PEDAL4CHANGE WITH RAHA
Pedal4change and Raha International organised a bike ride from Nairobi to Mombasa in August 2018, to raise money for the education of children in Kenya. It is clearly somebody ambitious who came up with the idea! When the very enthusiastic and motivated pedal4change team met with team Raha at a home in Canon Park; no one thought of the adventure that would ensue.
Raha and Pedal4change decided to just go at it with gusto to make it happen. Pedal4change had successfully mounted an ambitious ride in India and were so positive and infectious with their spirit of ‘can do,’ it was difficult not to be taken in. Team Raha was on board. After the excitement of, ‘Yay, we’re doing this,’ the planning began. This really was a mammoth task which in its details showed us how the community really can come together to get things done!
In London, Kenya and Australia, the participants, got cycling, began raising awareness and of course, importantly, raising money. There were some really colourful characters, as well as the Kenyan Embassy who gave wind of the efforts. Community to community, city to city, there really was no stopping the cyclists. And the money! How competitive everyone got, the numbers kept climbing and the legs never tiring! Keeping in mind why they were raising money, people gave joyfully and generously.
What they did not know was team Raha was wavering and were seriously concerned about safety aspect of the ride. Their concerns saw them making frantic phone calls to learn and manage what was proving to be an exercise not as straightforward as envisaged. The Nairobi-Mombasa highway is a long and very busy one. Indeed rather full of hazards with the road serving the port of Mombasa to transport goods to much of Kenya and land locked East Africa. With safety being critical and wondering if the cyclists really knew what was in store, team Raha sought help from family in Kenya and importantly, Tripollo. Tripollo is an organization of cyclists in Nairobi who encourage the pursuit as a sport in Kenya who had done this stretch of ride before. They were aware of how to balance the exhilaration and danger of the ride and we worked as a team to bring this project to fruition.
A sobering trip to Nairobi got team Raha taking stock and calling upon Tripollo and members of the community to help. And help they did. With marvellous generosity, care and indeed love people stepped in to help arrange accommodation, food, medical teams, volunteers and musicians. It all now seemed a little more in control and very do-able. With confidence well restored, people took flights in from Perth, Germany, Sydney, London and Rwanda to congregate in Nairobi. Some stayed with families, others with friends and most at Ole Sereni Hotel right next to Nairobi National Park. After an evening with some briefing, beers for those who do and juices for those who don’t off to bed it was.
Honestly, it was a parade of fit, healthy riders and their not so fit helpers. With hearty breakfasts and blessing from elders in Kenya the journey began. Tripollo with their focus on safety from point go gave team Raha much relief to enjoy the start. As for the riders, they were all on a euphoric high in anticipation of what they were setting out to achieve. Nairobi to Mombasa on bicycles. Mad or not, Foolish or not, off everyone went. The DJ van pumping up the music, mixed in with the early morning traffic bustle, our support cars and porta loos (Oh yes, we’re sophisticated) in tow we were onto an excellent start. The flag off was early but the roads were already busy; still with friends and family driving out with us to start off it all seemed perfect. A morning of hopeful riding ensued. And then the slog. Tripollo came through and ensured every cyclist had the support they needed, with a few power pushes, some words of encouragement, swearing and singing, each rider took on a steady pace. A stop with a lunch of mung and thepla, extra snacks and pumping music to power everyone along, everyone successfully made it to Makindu. At the hotel, Savannah
Paradise Hotel, the riders all got on with massaging and supporting each other to maintain limbs and spirit, while team Raha and Tripollo took stock of the day. Rest and a rather well laid out dinner was the roundup of the day. Silence and sleep overtook the entire place rather quickly.
The sunrise was glorious. We all saw it with the ungodly time we had to be up at! It was a long day’s ride ahead and team Tripollo were having no slacking off. Go, go, go and firm but kind prompts got every rider back on the road again. The cool morning soon gave way to blaze of the sun and the riders really demonstrated their determination to keep going in what seemed at times, like endless tracts of never ending flats. The hotel we stayed at gave us packed lunches. Not what the team was used to, but power enough to provide the calories and carbs needed to ride on. The team gathered across a prison en route and under a few sparse trees to devour the beans and spring rolls on offer. Joining us with surprise was the prisons governor whose curiosity got the better of him. He joined us for lunch and told us some rather gruesome tales of lions. The ride both before lunch was tough but after lunch it got tougher, with strong headwinds, scorching heat and seemingly endless hills. Spirits flailed and tempers frayed but putting safety first, a decision was made to sweep up remaining riders at dusk to ensure that nobody was riding in the dark. After our headcount at the Voi service station, we drove to the very smart Voi lodge for supper, some elephant watching and much needed rest and sleep.
With a bow down to the hotels resident Ganesh and a hearty breakfast, we set off on our last leg. How bad it can it be? We’re going to be at the beach tonight. With this in mind and lifted by a nights rest, the riders pedalled off strong. Half of the morning into the ride, it was possibly the knowledge that some really good snacks
were on the way from Mombasa to us. Friends from Mombasa came to meet us head on with Gathia and bhajia’s. What they say, Kanbi’s know how to cook, eat and feed, is absolutely true! Huge portions and no nonsense generosity fuelled everyone on. The road was especially busy as the transport trucks had not yet spread out after leaving Mombasa. Some truckers were friendly enough and others seemed to pay no heed. The riders though had now become used to these and seemed to navigate around them with relative confidence and ease. Tripollo’s ever sharp eye, the DJ’s music, the lunch of saak, puri driven in for us saw us collectively reaching the outskirts of Mombasa. After this it was a strong collective ride to the iconic tusks. Lots of aches and pains later, all the riders had all made it. Family were there to greet us, as well as the buses to take us to our smart lodgings at The travellers Inn. After our evening meal, over which we shared our tales and aches, one would think the
exhaustion would get everyone, but No! It was song, dance and photos for much of the night. And some went onto hard clubbing! Not just the young ones the older lot too. Why not, I suppose! Catch up on sleep when we get home! Nairobi to Mombasa was a great feat and one everyone rightly celebrated. It was great fun; tears, sweat, laughter and a great success.
For team Raha though, it was immense gratefulness to so many who enabled the raising of GBP 100,000 for the education of children in East Africa.
About Pedal4change and Raha International
Pedal4change is a group of cycling enthusiasts who have come together to use their love of the sport to raise money for various charities. Though many are from our community everyone is welcome to participate.
Raha International was set up by a group of Kenyan educated Kanbi’s who are today doing well largely to the excellent education they received in Kenya. They decided to enable the success they have enjoyed by supporting education for children, primarily in Kenya. It is run entirely by volunteers and all money raised goes directly to Education initiatives.