About this cycling thing we have going on.
Last Sunday was pretty interesting.
I woke up pretty early this past Sunday and went to the Tighties to pick up one of my uncle’s shimano pocket rockets that needed repair. I was accompaniedy by my right hand person, Wangarí wa Baba. We took the bicycle to the Mùkùyù market to a make shift bicycle repair shack located next to a heap of cabbages.
Sitting next to the mechanic next to that heap of garbage, I felt like Lewis Hamilton next to his AMG-Mercedes Silver arrrow at the pit lane of the Autodromo Interlagos in Sau Paulo on race day. The Mechanic in his torn overalls looked to me like one of those Mercedes pit crew mechanics.
My personal person, Wangarí, who was seated on an old tractor tyre, felt like Hamilton’s employer and AMG-Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
After the bike was repaired, we went back home. I found Jackie waiting next to her less-than world class bike outside our gate. I always wonder how she picks the same rickety bicycle and doesn’t die after all those punishing climbs. The girl is that fit. After having breakfast and using many diversionary tactics to evade the ever vigilant Wangarī, we loaded the bikes on to the pick-up and set out for the Tighties. As always, Wangarí made a huge scene.
We got to the tighties and we were the first one’s there, save for a lady who was seated in a white SUV in the parking lot. I recognized her from her regular jogging sessions in the evening around the village. Since we didn’t know the nature of her business there, we didn’t exchange pleasantries.
I however suspected that she might want to join us because she was in exercise apparel. I called our throat hydrating Ninja and asked him to bring an extra bike just incase anyone wanted to tag along.
After a little while, the lady in the white SUV left leaving just me and Jackie. Ninjas were getting late and I was getting impatient . I went outside the hotel gate to see if I could see anyone. After a while, I could see Mùrathi and two other Ninjas on their bicycles in the distance. They stopped at the St.Mary’s-C72 junction and stayed there for an annoyingly long time. Then I saw a familiar, white Lancruiser prado J150 coming up the C72 and turn into the hotel. As it went past me I noticed that it was being driven by the Ambulance driver instead of the regular occupant.
The cyclists closely followed it and also made their entry. Hot on their heels was the lady in a white SUV. Before we could even exchange pleasantries, a grey Audi RS Q5 also drove in with my uncle inside.
Two now became nine.
After pleasentries were exchanged, it was confirmed that we would take the Múrang’a-Mbombo-Maragúa-Gakoigo-kíria- Nyoka Nyoka- Múriranja route, which was basically a succession of unbelievable climbs then we would come down through the Mùriranja-Kahuro-Mùgoiri -Mùkùyù-Mùrang’a route. It had been proposed earlier during the week but it was now cast in stone.
The lady in the white SUV, who had by now introduced herself as Njoki, would also be joining us for the ride. The extra bicycle I had asked for would now come in handy. The extra bicycle just so happened to be my friend Waguta’s bicycle. Because chivalry isn’t dead on our side of this blue rock, we offered her the state-of-the-art Shimano pocket rocket. She was taken through the paces and was offered a crash course on changing gears through the different terrain that we would encounter.
What this effectively meant was that I would be covering the longest distance thus far in a medieval neutering device clothed as a mountain bike. This prospect left me a little misty eyed.
After prayers were mumbled by someone, we set off.
We had a short pit stop at the Kenol service station near Mùkùyù to apply grease to the bikes. The journey was long, so everything needed to be just right. A ninja named James, who had cycled with us the last time out, joined us at this point. He didn’t have a bike but he reasoned that it was guaranteed that someone would not make the entire journey and he would be on hand to take over their bike. He boarded the ambulance.
We set out again. The Ninjas on good bikes set off like it was the time trial stage at the Tour de France. I am usually more interested in taking in the landscapes, so I stayed behind, just ahead of the ambulance. Njoki was slightly ahead and was struggling a little, understandably so since it was her first time on a busy road on a bicycle.
We got to the Mbombo road side market and found the pacesetters eating bananas. I had a banana too. It was of the Kambara variety, which is the Ferrari of bananas. It was dull yelllow with the hallmark dark spots of a very ripe banana and it tasted like a full moon.
We had another stop in Maragùa town, where the pacesetters were having pineapples at the Gakoigo junction. Since I had developed a habit of miscalculating calories, I had a yoghurt and a queen cake, just to be safe. Extreme hunger and hypoglycemia hit different when you are on a bike in the middle of nowhere and I was not taking chances.
