Gravel Inspiration – Remembering Sule Kangangi

Image courtesy of @EgelmairPhotography

Anyone who knows Sule Kangangi will appreciate that this image captures his spirit perfectly. He was never happier than when he was riding a gravel bike, pushing as hard as he could on a climb. Whenever we spoke to him, Sule exuded enthusiasm and passion for gravel riding and his drive and determination to be the best he possibly could be was inspirational.

Image courtesy of @Mattgrayson          

Image courtesy of @kimeshpictures

Although Sule’s biggest race results came in the world of gravel events, he was equally adept at riding MTB and on the road. Sule’s career as a cyclist started with a number of amateur Kenyan teams, before he got a place on the Kenyan Riders Downunder team in 2016 – they were the first UCI Continental team to be set-up in East Africa. He then spent three further years racing on the road for Team Bike Aid, before turning his attention to the gravel world and being picked up by Team Amani – a project set up to “bring together initiatives aimed at enhancing inclusivity in cycling and creating opportunities for riders based in Africa.”

We first came across Sule in the build-up to the 2021 Migration Gravel race. Despite a packed field of European and USA-based pro and ex-pro riders, Sule finished second and this really kickstarted his gravel racing career. From racing in Africa, Sule travelled to Europe to compete and took part in events as varied as Grinduro Switzerland to Badlands. At each event he took part in, his love of climbing and his trademark grit and determination shone through and he had frequent podium finishes. It wasn’t all about racing though – after taking part in Badlands, Sule packed up his kit and bikepacked his way to the start of Gravel Epic Switzerland. When asked about this trip, Sule said “In the last days, I felt that the more places I see and experience, the more I realize how much more there is to explore”  

At the end of 2021 Sule became a global brand ambassador for Giant Bikes Kenya and also took on a coordinator role for Team Amani looking after the Kenyan riders on the team.  As well as this, he was a gravel event organiser and led the development of the grassroots Migration Gravel Event series, which was based in Kenya. 

With the arrival of the 2022 season, Sule’s schedule was impressive and his goals were big. After early season MTB competitions at the Cape Epic and the Rwanda Epic events, he took part in the Trakka200 event in Spain, before heading closer to home to compete in the 2022 Migration Gravel Race and then going on to win Tanzania’s Evolution Gravel Race

Image courtesy of @Steamboatgravel

After bureaucratic issues put a spanner in Sule’s plan of competing with the other Team Amani members in the USA in 2021, this year the visa issues were resolved and at the end of July, Sule travelled out to the USA to take part in a gruelling series of gravel events. Sule’s schedule saw him compete in the Leadville 100, a high altitude MTB race followed by Steamboat Gravel– a 228km gravel event, the very next day! After a few days rest, Sule travelled to the Gravel Worlds – a 250km grass roots race which featured 3500m of climbing.

Image courtesy of @VermontOverland

Sule’s final event in the USA was the Vermont Overland. At just 100km this race wasn’t super long, but the community-centered event included a challenging mix of trail types. The event recap film from 2021 shows the amazing combination of racing and partying that the organisers manage to mold together and we can see exactly why the demanding course and great party atmosphere would have appealed to Sule. 

Image courtesy of @Gravelworlds

Unfortunately, during the event, Sule was involved in an accident where he tragically lost his life. The event organisers captured the feeling of the wider gravel world when they said “Sule was a kind friend and an inspiring and heroic athlete to his teammates and the gravel cycling community at large. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, his friends, Team Amani, and the people of Kenya who are mourning his loss.” 


A memorial fund has been set up to help support Sule’s wife and children. If you would like to contribute, you can find details here

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