Photos by Saltlake_Lian
The Migration Gravel race proudly states that its kilometers are different and will undoubtedly test riders who take on the challenge.
As a semi supported four-day stage race across the wilds of the Maasai Mara, Kenya, the 650 km route course covers single track, game trails, red clay, and rough hard pack gravel.
And with an average elevation of 1900m through Maasai villages, plains, rivers, mountains and across big game country, those ‘kilometers’ do take on a completely different perspective to the norm, not to mention the rangers present to ensure safety.
That the race is unique is clear, and the array of perfect gravel roads in East African countries like Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda – almost untouched by long-distance riders – highlights their potential.
Not all kilometers are equal – but opportunity should be.
But in these regions, there’s more than just gravel riding, it’s time to be included in the global cycling scene. A growing community of African cyclists is ready to show their strength on an international level. If you ask any of them what is holding them back, their answer is loud and clear: it’s the lack of opportunities to race against the best.
And the Migration Gravel Race is one part of creating those opportunities, but it’s also part of a more significant project, as explained by Mikel Delagrange, a bike shop owner by passion, a lawyer by profession, and one of the forces behind the project.
”The Migration Gravel Race is the third prong of our Team AMANI initiative, aimed at trying to move the dial on inclusivity in the sport by creating race opportunities for East African riders, in collaboration with local partners.
The principal reason why the Team AMANI initiative came about was due to a conversation I had with some of the Kenyan Riders. Because cycling is my passion, I got in touch with the local cycling community and understood the current cycling infrastructure – or lack thereof – a bit better.
It became apparent that two of the main hurdles for riders to get to the pro continental level (and beyond) are the limited options for local riders to compete on an international level and the unstable financial footing of their local development teams.
So, that’s what we decided to focus on: looking for ways to shore up the financial model, make it more sustainable, and more firmly under the Kenyan riders’ control. Cycling business models are never stable but even less so in East Africa. At the same time, we want to create more opportunities for East African talent to compete on a global scale.”
The Migration Gravel Race will be something special, but it represents a bigger idea, one where the chance to compete on any kilometer should be equal. Even more reason to follow this race and support its progress and riders closely.