Every February the Mount Kenya region hosts one of the best-kept secrets on Africa’s adventure tourism calendar the Mount Kenya 10 to 4. The event has been held annually since 2002 to raise money for Mount Kenya Trust.
Established in 2000, The Mount Kenya Trust was set up to help protect and restore the integrity of the forests and wildlife of Mount Kenya by partnering with Government Agencies, communities and other stakeholder organisations in the region.
For those of us living in the shadows of this impressive mountain, I often think that its importance passes us by. As a vitally important water tower providing ecosystem services to millions of people and businesses in Kenya, Mount Kenya can literally be viewed as the heart and lungs of the country.
A few intrepid cyclists gather on the Friday and they actually ride from 4000ft, up to 10,000ft and BACK – amazing!! On the Saturday morning – anyone from Friday that can still walk (!) and all the other riders gather for the start at an altitude of 10,000ft. They ride up hill and down dale, through alpine moorlands, forests, and game-filled plains – avoiding the elephants – to end at Borana at 4,000ft.
I spoke to the incredible David Kinjah – ten times champion, returning to defend his title again this year, Kerry Christian 2013 Queen of the Mountain and my wonderful friend Matt Dowse who is an avid cyclist and a personal trainer in the UK and they have come up with a few gems to make the race a little easier for you!!
KINJAH’S TOP TIPS1. Get your equipment ready and in good to time. That includes;
*Serviced and tested Bike
*Kits, helmet, shoes
*Spare parts just in case.
*Repair kit during race
*Tent, sleeping bag, etc.2. Know your event, the start/finish points, the challenges of the route, get the details right.
3. Don’t get intimidated by the competition, even though you may aim for a personal best, know your limits in regard to your training preparations and pace yourself. You will be happier when you finish safe, strong and smiling.
4. Know your team mates, partners, frienda or family that you may be riding with. Know their strengths and weaknesses. Be a team player and do your best for the success of all team.
Thank you Kinjah, it has certainly worked for you over the years sound advice and very good luck to you and your team this weekend!
KERRY’S TOP TIPS1. There is a little bit of a journey up to the start at high altitude and you will be sitting in your car and most likely freezing!! Make sure that when you arrive at the start you take time to warm up properly before getting onto your bike.
2. Start the race fully hydrated – that means drinking water regularly on the day before the race AND making sure that you hydrate when you wake up in the morning. There are water stops all along the route make sure that you make the most of those stops.
3. Carry some simple snacks to have while you are riding – dextrose tablets, bananas, protein bars – to help keep you going.
4. Wear gloves if you can.
Thank you Kerry!
MATT’S TOP 5 TIPS1. Prepare well. Wake up early enough to eat a balanced meal at least 2 hours before the start. Plenty of carbs, but not sugars, and stay away from fats.
2. Prepare well. Get at least 8 hours sleep in the night before. Make sure everything you need is ready to go the day before and lay it all out – then you’ll realise what you’ve forgotten early enough not to have to panic.
3. Have a strategy. The strategy should think about pacing and refuelling/nutrition/hydration. There’ll be water stations, and hills, good parts and bad. If you’ve got a plan then you’ll get through the event ok – even if it doesn’t go according to plan, but you’ll have something to go back to so you’ll be ok.
4. Expect the best, but be prepared for the worst. There are days were everything falls in to place and those days should be savoured. But there are days when everything that can go wrong, will go wrong – be ready for that day and you’ll more than likely have a good ride.
If you’ve ever sat in a car or a plane for a 3 hour journey then you’ll know you just how stiff and sore you can get – well it can be a similar scenario on a bike.
Sat on a bike all day, although pedalling (incessantly), your gait doesn’t really change. If you want to increase speed then you you pedal harder or faster. There’s never a lengthening of stride or shortening of step, as is the case with running.
So first things first:
1. Hip flexors will get tight. So take a long lunge, with your back knee on the floor take a long enough stride so that your front knee can’t push past that front foot – and push the hips forward. Relax, and let your hips ‘drop’ in to the stretch… Hold it for at least 30 seconds. You’ll also feel a stretch in the glute in the front leg.
2. Quads – when you’re cycling your quads are always working – pushing, pulling, pushing, pulling… show them some love. Standing up, bend your knee and pull your heel back up to your backside. Now, push your hips through… I know it’s tight… keep your knees together!!
3. It’s not just your lower body that needs attention, your shoulders and neck will do a lot of work stabilising your upper body, as will your lats with your arms pulling on the handlebars. So, stand up straight, stick one arm as high in the air as you can – grab that hand with your other hand. Now pull that straight arm to one side and lean with it as far as you can. Feel the stretch all the way down one side of your body and in to that side of your lower back.
4. On to the triceps. Stand back up straight, arm in the air again. This time bend that arm and place the hand behind your head. With your other hand pull the elbow down as far as you can, to feel as deeper stretch as you can in the back of that arm.
5. Lastly, add some mobility in to your lower back. Sat in the saddle all day there aren’t many cyclists that haven’t complained about a sore back at some point. But there’s plenty you can do to avoid it. Lying on the floor bring your knees up to the horizontal (legs bent at the knee). Keeping your abdominals/trunk strong twist your hips and drop your knees to one side, control the movement, don’t just flop… repeat 10 times either side, one side then the other.
On to the final stretch. Lying on the floor, bend one leg and pull that knee to your chest keeping the other leg straight out on the floor. Pull that knee in tight and hold for at least 20 seconds. Now pull that same knee across your body, try and get it to the floor, keeping your shoulders flat and on the floor, and hold that for at least 20 seconds. Now repeat that on the other side.
Thank you to Matt Dowse for this fab information, hope to see you here next year!!
Web – www.mattjdowse.co.uk
Instagram – mattjdowsept
Twitter – @mattjdowseEnjoy the event and HAVE FUN!!