TheNBOHills: ValleyRoad

29 Aug

One important thing I did not give much thought to, and no one mentioned to me before I started cycle-commuting, is the hills of Nairobi. I am talking the areas of Nairobi within a 5-10 kilometre radius of Nairobi Central Business District, which form part of my daily commute. As a motorist you hardly notice the inclines, as a pedestrian working in CBD Nairobi, at the end of a long work day, it’s the first of arduous tasks before you can lay your tired head down.

I took Valley Road numerous times when going to school as a child; often down-hill very fast as my dad drove like mad when we missed the JIMCY school bus, or uphill onto Valley Road in the old JIMCY school bus from Uhuru Highway.

Valley Road’s steep gradient is best experienced on a bike; the painful uphill and the gleeful downhill, hugging the curb along the white line WEEEEEEEEEEE!!! Cars and 24 or 62-seater buses zip past at crazy speeds, even on the curve at the Milimani Road Junction. Watch out for the deeply set random manholes on Valley Road!!

Something about this road says ROAD RESERVE STOLEN!!! The walls and gates are flash right against the road you wonder how those who live or work in those compounds access safely, especially on the descent side of the road, and more so at night.

So, when my pal who is recovering from surgery and cannot wait to ride again told me she is excited to be getting a single speed Dutch bike  brought in to commute in Nairobi, I quickly burst her bubble by counting out  the climbs in Nairobi. Dutch country is mainly flat, so single speed riding is a breeze. Not so in Nairobi, you just need to check out the Black Mamba riders pushing their fixed gear bikes uphill even in sections that look flattish to get what I mean.

In Pictures:

The roundabout at the top of Valley road near the Silver Springs Hotel.

Entering Valley Rod from the top.

The puddles on the side-walk are a result of buses creating a non-existent bus stop at the top of Valley Road.

Scary big hole along the curb along DOD fence… On-going construction.

….eeeeeeee! There’s a the official bus stop just under the pedestrian fly over. It can be a dangerous spot considering the downhill speeds. A few reckless drivers come out of Ralph Bunche Rd on the left to join Valley Road. ….eeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

….eeeeeeee!!! The manhole covers are a menace. This one is flat  set, so no problem here.

Ack! another blocked drainage manhole… This one needs one of those fibre glass covers.

Had to swerve closer to the curb to miss this one… tire shredder!!!

The final descent… phew! a flat-set manhole cover.

It flattens out approaching the Processional Way exit from main road.

Slow down as the buses change lanes approaching the GPO Roundabout. Notice the leaning guard rails on the left. Watch out for the mini bus side mirror!

It can get really tight. Slow down and stay left as close to the curb as possible, between the car in front and the one the one behind you.

This last picture was the scene that was nearly the death of me in Live To Die Another Day.

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

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7 Responses to “TheNBOHills: ValleyRoad”

  1. Kimutai Cherono August 29, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Hey, did cycling but not commuting for a year, that Valley road only once, the matatu’s put paid to that idea. Use Lenana, thru CID HQ.

    • shecyclesnairobi August 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

      I have done an uphill on Valley Rd, just did not take pictures at the time…Had to concentrate on my chest to nose breathing on the climb. Indeed the Lenana Rd. way is a lot safer, though narrower. Enjoy the ride!

    • shecyclesnairobi October 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

      I do Valley Road only on the weekends…very tricky on a weekday. Indeed, Lenana rd into Dennis Pritt and onto State House Road is safer.

  2. bankelele August 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    You’re very courageous (or crazy 😉 ) to take on Valley Road in a bicycle. Even while driving a car, one has to be very observant for all manner of hazards – from over lapping matatus, cars making wrong turns, pedestrians heading to church, KBS buses that stop in the road, new potholes/stolen manhole covers etc.

    • shecyclesnairobi August 31, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      I have used it on two occasions; this downhill ride in the post and on another occasion, uphill. Indeed Valley Road has claimed many lives. I once witnessed a bus flip over at the State House Rd – Valley Rd intersection as it came down from Community… The missing manholes are harder on motorists than cyclists. The other day a friend was telling me she witnessed a cyclists brakes fail on the downhill. He came down yelling “Accident!!!” before crushing. I say roads like Valley Road should be closed off on Sundays by the Traffic Police Department to remind the public about road safety and responsible use of roads … public engagement.

  3. Sanne September 3, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    Your friend should buy her single gear bike in Nairobi, where they sell really good ones made in Kisumu – called Nyati. They’re much better than the Dutch ones, and this is a Dutch woman speaking. Plus, it means having spares at hand! Yes, Valley Road is tricky but never had trouble with any of the other hills in Nairobi on my single gear Kisumu bike (except of course the usual trouble of bastards in big cars trying to drive over me). Keep cycling!

    • shecyclesnairobi September 3, 2012 at 9:29 am #

      Thank you for the tip. I just told her what you said.I have heard about the Nyati bikes, they are pretty hardy and handy for heavy transporting too.

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