WaterWaterEverywhere _ Murang’a

22 Mar

Many times when you take a trip out-of-town you rarely get the view of the back-end unless you are visiting family in your home village. As a guest in a new town, you will most likely find yourself in the hub or the town centre. Close to the tarmac.

I have driven through Murang’a town a couple of times. This time I got a rare view of the countryside behind the township. This area is not only famous for the mighty Sagana River (Thagana), it is also the birth place of the tough, female Gikuyu colonial chief Wangu wa Makeri.

We crossed a little rope and wood bridge over the Sagana section of Tana River into Murang’a from Kirinyaga on light mountain bikes, hired from Savage Camp. The “Thagana” is the lifeline of this area of Murang’a; fishing, watering fish farms, watering livestock, washing, and water sports.

Just a couple of years ago, there were no farming activities in this particular area of Murang’a, just dust, occasional flash floods as water made its way from the Kiambicho Hills into the Thagana, taking all the rich soil with it and dumping the rest on the foothills.

Now with a community irrigation scheme up and running, families are now growing rice on previously un-farmed land. We cycled past the paddies where they were planting as the piped water from the Thagana lapped gently in a trench on the roadside.

The thirsty and dry countryside, roads covered in loose deep dust that caused the bike tires to lose traction, lie in high contrast to the green paddies. Water well harnessed makes a huge difference.

Today is World Water Day. As a cyclist water is the second most crucial item to have. The first is a bike puncture repair kit; pump, patches, adhesive and a tire lever. Even on a short commute to work. On long rides, a water pack is necessary. However, as K pointed out the other day, with mobile money you can “refuel” anywhere along the way these days.

My birthday falls in mid March. As a child I remember it would always rain or threaten to rain on my birthday. I would pray ( I was a deeply spiritual child and would say several Hail Marys and Our Fathers on the Rosary) that the rain would hold so that I could have the neighbourhood kids over for a floodlight party in the back yard. The last decade or so, no rain has fallen in mid March. The rain falls later, and later in the month. More in April than in March these days.

Since I began cycling, I take water consumption very seriously. Water plays a major role in regulating your body temperature and keeping you energized. Every morning when I wake up between 6:00 and 7 am, I drink at least 1 litre of water before breakfast. On arrival at my destination, I empty half of the one-litre bottle. In between I will take at least another litre.

At the end of the day, I take another two litres before dinner and bed time. It’s great for your skin and flashes out the lactic acid build up after a punishing ride. In the cooler weather I probably will consume half that. These are great tips on how to stay hydrated as a cyclist, especially in the dry heat of December to March, and some  hydration mistakes that cyclists make.

After along ride, I take up three litres in 4 hours, before dinner. Just sip slowly.

The path out of Camp Savage on the banks of the Sagana River (Tana River).

It’s rather dry now in Murang’a. A quaint little church.

The last El Niño rains ate a section of the road leaving this amazing formation.It’s like a mini Grand Canyon (USA).

Alone school girl on the way home. I offered to teach her how to ride. She said she is afraid to fall off.

The dry season. A view of the valley below.

A partially built red soil brick house.

The rice paddies of Murang’a.

The 2 inch deep fine soil made for difficult cycling.

Now if the woman on the left had a bicycle, she wouldn’t have to break her back carrying the firewood. The man was carrying hay in a sack. Hmmm…

The small canal running off water from the paddies.

Motorcyclist and cyclist.

Goats browsing along the road. The soil gets deeper up ahead as we leave this nice hard surface. Had to cycle close to the centre of the road to avoid slipping from loss of traction.

This section was more fine soil. Less deep than before though.

A lone cyclist pushing a fixed gear Black Mamba bike up a gentle climb. It was hot as hells kitchen.

Pushing through a technical section. Did not come up fast enough to take the rocky section. It got worse ahead. Narrow ridges and steep drops.

Battle wounds from Murang’a ride. I attempted a technical section on a bike I had not used before. Grazed my right calf on the crank chain. Ow!

Cycle Smart!

Happy Cycling in Nairobi and beyond! ❤ Nairobi! ❤ Cycling!

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6 Responses to “WaterWaterEverywhere _ Murang’a”

  1. mmnjug March 22, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Wah!! That place looks desolate…………. it had better rain soon………..!!

  2. Mummy Tales - A Kenyan mom's blog March 23, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    This is Murang’a? Looks so dry -must be the part that borders Ukambani. Nice post, feels like you took me through a geography class 🙂

    • shecyclesnairobi March 23, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      Hey Maryanne. Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. Physical Geography and history happened to have been my favourite subjects in high school (something to do with engaging teachers I think). I believe if I did not do what I currently do, I would have been a geologist or archaeologist.

      Yep. It needs to rain soon. Though I dare say the deep fine soil covering the roads may turn into an in-navigable thick custard. Not fun to cycle through.

  3. Doppelgänger March 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Waa… if that mini grand canyon was in my shamba I’d be tempted to do create something around it… not sure what… perhaps an interesting landscaping operation around or inside it…. and put up an eco lodge of sorts

    • shecyclesnairobi March 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

      That’s a good idea. Unfortunately it’s on the road reserve. Also If the El Niño rains return your developments would get carried away (literally). I suspect the gradient of the land in this section, that was originally part of the road, was interfered with during the construction. Perhaps there was a gulley here that was filled in. Interfere with nature and it will slap you back hard.

      • Doppelgänger March 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

        Wangari Maathai used to say that…. so true..

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