Cycling is not as popular as football or even safari rally in Kenya but it is still an essential sports and one of the ways to exercise your body. Cycling is one of the best cardio activities around, torching calories at a fast clip. And it’s also one of the best ways to tone the muscles in your legs, as well as your glutes, for a great-looking lower half. By far, your quads and hamstrings are the two muscle groups that work the hardest when you cycle. Every time you push down on your pedal, you engage those muscles. Your calf muscles, too, are getting a workout as they help with the overall pushing effort, and especially come into play when you’re out of the saddle and pushing uphill.
That is why we were honored to be part of a bicycle race in Kakamega Forest which was part of the fourth annual Kakamega Forest Marathon. This is a project by the Kakamega Forest Foundation that seeks to improve environmental conservation. Basically, the cyclists were racing to raise conservation awareness. By dawn, we were in Shinyalu at a remote village and the participants were already on the training field in their cycling clothing including their helmets, gloves, jerseys, shoes and shorts. Their bikes gleamed in readiness for the race and they looked as though they had just been manufactured and oiled right away.
There were two categories in the race including the senior category and junior category. The senior category was for those over eighteen years while the junior category was for minors. Hundreds had registered for the event and the organizers started with giving them their numbers as they were told the rules and regulations. Many of them looked fit and it was clear that a good percentage of them had years of experience. I guess, cycling like most sports, is not for the faint hearted. The distance for junior category was 30km and the distance for senior was 70km.
When the racers were flagged off, there was a cloud of dust behind the enthusiastic participants as they all started at the same pace. Considering the terrain of the Kakamega Forest, I want to confess that those cyclists really toiled although they did have really good mountain bikes. They were not only using the least straight path but there was lots of stones and dust on the way. Administration Police vans and ambulances followed them to only try and clear the way for them but also carry those who would be injured. Of course, there is no race that does not have a few casualties here and there.
One of the things that impressed us the most at the end of the race was how hard the female cyclists worked considering that most of the racers were male. The Kakamega community tries to engage young women in as many positive activities so as to empower them to become great leaders of the society. It should be noted that Hon. Rachel Ameso Amolo who is the Women Representative of the county was among the sponsors of the event. In a speech during the prize giving of the marathon the next day, she urged the ladies to pull up their socks in order to get equal opportunities. The winners not only got trophies and medals but also prize money.