For over a year, Adrian had been trying to convince me to come back to Kenya to ride the Rift Valley Odyssey – a three-day 250 km stage race down into the Great Rift Valley, across the bottom & up the other side & back to camp. He and a couple of mates rode it last year – which I was quite impressed by as they seemed to start mountain-biking just to do so. As since my last visit AD & Carm have got married & had a couple of kids, the 2013 RVO seemed like as good a reason as any to come back & visit – plus it gave motivation to all the riding I’ve been doing over summer 2013.
As it transpired, the timing didn’t work out all that well as two weeks before the event AD & Carm moved south of the border to Arusha, Tanzania. So when I flew into Kenya I had a day or so staying at Brackenhurst (a large bible college complex just north west of Nairobi that serves also as the Kenyan base for AD’s company, until recently their home & also the start of the RVO) resting from the travelling, assembling my bike, getting my lungs slightly used to the 2200 metres of altitude before AD & Carm turned up. I also manage to slip in the shower/bath & bruise/crack a rib that was to trouble me for the next week or so – lack of adhesive ducks.
It’s nice turning up in an expat community where everyone is really friendly & very well travelled – my first trip overseas in five months, it’s cool to hear of new places to go & see. AD, Sean (also riding the RVO with us) & I managed a nice little very early Tuesday morning ride around the local teafields – with over 400 m of climbing in less than 15 km, it was bit more than I was used to around the flatlands of home & it gave my sea-level lungs a bit of a workout. Later that day I managed a second ride with another guy, Dave, a bit further afield (30 km in total) to a couple of waterfalls & through more teafields. My lungs were slowly getting used to the thinner air – but it was still worth resting Wednesday.
Most of the international entrants in the RVO turned up Wednesday evening & there was a social prologue ride on Thursday to help with the high altitude. I had a miserable night’s sleep previously & with all the rain I heard while lying awake I had decided to give the prologue a miss as I was in a foul mood & thought I’d just end up slipping to a big crash – not much use before a three-day event; also all my teammates had wimped out citing being too busy at work. But a bit of light broke through the clouds at just the right time twenty minutes before the start – so I hurriedly got ready & rolled out with everyone else.
It was time on the bike off-road so predictably I quite enjoyed myself – even if the almost 50 km & 1200 m+ of climbing was probably a bit more than was sensible before the upcoming three days. A nice big lunch in quite a colonial setting was enjoyed by all. That evening we were around at Sean & Tesni’s (Tesni runs the baby orphanage that the other guys were riding for – they ended up raising $US10K!) tweaking bikes for eight o’clock start. Thankfully I managed to cure the horrendous creak from AD’s bottom bracket – I’m pretty sure I would have had to rip my ears off if I had to ride next to that for even half of the 250 km.