Abraham Ruhumuriza is the oldest member of the original five of Team Rwanda Cycling. Depending on the passport or his national identification card his birthday is between January 1 and July 29, 1979, his birth papers lost in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
Abraham has been and always will be the rider of the people. There is not one inch of ground you can travel in Rwanda where people do not know the name, Ruhumuriza. Abraham earned the nickname, Punda, early on. Punda means donkey, as in stubborn as a mule. Abraham’s tenure with Team Rwanda Cycling was never smooth, but conversely, never dull. Abraham taught us more about ourselves and the country of Rwanda without ever setting out to do so.
Abraham joined the team in 2007 at the age of 28. He was a husband and father and also one of the strongest cyclists in the country. So strong in fact, Abraham defied Jock’s request to test. He felt he didn’t need to as he was already the best. He eventually did, joined the team, and the rest is history, sort of.
Abraham made the first trip to America in 2007. Upon returning home, in the span of a few months in late 2007, he lost his wife, and his newborn child was sent to live with family. Abraham couldn’t care for three young children alone. In 2009, he remarried, had another child with his new wife and regained custody of the child who had gone to live with relatives. He also kept riding and winning and traveling and being Abraham. By 2010 he was on and off the team because of continued issues with his attitude and behavior. Then he was gone. The Federation had sanctioned him, and all of us believed his career was over.
Abraham is a fighter. He lived through the genocide, he lived through the death of his mother and wife, temporarily lost his child, but he always fought his way back.
In 2011, Coach Jock Boyer chronicled Abraham’s fight to regain his place on Team Rwanda in the article, Abraham’s Rebirth.
In 2012, Abraham won the two-day stage race, Kwita Izina, cementing his place in Rwandan cycling history.
From 2012 until the Tour of Rwanda 2016, Abraham continued racing and producing decent results. However, every successive year became more difficult. He saw the new young talent, and although always fit and robust, it was more of a struggle to get the body to stay there, to race against riders almost half his age.
In 2014, at the Tour of Rwanda, on the stage into Team Rwanda’s hometown, Musanze, Abraham and the eventual Tour winner, Valens Ndayisenga, were coming up the final climb to the finish. In a symbolic show of sportsmanship, Abraham is photographed telling Valens to go for the win. Abraham knew this was the next generation. He had opened the door, and Valens was riding through it.
The Tour of Rwanda 2016 was Abraham’s last race. There was a ceremony at the award’s banquet on the final night. Abraham and Nathan were recognized and quietly retired.
Abraham has never mastered English, and still, most of our communication is waving hands and laughter, yet, he’s instrumental in the growth of cycling for the next generation. He leads a successful and quickly growing club team in his hometown of Butare, Rwanda. He is also our assistant junior and women’s coach alongside Nathan.
Mucyo, his oldest son, seen in the movie Rising From Ashes as a young boy is now 18 and finishing up his secondary school education. He rides and has raced some, but he never could fill his father’s shoes on a bike. For Abraham, educating Mucyo and his other children, now a total of five has been the real success of his life. He did it all by merely racing a bike.