Superbikers Harmony Wanjiku, Mina Reeve headed for SA race
Harmony Wanjiku rode a motorcycle for the first time 8 years ago.
She had a passion for sports and tried her hand in Polo and rallying but the two wheels struck a chord.
“I am petrol head, but that didn’t work for me those sports are expensive, I started motorcycle and I settled in it.
“I was used to the smaller cycles, I am used to the boda boda, so motorcycling for me it wasn’t too hard,” Harmony Wanjiku said.
She watched videos of the MotoGP on YouTube as she tried to understand the sport that has global appeal.
Harmony was used to riding the motorcycle on public roads but racing on a track was a different kettle of fish.
“You know the track and the road are two different things, anybody can run in a straight line, but cornering is when you get into a corner, the body position, the foot position, how you throttle, you don’t keep breaking,” she continued.
But learning to race competitively was just the first hurdle for the 26-year-old. She doesn’t own a bike because of the high cost.
The price of superbikes with a capacity of 200cc ranges between Ksh. 300,000 to 400,000.
The overall with special padding, gloves and shoes are also expensive.
“I don’t own a bike yet but very soon I am hoping to own one. The car and general guys have been so good to me, they have been sponsoring me for 3 years, that’s the bike that I use, it’s a 200 but I race under a category called 250,” she said.
Harmony is an entrepreneur and is also active in several cancer awareness projects.
“The reason why I am a breast cancer ambassador it’s not because of me it’s through my mum, she was a breast cancer warrior, she passed on. I took on the initiative to go teach guys,” she said.
Her exploits on the track inspired her teammate and good friend Mina Reeve who took up riding a year ago.
“I was hanging around people who rode bikes and not nduthis but sports bike like these ones, I was taken on the back of the bike, I was the pillion and holding on sitting at the back and we went at crazy speeds on nice roads I told myself I needed to get a bike, so I saved up and got this bike,” Mina Reeve said.
Mina learnt how to ride on her own with the help of Shaiman Mughal, an experienced super bike racer. Once she was adept at riding, she informed her parents.
“When I took the bike to my parents place they were shocked, they told me it was a death trap,”
She was able to convince them that safety would be paramount each and every time she was riding.
Mina started riding competitively in 2019 and she joined Gogo Racing team. The High school Biology teacher soon realized that being a female superbike racer had its own unique challenges.
“There was a comment that I heard why are the slow people racing with us, they are just obstacles on the track, now they are gonna slow us down because we have to go around them, that really got to me so much so that I improve my performance so much in the subsequent races I started beating them, I hate being stereotyped, I hate being put in a box.”
Racing at break-neck speeds also has its risks.
“The one race that everyone sort of remembers as the devastating race, I was going on and my breaks failed, I was fourth against all the big boys, it was my last lap and I just went down, I kind of bust my lip it was bleeding, the skin of my knuckle came off,” she said.
Mina was attended to by the on-ground medical staff and she managed to finish the race.
Harmony Wanjiku and Mina Reeve will be traveling to South Africa to represent Kenya for the first time at the Superbike Championship later this month.
The two ladies competed at the East African Superbike championship at the Whistling Moran in Athi River last weekend to test their levels ahead of the regional event.
“We have to have each others back, she scratches my back, I scratch hers, we are going to show the South Africans both the ladies and the men that we can bring it,” she said.
“We take great pride in promoting women in motorcycling FIM which is the International Federation of Motorcylists has a program, the superbike association has also done the same, we provide a platform as much as possible to give them the opportunity to compete,” the Kenya Super bike president David Karuri said.
The sport is still largely self-funded. The Kenyan team of 10 Superbike racers will be traveling to South Africa with support from well-wishers.