We set off again and as per the script, the pacesetters sped off like Sebastian Loeb on a WRC rally stage. Njoki said that she kept getting a strong temptation to give up and board the ambulance since everyone kept leaving her behind and she was feeling a little discouraged. So I elected to stay behind with her. I reasoned that there in was no point in inviting someone to join you then not try to encourage them to make the distance or to at least give it their best effort.
The climbs kept getting steeper. Njoki couldn’t take them so she got off her bike and started to push it. I did so too in encouragement. The landscapes were pristine as always and steep cliffs lay on one side after crossing over the Maragùa river. The cliffs were imposing. She turned out to be a great conversationalist and time went by fast.
We finally got to Kíria town and everyone stopped for a water break. A little after Kíria, the climbs became longer and Njoki finally gave up. James calculations had been right on the money. The immaterial had become material. As soon as Njoki put the Shimano down, I was on it like bad rash before James could get any bright ideas. I held the right of first refusal on the pocket rocket and he had to make do with the mineral crusher.
The higher we climbed, the better the views became. As always, the birds of Mùrang’a were at hand with their soundtracks. The legendary hills of Mùrang’a were scenic too. I kept getting that stillness of mind that I love to chase.
James kept complaining and saying, “Ngai, kaí gùtarí na míikùrùko? no iríma theri?”
“Lord! Are there no descents? Is it all uphill?”
We finally got to the snaking nyokanyoka road a little after 2.30pm. We had covered a little under 40km.
My uncle’s legs gave up at this point and he too elected to board the ambulance.
A Ninja known as Maina, more popularly known by his non-de-guerre, Bundes, took over his Shimano and very quickly discarded his own piece of scrap metal. Bundes plays as a right back for our football club Múrang’a Seal or M-Seal. M-Seal has won four league titles in succession in four different divisions and now plays in the National Super league, the second highest football league in the country after the premier league. My uncle is their Roman Abramovic and the ambulance we use belongs to the club.
We then started on the descent back to Múrang’a. The drops were to die for.
At Kahuro town, we had another water break. I was feeling very hungry, so I had njúgú karanga. We had earlier decided to order lunch at the tighties when we got to Kahuro so that it would be ready and hot by the time we got back. We elected to have pork.
When we stopped at Ndikwe shopping centre, Mùrathi, our resident expert on village maps proposed a short cut. He reasoned that we were unlikely to make it in good time if we decided to go down the Múkúyú route. There was a catch though, we would have to cut through a section of rough road to get to the C72 which would shave off some time.
The road was rough all right. A little boy kept running behind me on the narrow road asking for a ride. As I tried to take a photo of the Múrarí river, the boy and the bike nearly touched. As I tried avoiding the boy, I fell off the bike and got a very, very painful knock to the baby makers.
The road kept getting worse and at some point the ambulance got stuck. We got off our bikes to help. After trying to push out the ambulance in vain, we climbed into the back to give it traction. It pulled free.
I was dead tired by the time we touched the tarmac of the C72. I had never been so happy to see a paved road. A little while later we were at the Tighties.
We found lunch waiting for us there. It was pork mixed with fries and it was sumptuous. That first ice cold white cap felt like heaven. The view from the Tighties, as it always is, was beautiful. The Mathioya thundered in the distance as we rested our sore legs.
There were two burly, middle aged men with rather deep voices seated near us. There was a younger, hawk-eyed Ninja, seated a healthy distance from them. One of the men, who was a little intoxicated, kept loudly calling me over, so I went over.
He asked, “kwanini uko na mandevu Kama ya Ho Chi Minh? Unajua huyo ni Nani kijana?”
He asked the wrong nerd. So I told him who Ho Chi Minh was. He told me about the Tet offensive and I told him about the Siege of Leningrad. He asked me if I knew who Fidel Castro overthrew in 1959 and I told him that he overthrew Batista. I told him about the 38th parallel and we watched the invasion of the bay of pigs on his phone.
He told his friend that I am like Raila and I might have communists leanings but I told him that my political views were more Centre left. I got 4 whitecaps for my command of history. It turned out that they were senior government ninjas accompanied by a bodyguard.
The old man wanted to have more history conversations but I used Jackie as an excuse to get back to the group.
Needless to say, I drove the short distance home lit and well in contravention of curfew hours long after the hotel had closed. Poor judgement; I blame it on the white caps and fatigue.
We do this all over again next week.
The courage to suck at something new.