The Thunderstruck has conquered Mundoro once again
After Tsibektican sucked a biro pen at high speeds and damaging Her rear tube, I took a matatus ride to town with Baby Bee’s rear wheel strapped on the Maui bag. Don in a red Critical Mass t-shirt, dark shades, a blue hat with side flats plus my grey khaki shorts, I looked like a special forces agent touring Nairobi’s streets. Everybody was all eyes on I. Arriving at Pedaling Powerhouse, I needed a tube that fits well with the rear thick double walled rim and as we fitted one, Will Ma popped out the idea of a Mundoro ride tomorrow at 8am. I dilly dallied around the juicy offer before settling for the high elevation crank session. Munchkin’s wheel was fitted with a Presta valve tube, She will be ready to conquer Knuckles Ridge shall the day come. I parted with the gang and headed back home, returned the Flying Duchess to hunting prowess and inflated Thunderstruck’s tubes to 65 PSI as advised by Barnabas when I inspected his CBoardman carbon racing bike. Lack of sleep made me kick the covers at 4am. Some last minute ABC (Air Brakes Chain) checkup, a heavy carbohydrate breakfast, Water and Electrolyte bidons filled and my body suited up for less wind drag down Thika Superhighway, I left humble paradise at 6:35am.
The Early Super Steel Bird from Gathondeki, Master Climber awaiting the latecomers
The highway was nearly empty, I found myself entering into the middle lane just to enjoy the freedom ushered by the work-from-home executive directive. Strangely, there were no headwinds once I left Nairobi County. I reached Kimbo and found no one had yet arrived so I zoomed to Kenyatta Road to stock up my jersey pockets with freshly dissected pineapple slices and two bananas. I made a call to the ring leader only for him to surprise me with a different route other than Kenyatta Road. So I rode back to Kimbo and stood there in the rising sun rays like a Nile crocodile sun basking. I saw a cyclist climbing up the highway; I blew my whistle and signaled him to turn around at the bottom. Finally I was meeting the famous Gift Giteere, 6’2 tall like Gideon Ritho, he made me look like Davy Ngigi in height comparison. As we traded crank stories, he spotted two more cyclists posing 200 meters away. It was Ken Mwangi and Brian Tabbs, this ride has already turned into a race, I’m with my tool bag and these saddle warriors are feather-weighted. We went into a café to sip some quick sugar liquid and soft gluten snacks, fuel to the tank for some people here are going to get tanked early. Tabbs wisely jetted out after finishing his fuel intake, minutes later Will Ma and Martin Macharia cruised by, fashionably late. No time to waste, we all saddled and clipped in to pursue Tabbs who was already a kilometer away. This is how a peloton catches a breakaway: interchanging of leader riders by the rear riders, saving energy and still maintaining a high speed. Finally Tabbs was on sight, then he was merged in and we became the 6 specialists peloton. Pedestrians were looking at us as if we were foreigners on a training manual for a big race, some probably wondered if there was a race on this route. Zooming past the swampy ponds, Will Ma cut me to draft behind Giteere. Honestly speaking, our Froomey looked much taller with his Bianchi and at that moment I was somehow marveled by how fitting he was; man and machine, comfort at high speeds. Will Ma said something to Martin that made him lose cadence and that’s when the peloton split into two. Will, Ken and Tabbs muscled against each other as Gift tried to keep up, and as for Martin and I, we got dropped social distancing style. Martin was pushing a silver coated single speed steel road bike with a reversed bull bar and a 53*14 drivetrain. From there my respect for him shot two places up, mark you we are heading up a 1500 meter elevation route. I know the cadence trick of riding a single geared drivetrain so I was not worried about him not managing some climbs.
We headed down a descend at the right turn from the FCITT route, beautiful as we clocked nearly 60kph on free fall but as we were about to attack the near plateau climb Martin shouted “Slow puncture!” Damn, nothing kills a fun cadence session than a puncture. Luckily two more cyclists cruised to our rescue and we were sorted. They were heading to Gachika so we left them on their recovery ride as we soldiered on onto Zuzu’s race route back to Kenyatta road. I kept waiting for Martin whenever the climb spin addiction kicked in, I can’t help myself whenever a climb shows up. Its attack, attack then attack some more. We paused at Kiganjo Town and debated whether we should continue. We chose to wait for the rest there and as I looked back, some cyclist zoomed and halted right in front of my boots. I know that big beard, it was Bongo Mathao, he too came to ‘suffer’ with us. He refilled his stomach with some Dasani, I wisely took his empty bottle, bought some 300ml Fanta Black Currant and slid the bottle into my jersey pocket, for I would need it later on.
''The beauty of finishing a race is at the climbs,'' Nairo Quintana
The duo decided to chase on the 12 kilometer rise to Mundoro as I decided to wait a minute later before chasing them. It seemed like Bongo left a trail of confusion and it went like this: A teen girl crossed the road blindly and Thunderstruck nearly decapitated her foot, a crazy stray dog stood blindly on my path and a gum-booted nduthi guy just shot out of the bush from the left like he was Captain America. Sickening as it felt, only the hills could soothe my raging anger as I channeled my boiling power onto attacking the following two climbs. I met Martin standing on the right side, looking a bit worried. Apparently as Bongo attacked he felt a certain wobble on the rear tyre. On inspecting it, the tyre’s side had a lump protruding, risking the tube to burst like a pricked balloon. Once again, the question of making it to the high town near the edge of Gatamaiyu Forest arose. I looked up the beautiful road and said,” We have to make it to Mundoro; Thunderstruck has to make it up to Mundoro.” And so we rode on slowly then picking up the pace. The gap between the two steel steeds widened and widened further as I fell deep into the spin force. I was zone in deep, the climbs easier than they were last year. Just near the top junction to Ndundu High School, here came the racing pack with Bongo behind them. “Bongo, you did not reach Mundoro!” I shouted jokingly as I attacked the final climb at 16kph, mastering every strength and metal strategy to ease the ascend. The river below disappeared further below with every strong pedal-stroke, 40*24 gear ratio as I reached the flat. There is the famous name board 80 meters away. Hardening my gears, increasing my pace as I rode in for the killer finishing attack to victory at 23kph; Mundoro has being smacked down.
Buckling up my stomach with healthy greens, Njahi on the mix
I took a few legendary pictures before descending down at neck breaking speeds, finally conquering my fear of meandering drops. I snapped a chain link before Gatundu; lucky for me I had my chain cutter with me. Some Chapatti and Njahi for lunch near Theta Hotel to fuel me for the remaining 42 kilometers and by 3:10pm THITIMA was back home with another climber’s victory to His name.