only tarmac road is the main trunk road between Nairobi and
Mombasa. Mtoti Andei, the principal town in the Kathekani
region, is almost equidistant between the two, at a distance
of 250km. Nearly all the main services are on or very near
that road. Small markets exist elsewhere but products there
are limited. As soon as you move off the main road, you are
on tracks of indifferent quality. Even the tarmac road has
potholes and cyclists are certainly not given any preferential
treatment. They are expected to move off the tarmac onto the
sandy and very uneven surface at the side whenever a motorised
vehicle approaches. The paravet would spend the vast majority
of his/her time on the tracks.
Although the people do have some incentive
to maintain the roads, we would think of them as in poor condition.
The Kathekani region is relatively flat, which means heavy
rain doesn't affect the roads as much as it does in other
areas. However, they are still deeply rutted, very uneven
with huge holes in places. It certainly isn't a comfortable
ride on a bicycle. In the predominantly dry months they are
very dusty and clothes and belongings are covered in the red,
sandy soil very quickly. During the rainy seasons (October-January
and March-early May) they become muddy, with the inclines
quickly becoming running streams. It's the rains that do the
most damage to the tracks. However, wind also erodes the surface
during the dry seasons. Some years there is very little or
no rain. People pushing bikes uphill or in particularly bumpy
parts is a common sight.
Another big problem is the bush. Motorised
vehicles seem to have right of way, regardless of safety,
so bicycles are pushed right into the side when any car or
truck passes. The tracks are not cleared of twigs, branches
etc. so can be littered with potential hazards both at the
side and on the track surface itself.