Kipkirui Ng’etich’s Tidbit Archives

Kipkirui is our first remote employee, based out of Kenya.  Kip (as we call him) does copywriting for our products, product categories and bikepacking guides. He also uploads and organizes new products into our system.  Kip has been getting increasingly into more epic cycling over the last five years, enjoying long road and gravel cycling near his home in the outskirts of Nairobi.  We’ve been excited to work with Kip as he prepares to give bikepacking a try soon. 

Beyond cycling, Kip is a lawyer who enjoys doing pro bono work in his community.  Kip is a gamer, a chess player and practices Jui-Jitsu.  We’re grateful to have Kip around sharing his perspective, charm, good humor and dedication to success.

Mirinda! – Apr. 5, 2024

Mirinda, the soda I am always sipping on when out on those harrowingly long bike rides, is Africa’s version of a Pepsi. It’s fascinating to know that multinational brands like PepsiCo tweak their formulas to match regional tastes—like how I’ve heard that Coca-Cola has a unique flavor profile in Mexico compared to its American counterpart.

For anyone with wanderlust who finds themselves pedaling through Kenya, do me a solid and pack a can of Pepsi. I’m itching to see how it stacks up against my go-to Mirinda. Will it be the same taste of victory after a long ride, or a whole new twist? Hopefully we can find out together someday!

African Steel – Mar. 29, 2024

In Africa, the Roadster bicycle, nicknamed the Black Mamba in Kenya, isn’t just a bike; it’s the backbone of daily life. Imported from India and China, these steel-framed, singlespeed bikes have become the go-to ride for everything we do- from hauling goods to zipping passengers around as taxis. Their popularity especially in rural Africa comes down to how affordable they are, the robust construction, easy repairability through welding, and impressive load-bearing ability.

But the magic of the Black Mamba doesn’t stop at mere functionality; it inspires creativity. With some ingenuity and whatever materials are at hand, a Mamba can turn into a  taxi by adding an extra saddle, become a pedal-powered knife sharpener with a grinding stone, or even a heavy-duty cargo carrier. The mamba has empowered us, supported livelihoods, and become a symbol of resilience and innovation. We have an annual Black Mamba race in Kenya—a spectacle where these iconic steeds are pushed to their limits, capturing the hearts of locals and tourists alike. Check out these tourist bikepackers trying their hand on a Black Mamba while tackling the famed Tour d’Afrique bikepacking route. If any of you are ever in Africa, be sure to hop onto one of these bikes!!

Bikes vs. Couch – Mar. 22, 2024

There’s something oddly satisfying about wheeling your trusty steed past the sofa and parking it. Sure, my family raises an eyebrow, and friends chuckle at my “metallic roommate,” but as far as I am concerned, the bike’s just another part of the decor. I mean, who needs another plant when you’ve got a bike adding character to the corner?
With bike theft a big concern here in Africa, my bikes are much safer indoors and, a reminder that my next adventure is just a pedal away. My bikes will always be indoor entities. After all, they’re more than just bikes – they’re my escape, and an excuse for not buying more furniture!

Kenyan Gravel Cycling Season Underway – Mar. 15, 2024

Gravel cycling in Kenya continues to grow with the start of The LOOP Safari Gravel Series, a grueling 120kms race that offers diverse events for cyclists of all levels. The goal of the event is to give cyclists the opportunity to experience the wonders of Kenya by bike. There have been two races this month – Tatu City event and Keiyo event where participants tackled some of the best gravel roads Kenya has to offer. I am looking forward to attempting some of these races soon!

Pedaling through Kajiado’s endless plains – Mar. 8, 2024

My buddy Eliud and I kicked off the year with a promise to hit the pedals more often, and last weekend, we shook off the cobwebs from our black Lycras for a cool 47-mile ride to Kajiado- the home county and ancestral grazing land of Kenya’s indigenous Maasai people. This was one of those “Yeah, let’s do it someday” plans that actually happened. Riding through the area, with its savannah landscape and Maasai herders greeting us with smiles (probably amused by our cycling attire) made us realize just how awesome domestic tourism can be. As we pedaled through Kajiado’s endless plains, I pledged to continue discovering my country’s hidden gems. Because, we sometimes forget adventure is just a bike ride away and right in our backyards.

Juijitsu x Cycling Crosstraining – Mar. 1, 2024

Cycling has been an effective way to crosstrain and get good cardio for my other hobby- Jiujitsu. Tipping the scales at 194lbs, my biggest issue when grappling has always been gassing out during rounds. When i started cycling, i found it a fantastic way to strengthen the legs since it conditions them to exhaustion and steep terrain can be considered a sort of strength training. The mental toughness built by cycling has also helped my BJJ game, especially on those days where I am being crushed by that super heavy black belt (I bet you can spot him in the picture). I would love to hear if any of you guys crosstrain other sports and whether cycling has helped your performance.

