Updated: Oct 1
How you should smile when you see a mighty climb
Hills! Hills! HILLS!!! A cyclist’s worst nightmare. Love the flats, craves the drops but wails and cries out their moms when the ground lifts up into the heavens. Hills are not demons; they are bullies wanting you to befriend them says the Sam of Gathondeki. Not wait, that is me, cheeky me. Anyways, I may feel like I’m bragging but I have never ever feared any climb, EVER!! I’d say the Universe prepped me well and gave me a spaced timeline to be amongst Kenya’s Top 100 great cycling climbers, and nope I am not bragging about that either. To be a climber alias Polkah, you must have a fetish for pain. That’s right, throw away the love candy for easy pizzy treats and indulging in the slime bitter salty sulphur taste of the pain cave as you lash out against the big brown-green or white-grey bully that is the hills depending on which side of the tropics you are on this great planet. For 13 years I have gone up some of Kenya’s craziest and deadliest climbs, gradients above 10%. Kathiani, done it. Ntulele, done it, Multi media in Ongata Rongai, done it. Kiserian Wall, done it easily. I am yet to smack the Imfamous Chairman in Tinga after Olepolos towards Lake Magadi on the Great Rift Valley floor. Now that will be a great treat.
There It Is
It stalls tall like a King Kong waiting to bash you into a stringed minced meat cake. Mighty and unforgiving, it takes no prisoners; it loves casualties. One hill I know that humbles Nairobian cyclists will always be along Magadi road; Multimedia Climb. Its about 170 meters long with a 110-meter elevation from bottom to top. Its on my 69km daily route so even when I am with my BEAST it is a must I conquer this monster in 3 minutes with 10 kilos of weight strapped to my back with no regards to my condition prior to riding to this tribulation wall.
Forget that this is me, say this is you. Young in cycling prowess, aggressive attitude and hunger to be better than you were 10 minutes ago. You are riding a standard steel mountain bike, 48/38/28 crank and a 12-28 7 speed block wheel, true beginner shedding his or her skin.
50 meters before the rise, pedal fast, harden your gears. Your chain should be on the biggest chainring (48T) and on your block wheel it should be on 18T for great acceleration. As the climb starts to take effect, drop the chain to 38T, keep pedalling up Multimedia Climb. About half way, shift your rear derailleur to 24T on the blockwheel. You now noticed it has become too tough when you can see the underside of a Toyota Premio at the top. You have no choice but to abort mission but you don’t want to. Notice that the big noisy Rongai mobile club banging cages are coming in hot after your pedalling heels, that should be your greatest motivator up there.
Drop the chain to 28T and raise at the rear to 28T as well. At this gear ratio, you need to be patient. Climb it with easy pedalstrokes , arc your back out to release lower back pressure. Now increase your spinning as you see the climb sliding onto a slight fast. You are not yet done. Your thighs feel like there are glass daggers swimming along your thigh bones’s length. Drop a rear gear after every 6 seconds as you pedal faster up that beautiful left bend. Glance to your left and see the towering Ngong Hills playing see-me-see-you-don’t behind the cascading acacia trees, Up your front gear to 38T and cruise on 38*18 gear ratio. Be very mindful of the trailing vehicles overtaking you on the slim Magadi Road.
There, now was that so hard? Sure it was, you gave up on the first 12 seconds of the climb. Do not worry, there is always a next time. Try and try again.