10 Oct THE MASTERMIND BEHIND RED DIRT UGANDA
Want to get to know Red Dirt Uganda and cycling holidays in Africa s a little better? Let us today introduce to you, Thies Timmermans, the brains behind Red Dirt Uganda. Thies is more than just the founder; he’s also a passionate cycling lover who has a deep love for Uganda. In fact, some of us sometimes wonder if he might have been a Ugandan in a past life.
To learn more about Thies Timmermans and his vision on Red Dirt Uganda’s cycling holidays, our team asked him several questions:
1. What inspired you to start Red Dirt Uganda and venture into cycling holidays in Africa?
“The fantastic opportunity that cycling offers to get close to the people and nature. I remember, that during my first days of cycling in Uganda, I wondered why nobody was actually offering cycling tours. Because they always gave me goosebumps: all my senses were triggered, the crazy sounds of kids cheering and the smell of freshly baked rolex. And what about the breathtaking panoramic views, the feel of the warm morning sun on my face. And even the taste of red dirt (it’s actually not that bad) when you accidentally hit a mud pool.”
2. As the director, what is the most rewarding about what Red Dirt Uganda does?
“Two things mostly: 1) getting incredible feedback from our clients after they have just finished a life-changing cycling experience and seeing a huge smile on their face. 2) seeing that our cycling tours have a direct or indirect impact on the lives of several people that are involved. Varying from our dedicated staff to the street vendors where we buy our daily soda/snack from during our tours and the guesthouses where we stay that offer jobs to the local communities.”
3. Can you share a challenge or obstacle you/Red Dirt faced that you have overcome?
“When I just started our company, I used to pay too much attention to the NO-sayers, the criticasters, and competitors. At one point, I almost lost my love for cycling in general. Fortunately, I realized that you just have to follow your own path and try to work with like-minded and other forces that inspire you. It’s pretty obvious that others will not always understand your activities as it is only you yourself who has an idea of the goals you want to achieve and the roads towards it.”
4. On a personal level, what is the proudest moment you have achieved since Red Dirt Uganda was born?
“There are so many proud moments that I have experienced during the 8 years that we are active. These vary from the very first new mountain bike that Red Dirt was able to purchase and ship to Uganda, to watching 10 young Ugandans pass our Bicycle Guide training in 2021. Same goes for our successful execution of the first edition of the Kintu Trial, organizing a ride for Cycling World Champion Anna v/d Breggen in Uganda, or seeing our wonderful team come together during our annual BBQ.”
5. How does Red Dirt Uganda stand out from similar businesses like cycling holidays in Africa?
“I believe there are two strong points that make us really stand out. Firstly, we have a very personal relationship with our clients. We listen to them very carefully and go that extra mile to make their trip an unforgettable experience. And that’s mostly the result of our wonderful team. It has happened more than once that clients have to shed a tear when saying goodbye to our staff at the airport. Secondly, we are always looking for ways to make our business more inclusive and sustainable. How can we impact other people’s lives through our company? How can others benefit through us as well? Examples are our annual free bicycle guiding course for local cycling enthusiasts and the open source Uganda Cycling Trail that we developed to promote Uganda as a cycling holiday destination in Africa.”
6. How do you see Red Dirt’s future? Any more destinations in Africa where we can enjoy a cycling holiday soon?
“So far we have managed to keep on growing every year. I hope that we can keep the ball rolling so we can also start offering fantastic riding experiences in countries like Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi. But this can’t be possible without an outstanding team. I, therefore, hope that our efforts to set up a local curriculum for professionals in the cycling sector will pay off in the near future. The same goes for all the energy that we are putting into promoting Uganda and other African destinations as awesome cycling destinations.”