It had been five days since our wheels hit the dirt on Mount Kilimanjaro, and for five days I’d been dealing with stomach aches and deep lacerations on my right leg, thanks to the razor edged volcanic rocks that grated into my shins and knees with each spill. My partner, professional mountain biker Rebecca Rusch, and I had also been fighting altitude, gear malfunctions, weather, and emotional ups and downs since day one.
These challenges were worth it since we were doing it to raise money for World Bicycle Relief, which builds tough bikes for people who live in remote, rural areas throughout the continent. Our mission was to climb up and bomb down Africa’s tallest mountain, unsupported. As far as we could determine, Rusch and I would be the first people to do so since two British cousins, Nicholas and Richard Crane, earned the first ascent in 1985.