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A New Perspective: Cycling Mt. Kenya

January 21, 2020

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A New Perspective: Cycling Mt. Kenya

Setting Out From Nairobi’s Traffic Snarl-Ups

Karura Forest is the most famous cycling destination in Nairobi, Kenya. But, just getting there can be difficult, since the city’s traffic snarl-ups are notorious, so you must be good at turning on a dime and remaining steady on your pedals.

Cycling in Karura Park, Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: FriendsOfKarura.org
A famous waterfall located in Karura Park.

Even going an hour outside of the city and riding along the busy roads leading up to Mount Kenya National Park can be risky. People yell, cars honk, and diesel busses speed within inches of your body—it’s chilling enough to make your blood curl.

And once you arrive, depending on the time of the year and the side of the mountain you visit, the weather can also quickly turn foggy and rainy, making visibility even more challenging.

When all of these conditions come together, it’s easy to become discouraged and give up for the day. After all, it can take a toll on your body and mind.

To help keep me motivated during these times, I often recall a saying passed along to me by a cycling friend: “The real cycling experience begins when everything becomes bumpy.”

Remaining Steady Among Mt. Kenya’s Bumps

Our group is cycling Mt. Kenya.

Mount Kenya’s peak. Credit: Afar.com

And as if on cue, the trail suddenly becomes steeper and the terrain rougher, with plenty of rocks strewn along the ground, eager to give me a pinch flat. (I realized earlier in the ride that I forgot a spare inner tube!)

The trails are also narrow, with thorny bushes on each side, demanding my maximum attention. Combined with the poor weather conditions and visibility, by the time we complete a few initial climbs and arrive at the first peak, saying that I ‘m winded would be an understatement.

I slowed often, but I made it after struggling along for two hours! And along the way, we crossed several wooden bridges with beautiful views of snow-capped Mt. Kenya in the distance.

How Off-Road Cycling Has Changed My Perception

After cycling for several years, here’s what I’ve learned: riding bikes off-road takes a toll on your body.

From the vibrations and abrupt starts and stops to the constant climbing and descending, it can take time to develop the proper fitness to enjoy yourself. But with dedicated training, you’ll get better at it.

Mountain biking also presents a real risk of injury, so it’s important to develop the maturity to go at your own pace and avoid injuries. Relax when descending and walk past sections that seem outside your skillset.

Tough trails make better cyclists.

On the whole, though, mountain biking is an adventure worth every drop of sweat. It offers a great escape from the busy city streets, to explore Mother Nature, improve your fitness and skill, and become better at seeing the world from a different perspective.

Steve Okello is a travel and adventure blogger at Rolling Scrolls, who hails from Nairobi, Kenya. He is also a freelance journalist/writer who loves off-road leisure cycling and helping start-ups and established businesses create content for their websites.
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