Two-time downhill world champion Fabien Barel and Fred Glo of Tribe Sports Group are organizing the Fabien Barel invitational, Urge Kenya, for Feruary 2009. Only 10 athletes will be racing this ultra-endurance downhill event and all proceeds will be donated to ACORD, an international alliance working to promote social justice throughout Africa.
So far, the roster of invited riders includes Mark Weir, Brian Lopes, Barel, Wade Simmons, Ritchey Schley, Steve Peat, Julien Absalon and Anne Caroline Chausson, among others. The riders will spend three full days trekking to the 16,355-foot summit of Lenana Peak. Although each competitor will be assigned a Swahili guide, the riders must carry their own bikes. The hike up the mountain will serve as course inspection and the start order will be determined by each rider’s knowledge of the Swahili language, encouraging interaction between riders and guides throughout the trek.
The voyage up Mount Kenya will undoubtedly be a life-changing bonding experience for the group. The trip down will be a flat-out battle between the world’s best mountain bike pilots across a half-dozen ecological zones, including bamboo forests and Afro-Alpine chaparral. The group will speed through the impressive landscape and finish in less than three hours.
Barel and Glo are visiting the area right now organizing the event and Weir is anxiously awaiting his departure in late January.
“It will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip,” said Weir. “I just hope I can breathe at 16,000 feet.” Weir also stated that he’d be riding with a paper bag over his head to prepare for the thin air.
In a more serious tone, Weir stated that, “this is an incredible opportunity to use our sport to help people that are less fortunate.”