Iten is the Home of Champions, and it is our home as well. It also happens to be the place we found Salim Kipkemboi, our firewood hauler turned professional cyclist.
Half of our team come from within a 20km radius of our camp in the town of Iten. We are in the deep end of the endurance talent pool here, and we are always on the lookout for talent.
Our talent ID programme includes an cycling scholarship, school holiday camps, and organising bike races in the neighbourhood. We're going to be honest here...there's definitely talent here, but the sport of choice is (obviously!) running.
So we are spreading our wings to the rest of Kenya, and beyond...
The problem is as easy to state as it is difficult to solve.
The 4th fastest marathoner in history, Wilson Kipsang, was an itinerant bicycle salesman in Nakuru- hawking firewood, ferrying people, basically hustling for a living on a bike.
In and around Nakuru are another 4 guys with the talent of Wilson Kipsang (OK, we are taking a punt here!). Our job is the find them so their talent is given full expression.
Since 2014, our man in Nakuru, Simon Kitoti, has been having a real crack at this problem. He is a talent scout, mentor and coach to students in dozens of schools we are collaborating with; he stops every young man he finds who uses the bike to make a living; he organises races; he conducts cycling camps during the school holidays.
Using these disparate methods, we've assembled a small team of trainee cyclists, and the first cyclist from Nakuru will be heading off to Europe in the summer of 2017, where he aspires to join Salim Kipkemboi in BIKE AID.
So back to the hypothesis: somewhere out there is a young man transporting people or firewood or whatnot on his bike. He will have talent and will. We will find him, equip him, and train him. Then he will be exposed to the world of professional cycling.
Watch this space.
The word around the campfire is that Kakamega is the home of cycling. And a couple of pretty famous footballers. Unfortunately, the bicycle is slowly being replaced by the motorcycle, so we're in a bit of a race against time as well.
So we went there with our power meters to see. On our first poke at the fire, we tested 37 schoolboys in there late teens, and one of them scored better numbers than any of the guys in our camp. Whoa! Monster talent here!
We are working with this swell group of volunteers and overall cool guys and girls to get more schools involved in our talent ID. Then we'll go back and test the next 37, and the next 50...
'Nuff said. Let's cross our fingers and not jinx it!