In 2017, Ben Asin graduated from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) with a Bachelor’s in Development Studies. Five years later, he is still searching for a permanent job. In 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, he developed his love and passion for cycling and brought together a wonderful community called Spin Kings.
Through cycling, they were able to spend time outdoors without compromising their protection from the virus. This helped immensely with their mental health, at a time when there were so many restrictions in the country. Today, Spin Kings has grown into a huge, amazing group of people who are passionate about cycling and improving the cycling conditions in Kenya.
We caught up with Ben Asin to find out more about Spin Kings and how it has helped to better the lives of people:
1. What was your main motivation as you founded Spin Kings?
Even before I formed Spin Kings, I had a passion for cycling. When I started it, my primary motive was to change the lives of individuals in our community. I wanted to bring back hope and spread love through cycling, especially during COVID-19 when a lot of people seemed hopeless.
2. You discovered your passion for cycling at the peak of COVID-19. Tell us a little more about this.
With the lockdown and all the restrictions that came with it, I fell in love with cycling. It was among the ways to beat cabin fever and get exercise outdoors. 2020 was also very hard for me as I struggled with depression. If it wasn’t for cycling, I’d have fallen into alcoholism. Cycling saved me.
3. What challenges have you had along the journey, putting together Spin Kings?
For starters, the main challenge is making people adapt to cycling on Nairobi roads. There are hardly any lanes for bicycles or pedestrians, and this forces cyclists to share the road with cars, which is dangerous. There is also a lack of support from organizations and donors, which leads to a lack of financial constraints to keep the ball rolling. In short, Spin Kings has managed to survive this long because of goodwill from the members and God’s blessings.
4. Your brother is also into cycling, tell us a bit about that and how you developed the hobby together.
My brother George Asin, who is currently my manager, was the one who introduced me to cycling. When I was younger, I would steal his bicycle and ride for kilometres to visit my ex-girlfriend. As I cycled for kilometres to nurture my romantic love, I discovered a new love along the way. I realised that when I’m on a bike, I feel relaxed and happy. That’s how it started, then I kept up the momentum for years, and here we are now.
5. Is it safe to say that cycling is your family hobby?
Not really. It’s only my brother and me who like to cycle. Personally, I feel that cycling is a vocational calling and a passion. I don’t particularly cycle with my family members (except my brother). Instead, I cycle with a community that has become a cycling family.
6. What aspirations do you have for Spin Kings?
Where do I begin? First, I want to establish it as an academy where kids can nurture their talents, and eventually represent the country in Olympics. I dream of seeing Kenya hosting Tour De France, an annual men’s multiple stage bicycle races. I would also wish to pioneer the development of cycling lanes within the CBD. Lastly, I wish to partner with various organizations to protect the environment and fight mental health issues plaguing the country.
7. Other than cycling, what else do you do?
As I said, I’m a development practitioner by profession. Aside from cycling, I am a soccer player. I love travelling and exploring new adventures. One of my dreams is to work in an NGO that fully supports cyclists and protect their rights.
8. Tell us a little about the event you had recently – Painting the cycling lanes.
On Saturday 22nd January 2022, Spin Kings Kenya Association mobilized the Kenyan Cyclists community to come together and support its Corporate Social Responsibility activity whose aim was to mark the Jogoo Road cycling lane. The activity focused on marking Jogoo Road Cycling Lane from Church Army Stage to Buru Buru Junction at a stretch of about 7KM. This is one of the busiest roads in Kenya with motorists, cyclists and pedestrians who mostly work in the Industrial Area.
The event was made possible through the partnership of NMS (Nairobi Metropolitan Services) whose main contribution was the paint and the engineers who identified marking sports, NTSA, Kenya Traffic Police, and the Cycling Community.
9. Would you say that the event was successful?
Yes, most definitely. The event was covered widely by media houses and highlighted by Citizen TV, which has the highest viewership in East Africa. We have seen a remarkable improvement in the way motorists behave on the road. They have given cyclists space on the road by ensuring they don’t use the cycling lanes. Pedestrians can safely use the walking paths since cyclists now have their own lanes.
10. What improvements do you wish to see in the Kenyan cycling community?
I would wish to see better road infrastructure that is friendly for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. We need to empower and educate the cycling community on road safety. Each cyclist should wear a helmet and have front and rear light or reflector jacket for all the road users to see or spot him/her. I would also wish to see the cyclists free from accidents caused by motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists. Lastly, I wish to see safe areas for parking bicycles across different parts of towns.
Not only has cycling brought together individuals from different parts of the country, but it is also an avenue for families to interact and have fun.
My name is Laura Ayienga, a 25-year-old writer & marketer, experiencing the highs (not claiming the lows) of life. I discovered my passion for writing on this very blog back in 2019 and since then, I’ve been using it to express myself as candidly and authentically as possible.