Health & Fitness

‘My 81 kms ride to beat cabin fever’

Pancras Mutuma
Pancras Mutuma. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

After three weeks of staying indoors, I got up one Sunday morning with a strong desire to go outdoors; to breathe fresh air once again.

I took my bicycle, an UPTEN 590 Mountain Bike with 21 speed, and decided to do 10 kilometres, solo. Solo cycling is boring but after staying indoor for days, it is a great way to beat cabin fever. As many people would attest, staying indoors is not easy. You watch movies, read books, go into the kitchen back and forth to eat, sleep, work and these become monotonous rather quickly.

Cycling outdoors felt liberating, I wanted to feel the sun and the heat a little longer, ordinary things that felt special and scarce.

But with everyone nearly indoors, it also felt like I was cycling through a post-apocalyptic movie The Walking Dead.

I got to enjoy the Nairobi roads as a cyclist for the first time. The roads were quieter, the air was cleaner and no motorist was pushing me off the road or almost knocking me down.


40 kms

The ride was to end just in time for me to join my family for lunch but after 10 kilometres I kept cycling through Kiambu Road to the Southern Bypass, to Ruiru Town. I asked myself, ‘why stop at Ruiru? I have done 20 kms, why not go further?’

I decided that I would reach Weiteithie, a small town just before Thika town, and then make a U-turn but I kept going.

Pancras Mutuma

Pancras Mutuma's bike. PHOTO | COURTESY

Before long, I was in Thika town. I realised I was so far from home, 40 kms to be exact.

Along the way, I met small groups of people and I was a bit scared. But the fear that danger lurked especially in the areas that I was unfamiliar with gave me the energy to cycle even faster.

When I reached Thika town, it was getting late and I was tired. I turned back, only making two breaks to cool off. When I got off my bike at home, I checked the distance that I had covered. I was surprised. I had clocked 81 kms hours in 4 hours 49 minutes at 16km/h.

At the start of this year, I had set out to be more fit and shed some excess weight. I have been exercising before, but I was more deliberate this year.

I enrolled in a gym in January but Covid-19 forced gyms to close indefinitely. One day I remembered that I had a bike that I had bought three years ago.

I started cycling every two days, doing a minimum of 20 kms as a cardio workout. I have lost more than five kilogrammes.

Getting out of the house or estate after many weeks feels strange. The world is not the same, and it is going to be pretty different for a while. I miss cycling with crowds. Every month, I used to cycle with a group called Critical Mass. It was fun.

Despite all, this pandemic has gifted me more spare time and my longest ride. The ride was therapeutic. I got to interact with nature and take my mind off work as I focused on the road. I hope to cycle for 100 km soon.