Cycling to keep type 2 Diabetes at bay

By Duncun Motanya | Wednesday, Jul 17th 2019 at 12:18
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I didn’t know much about diabetes until 2009 when my old man was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I got inspired, and through his love for the family we set up DMRC to educate, inspire and challenge anyone dealing with diabetes in our platform whether directly or indirectly to make informed choices about their health and diabetes in a way which will see them enjoy the fullness of life and prevent diabetes-related complications.

Statistically, there is a 15% chance of developing type two diabetes if your father or mother has diabetes before age 50. This, of course, was just statistics and it did not occur to me I could be at risk; you know the kind of stuff you read and think it happens to other people and not you. At the start of 2019, I took part in a health camp where among several tests and check-ups I underwent few pointed out red flags in particular visceral fat and BMI (Body Mass Index) When you are sliding towards the diabetes edge you would barely know and do you know why? First, it is because you are still ok and feel good, and your friends would see you getting fat? That’s when they “praise” you with some Mheshimiwa titles, chief, Mutongoria, Incoming Governor and all the nice titles which paint a picture of a very successful person but of course, this is the point you should get scared. The devil is a liar.

Armed with good knowledge on how type two diabetes develops, I had to think fast the steps I needed to take to walk away from the dangerous, unhealthy grounds I was already in. I acquired an indoor magnetic bicycle which my plan was to use it to exercise early mornings and evenings after work. The first few weeks were very exciting, and I was motivated and committed to exercising in the mornings and evenings. Slowly, the enthusiasm began to wade off. I wasn’t committed any more as I used to be. Waking up in the morning to work out did not excite me anymore. Was I finding it too monotonous? I literally forced myself to hop unto that static bicycle to exercise in the mornings or evenings. I tried all the tricks i.e., good work-out music but I couldn’t go back to the excitement I had on first days when I purchased the equipment. Eventually, my routine died; we could not see ‘eye to eye’ with my static bicycle. My bad habits had taken over again; I was back to being a couch potato!

One day while strolling in town around Jevanjee gardens I saw a lot of people looking good, and all had bicycles. I then remembered seeing a post online for a group called Critical Mass Nairobi, which organized and encouraged cycling to make Nairobi more cyclist-friendly and getting more people out of their cars onto bicycles. I fell in love with the group, the type of bicycles the guys had, the kits they were wearing, helmets, glasses, gloves damn! My heart was like this, is it! This should be my way to regaining a healthy lifestyle. Off to the bank I went, got my few savings, and purchased my first bike, helmet, gloves, and a kit. I hit the road with a friend of mine Tinie Donald who happens to be Type 1 diabetic from age 13. I was too excited with the new toy (Road-Bike), and I couldn’t wait for weekends to ride and on weekdays every Thursdays. We discovered new routes and places with the bike rides; I started loving the sceneries and outdoors places where our bicycles took us to like Limuru, Southern bypass, and Kiambu. The new lifestyle felt good!

All was good, and I had now cultivated a cycling culture in my lifestyle. Every Sunday to me meant cycling at least 100 kilometers and twice in a week 20 Kms. A few months into outdoor cycling, it’s like my eyes got opened to a new world of bicycles. I began to notice other people on the road had sleek, nice bicycles than mine. I started to research more about bicycles and got to learn we had different types of bicycles i.e., Mountain bikes and road bikes. I got to know some bikes were made of different materials i.e., aluminum and carbon fibers. Did you know there are bicycles which cost up to 50 million shillings? Alar, Ziko! Anyways I continued with my new found cycling routine until Sunday, June 16th, 2019.

On this particular day, my buddy and I were going about our routine Sunday cycling through Kiambu Limuru road very early in the morning. Something strange was happening that day. We noticed so many cyclists passing us. They had better, sleek, and faster bikes, where were all these people going? We asked one who told us they were going for a bike race organized by Farmer’s Choice Limited which was to kick off from Cianda for 64 kilometers. Sisi hao, we decided to abandon our routine work-out and head to Cianda to see what the race was all about. I remember this day well because it was the day I realized my type of bicycle wasn’t made for racing:’ ( This was the day I painfully learned if I aspired to take part of such racing competitions (which I do) I had to get a better bicycle preferably a carbon bike. Mimi huyoo na kiherehere yangu to the bike shops I had seen selling such bikes. The bicycle I had in mind was selling for Ksh 250,000. There no way I was going to buy a bicycle for that amount! Besides, I didn’t have such kind of money to waste* I went back to my aluminum bike and cycling routine, but it wasn’t business as usual. My mind was stuck on the features of a carbon sportbike i.e. the lightweight, 11 speed, a different way of shifting gears, etc. In just one week, I lost my enthusiasm for bicycle riding. I was getting stressed because I needed to upgrade my bike.

One day while on social media, I saw some guy advertising a specialized sport SL2 bicycle. I was like YES, this is it! I made a call and went to Langata to see the baby. With negotiations here and there, I once again was a proud owner of a carbon sport road bike. I was elated, and my riding enthusiasm was off the roof. My buddy Donald too upgraded his bicycle. We were back on the road with a bang!!

Cycling is like a cult when it gets into your blood. Is it helping me stay healthy? Of course, YES! Each Sunday I get to lose 2000 calories or more, weekdays about 1800 for three days. I not only ride to stay healthy, but I have made serious adjustments to my diet as well, such as no fast foods or unhealthy drinks like sodas. Cycling is the best way to lose weight. So, what’s the worst thing about being a cyclist? Here are some funny but very realistic things of being a die-hard cyclist – Adopted from some Youtube video

1. You will get tan lines – this ridiculous Tan lines on the legs are considered a badge of honor: D2. Getting stranded – Sometimes you cycle and go so far from public transport where anything can happen, and you end up getting stranded. This has happened to us twice – once through a puncture and another time gear malfunction. 3. With cycling say bye-bye to muscles – in the place of muscles you get a lean, perfect body4. Blowing up (getting the bonk) not pleasant but happens only to cyclists. This comes with a crazy craving for food5. Bike Envy – When you are a cyclist it’s like you will always need a new bike – why do we always crave the next lightest, stiffest, fastest shining bike that comes our way? This is the curse of a cyclist, can’t just help it5. You need to join groups like Kenya Cycling

In the end, I enjoy every bit of cycling as I push the limits to keep fit. Riding has brought Joy to my life and given me a chance to regain my health. It’s not about the bikes we ride; it’s about the rides my bike takes me on!

Founder: Diabetes Management Resource Center Kenya - website:

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