It’s easy to blame it on my eighteen-plus-kilogram, Ironman Triathlon Pro with its fixed suspension. The truth is that the Kikuyu-Thogoto climb was a testimony to how far from fit I still am. Mak10 had said that the route was punishing, I did not take him seriously. Me, of the four-minute Mbagathi Way hill climb fame.
Just as you finished one climb another one came up on the bend.
We met at the usual spot in Westlands at 8 am. Lead by the garrulous, larger-than-life Shariff, we made our way down Peponi Rd to Lower Kabete and on to Gachie, and then up the long climb towards Kikuyu Township. This was the easy part.
Along the way I noticed different members took different roles; Shariff- The Sheriff the no-nonsense team leader, R – Mr. Fix It helped fix punctures quickly; N- The Yoda always hanging back to encourage the slow-mos; K- The Spokesman spoke up to remind us to keep the bunch to get more respect from motorists; Me- The Team doctor with nothing but a jar of sun-melted Vaseline to massage the kinks out of the thighs; J and B were the long distance pros on two of the heaviest bikes in the team, a sexy pair of black Travel Masters.
As we turned into long climb up Thogoto, we were joined by David Kinja’s team of DHL Boys in training. Jessie and Chi rode with the slow riders as the older boys went ahead. They said that the Thogoto uphills are amateur climbs for them. They train on the steeper Kiambu road climbs.
Where the tarmac ends at the top of Mangu Road in Thogoto we turned back and were joined by Kinja. He led the DHL boys in an up and down hill training session. Barking out orders in Kikuyu and the boys behind him getting into fluid formation.
Samson Gichuru also turned up and rode a short way with us.
The downhill was less hectic on my gluts. The heavy Ironman between my legs was finally doing what it was built for – downhill. Weeeeeee!
The ride in Pictures:
Meeting the team at Westlands in Nairobi. Shariff briefs us on the route.
Through green leafy Spring Valley. The roads were nice and clear for the Sunday morning ride.
Entering Gachie. The road is two way with little room on the shoulder enough for a cyclist to squeeze in.
Juma on the uphill towards Kikuyu Campus. The road in this section has little anti-skid bumps at intervals but on a busy traffic day the shoulder space is sufficient for a cyclist.
SK and Juma. in Kikuyu town. The road is a little wider with more room on the shoulder for a cyclist and a donkey cart.
Turning uphill into Thogoto. Cyclist pushing his loaded fixed gear Blackie. The entire road climbs up into the highlands,
Bus stop along Mangu Rd. in Thogoto... up, up, we go.
We are joined by the DHL boys on the climb...
We are in Donkey-pulled cart country.
Approaching a road-side goat & doper herder. It's the dry season but the well endowed Kikuyu highlands still still offer some brush for the small flocks of livestock.
On the uphill, a donkey-pulled cart loaded with napier grass and another carrying water in a giant drum. These donkeys are made of tough stuff for this uphill road.
Up, up, up. Just when you are done with one long climb another one shows up around the bend. It helps to look out into the horizon on the climb. Thank god it was a traffic-less Sunday morning. Lovely Kikuyu highlands are still green in the dry season.
This guy, perhaps in his fifties, flew by us on his Blackie with a wide semi-toothless grin.
David Kinja to the rescue to fix J's broken crank chain. Don't you just love his aerodynamic helmet. He looked like a comet riding effortlessly up and down with the DHL boys in an amazing display of colour, speed and team discipline.
A road side bike garage. there were three others along the way. "Sasa fundi!"
The Southern By Pass road is coming up pretty well. This will run from Kikuyu to Mombasa road via Ngong road & Langata road. From what I hear, it's not a busy road and thus not yet secure to use. Kinja's place is up ahead.
An interesting name for a church. Near David Kinja's home.
B's sturdy Travel Master. She and J have done over 2000 Kilometres of travel in Kenya. This bike is one hefty mama. Impressive!
N gets solicited by a Maasai elder selling Maasai wooden clubs. He and J each got one.
Happy Cycling in Nairobi and beyond! ❤ Nairobi! ❤ Cycling!