John Njoroge is a Kikuyu tribesman who hails from Central Province. As a teenager, his job was to ferry 50 liters of milk on his bicycle to shops 30-50km from his farm. Going with 50kg of liquid on a bicycle, and racing home with empty milk containers proved to be ideal training for a strong endurance base. He turned up at our camp in August 2010, and on just his 3rd day on a road bike, he output 5.8watts/kilo, a figure many professionals are unable to achieve. He is the newest member of our squad going to France.
At the age of 18, Samwel Mwangi got his first bicycle from a friend, and discovered the freedom and adventure that a bicycle brings. Before that, his world was confined to where he could walk to as he was too poor then to take the public transport to go anywhere. Suddenly, places up to 200km away were no longer inaccessible. This will be his second trip to France.
Benjamin Kipchumba is Kalenjin, a pastoral tribe that is known as the ‘running tribe’ because 80% of all Kenyan runners come from it. He was a world-class runner, having run a 62 minute half-marathon, and a 28 minute 10K. It would have been a time good enough to make him national champion in almost any country in the world except for Kenya and Ethiopia. But in Kenya, he was not even ranked in the top 100, so he dropped out of running to run a bicycle taxi operation. It was then that we found him and persuaded him to try the bicycle. He has not looked back since, and intends to make a name for himself in his new sport.
Suleiman Kangangi is the youngest member of our team going to France. Having dropped out of school at the age of 14, he was hired out by his single mother to be a cow herder for US$15 a month. While grazing the cattle, he saw Zakayo and a few friends riding by and decided then that cycling was going to be his sport. He has been a member of our squad since.
Paul Agorir is our most experienced rider, having gone for his first race at the age of 15. He was born in the semi-arid Northern Province of Turkana and moved with his family to the town of Eldoret when he was 8. He first used the bike as an itinerant salesman, transporting goats, firewood or charcoal for up to 150km a day. He is one of the pioneering members of our team.
Zakayo Nderi is our first sponsored cyclist. An early memory is of mobs burning down his village and chasing his family away to the surrounding forests. Zakayo, a Kikuyu, never went back to school. He lived with his mother till the age of 19, helping her with the casual work she could find, washing clothes, working as a hired hand on farms, or whatnot. He then set up a shoeshine stand in Eldoret town, cycling 100km everyday to and from work. We found him there, shining shoes, sitting next to Black Mamba bicycle. He is the fourth fastest amateur up Alpe d’Huez.
We call Sammy Ekiru our Turkana Warrior. He comes from Kitale, a multi-ethnic town located at the foot of Mount Elgon. He worked as a bicycle taxi operator.