This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 81.
After six months of careful preparation, eleven eager-looking riders finally set off from the Fort St George, in late September, amidst a throng of 300 well-wishers and a fanfare of TV crews and cameras, in a bid to raise £60,000 for Kenyan schools.
Down Right Kenya was conceived by Peter King, co-founder of Outspoken Delivery, who hoped to persuade people to come with him on a rally, ‘down a bit and right a bit’. He had recently become a trustee of ‘Harambee Schools Kenya’ (HSK) which works in rural Kenyan schools, and he thought what better way was there to raise enough money to build an entire school than to cycle there. So with three of Outspoken’s couriers on board, he set about encouraging others to ditch their jobs and join them on an adventure taking them 10,000km to Kenya.
The ride is totally unsupported and is a classic adventure: travelling at cycling pace through some of the most beautiful, rugged and challenging terrain in the world. It is the longest rally of its type on the globe, but is perhaps most notable for its ambitious aim to raise £60,000 for HSK. Sam Callanan, a rider who was looking for a challenge following the completion of his PhD said:
The eleven riders are split into three teams: one is heading down through Italy and across to Libya, while the other two are choosing routes along the Adriatic to Greece and Turkey. The plan is for all to hook up in Cairo and then make the final push to Kenya via Sudan. Along the route, a number of other cyclists are expected to join them for shorter sections. Two of the teams are currently in Germany, having spent the weekend in Luxembourg being welcomed by the British Ambassador, and giving presentations in schools and community groups. They aim to continue this along the route, spreading the message about education.
The tour was officially started by His Excellency Joseph Mucheme, the Kenyan High Commissioner, giving a farewell speech and himself donating £500 to the charity. He was so impressed with the riders and the beginning of their epic journey that he’ll organise an enormous welcome as the riders enter Kenya. As many as 1,000 school children are expected to cycle with them on their final day as they arrive in the charity’s heartland, the Rift Valley. The leaving party also included a charity auction, some leg-waxing for a lucky few and various other fundraising activities, raising a further £2,000 towards their target.
The bicycle tour’s patron is Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu. He said in a press release:
For more information on the ride, the charity and to see their progress, please visit www.downrightkenya.org.