Record field up for quest to topple cycling champ Kinjah

David Kinjah (foreground) competes in a past event. (PHOTO/COURTESY)
David Kinjah (foreground) competes in a past event. (PHOTO/COURTESY)

A record field featuring professional and amateur riders from over six countries will battle it out for the Mount Kenya Trust 10to4 mountain bike title over the weekend as the competition enters its 16th edition.

Champion David Kinjah who is Kenya’s leading competitive cyclist says the event’s rising profile means the competition gets stiffer with each passing year.

“I’m never complacent as I train for it.  It is a multi-stage event, which makes it a great season starter for fitness and technical requirements. New routes are introduced each year, with all sorts of challenges to conquer.

“Whether you’re a serious cyclist or someone just looking for an easy adventure in the wilderness, it really is unparalleled. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there again this year,” Kinjah said.

Final preparations are underway for the series of different events held over three days (from February 17-19) from a base near to Timau, Meru County.

They include The Extreme, which takes two days and covers 154km, The Slide, an easier 39km ride, and the Mini 10to4, for children. Applications to take part or to spectate have now closed.

The event aims to fund-raise for projects to protect Mount Kenya, its habitats, and the livelihoods of people who live on its slopes.

Kinjah, 45, decried the lack of sponsorship as the reason the sport’s popularity in the country has yet to lift off while reiterating that, even as his muscles wear down with his ageing self, he still has enough left in his tank to race as an elite for the next couple of years.

“I never have many thoughts about slowing down or retiring. That is something that has no particular moment, but rather is a process over time. I have raced abroad as a Sub Veteran when I wasn’t 40 and as a veteran when I got to 40, and I am already racing in the Masters category. The competition is the same, only the level of racing changes.

“Veterans and Master Athletes must be more conscious about things like nutrition, the style of their training, and recovery. They have the advantage of experience, and that makes them wiser in making decision during competitions,” he said.

The Mount Kenya Trust’s Chief Executive, Susie Weeks, there is always an ‘irresistible buzz’ in the final week to race day.

“Whether you’re planning to try to upset David Kinjah and steal his title, or just spend the day mountain bike riding with your family in some spectacular parts of Kenya, the excitement is building,” Weeks observed.

More than four million Kenyans live in the six counties ringing Mount Kenya – Meru, Laikipia, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu, and Tharaka – and most congregate on the mountain’s fertile slopes where rainfall is highest.

Millions more people in Nairobi, around the Tana River Delta, across north-eastern Kenya, and even as far away as the Somali border, rely on water from rain that originally fell on Mount Kenya.

The mountain plays a critical role for all of Kenya collecting and storing rainfall and water, feeding the country’s largest river, the Tana, which through hydropower generates up to 50% of Kenya’s electricity. An estimated 95% of the water in Nairobi’s taps started its journey on Mount Kenya.

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