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Meet Salim Nasir, fitness enthusiast who cycled Nairobi to Mombasa in two days

Salim Nasir caused a storm on Twitter last week as he shared his cycling journey from Nairobi to Mombasa, covering over 500kms in just two days.

Nairobi News caught up with him for an exclusive interview.

When did you start cycling as a hobby and why?

This began as a mere physical practise but with time, there was an innate passion and love for being on the wheels. I would say my first few months were mere baby steps to a great pinnacle of success.

How many days did it take you to cycle from Nairobi to Mombasa?

I took two days to literally cover 565 kilometres. The first day I did 365 kilometres from Nairobi’s CBD to Maungu in Voi Town. Seems easy but it takes a metallic heart to pursue such an uphill course. Imagine the wind, the trailers you meet on the busy road. It is absolutely scary but satisfying for any athlete.

What are the challenges you faced in this journey?

Resources – The high cost of maintenance with regards to the bicycle is almost every rider’s complaint. Maintenance cost is always high because of the mileage and distance covered. This is a cycling fraternity challenge that calls for action especially to those who would pursue cycling as a career sport. But I am grateful to God for my family and friends who many times come to the rescue.

Safety – The bullying along the road is every cyclist’s challenge. We nearly meet death every time we are on the highways. This should inform of cycling sections on the road.

Salim Nasir at a stop over in Salama town during his 565km bicycle ride from Nairobi to Mombasa. PHOTO | COURTESY
Salim Nasir at a stop over in Salama town during his 565km bicycle ride from Nairobi to Mombasa. PHOTO | COURTESY

How did the idea to cycle all the way to Mombasa come up?

We had a consensus to do an awareness ride against road bullying of cyclists but since we live in extremely tough times, I did it with a colleague with whom we decided to take the challenge seamlessly and unequivocally.

What did your immediate family members and close friends think of it?

First when I shared the message with family and friends they had actually thought I was joking, it really sounded something so impossible to many after telling them I’m planning to ride within two days.

I had done a Mombasa-Dar es Salaam cycling challenge thrice and that was a focal point to confirm that I could do the recent challenge comfortably.

Did you need any special approvals to cycle all the way due to the Covid-19 situation?

Actually I would say a big thank you to our Kenyan police at specific roadblocks, they were so cooperative once we informed them we are riders and we were keeping fit during this tough period of Covid-19.

Salim Nasir (right) and his training mate Salim Hussein at a stop over in Mtito Andei during their 565km bicycle ride from Nairobi to Mombasa. PHOTO | COURTESY
Salim Nasir (right) and his training mate Salim Hussein at a stop over in Mtito Andei during their 565km bicycle ride from Nairobi to Mombasa. PHOTO | COURTESY

Will you cycle all the way back?

Yes. I am ready anytime from now. I am planning to do a ride to Mecca in Saudi Arabia with other colleagues to go and perform the pilgrimage. But we need to put our house in order in terms of intensive training and other fitness arrangements. The distance is no longer a scaring part for me. With the right infrastructure and support, I am willing to ride around the world any time.

How many kms did you cover in total?

I did 565 kilometres to be precise.

What would be your word of advice for anyone who wishes to do the same?

It is all a mindset. Before you consult your heart, your mind must be very strong and daring to put the right energy to achieve your goals. Nothing comes on a silver platter. You have to be mentally strong to defy the odds. A thing that aches me is why didn’t I do the ride within one day. But I have in mind that one time I will be able to do it in just a single day. You must always be a record-breaker athlete every single day.

Salim Nasir (right) and his training mate Salim Hussein in Mombasa town after completing a 565km bicycle ride from Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY
Salim Nasir (right) and his training mate Salim Hussein in Mombasa town after completing a 565km bicycle ride from Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY

Which bike do you use?

Currently I’m using a Trek Madone road bike.

How many stopovers did you have along the way and where specifically?

We had a total of seven stopovers throughout the journey. Our first stop was at Salama town for breakfast. The second one was at Mtito Andei and the final stop for the first day was at Maungu town.

On the second day we made our first stop at Taru town, then at Kaloleni, and yet another one at Takaungu. This town is very sentimental to me. I was raised and had early basic education years here. Then our final stop was at the elephant tusks in Mombasa town.

Had you planned beforehand in terms of accommodation along the way?

It was basically a freestyle ride because of lack of proper funding. We just had to sort ourselves out to get a hotel from our main stopovers point.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Cycling can be a hobby or favourite sport but with my little experience, I want to transform cycling as an avenue of humanitarian cause in society. We can comfortably run awareness campaigns like gender-based violence, drug abuse to our youths, mental health issues amongst other issues while we are comfortable on the wheel.

Another key issue, we can embrace cycling culture to fight lifestyle diseases that are daring and threatening a whole generation.