Kenya is over, boo hoo. All that planning, prep, fundraising and training. Over in ten short days.
But what an experience. Joy, laughter, pain, discomfort, pleasure, friendship and hard work.
Day 1 Kenya. Nyeri to Nyahururu
A long long first day. After an overnight plane ride with little sleep, half a day travelling and a night in a strange bed ( a very strange bed) and up at the crack of dawn.
We didn’t quite know what to expect during the day, the terrain, the heat or the environment. Everything was new and my ankles were the size of elephant feet!
I found myself shortly after we left the hotel, alone on an uphill section after my chain had fallen off. There was a lady sharpening a very huge knife on a rock close to the roadside and I felt very ill at ease but this sight was to be pretty common over the next few days. Over here we would need a license for a thing that size!!
We had to wait at water stops for people to catch up so the timing to the next station was tight. At the last ‘rolling’ stop I literally had a couple of minutes to get going again or it was ‘on the bus’ eek. I got back on my bike a.s.a.p. Unfortunately, a couple of girls I knew had stopped a short way behind me and were forced to get on the bus. They were, gutted to say the least. Fortunately it was only for a short distance and they were allowed off again to carry on cycling.
The last stop before the hotel was lunch where we ate a scrumptious feast and watched local school children sing some beautiful songs to us. There were tears.
The last part of the ride was undulating hills towards the Thomson Falls Safari lodge. It seemed to take forever! Everything hurt and I was so tired. Finally we made it and after a quick shower it was evening meal and talk about the next day from our guides. I had rather too much plonk that night celebrating my victory over day one. Oops.
I woke ok and looking forward to the day ahead. It was cold!
I felt a bit off it but put it down to tiredness and anticipation of the day ahead.
The cycling was pretty easy as we rode out of town and a friend wanted me to cycle with her but i knew i wouldn’t be able to keep up with her, so declined. We reached our first stop quickly and were shown the road down the valley in front of us from a very high view point. For some reason I got very anxious and the tour guide didn’t help matters by saying the next days down hills were even steeper. I am not a huge fan of really steep roads at the best of times. He put the fear into me and I was stressed.
I really struggled that day. I was emotional and tired. I had no energy and was anxious. I went down that hill with my heart in my mouth and feeling like I was going to have a nasty accident! I don’t know why. It was just a bad day.
The hill going up and out the valley was a long slow drag and it got the better of me. I stopped by the road side and when a couple of my friends passed and asked if I was ok, I cried. They filled me with fruit gums and rummaged for energy snacks and gave me a hug. It was just what I needed.
I made it up the hill with 2 or 3 stops. It was hot and I was dehydrated. I should have known better than to drink so much the night before. I should have rehydrated and gone to bed earlier. I didn’t sleep that well either for whatever reason. And I was dreading Day 3, which involved a huge downhill and a huge uphill!!
We finally made it to the end and I could finally relax. Or so I thought. Transfer by bus to the next hotel proved rough and raised my anxieties more! The roads weren’t particularly good and out driver banked the bus over to miss the pot holes. I thought we were going to tip over. We were like a bunch of screaming school girls!
We made to Lake Nakuru Safari Lodge in time for a swim.
The Lake looked amazing at sunset, shame it was fenced off by a huge wall!
It started to rain whilst we were having our evening meal and by the time we were ready to go to our room it was hammering it down. The sky was lighting up with forked lightning the thunder was booming. It was amazing.
I was still feeling emotional and a call home was out of the question. The thought of hearing my daughters voice made me well up and I didn’t want her to hear me upset. I went to sleep that night worrying about the next day and missing home.
I started day 3 with a renewed vigour after rehydration and a good nights sleep, despite the early wake up call of 5.15 a.m!!
I wasn’t looking forward to the journey back along the horrid road we had come along the night before but the fear was unfounded and it was actually a good laugh despite the keeling over and bumps. We actually got stuck in a river bed (our bus wasn’t the best one) and we had to collect stones to build a makeshift causeway to enable the buses to get over.
See, we should have bike it!
Our bus finally got out the river bed but unfortunately this made us an hour and a half late for the ride that day.
It was a quick assembly of bikes and off on the downhill. I was nervous but not anxious and as the metres dropped away I gained confidence and speed. It was exhilarating. The switch backs were like those seen on the Tour De France! Ok well, not quite as tight or steep!!
The Kenyan cycle team passed in the opposite direction and passed us going in the same direction before we reached the bottom of the hill!!
