Rift Valley Odyssey, Brakenhurst-Lake Nakuru, Kenya
It was a year ago I was invited to this event, a race but not a race, an event where self navigated GPS routes first took off, an event where times are not taken, nor important, an event where the trails are sublime, an event which is small and intimate, where the focus is on the mountain biking, in its purest form, in the heart of Africa, in the middle of the Mighty Rift Valley.
Eric Nesbitt, the mastermind behind this event and the ‘Mini DrEvil’ of Kenya, had especially positioned his event this year so as not to clash with my fathers own DrEvil Classic, so that teammate, Max Knox, and myself could participate. It would be my first experience to Kenya, Max had ridden the previous year, but without doubt, not my last, but only the beginning for some of the true ‘mountain bikers’ I know back home.
I had no idea of what to expect, apart from what Max had told me about the beautiful and bio diverse landscape that Kenya has to offer, and the minor details that Max had neglected to tell me, the severe altitude and heart thumping 400 odd kilometers between 2200m-2750m that lay ahead of us, from Brakenhurst to Lake Naivasha, and then on towards Lake Nukuru National Park.
The riding, which in essence, is what we were here for, was incredible, ranking right up there with the best trails I’ve ridden around the world. The organization for this small, but intermit event was also world class, and the hospitality of the local Kenyans was mind blowing. If I ever travel abroad, it will be African countries from here on for sure.
Highlights of the tour? Too many to name off the top of my head.
But I will try: Heaven is a rarified place on earth, where the air is thin, but the rewards are thick.
The descent for the first time into the mighty Rift Valley, the many climbs around the valley, into lush indigenous forests, raw volcanic rock barren landscapes that apparently, Lara Craft once roamed.
How about the last day when riding through proper big five reserves of Lake Nakuru, seeing rhino, buffalo and lion, or simply being able to ride with the SafariSimbaz, a group of boys, raised and guided by David Kinja, a close friend and mentor to Chris Froome. David took us on a personal tour of his Simbaz and how the boys live, and where they grow up, a most humbling experience for any developing cyclist or athlete.
The RVO has quickly taken over a special place in my heart, close to the route of my soul, Africa and mountain biking in essence, and I will be the first rider to put my hand up to return next year to build on the fond memories that this diverse country has left me with.
The Pride of Africa.