Wild Dog Adventure Riding

Riding: Plan, Report and Racing => Ride Reports => Topic started by: Osadabwa on April 25, 2016, 09:36:10 am

Title: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Osadabwa on April 25, 2016, 09:36:10 am

Or should I say “reincarnated”?, “reimagined”? or “reawakened?” My words fail me. I’m in awe.

Born and fed on the dust, brilliance and brutality of the Baja 1000, the venerable Big Red Pig has made her way – albeit in small numbers – to Kenya, and boy are we welcoming her with open arms. We’ll never approach the madness of the Baja, nor would we necessarily want to, but a more beastly weapon we couldn’t imagine for our terrain, and we’re ready to go give her a test.

Arriving mostly unscathed from their transatlantic journey from the USA (thanks Yankee Pigheads, you really know how to farkle your toys! Maybe it's the long winters in the Midwest…) we spent 3 days tweaking and preparing for our first trip out. The number plates hadn’t arrived yet, so we stole them off our other bikes... we couldn’t wait.

Thursday, while all the unlucky mopes were stuck in traffic on their way to work, Panic and I were lighting up the XRs for their maiden voyages. We had our eye on a dry riverbed where we wanted to go play a bit. Getting there would take us down into the Great Rift Valley, below the Ngong Hills, over to Ewaso Kedong for mandazis and fuel and back along the southern flank of Mt. Suswa.

Above: The usual entry point – goat trail down to the valley

Above: Panic blasts beneath a blooming acacia


Above: Deeper in the Rift, extremely green thanks to El Nino

The performance of these bikes is astounding, particularly given their simplicity and age. Both are fitted with pumper carbs and race exhausts; they’re uncorked, fire-breathing monsters that feast on tyre rubber and petrol while hurtling you down the road like a shot from a cannon. Playing with the suspension clickers on rough terrain – baby heads, marbles and lava flows make up the bulk of the road – we had them pretty well dialled in by the time we reached the river bed. Once inside, we just let loose and sliced a dusty gap along the sandy bottom, hearing the roar of the engine reverberate off the sheer dirt flanks of the canyon.



Above: Evidence of the force of the river during the rains… a fencepost dangling in space from her wires

We ripped up the riverbed until a rubble pile in a narrow gap turned us back. They’re agile and powerful, and in a pinch we could have crossed it, but we were into having a good time not lifting pigs over rockpiles. So we blasted back down to a shady spot, had a can of tuna for lunch and climbed our way out at a disused 4x4 track that got us lost in a maze of Masai thorn fences. Miracle we didn’t puncture. Back on track, we followed our bread crumbs back down the rocky road to Najile for fuel before splatting south to Oltepesi – a lovely, fast road with one harsh rocky section to keep you honest – where the tarmac from hell appeared to take us to Olepolos for beer and roast chicken.

Above: Canyon narrows

Above: Masai fence jumping and thorn tree selfie

Above: Panic hits the only puddle in the whole valley full tilt

Above: Waiting for the kuku with Tuskers and a dusty smile

All in all, a pretty amazing first day. The bikes performed better than expected. We were now ready for a full-kit overnight ride to the Ewaso Ngiro River.
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Xpat on April 25, 2016, 09:41:09 am
Great riding!  :thumleft:

This is what adv riding should look like IMHO.
Title: Take me to the River…
Post by: Osadabwa on April 25, 2016, 09:44:48 am
We spent Friday furiously adjusting what remained to be adjusted: changing tyres (I’d essentially de-knobbed the one that came with the bike already and Panic had ripped the valve out of his rear tube even with the beadlock cranked down), fiddling with the Edelbrock (a bit richer on the squirt screw to eliminate a slight bog), fixing my broken rack (screw had sheared off… Panic made a mod to mount it more solidly to sub-frame), Panic added a better fan to his radiator and we both strapped on our full-travel kit which included tents, tools, spares food and booze. Ready to roll.

Out the door to an overcast, Nairobi morning. The wind was cutting as we retraced our steps from Thursday down into the Rift and under the Ngongs then climbed again to Champaign Ridge Road along the edge of the escarpment. That road has seen better days. Rutted and rocky, we splatted along regardless, the bikes eating up everything in our path without hesitation.

Above: Looking Kajiado-side from Champaign Ridge

After about 90 km, we deviated from the big road down into the valley. It was a brilliant ride through weird agave plants, thorn trees and rocky valleys. About half way to Mile 46, we came across a little trio of ostriches who posed politely for photos, but started to get a bit stroppy as I puttered toward them, waving their wings at me in a rude and menacing way. I thought how embarrassing it would be to be killed by a bird, so I left them be.

