FatPigeon.cc on the Kanzo Fast through Kenya
What do you get when you ride gravel through Kenya on two custom painted Ridley Kanzo Fast’s? You guessed it! A lot of fun and, of course, a whole lot of attention.
The guys from FatPigeon.cc recently participated in the Migration Gravel Race and chose the Ridley Kanzo Fast as their secret weapon. The challenge: an epic 4-day gravel race that covers 650 km with a whopping 8,000 altitude meters.
Loek and Nol took on the challenge with full enthusiasm. Nol's goal was clear - to compete amongst the best gravel racers for as long as possible. Loek, on the other hand, hoped to finish somewhere in the middle and to thoroughly enjoy the adventure.
The Migration Gravel Race (MGR) was created to allow up-and-coming African talent to compete against established names and other hardcore racers. Instead of the usual pattern of sporadically flying African talent up to Europe, the MGR brought a strong international field down to Kenya to race against 30 African heroes. With riders like Laurens ten Dam & Ian Boswell taking the start, the field was indeed star-studded.
Get ready to dive into the adventure, along with Loek! Don't feel like reading? Watch the video at the bottom of the blog!
Time to race…or is it?
It's 4:30 in the morning when the alarm goes off. The first stage departs at the crack of dawn. We’re expected at breakfast in fifteen minutes and at 6am the race will get underway.
One minute before 6 o’clock. Everyone is ready. From here we jump directly into the deep end. Four days of gravel racing in an unknown and exotic country.
Nol is sitting nicely at the front as we fly towards the first climb. The ground surface, the potholes, the split rocks scattered across the road. We take it all for granted, as this is what we came here for. Meanwhile, the sun awakens and colors the sky red, pink and orange.
Even before the first hill the group of 60 is split in two, but we’re in the leading group. Nol is in front and I’m in the back, what a great feeling! The guys in front are already breaking the race wide open.
Suddenly Nol is on the side of the course. What a tragedy. Months of training, building up to this and then a puncture after 10 km. The first and second plugs don’t work. I (Loek) offer to help, but this too doesn't work. I decide to continue racing and soon come across more casualties. Even Unbound winner Ian Boswell is sidelined with a flat and, like Nol, his too is not the last flat of the day.
The stage itself is magnificent. Magnificently beautiful, but also magnificently rough. Incredibly impressive open plains alternating with extreme rock gardens. Climbing at 13 to 20 percent gradient, bouncing from one rock to the next... Unreal!
The downhills also regularly take you through those treacherous rock gardens. This causes even more flat tires for Nol, and causes me (Loek) to fly over my handlebars - twice! Fortunately, there are also plenty of fast descents. Descending singletracks with hands in the drops, fingers on the brakes and at almost 60 kilometers per hour. What a powerful feeling.
During the first stage we each write our own story, which we eagerly share with the other after the finish. There we are, both reddish-brown from the dust, sitting in the grass. The race has begun.
The following days Nol tries to become King of the Flat Tires (now, after the fact, we find this a bit funnier). While day after day I fight in the midfield of the race. For hours on end, I race alone over incredibly rough, almost rocky, gravel. I overtake fellow racers while top riders who’ve punctured leave me behind in their push to return to the head of the race.
Fortunately, there is also the Kenyan nature aspect to the race. Every minute it reveals its most beautiful secrets. This is pure enjoyment. The surroundings are nothing less than spectacular. Several times a day we see zebras, giraffes and wildebeests right next to or even on the course. We also saw an elephant once!
Each day the organization builds a full camp in the wilderness. 80 sleeping tents, a field kitchen, showers with hot water from pots over the campfire and dug-out field toilets. Finishing is a real pleasure because a freshly prepared meal always awaits you.
The vision of the club that organizes this race is simply wonderful. Project Amani aims to provide more opportunities for promising African racers and to create an environment in which young people can develop into talented racers.
Are you interested in personally experiencing this dream trip - a fully supported, meaningful and extremely challenging multi-day gravel race? Then be sure to try to get your name on the start list for the next Migration Gravel Race. Our participation was worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears!
See more photos below the video