Staying focused, thinking of later improvements

The Southern Bypass Time Trial event went on to be a success, every participant a winner, the organizers and marshalls satisfied with a job well done. I missed my target by 6 minutes but the explosive descend remained my greatest achievement in recent times. A minute shy off half an hour, I had to improve before the event’s 6th edition. Back home, the days went by, I made good use by digging through my dead stock and I came across Tsibektican’s broken second eagle bar. I had an embarrassing fall at Gathondeki Stage, courtesy of the front wheel skidding leftwards while I was off-saddling in front of some women walking nearby. You can say I was trying to impress them but I never take note of people when I ride. Back to the broken bar pieces, it had twisted near the center, just perfectly. Very light steel, this will be perfect for STTB MAK-2.

Friday 17th of January, I finally found a compelling reason to get the next set of bars created as I went to return the repaired megaphone to Jimmy Karumba. Since my schedules are on impromptu lately, I went with THITIMA, still having the MAK-1 bars on Him. The climb up ILRI was not as hard as the last time but capitalizing on the aero mode towards Thiong’o was a challenge as the back carrying the megaphone was pressing against my helmet. I did not get to enjoy the TT mode. Arriving at Justo’s shop, he was not present. I asked his assistant if he could do the job, he agreed, and just as he got the grinder roaring here came Justo. “Kusema ukweli, kazi ya mtu humwita (To say the truth, a man’s work always calls him),” he said with a smile. Justo seems to be happy whenever we work in creating something new. I guess he fancies the unusual aspects of his trade. Cutting and sizing the bar pieces, I showed him when to mark both of them before welding them neatly. This time round, I wanted elbow pads plates welded sideways for over-the-bar elevation. Grinding the welded joints, he went on to sand paper the bars before coating them in pitch black. As the bars dried, I narrated to them the events of the race and they listened with eager hearts, visualizing the scenarios as the tale was told. The paint was now dry. Having been advised earlier on how to improve the stiffness of the screw lock, I added two metal plates under the inner bases of the lever clips, screwed the MAK-2 Bars and I was ready to rumble once again. Until the rear package is delivered, I shall not get to test them effectively.

The Superman Time Trial Bars MAK-2 Skeleton

I reached Elite Bike Shop to finally relive myself of the stressing luggage to my aero pre-experience. I chose to go visit Bongo Mathao’s shop along Taarifa Road where I met part of the gang that commands the winning peloton. Leakey Hero, David Ndatha, Ramathan, Samuel Kagiri, Brian Tabbs and Charles Kivuva as their bouncer. Where cyclists converge, the stories roar with euphoric and nostalgic thunder. Sadly I was late as 15 minutes went over the past time board and each of them had to zoom off to avoid the bi-polar skies of late. In time, I pace away to my kingdom but I did not feel the spark if testing the MAK-2. Only briefly did I go aero between Mountain View and Thiong’o but that was it. “I have to avail a day where I can be all in into exploring my new invention,” I said to myself. The screws have proven not effective so I have to get more creative. An allen key bolt may be better, but what a needle in a haystack did finding even one with a length of 1.5 inches become. I did find one, meaning the obvious would be to go outsource elsewhere. With that in mind, my project was still not finished, so focused on softening the elbow pads. I cut out 2 plastic soda bottles and made 6 concave pieces, cut out a piece of mattress and placed them above the concaves. Using black cotton cloth, I sewed it round the pieces till they took the desired form before sewing them onto the elbow pad plates. It took me 5 more days to find another 1.5 inch allen key bolt, now all I needed was a free day.

If you can't buy it , create it, be like Graehme Obree

January 28th 2020, James Ouma called me for an early evening ride up and down the Southern Bypass. This was my chance, I checked the STTB’s firmness and they were tight as right. We got to invite Elisha Mateka as he was nearby. I thought I was ahead of them as I started the clock. 10 meters into the ride, I halted to wait for them. I wasted 2 minutes and I decided to wait for them at Ole Sereni interchange. Clipped into, I hardened my gears to 50*11 as a pack of cars cascaded by as they chased the trailer in front. On this stretch I took 13 minutes, time will tell how fast I will be. The colony of metal cages seemed to slow down as my cadence went up. Thunderstruck felt like a bullet, no wings but shooting through the heavy headwind, constant hoots from the descending trailers and gap showering of the sunset rain. I see a pair of cyclists 100 meters. “That’s them.” I said to myself, “Let’s get them Slim Boy.” Still on aero, I passed them as I shouted ‘Aero’ and off on bladed double walled rims I vanished into the descending contours, overtaking this red Mitsubishi canter that I saw earlier on. Down Kibera Drop, THITIMA jetted too fast, my body could feel the sudden vacuum as we pierced the evening air quicker than a samurai’s sword swing. A trailer was hot on my wheels, tailgating as the driver could not overtake me. I took this chance to position Thunderstruck into the lane’s middle. Eventually I had to give way and let the super 25-wheeler cruise on. Entering the last segment ot Mombasa Road in 8 mins, I marked a sinister grin on my face, knowing very well that 300 seconds have been cut off. Onto the toughest of the descend, the winds were unforgiving unlike on the 12th. A nduthi guy came tailgating me and acting confused as to whether to pass me on the shoulder or not. “Why do these fools behave like this? The shoulders are for bikes.” I vented internally. He went on to block me as we approached a stalled truck, an incoming trailer blocked my chance to zoom past hence I had to slow down.”Aaargh!” I vented out this time, the clock still ticking. I went on and gave my pedal-strokes as much firepower as I could as the red canter passed me. Onto the interchange, traffic was packed but I was not worried. 9 minutes on the last segment and I’ve lost a minute, but I have cut 5 minutes earlier.

The White Beast ready to take over the bypass

James and Elisha jetted in 4 minutes later and we proceeded up the bypass to Thogoto. One thing I realized I did not do last time was to maximize on the right gear to sprint and climb with comfortably. I’m learning and re-learning as I found comfort in 50*18. I was able to sprint and chase Elisha with ease as well as grind up Thogoto effortlessly. We re-boot with a pair of mandazis each in a 10-minute break before jetting back to Ngong Road. Timer back on, the early night’s silence was refreshing from the noisy-ness of the city. A trailer, truck and two cars passed me easily but when the descend dropped in double digits, I was cutting one bumper after another after another. Before I knew It, was zooming down into Nairobi county at 85kph as the trailer driver tried as hard as he could to catch me. It took him three minutes to finally succeed and it was still a struggle. I reached a dark section, my dimming headlight glowed on the white line as it blurred to near out-of-existence. Thunderstruck was dropping too fast. 2 kilometers to Ngong Road, timer says its 6 minutes on the clock. ” WOW!” I’m smiling with eagerness to push even farther, I’m seeing the last bent to the right before the descend above Ngong road. I stop the timer as I zoom down the slip road to wait my comrades further on.”7:19 minutes, too fast too furious.” My heart can rest happily as I waited on, they are nowhere in sight. 2 minutes became 3, then 4 minutes and Elisha showed up first then James. The 3 Amigos rolled on into the dark road to their homes with 51 kilometers of cycling done.

The Thunderstruck is officially the fastest classic steel road bike in Kenya

And so the statistics showed that I was 5 minutes and 11 seconds faster on today’s descend than on race day, raising my average speed to 54.15kph from 45.1kph. That is a huge margin in cycling terms. I’m happy and confident, come next year I will be unstoppable. To victory shall I pedal-push. This invention is a major breakthrough, smashing through the steel roof.

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