Peter Halliwell had been cycling for 4.30hrs. He had climbed about 1500m and had at least 1200m of climbing remaining before he crossed the finish line on stage 2 of the Migration Gravel Race in Kenya. However, when he reached the final check point and feeding station he declared,
“This might be the best day of my life.”
Was it the pain or the hunger; the thirst, dust, dirt, rocks, creek crossings or the aching muscles which brought him such joy?
Was it the sweeping views of the Maasai Mara region and the regular sightings of Kenyan wildlife? Was it the quiet satisfaction that follows self-inflicted exhaustion? Is it something only an endurance athlete can understand?
Whatever it was, the man from Great Britain was in great spirits before he tackled the final section of the 170km Queen’s stage which featured 3000m of elevation. His fellow riders also found delight in their struggles. Spanish pair Jose Maria Azcarate and Carlos Barzano have ridden together during the first two stages and were pleased to find patriotic red and yellow energy pills at the feed station.
“The red one is for riding,” declared Barzano, “…and the yellow one is for the nightclub later, for dancing.”
Compatriot Marc Roig, meanwhile, expressed concern. Problems with his GPS tracker prompted him to remark,
“My wife will be very worried.” Luckily he stood out in his polka-dot jersey, or what he calls his ‘Traje de Luces’, a term normally used to describe a bull fighter’s suit.
The most common sentiment among the riders was the brutality of the course.
“Feels like the kilometres are taking forever, especially after the six /$*&* puddles we’ve had to ride through today,” said Charlie Kimber. Betsy Welch, who was the first woman across the line in stage one, said simply,
“My body hurts!”
Kenyan veteran Davidson Kamau won the Tour du Rwanda road race in his prime and summed up the course succinctly,
“It’s harder than the Tour du Rwanda”