It’s a fine Thursday afternoon. Sidney, (a friend & one of E-town’s photographers to watch) and I walk into Zaika for an interview. On the third or fourth table from the entrance is Mina sitting pretty, eating popcorn and sipping on a mocktail that looks like a blue lagoon.
We walk over and I introduce us. Her response immediately gets rid of all the jitters I have. She’s easy, warm and pretty. She even offers to buy us whatever we want as we settle down.
Mark you going in I was scared shitless coz I didn’t have a refreshment budget and I was wondering where I’d get money if my interviewee who is a total badass and a woman of resplendent taste decided to order a drink. ?.
Anywho Sidney and I excuse ourselves to go to look for a perfect spot to shoot the interview. I wanted the balcony coz I’m obsessed with balconies especially Zaika’s. But it’s too f*****g windy and so we end up doing it inside. We do a setup and request the bartender to reduce the volume of the music which he does. And then we start.
Guys, Meet Mina?
Without further ado, people, allow me the pleasure of introducing you to Mina Reeve. Jeff Koinange once called her the Superbike queen. She has also been referred to as unstoppable, speed goddess, and the biology teacher with a need for speed by Kenya Buzz, People Daily, and CGTN respectively.
Her Badges Of Honor
Mina’s easy demeanor and vibrant energy could easily blind you to the accolades she has under her belt. She is the fastest female superbiker of the 2019 season both in Kenya and East Africa. She is also the co-founder of Gogo Racing Team and Nairobi City Young Entrepreneurs, a platform that helps upcoming business owners network and get the guidance they need.
Additionally, she is/was the MD of Nami Africa, an experiential marketing and PR firm that was featured on Forbes! Forbes people! I say was because I was made to understand the company is currently not as active. But I mean when you set goals and smash them, what’s left to do other than to set other bigger ones.
Oh, she also teaches Biology at an International school (lanes wase, lanes?), and has her own application that deals with sports science. All this at the mere age of 28. Please take a moment of silence and ask yourself what are you doing with your life.
Talking To The Remarkable Woman Who Is Mina Reeve
Steph: Tell me a little about your upbringing and early career days.
Mina: Some people refer to me as a mkamba mzungu because my dad is British and my mum is Kamba. ( She can speak Kamba btw. I made her do it?. It sounds so original. )
I grew up in Kenya and studied at St Elizabeth in Kitui for a few years. I then went to the UK for some part of my primary education. From there, we moved around alot before settling back in Kenya so I school hopped alot. I went back to the UK for higher learning. Got a BSc in Biomedical Science from the University of Dundee and a Masters in Education from the University of Nottingham.
Came back and dived into the job market. I was employed for a while before quitting to start Nami Africa at 23.
Steph: What brings you to Eldoret?
Mina: There’s a lot of potential here so I’m trying to look at what opportunities I can exploit. I’m also here to visit boyfie?. I go back and forth between Nairobi and Eldoret because while work and racing is in Nairobi, my boyfriend works in Eldoret. ( Her boyfriend did drop by mid interview and I almost died with jealousy watching them interact. Good jealousy.
They look so happy together. And they are both young, fine, getting their paper, loving each other…. Uuurgh it’s so beautiful. (God, I’m waiting on you?, what you have done for Mina please do for me. A girl just wants to be happy?.)
Steph: How did you get into biking and how did you get so good within such a short period of time? Good enough to be picked to go represent Kenya in Superbike racing. Because I understand you only started riding in November 2018. And you came in second last in your first race in 2019 but within the same year you took home one of the most coveted titles in racing.
Mina: My friend Shaiman is the one who introduced me to Superbike racing. He taught me what I needed to know. He was also very strict and wouldn’t let me ride outside my compound until I emptied my first full tank.
Although at the time it used to drive me crazy, it really helped me master a lot of things including my braking, my gear changing and safety before I got on the tracks.
I think I got so good because I’m the kind of person who falls and stands up, picks my bike up, checks for oil leaks and gets back on. Other people get traumatized and decide to sit it out. I practice a lot too. I take training seriously. Ronaldo and Michael Jordan are great coz they took extra time training when everybody else had stopped.
Steph: What does one need to get into racing?
Mina: I won’t lie. It’s an expensive sport plus it’s not so properly developed in Kenya. I’ve had to either import or custom make my kit. You also need to be properly protected . A full kit costs roughly Ksh 80,000.
The bike I’m using costs between Ksh500, 000 to Ksh 800,000. Took a while to save up for it. But you can get a good bike for less. An Apache, for example, costs between Ksh150, 000 to Ksh 200000.
You can also race with an ordinary nduthi. Bajaj. Boxer. There are lots of prices to be won. People just don’t know about it. There’s actually a category for that.
Steph: Is racing a sport that demands physical fitness? Coz in my head all you do is sit and the bike does the rest all you have to do is navigate.
Mina: Definitely. You need to watch your weight, your figure and retain your muscles. Most people don’t know this but you actually need to watch what you eat and workout just like in any sport if you wanna race competitively. It’s a lot of cardio.
When you are on a bike in a leather suit, it gets really hot and you get dehydrated so you need to be fit. Second, the heavier you are, the more weight you put on the bike, the slower the bike will be. Thirdly, you see, when you are taking those corners and you lean on one side, you need a lot of power to pick the bike back up so you have to be fit.