Perspective Found While Cycling – Feb. 23, 2024

Riding my bikes has changed how I explore the world. It’s more than just getting from point A to B; it’s about the new things you see and feel along the way. Unlike driving or walking, cycling gets me to places I’d never think to go otherwise. It’s incredible how much more connected to nature I feel when I’m pedaling through a quiet forest or up a challenging mountain path. This whole cycling thing has really made me fall in love with being outside, pushing me to find new spots I wouldn’t have noticed before.

And it’s not just about the smooth rides but also about those difficult, stressful and awkward moments off the bike that make you laugh and remind you that it’s all about the adventure, the ups and downs- like walking into a restaurant with sweaty cycling gear and everyone turning to the tune of your clunky mountain bike steps. Happy riding everyone!

Cycling Struggle Bonds – Feb. 16, 2024

With the arrival of our summer season, I set out on a chill ride through Oloolua forest reserve with my buddy Eliud. We’d heard rumors about a nuclear facility being built there and, curious as we are, we just had to check it out. It’s fascinating how some friends seem almost elusive, yet the mere mention of a bike ride brings them out of hiding. As we shared laughs, pondering the absence of superheroes who use bicycles as their mode of transport, it struck me how deeply cycling strengthens friendships. Perhaps it has something to do with the trauma bonds we create when battling headwinds and steep inclines.
Eliud is also a talented digital artist, be sure to check out his creations here @eliud_mugu.

Spirit Lifting Ride – Feb. 9, 2024

My weekend was an uneventful one, I spent most of it ruminating on a recent national tragedy where scores of people were killed and others injured in a gas explosion at an illegal black market LPG gas manufacturing plant. Realities like these remind me how much work Kenya and the African continent need to put it so as to keep pace with the modern world. I managed to get a good ride on my road bike though and that is always a sure way to brighten even the gloomiest of spirits.

Explores Ngong Town – Feb. 2, 2024

I spent the weekend exploring the desert fringes of Ngong town in Kenya. Picture endless open skies, the kind of quiet that fills your ears with peace, and rugged trails. It’s moments like these that remind me why I fell in love with cycling in the first place. Wishing everyone a great ride and adventures off the beaten path!

“Bike Guy” Adventures – Jan 26, 2024

It was business as usual a few weeks ago when my long-time buddy Xavier called me saying that he needed my help finding a commuter bicycle. See, over the years, my close friends and family have decided that I am their “bike guy”. Previously, I didn’t consider myself an expert on bicycles, but working for Campfire has definitely allowed me to expand my knowledge base. Xavier had very strict specifications: Nothing over 50,000Kshs- roughly 300$, good specs and something “fancy”. 

We started hitting bike shops and scoured their second hand bike offerings. Xavier was impressed by just about every bike he hopped on. I was not- Inadequate gear ranges, Unknown bike brands, Drivetrain concerns, Frame issues. I kept vetoing each of his selections and in our 4th bike shop, I could tell he was starting to question bringing me along.

As we entered  Pedalling Powerhouse , the final bike shop of the day, I noticed two cyclists with some sweet bikes just leaving- A hybrid bike and an Mtb. I instantly recognized the Whyte Portobello Plus Hybrid Bike 2020 that I had been ogling for weeks on Facebook Marketplace. The Cyclists had already pedaled away when I pulled out my phone and dialed the number on the Fb marketplace listing. A panting voice picked up after a few moments and I knew it was them. I asked him if he was selling his bike and after explaining that we had just crossed paths, I grabbed Xavier from a clunky mtb that he was being upsold and helped him negotiate and buy his first bicycle from Justin. 

I await the next bike shopping assignment from my circle of friends and family. After all, I am their “bike guy”.

Group Ride – Jan 19, 2024

Cycling has consistently brought great new people to my orbit. It was nice to trade saddle tales with some old friends this past weekend on a group ride.

Kenyan Bikepacking Ideas – Jan 12, 2024

I just recently learnt about a 1,000 KM/ 621.371 Mile bikepacking route that runs across Kenya called the Kenya Bike Odyssey- KBO, and it is now a route I intend to tackle this year.

Here is some coverage on it from bikepacking.com and content from the expat riders that mapped it out and named it last year in 2022:
https://bikepacking.com/routes/kenya-bike-odyssey/
https://bikepacking.com/plog/inner-odyssey-kenya/
https://www.tristanridley.com/post/kenyabikeodyssey

I am unsure if it will interest anyone in Tucson but who knows, there could be a Kenya-bound Tucsonian right?