The first edition of the Mount Kenya Epik cycling challenge saw over 30 cyclists traverse through the foothills of Mount Kenya, across three counties, before returning to the Naro Moru River Lodge to cross the finish line.
The more than 30 participants were made up of local and international professional cyclists who covered 300km throughout the three-day race in Central Kenya.
One of the founders of the cycling challenge is renowned Kenyan cyclist David Kinjah, who expressed the aim of the challenge as increasing awareness of sports tourism activities in Kenya, and offering a platform for expressing and discussing social issues, such as education, agriculture, and health.
Having trained Tour-de-France champion, Chris Froome, David Kinjah is a legend in the cycling world, and offered his top five tips for powering through the cycling race:
Break long days down into sections
Cycling in Kenya takes place both in the low lands and highlands; often at altitudes of above 2000 metres. Days of cycling in high altitudes and rough terrain can seem intimidating even to the most fearless of participants. As well as strong physical fitness levels, it’s a mental game too. Take each day as it comes and then break each day down further into sections providing a collection of mini challenges. Working your way through each of these challenges will build momentum and the set of achievements will all work towards the overall goal of completing the race.
Take in the scenery and engage with the communities
Make sure you take in the scenery while en-route. The Mount Kenya Epik challenge in particular, offers stunning views across Kenya and the majestic Mount Kenya which can distract from the physical challenges you are putting your body through. The cycling route will also take you through towns and villages located on the slopes of the majestic mountain. Take time to engage with the local communities as you cycle through and beware of domestic animals crossing your path.
Get the right gear
Simple preparation can make a huge impact on your race results. Wearing suitable clothing for your race is imperative. If you wear too many layers you will be prone to sweat more and will need significantly more replenishing stops, slowing you down. If you go without a waterproof coat when there is rain scheduled, your clothes will be heavier making the journey even more challenging.
Breakfast of winners
Carefully choosing the right food before, during and after your cycling trip can increase your appetite for the race. Cycling requires you to use high levels of energy which your body won’t be used to, and fuel levels need to be constantly topped up. Ensure that before the race, you are eating high energy foods and carbohydrates. Throughout the race, aim to consume energy drinks, bananas and honey. Once the race is comple, replenish your body with plenty of fluids to rebuild muscle damage.
Communication is key
Cycling with someone else or a group can give you additional support as well as push you into territories you might otherwise be afraid to do on your own. The Mount Kenya Epik race requires you to be part of a two-person mountain bike stage race so it’s hugely important you choose your partner wisely to act as encouragement for each other. Strong communication is needed all the way through to ensure you both reach your optimum without over-working yourselves. In addition to the physical challenge of the terrain, there is a threat of encountering wildlife on your tour so it is critical that you listen and adhere to the rules and regulations set by the wildlife rangers during the briefing.
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