After a rest stop began ‘The Climb’. I was dreading it. I’m a rubbish climber and if it’s steep, I’ve had it. It was later in the day too so it was H.O.T.
I thought at one point I was going to pass out. I felt faint and dizzy. I stopped to have water poured over my head, which helped and carried on up the slow long climb. 11 km’s in total. We were told it was only 8!! It got steeper and steeper and around ever corner was another corner!
Finally made it to the ‘Bronze’ stop after walking the last couple of k’s! The hill facing us at the start of the ‘Silver’ stage was enough to put most of us off so we waited for a lift to the top. I wanted to miss out 16 k’s of hard climbing rather than 35 k’s of easy riding to the next hotel. I knew if i tried the silver or gold parts I would be struggling the next day.
The top of the ‘hill’ afforded us views of the road up to ‘gold’ and it was windy and steep. I was glad I didn’t attempt it. I was still wet from the dowsing on the way up the hill and the top was cold and it was raining. I only had a thin rain jacket to put on to keep me warm, as did many of the other girls. We were freezing!
We filled up with coffee and more scrumptious food and waited for the ‘golden girls’ to begin crossing the line. Some had already made it!! Slowly but surely we could see some of them coming up the hill and we cheered them on. A close friend of mine had decided to go for Silver but had unknowingly passed the silver stopping point and had continued on to the top!
We were told to get ready to leave soon if we wanted to do the last section of the ride to the hotel. I was torn between staying to welcome a friend in and finishing the ride for that day. The minutes were running out when we saw her coming up the hill. We welcomed her in with huge applauds then I had to jump on my bike and leg it quickly to avoid being left behind.
I managed to keep ahead of a few girls but knew they were some of the quicker ones and had managed to complete the hill to gold so I had my work cut out to keep from being left behind! It did mean riding ahead of them, alone through a town which was heavily populated and a little intimidating. Some of the girls on the hill run had had stones thrown at them and children had grabbed their bikes and clothes as they rode past. I was mindful of this and more than a little nervous.
The town opened into countryside once more and was a relief! One thing which did surprise me is how lush Kenya is. Some parts reminded me very much of the UK. I expected rough roads and barren landscape. Not at all.
The tea plantations were especially stunning, if a little smelly!! Their colour was amazing. A fantastic vibrant green. The fields went on for miles. It’s quite amazing how much effort goes into cultivating and grow tea. Never forsake your daily cuppa again!!
The ride that day ended in Eldoret, a very busy and dangerous place to cycle into!! After a very long day and hard climb for some of the girls, we expected a hotel of much the same rating as the others we stayed in. We were wrong!! It was a bit shabby to say the least. Some got moved out their basement rooms with slugs crawling the walls! Apparently our room was a deluxe suite! Crikey. At least the booze was cheap. Although I was confused by the barman asking me if I wanted sweet or dry red wine!!
After my room mate freaked me out with talk of dirty sheets I went to bed fully clothed and slept like a log.
Day 4. Eldoret to Kakamega.
A pretty good day despite the hills! I swear if i saw another hill I would throw my bike over the edge! a lot of us developed cycling tourettes! I’ll leave it to your imagination what was said. It was a tough day as it was another 100 km ride and the girls who had made it to gold were suffering from tiredness and tired muscles. Emotions were high. I felt for them. The heat was still immense and some of the hills went on for miles. Something most of us could not have prepared for.
We had another school sing to us and we gave them gifts and showed them their photos on our cameras. So cute!
Cycling along through the villages we shouted ‘Jambo’ and received shouts of Jambo back. The school children went nuts when they saw us going past. Some of them never having seen a white person before. At one stop some of them touched our skin and rejoiced in the softness! We mostly received smiles and shouts of encouragement. By the time group 3 were out there, we were celebrities having been on the radio, on TV and in the papers!
We stayed at the very nice Golf Hotel that evening.
Our last day. Mixed with happiness and sadness. Happiness we had done it. Sadness it was nearly over.
It was a short but tough day. Lots of undulations and some steep hills.
We blew up balloons and attached them to our helmets and bikes for the final ride of our trip through the Rift Valley. We could hardly believe we were nearly finished. It was surreal.
Our final destination was the Kisumu Sunset Hotel, where we were greeted with music and champagne.
There were many tears of relief, joy and sadness for lost loved ones.
But we had done it. Admittedly not the whole 400 km’s for some of us but we had done our best and stepped out of our comfort zone, felt the fear and done it!!
well done to all of us. I’m very proud to have been part of it.