The importance of bicycle races in Kitale

This past Thursday, we attended a boda boda bicycle race to commemorate the late Vice President, Michael Wamalwa, who hails from Kitale. In total, there were nearly 70 participants.

With a $1,000 motorbike up for top prize (nearly a year’s salary for many) and ten new bicycles (about $70 each) for runners-up, the Kitale race team was well prepared.

Jeffrey, one of our test riders and hardest working boda boda drivers in the country, was well rested and prepared for the big day. Unfortunately his bike broke about 80km into the 130km race. It was not a flat which would have caused most racers to drop out, but far worse. His front fork had cracked in half! He tied a metal splint to the side of the fork that had cracked and rode a few km to find the nearest welder. He quickly got it welded only to have it break a second time only 10km from the finish. Again, he stopped to have it brazed. The value of winning a bike race and essentially doubling their family’s yearly income drives many racers to fight through unthinkable breakdowns and crashes. Pretty remarkable.

Jeffrey still finished tenth (and did not win a new bicycle due to a last minute change of plans) but rounded out the top ten which consisted of 8 from the Kitale race team! Titus, another Baisikeli Ugunduzi test rider won his second straight Kitale race and took home a new motorbike. Great race for the Kitale team.

 

 

Racers await the start of the race
Titus wins the Michael Wamalwa memorial race in Kitale
Jeffrey finishes after breaking his fork twice ...