So I have a story to tell


Yesterday I convinced myself that it is possible to ride the 486km to Mombasa from Nairobi and I almost did. Before you get tired thinking about how massive that distance is, hear me out.

To prepare, I bought 6 lunch bars on Friday. Had my bike serviced the week before, talked my friend into lending me his small safari pump, bought patch kit and then checked the elevation on komoot. Everything was set. I had enough cash in the wallet, 2 water bottles and no phone. Still don’t have a phone.

On Saturday morning, I woke up early, 5:20 to be precise to get ready for this massive attempt. I parked everything I needed, warmed some left over food for breakfast and set off at 6. 7km later, it occurs to me I am not sure I got my wallet in the bag and without it I am effed, completely fucked. So I check the bag in a hurry and don’t see it. Bugger rides back home only to arrive and find the wallet in the bag. That was the moment to not proceed with the ride.

Now that wallet has been located, I set off again. Goal is to maintain a pace of 30kph for as long as it is possible. That I discovered was easier said than done. To cut a long story short, I maintained that pass for 280km.

To ensure that I didn’t bonk during the ride, my goal was to stop every 100km for tea and a snack, refill my water bottles and eat a lunch bar. I did this for the first 100. My next stop was after 70km. Then I did a stop at 50km. And I think the next was after 80km.

I had a puncture while cycling through Tsavo national park. Luckily I had a pump. It didn’t occur to me that inflating a tire to 90psi using a small handheld pump is harder than cholo punda manyuol. I gave up at 55psi which was good enough to support my weight.

The hardest part of the ride was between 170-180km. I almost gave up and then the last 90km were hard, 36km of this was in the dark.

The terrain is good. Flats, gentle climbs and more flats. No drops except at km 90 then it is all flat and boring with only you and your bicycle.

I woke up today to go and get the train back to Nairobi. Fully backed. So I hitched a ride with a driver who was bringing a car to Nairobi from Mombasa.

Next plan, to concur the remaining 150 or so km to Mombasa in one day.

Now you can get tired 😪

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

38 thoughts on “So I have a story to tell

  1. wuodflora says:

    U are daring bro with this crazy heat. Where did you reach? Please get phone first before next trip

    Like

  2. jim- says:

    Nice work sticking it out. Amazing, still no phone. I am jealous

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      I almost pushed myself to just do it. The worst part was over already and that was about 90km through the national park.

      Like

      • nannus says:

        Don’t you have a smart phone at all or did you just not take one along? I don’t have one (they are time and attention absorbers and constantly interrupt my thinking by beeping and vibrating so I find them very disruptive to my thinking and time) and never had one.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          I have always had one until early last week when it fell face flat on tarmac during a ride and the screen went kaput.
          As to vibration and notifications, I always set the phone on do not disturb the moment I buy it. That way no disruptions from it.
          I will have to get it fixed or replaced as my work demands I have one.

          Liked by 1 person

          • basenjibrian2 says:

            I bought my first smart phone after I bicycled beyond my paper maps and got a bit…lost on a hot day. 30 miles of highway riding into a headwind at 90 degrees because I missed the turn I should have taken. Now I pray before the Holy Google Map.

            Like

            • makagutu says:

              I have never had the need for a map for my rides and runs. Even when I go exploring, I manage to find a familiar road. I use the phone for music and financial services.

              Like

  3. Wow. I’m impressed, but so not my thing. What did you think about during all that riding?

    Like

  4. nannus says:

    Wow. I never did more than 140 or so km in one day, and that was long ago when I was much younger. And riding on relatively flat, northern German terrain. Now, at 60 years old, my longest tours are just above 100. Was there any part of your body that did not hurt after this distance :-).
    By the way, what does “cholo punda manyuol” mean. And wich language is that (I happen to be interested in linguistics)?

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      At 60 with tours above 100 you are doing well.
      Cholo punda manyuol is to aid a donkey during delivery and that is Dholuo, my vernacular.
      The ball of my feet was on fire due to the constant pressure, and my bum would do with some TLC 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • basenjibrian2 says:

      Doing 50 some very hilly tomorrow I hope. Mountains with fields of wildflowers. Before California summer burns everything brown(drought)

      Like

  5. Barry says:

    Better you than me. I’ve never cycled very far as I’ve witnessed a few too many bicycle/motor vehicle collisions in my lifetime (one fatal). The cyclist always comes off the worst. I think the furthest I’ve ever travelled using my own power was when I walked from my hometown to a nearby city and back in one day – a return trip of around 50 km. I was more than half a century younger than I am now. Even so I was quite exhausted by the time I arrived home. These days a more leisurely walk of 3 to 4 hours is as much as I wish to undertake.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      There have been many such unfortunate collisions between cyclists and vehicles in Nairobi. I have had a few brushes, none really so bad. The highway is much safer, the road shoulder is wide, traffic is low once you are out of the city.
      My longest walk, I think is nothing more than 22km and that must have been during a hike.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Barry says:

        On highways here, shoulders are very narrow or non-existent and traffic usually passes at 100 Km/h. Typical country roads are narrow but still the 100 Km/h limit applies. Quite frightening when a large vehicle passes by at that speed with less than a metre separating them from you.

        At least when you’re walking, you’re on the opposite side of the road facing the traffic and can walk on the unpaved verge (usually knee high grass/weeds) if need be.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          The major traffic on this section of road is haulage trucks and many don’t exceed even 80kph. On a good enough incline, I can even keep pace with a truck. Buses on the other hand overtake me at close to 100kph. Then there is winds- headwinds, crosswinds and all manner of winds trying to slow me down.

          Like

  6. renudepride says:

    I think I need a nap! You most definitely had a very full day! Naked hugs, my Kenyan brother! I’ll meet you in Mombasa! 😉

    Like

  7. shelldigger says:

    Heck of an adventure. Well done.

    I know a bicycle trip has to be minimalist, but I’d consider a battery powered head lamp (the kind that rides on your forehead,) for those excursions that could get you past sunset. It’s tough to patch a tire in the dark.

    I’ll go rest for a bit now, you made me a little tired with all of your hard work. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Thank you, my friend. It was quite the adventure.

      I did have such a headlamp and it made a whole lot of difference. I could illuminate just where I was riding or scan the surrounding just in case there is an elephant on the road.

      I am well rested now and back to running. Joys of good health.

      Like

      • shelldigger says:

        Excellent! I should have known 😉

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          Though I am looking to get one to fix on the bike. It was headlamp or helmet. But maybe it could fit smugly on the helmet

          Like

          • shelldigger says:

            I can tell you one thing from experience, do not get the friction generator than runs off the wheel to power one. Those damn things create more pedaling resistance than they are worth. Battery all the way man. Backup batteries are easy enough to stow somewhere.

            I tried one of those generators once when I was a kid, trashed that thing before a week was up. The resistance is significant. Of course things may have changed some since I was a kid, but in this case I doubt it.

            I’d suggest getting another battery powered headlamp like you have, and find a way to mount it. They are lightweight, frictionless, and a couple of zip ties might do the mounting job well enough in a pinch.

            Like

            • makagutu says:

              In my younger days, I had a dynamo fixed on the bike. Thing didn’t last a week. In the absence of a voltage stabiliser, the halogen or tungsten bulb would blow willy nilly.
              These days there are rechargeable bike lamps only challenge for me has been to find one that fits my broad handlebars.

              Like

  8. basenjibrian2 says:

    Epic! Next time for sure

    Like

We sure would love to hear your comments, compliments and thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s