Riding through the small villages in Uganda can be an eye-opening experience, even for locals. Justus Kojax Koojo, a former professional cyclist from the central African country, discovered this on one of his regular rides with his charity-minded Gorilla Bikes company.
"Across one of our social rides in a very remote villages in Uganda this year, we met a 10 year old boy that made a static bike out of Babana fiber," said Justus. "He cycled his hand made static toy with so much passion that it wasn’t long before we agreed to bless with with a brand new 24-inch Gorilla Bike.
"For me the idea that riders would appreciate pausing their ride and reaching out to identify, promote and inspire talent to a stranger fulfills the mission Ultimate Cycling was birthed for. It was simply memorable and filled with much tears of joy and gratitude. Unforgettable…"
Such stories are what drove Justus Kojax Koojo to create Gorilla Bikes and Ultimate Cycling and he's seeing his initiative already work change within the community. While Ultimate Cycling operates as a profitable business, it works hand-in-hand with the community in charitable efforts to inspire a new generation in Uganda.
"The main difference between a Gorilla bike and any other is that for every bike sold, we plant a tree, educate a child and donate an entry level bike to communities from our proceeds," said Koojo.
"In our context and ethos, we use bikes as tools to connect people and cultures. Any journey on a bike relates to a real-life journey and so this gets you to do life together. Care for, encourage one another to get you all to the end."
The company is creating waves within the cycling community with their healthy message and the opportunity for better health, tourism and social impact within Uganda.
"So far we have our own home-designed and built bike brand which turns out to be the first professional bike brand in East, Central and Western Africa," said Koojo.
It was an answer to a problem faced by Koojo himself as he returned to Uganda from overseas and struggled to find the equipment, support and community that supported cycling. The scarcity of reliable bikes and parts inspired him to solve what had been a puzzle for many.
Currently, Ultimate Cycling Uganda acts as a one stop for rentals, bike tours, bike sales and accessories, bike maintenance and the cycling community.
Ultimate Cycling sales support initiatives in education, sports and entrepreneurship through supporting local charities like Kitenge Africa Foundation, Awaamu, The Justus Kojax Koojo Foundation and the Gorilla Bikes Community Library.
The dirt roads and remote villages seem a far cry from the built-up cities and tarmac of western countries, but the Tour de France remains a constant as the pinnacle of a sporting passion shared by many the world over.
"I always watch the Tour de France and I appreciate Mr. Chris Froome (four time Tour de France winner), and Team Sky entirely. I do have a lot of respect for everyone that’s made it up there, I ride bikes myself and know exactly how much work and dedication it takes to make it to levels like this."