Wise Words | Iman Kagumba.

Wise Words is our interview series talking to some of mountain biking’s most switched on people.

We’ll ask our short list of questions to a heap of influential, inspiring and outspoken people that we feel are driving the direction of mountain biking today. Some will make you think, some will make you laugh, some will be plain dumb, some will inspire you to better yourself and your riding. We hope!

Wise Words this week comes to you via Iman Kagumba.

You might not have heard of Iman Kaguba, but she’s making waves in her native Mombasa as a young, Muslim woman racing bikes professionally whilst studying Community Development at Mount Kenya University. A true champion of inspiring women to take up their chosen sports. The World needs more people like Iman Kagumba.

Photos courtesy of Migration Gravel Race.

How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?

There is so much that is said about me but I think what stands out or rather the first thing my friends would say is ‘don’t follow her on the downhill’. I totally agree.

What thing or things have you bought in the last year that had the biggest effect on your life as a mountain biker / cyclist / person that works in the bike industry?

My 2019 Liv Embolden. This was a massive upgrade for me and it literally improved my performance and efficiency on the bike by almost twenty percent. My skills and techniques are slowly but steadily getting better, no regrets at all

What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?

Stopping frequently to go take a dump. This has happened to me even during races. I’ve suffered stomach infections which have affected my bowel system and this almost became a norm. In one race, I rode so fast to the finish so I can go to the loo and I’m pretty sure that urge to go take a dump saw me getting the podium. I don’t know anything more unusual than that.

What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?

Advice: Don’t litter. Really, we ride a lot in the forest and sometimes you feel like no person is watching so please, don’t litter. Also, eat as much as you can, you’ll bonk alone and trust that a very few people will care.

Ignore: ‘not lean enough’, there is nothing like not being lean enough. Everyone is different and the urge for people to be equal (body wise) while everyone is different is very disturbing to comprehend.

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If you could go back and re-ride one day from your life so far, where/what/when/who would it be? Would you change anything?

Migration Gravel Race 2021. I would go back to ride with a gentleman named Omar. He was kind but this time round I’d be well prepared and with a gravel bike to avoid him leaving me on the flats because damn he’s fast. Also, just to beat him again cause he was nowhere near seeing me on those downhill.

What have you wasted the most time on in your life as a rider or bike industry career that you wished you’d given up years ago?

I wouldn’t say wasting time, just lost the opportunity for earlier self-realization in my cycling due to the lack of proper monitoring of co-curricular activities in our educational systems in Kenya. Only the international schools offer legit sports opportunities and they cost over 10 times what public schools have, elite much.

How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?

Honestly, I just wait it out. Understanding what motivates me has been a challenge, it’s clearly not the money because there isn’t any anyways, no person can push me more than I push myself and I won’t say It’s my teammates cause I have no team. Thinking about it now just made me realize that I wake up and do it again for the passion and nothing else. I fail terribly most of the times but guess who hasn’t given up, me

What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?

After feeling of a long hilly day with good company, or alone. I enjoy that feeling afterwards. Gets me waking up every single morning.

What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?

The Elite Nature of cycling. Elitism.

What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?

More black women in short track racing, also, me in short track racing.

Who else should we ask these questions to?

Nancy Akinyi, literally our number one female cyclist in Kenya. She makes me sweat!

You can keep tabs on Iman’s adventures by following her on her Instagram feed here.

You can catch all our previous Wise Words interviews with the likes of Sven Martin, Manon Carpenter, Ric McLaughlin and plenty more here.