Adventures in Africa: Introducing Iman
We recently announced on Instagram the news that Iman Kagumba has joined the Original Adventure team as our first international writer. A keen and fiercely competitive mountain biker, Iman will be sharing reports from her native Kenya.
Who am I?
My name is Iman Kagumba. A mountain biker and enduro rider. A university student studying community development and social work. I’m a budding bike mechanic and also coaching a young football team, a volunteer of the community and most recently, an international writer for Original Adventure!
What drove you into cycling?
My first hobby since I was a baby has always been cycling. During the years this was on and off since I begun boarding school in grade 5. In primary school and high school I got exposed to more competitive sports like basketball and football, playing for the school team and attending all available tournaments. After I finished high school, I hung up my football boots, but this was not the end of my athleticism.
Back in 2017, I joined Mount Kenya University, Mombasa Campus, and a branch of the main university that is in my town. It was small and resources were stretched, keeping the lecturers so busy that they would teach all the way to 8pm during the evening classes. Fortunately, my course was among those taught in the evening classes that was from 5pm-7pm every day of the week apart from Saturdays where classes were from 5pm-8pm.
I had the whole day to roam around and get unhealthy and unfit and so I asked my mom to get me a new bike since I had long outgrown my old one! At the time, I knew nothing about bikes and I had gotten myself a 7 speed steel frame with a rigid fork. As soon as I got, I embarked on an adventure which evolved to be such a beautiful occurrence in my life.
I begun doing 3-5km daily, increasing my distance 2-3km every time I went for a ride. Finally I got to ride 20km in one go in one and a half months. 20km became my new distance when I went out to cycle and I tried as much as possible to achieve this.
The racing bug bites!
On August 2017, I was riding 20km without hustle and my goal was now 50km rides. As I was roaming around in the scarcely available bike shops then, I ran into a race poster. It was on a holiday in Kenya ‘Mashujaa day’ meaning ‘Heroes day’ on 20th October.
Just like that, I discovered my first mountain bike race. The entrance fee was affordable, around ksh 200 that’s like 1.5 euros. There was only one women’s category, no juniors, no elites… We were all rolled into one class.
I trained so hard for the race, I even joined a gym! But funny thing is I had never ridden off-road until the day of the race. And I then got the shock of my life!
First of all I was the only female who showed up that year. Can you imagine that? I raced with the junior boys, beating most of them, and finished the race with good statistics. Afraid that I’d damage my phone in the race, I never recorded it on Strava… I was so naïve, but just like that. I fell in love with MOUNTAIN BIKING!
The scars of battle
My hands were sore and had blisters all over my palms, my legs, proper saddle sores but I did not crash even once. These days I can do the same route in less than 2 hours, I was hurt, but I won since I was the only lady and among the best performer. I was happy.
And that’s my short story of how I joined cycling and specifically mountain biking. Ever since, I have expanded my knowledge of bicycling to unimaginable levels in the past 3 years… We will speak about that in the next write-up.
I hope you all enjoyed,