THE RVO HISTORY
The Rift Valley Odessy started off as a smple idea to bring home to Kenya multistage mountain bike races. A few of us had courageously ventured into the daunting world of mulistage mountain bike races and were immediately hooked. We trained hard for the unknown and survived our first event, the arduous 9 day Absa Cape Epic. Thereafter we raced in numerous other multistage races in South Africa, Europe, Canada and USA
The idea of creating an endurance race had been lingering in the back of my mind for a few years, so after an epic 8 hour ride across the Rift Valley, Danny Szaplak and I decided to create the RVO. In Kenya we are blessed with the unique ingredients of landscape, terrain, climate, people, wildlife and adventurous spirit, the Rift Valley is the perfect canvas.
The first RVO was a 2 day adventure, attracting 34 intrepid starters. I salute 6 of those original starers who will be riding their 5th RVO this year: Daniel Szalpak, Michael Kontos, Jason Potter, Ashe Ahluwalia, Peter Cross and James Christian.
The initial two Odysseys were free of charge to willing participants demanding 100% self-sufficency from them. With the new sponsorship from Standard Chartered in 2012, the Standard Chartered Rift Valley Odessy catapulted into significance becoming the first fully serviced multistage race in East Africa. The partnership with Standard Chartered and Seeing is believing has grown every year. The impact of free Eye Clinics in the marginalised communities that host the RVO is deeply appreciated, a desperately needed service to those communties.
In 5 years, the RVO has attracted 306 individual repeat entrants of which 96 have been international; each year 30% of the starters are repeat entrants. The entry field is limited to 100 riders to foster close camraderie across like- minded cyclists. An Odyssey is defined as a “long adventurous journey”. The SC-RVO is true to its Odyssey name, it requires 100% self navigation following a GPS track; each year the route changes by 25-50% and for 2014 it has been extended from 3 to 5 days ( 24th to 28th September) , covering 440 km across the Great Rift Valley. Participants must be well trained to enjoy the SC-RVO, otherwise it is guranteed misery for the poorly prepared; it will never be an easy event; it will always sretch the unseasoned to new personal limits. By inspiring repeat entrants to return when they are stronger and faster, the SC-RVO continues to raise the level of Kenyan cycling.