Another reason I’m happy to be in Eldoret ( you guys should hear how she says Eldoret?) is because of high altitude training. I need to get fit, do some weight and strength training. Of course diet is 80% of getting toned so you have to watch that too.
Steph: Tell me about the best and most embarrassing experience you’ve had riding.
Mina: Haha. My best experience riding was on this day a random person managed to overtake me and I was like this isn’t happening. So I followed him for a few laps.
We were really close and then I overtook him. He tried to catch up with me but he didn’t. It felt so good. I felt like a total badass. Like I’m a humble person but on your face.
A lot of people like to call me out which is good. You don’t just become the fastest female biker… At the moment a lot of women are getting into racing and they want my title so I have to defend it.
My most embarrassing incident occurred on some day during practice. I was feeling myself, got overconfident and started speeding. I soon lost control of my bike and fell.
Next thing I saw was my bike flying over my head. Thankfully it didn’t land on me but it landed very close. I hurt myself really bad in a place I’d rather not describe?.
Steph: Tell me something people don’t know about you.
Mina: Haha. That’s a tough one coz I document almost everything. Wait, let me see… Ooh, yes, I’ve got something. I like weird food combinations. Like sausages and jam instead of ketchup. Orange juice mixed with milk. (Yikes).
I also play football. I’m very sporty. And I’m shy. Like I’m constantly battling social anxiety. I have to psych myself up ever so often.
Steph: What’s your dream bike?
Mina: Uuh. Good question. I’d love to get a BMW S1000RR but I currently can’t afford it.
I’d say Ducati because Ducati is like the Ferrari of bikes but right now in Kenya, Ducatis are hard to maintain and getting parts is equally difficult.
Steph:What bike are you using right now and why?
Mina: I’m currently using a Yamaha R25. I use it coz it’s an entry level bike. Like it’s great for beginners. It’s also light, I can handle it. I can commute with it and manouvre traffic easily. It additionally doesn’t get too fast so I don’t get carried away. Yeah.
Steph: What’s the fastest you’ve ever ridden?
Mina: Will NTSA be watching this? ? ( I sincerely hope not but you can always say it happened while you were in the UK) To be honest the fastest I’ve ever gone on my bike is 150-170 km/hr but the fastest I’ve gone on a Superbike was 200+km/hr. It was very interesting.
Okay, Now That We Are Thoroughly Impressed, Let’s Get A Bit Personal With Mina
Steph: Biking aside, let’s talk about work and life. As someone who has been employed and who has also run a very successful company, how would you advice someone straight out of school? Seek employment or start your own thing from the get go.
Mina: You need experience. Experience is very important so I’d definitely advice one to get the experience first by getting employed. At least this way, when you venture into your own thing, you know how to handle whatever comes up and what to do.
Steph: Have you ever had your heart broken? Walking around with a broken heart and still going to school or work is one of the hardest things to do. (Who agrees?)
Mina: OH yea. My heart’s been broken quite a couple of times. It’s unfortunate but it happens. I don’t blame any of my exes for wanting to test the waters . I matured alot earlier so my mindset was always focused. Right now, I feel like I’m in a really good place and things are working out. Life has a funny way of working itself out. Just be positive.
Steph: Growing up, we ladies are told to stay clear of boys and focus. Most boss women actually struggle with love. Do you think it’s possible to balance having a relationship and being a boss. Can you have it all?
Mina: Yea. I’m living proof you actually can. I’m employed. I have my own company and my hobby and I’m in a relationship. It takes having someone who’s understanding of who you are and what you do.
My partner is my biggest fan, biggest cheerleader. He’ll hate that I said that ?. But he has my back through and through. You also have to be very organized and strategic. It is hard but it isn’t impossible.
Steph: Favorite place in Eldoret to eat or hangout?
Mina: Haha, I think I need to explore more. So far I’ve only been to Koromosho Falls and Zaika. I’d like to know people and what they do. I know Rupa’s Mall since I come for groceries here. Sunjeel has really good Indian food. I got take out from there some time back and it was really good. I also went clubbing at Club Timba before rona. That’s pretty much it.
Steph: Do you have any plans that involve racing while you are here in Eldoret?
Mina: At the moment no. But I am open to ideas. I’m looking into good roads for racing. I could organize an event coz ik how they are run. I’d definitely want to start something here even if it’s just getting nduthi guys to race even for a few kilometers.
I’d even be down to bring my bike to Eldoret if I got necessary support and just to inspire people to save up and get super bikes.
Interviewing Mina was an absolute delight. Her energy is just something else. She’s so bubbly and ready for action. Y’all should have seen her posing and expressing herself .
The interview was all about her but I left feeling inspired to go out and kick ass regardless of what life throws at me.
I personally take losses so hard and I learnt they shouldn’t really put you down because they are the only certain thing in life. If you wanna get anywhere just shake off your losses and try again.
Anywho, yes. That’s all for today??. Until next time. It’s been a pleasure. Yours truly, Stephanie Maiyo ?.
Oh do follow @mina_reeve to check out what she’s upto next. I haven’t even covered all we talked about let alone all she does.
@eldoretleo too ?
Photo credits go to @urban_media_kenya the brainchild of @i_am_sidoh on Instagram. Hire him for all your photo or video shoot needs. He takes really dope pictures.