This is a story of guns and giraffes – the day that Africa bites back. We were cycling through a remote and poor part of northern Kenya when some of our riders were attacked by armed bandits and robbed at gunpoint.
It all started when four men tried to stop one of the cyclists – they threw a large rock at them, then a spear and then fired a shot. The cyclist biked on to escape, although in a lot of pain from the rock.
Behind, a group of six stopped. And as they waited, the men circled back and confronted them. They threatened them, and hit some of them, and shots were fired. The riders behaved with incredible presence of mind, They stayed calm and controlled and prevented a dangerous situation from turning into a disaster.
The robbers took cash and mobile phones, but also all the PVM power bars and water that the group were carrying. Then they left. The ordeal lasted around half an hour. The group carried on to the nearest town to get help.
The TDA team mobilised. Sharita – the tour leader – got the army involved, and had armed guards on the trucks and along the road very quickly. We other riders were all strung out along the route – the group I was with were at the lunch truck – and we were all gathered up and either continued in convoy or got on the trucks.
All the riders involved were looked after, injuries attended to and were back with the group by late afternoon. Shocked and shaken after their ordeal but coping really well.
At the rider meeting that night we were told by the TDA crew that drought has struck the area we were biking through and that some of the local farmers and tribes people are hungry and desperate and have been hijacking trucks in the past few days.
So where do the giraffes come in? We saw them along the route in the morning, beautiful and graceful. A true contrast to what was to come later in the day.
I wrote a book – Dodging Elephants – about the adventure!