Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cycling in rural Kikuyu

Inaugural Cape Epic 2004. Stage 5; Swellendam to Greyton. It’s a clear day, but chilly in the morning, the wind still fresh from West after the previous day’s hectic storm. Today’s stage is shorter and flatter than the previous 4; it is expected that the roadies will dominate. As they gobble up the dirt along the dry Riviersonderend valley they stir up a huge dust cloud behind them; jockeying for position, ever wary of a breakaway. The front pack contains all the big names. Stewart, Wilson, Rossouw, Platt, Heymans; the Belgians Taylor and Venger, etc, all eye one another. But who is this? Two unknown black fellows, on humble Trek 4500’s have made their way to the front. Neatly bundled dreads flapping from under the helmets, they pick up the pace, and up a hill, they break away from the pack to the amazement of the rest. Soon the pack decides to let them go – thinking they will never last at that at that pace. The film crew chopper passes low overhead to identify the number boards. Its David Kinjah and Davidson Kamau of Kenya – hitherto almost unknown in local mountain biking circles.

Well, it is not until 2 km from the finish line that the chasing peloton finally hauls them in. But from henceforth, the Kenyan duo command a great deal more respect from the who’s who.

On Sunday I enjoyed the distinct privilege of visiting Kinjah in his tiny rural village of Kikuyu, near Nairobi, Kenya.

Kinjah lives, eats and breathes cycling. The tiny shack village has been transformed into a cycling hub. Young and old all idolise Kinjah, the children all want to be like him. As you enter his humble shack, you are welcomed with mug of delicious local ginger flavoured chai and an array of snacks. The first thing that catches your eye when you enter his tiny living room is the spotless Bianchi suspended from the roof. In one corner a desk overflows with trophies that he has claimed from all over the world. From one wall, Bob Marley on a fabric poster looks across to a polka dot jersey proudly displayed on the opposite wall claimed at the Tour de Mauritius this year.

Opposite the narrow alley is Kinjah’s bike store / workshop / indoor training gym. All day long the young lads take turns on the rollers under his supervision. Riders of all ages and abilities meet here to train under Kinjah. As we discovered on our ride, he has some highly talented and supremely fast very young riders in his troupe!

Kinjah builds bikes for all these youngsters from bits and pieces that he harvests from old bikes or scrounges from wherever. He sends the kids to races, but they have to take turns because there are not enough bikes for all of them or enough money for busfare to get them to events. He relies on income for this purely from donations by those training with him that can afford to contribute something. He has now formed the Safari Simbaz trust as a vehicle to garner support for this cause.

If you have any second had kit or parts that you don’t need, please consider donating them to Kinjah. He is particularly looking for small frames and kit in small (children’s) sizes. Also, helmets. Many of the trainees don’t wear helmets simply because there are not enough. Please even donate damaged / cracked / worn out helmets – they are better than no helmets at all. Let me know what you have and I will facilitate getting it to Kinjah. Find me at ilovethisplanet@gmail.com

Like I said, he starts them young. And who says you cant have a single speed dual suspension?
The trophy collection. Note the cool boomerang one.
Inside the store / gym / workshop with some of the training riders.
Kinjah with some of his protégés on the outdoor indoor trainers.


  1. Nice one Dick. But if we do collect stuff for this Kenyan Bike Centre, how do we get it there.

  2. PLease send my regards to David, Dick.
    And tell him I am still awaiting detailson the training camps he has planned in Kenya....

    tell its from Tim, the guy who had breakfast he and Davidson on the sunday morning after Epic 2008

  3. Hi guys, I will be back in Cape Town for the double century on 21/11. If you get it to me by Friday 20/11 or Sunday 22/11, I will bring it back here.

  4. shees bru, so you gonna be a coach soon?

  5. Please don't post words like gonna and wanna on my blogsite! We speak only the queen's english here, eksé mah bru!

  6. All I can say is WOW what an experience this is! I wonder if Gilly and Arnold know about this blog.
    Will investigate - perhaps they can help too.

  7. Please look us up when you are here next weekend, we will be moving to Vermont on 30 November.