New Year’s Eve. We arrive in Eldoret after a string of plane rides, meet Nick and the cyclists in front of Town Hall, pile into an almost-dead pick-up truck and travel 4 hours to Kitale.
It’s dark when we get there and we’re knackered. We check into a five-room motel and go to bed at 10. Outside, townsfolk party to the sounds of African rap. Our guys can’t be bothered to join in the festivities. They’re kicking off 2009 with a massive 170 km race. And they need their rest.
The next day, we show up at what’s supposed to be the starting point – a sad little bike shop in the middle of, literally, nowhere. A few kids are getting their Black Mambas fixed. They know nothing about a race. Neither does the bike shop owner. Nor does everyone else we ask. We wait. And wait. No one arrives. No race officials, no competitors. Nothing.
Then one of the riders decides (finally!) to cycle into town and find out what’s going on. Turns out the race isn’t today. They got their dates wrong. Nick can’t believe it. Didn’t anyone check? No one replies.
Zakayo shakes his head, laughs. “It’s like that time we thought we were going to race in Thailand,” he says. “No race!” The others laugh with him. Gotta love Zak’s sense of humour.
Nick isn’t so amused. He tells the guys they have to ride back to Eldoret. No pick-up truck for them. Call it training. Punishment. They’re riding back. No one seems to mind though. It’s almost like they expected this to happen. Gliding past us, Zak even manages a half-wave, “Welcome to Kenyaaaaa!”