Cycling aids Isiolo youth tackle idleness

By Kwach Wakhisi
Monday, June 7th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Youth members of Isiolo Cycling Club assemble, as they prepare for a trip. Photo/PD/Kwach Wakhisi

A group of young men and women in stretchy pants and jerseys gather at Isiolo Youth Innovation Centre on a Friday afternoon to prepare for their cycling trip to Archers Post in Samburu county, which is about 40 Kilometres from Isiolo town.

The theme for their cycling trip is “Ride for fitness”. As they lean on their bikes to take photographs, the excitement on their faces is evident.

The group dubbed Isiolo Cycling Club, which comprises of 28 members started early this year and has held events to cycle for a course.

It was started with an aim of empowering the youth to embrace cycling as a sporting activity that can unlock great opportunities in their lives and also help them to keep fit so as to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The benefits

William Kizito, organising secretary, Isiolo Cycling Club says they teamed up as friends to start the initiative and have been meeting every Saturday morning to exercise and network. 

“Since we began, our social network has grown. When we come together, we share ideas on different issues.

The activity has also helped to improve our overall well-being and kept us busy since members do not have idle time to engage in vices such as alcohol and drug abuse,” says Kizito.

In the past, the group has cycled to support and advocate for mental health awareness, encouraging people who are suffering from mental health issues to come out and seek help.

According to Kizito, the most visible sporting activity in Isiolo county is football, hence they felt they needed to come up with another activity that would be embraced by many youths.

“After an attempt to try skating which failed, we settled on cycling since many youths own bicycles and the benefits that come with cycling are immense. It also helps to relieve stress and tension,” he says.

Kizito offers: “Whenever we go for cycling events, we make stops for rests, lunch or water breaks and during this time, we sit and discuss issues that may be affecting us.

You find that in this set-up, some people open up on issues that may be affecting them and get help. It really helps us to interact and network.”

The activity has attracted women too, Idah Gakii being one of them. “I have been cycling for about two years now and I can say that the benefits are immeasurable. Cycling has a way of just giving you some satisfaction and relief,” says Gakii.

However, she says that she is not happy with the misconception the society holds regarding cycling—that it should be left for men only.

“I am here to represent women and show that girls can cycle if they like it and have a passion for it,” says Gakii.

Some of the challenges they face include lack of bike paths on roads, which makes it difficult to navigate the busy roads when there are many motorists.

Others include lack of protective headgear and biking clothes. Also some members do not own bikes, yet they are interested in joining the club.

Not a gender thing

Issa Mohamed, founder, Isiolo Conservation Trust, and member of Isiolo Cycling Club says that the organisation greatly support cycling.

He says cycling is one of the organisation programmes and is geared towards letting the society embrace it as a non-motorised means of transport, which is environmentally friendly and does not release carbon in the air.

“Some people view cycling as a childhood activity, but this is a notion that we hope to change.

As a team, we have realised that cycling is one of the best tools to use when we need to engage youth in our activities,” he says.

For the Isiolo Cycling Club, their goal is to reach out to many people across the county and in the rest of the country and let them know they can embrace cycling for a good course. 

“There is great potential in cycling as it can open opportunities for many youths to go take part in international cycling events.

Young people are really trying to push their talents, but due to lack of resources, they are not able to achieve what they desire.

I hope that the government can look into programmes that will support talent and sport development among the youth,” says Eric Mwenda, Chairman Isiolo Cycling Club.