 2 wheels and peddling really is a national way of life! The sturdy single speed is an ever present, and the 2019 ‘Tour de Rwanda’ saw over 1 million Rwandans line the roads to support the spectacle. Rwanda has surfaces and routes to challenge all types of rider from pure road riding on extremely smooth rides ( to the well known ‘Congo Nile Trail’ mountain bike route…

Flights – Kigali boasts some super connections to Europe and other parts of the world. There are a large number of direct flight options (UK, Belgium, Turkey, Dubai, Qatar and most of Africa) and all other countries are a short connection away!

WeatherRwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than are typical for equatorial countries because of its high elevation. Kigali, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 12 and 27 °C (54 and 81 °F), with little variation through the year.

Some interesting facts:

  • Women make up 64% of the parliament (6th ranked in world for gender gap).
  • Kinyarwanda is the mother tongue, but French, English and Swahili are widely spoken.
  • Tourism is one of Rwanda’s fastest growing industries.
  • Rwanda’s coffee ranks top of the world alongside that of Brazil, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
  • Rwanda is GMT+2