Nixon Sewe is the chief mechanic at the Migration Gravel Race in Kenya. That makes him the busiest man in Kenya. Riders are currently tackling the 4th and final stage and Nixon has worked day and night during stages 1, 2 and 3.
Nixon is the regular mechanic for the Kenyan Riders professional road cycling team, and has occupied that role for many years. He is invaluable to the KR team, and he is showing why on the Migration Gravel Race. He attends to bikes before and during stages, and oversees the mechanical check and clean of all 61 bikes at the end of each day’s racing. In consultation with the riders, he ensures every bike is ready to go before the gun fires.
Today, he is fixing punctures. Puncture after puncture after puncture. Punctures are the story of the day as riders reach the first checkpoint 60km into the 160km stage, and roll in on their battered bikes which are being punished on the rough, rocky, rutted and dusty gravel roads of the Maasai Mara region.
He pumped some air into Geoffrey Langat’s tyre. Langat won stage 3 but was a long way behind the lead pack at the first check point. He had suffered two mechanical issues. Kato Paul of Uganda also suffered a mechanical early in the stage, and Nixon cured his bike before Paul and Langat teamed up to chase down the leaders.
Will they make it?
He also cast his eye of the gravel bike of Betsy Welch. Her chain had fallen off eight times in the first 60km, and put her out of touch with her arch rival for the overall, Nancie Akinyi. Welch lead Akinyi by about 20 minutes entering the final stage. She can ill-afford mechanical issues.
Such is the brutality of the parcours that some riders are contemplating bringing mountain bikes rather than gravel bikes to next year’s race. That’s if they make it to next year’s race. Mountain bike riders like Jordan Schleck and Kenneth Karaya were placed inside the top 10 overall before the start of the final stage. Maybe a mountain bike is a good idea.
Peter Halliwell was ready to ride on without fixing the puncture in his tyre – until his mother saw him on the race’s live instagram feed. Mrs Halliwell told him to “get the bike sorted” Peter got the bike sorted.
Good boy Peter.
Meanwhile, Nixon waits at the checkpoint until the last riders passes through. Waits to fix puncture after puncture.