Above: Down the valley of the agaves

Above: Ostrich watching in the long grass

Thirty kilometres later, we were on the banks of the large, dry riverbed that passes near Mile 46. Since we were in no rush, we decided to play. We blatted up and down the riverbed, testing our confidence in the soft sand. It’s very clear the XR can do whatever you have the ability (and balls) to ask her to do, and with a smile and a roar.

Above: Panic enters the river with Masai onlookers looking on

Above: Down in the riverbed


Having burned a dinosaur or two of fuel in the sandy riverbottom, we emerged happy and warm and made our way to Mile 46 for refreshments. It was market day so hundreds of people milled around near the railroad tracks. If you were in need of a used pair of shoes, a goat, or a shuka, you were in the right place. A few curious men poked and prodded our bikes and gear and quizzed us about the GPSs. It was a cool scene. Very colourful. Our bikes matched perfectly with their Honda red.



From Mile 46, we re-entered the riverbed for a quick splat down to where the road crosses. It now looks like we could have followed it further, but we were worried about our fuel usage and needed to get to Magadi with a bit of reserve… riverbed riding is not conducive to frugal fuel consumption. So down the road we went, crossing the river again several miles later at a very deep and rocky waterfall… stuff you can’t see when planning tracks on Google Earth. A bit farther on, we stopped in the shade by a dried cattle reservoir playing host to a bunch of pointy-nosed frogs. The acacias there were in bloom and positively humming with insect life.



From our lunch spot, it was back on the road, Magadi bound. It was easy going and fast and the views as we descended deeper in the valley were broad and spectacular. We emerged on the horrible Magadi tar road after passing through a cool, fragrant swampy area just east of the GSU compound where Kenya trains its shadiest law enforcement agents. We only had 20 km to go which was good news because my bike was sucking on fumes. By the time we reached the Magadi Petrol station, I was tilting the bike upside down to get the last drops out of the left lobe. Mileage on a tank: 200 km or 125 miles. That’s not gonna cut it out here folks.


In Magadi town, the temperature and smell of the air resembles those reported for Hades, which makes sense considering Magadi sits on the very cleft in the Rift Valley which over millennia has been spread apart by the forces of hellfire below. Over the span of 200 kilometers, we had descended 1400 Meters (4500 feet). It was hot, man, real hot so we didn’t stick around longer than needed to suck down a Coke and buy extra water for the campsite. Take me to the river!


Above: Funky old metal work on the Magadi buildings had Scottish origins from pre-independence days

The heat kept us from stopping much to take pictures or to chat. The road from Magadi to the river was a rocky one with a lot of dust and virtually no shade. The sweat came and came, but didn’t seem to cool the body. We just pressed on, up and down the hills until we reached the Ewaso Ngiro River near Nguruman. Panic had been here dozens of times since his youth, so he led us straight (more or less) to the perfect campsite. On an oxbow in the river, a football-pitch-sized sandbar stands two meters above the muddy water. Hemmed in on one side by dirt cliffs and the other by thick acacias, it was spectacular. Just what the doctor ordered.






We soaked our bones in the water, cracked open the box of wine, heated our delicious camp food over a demonic East German cooker and shot the breeze under a nearly-full African moon to the sound of birds chirping in the trees, catfish smacking their lips in the river and tunes on the mini-speaker Panic brought along. What an awesome end to a brilliant day.

All night long, my mind replayed the day and it looked like this...
https://youtu.be/LAX2lhS_ZA8 (https://youtu.be/LAX2lhS_ZA8)
(I'll figure out how to embed videos soon...)

Mod Edit: Embedded

Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Ganjora on April 25, 2016, 09:49:58 am
more please.
Title: Rock and Run
Post by: Osadabwa on April 25, 2016, 09:50:41 am
The birds were our wakeup call. The sun hadn’t yet crested the trees on the Eastern bank, but we were up and moving around. I felt like I’d been hit by a train and wanted to chalk it up to my fast riding, but it may have also had to do with the boxed wine and Bain’s that took us well past the moon’s zenith the night before. The campsite was beautiful in the morning light, peaceful and cool, but it didn’t last long. By the time we’d decamped, the sun had begun its merciless work. One more dip in the river and on with the kit. Back at it!

Above: The greenness of the conservancy and our camp in the morning

Above: Getting ready to move… and on the move with an Anthill as a backdrop and the Nguruman behind


We put a few liters of fuel in at the junction and filled our Camelbaks. Then we started North on a track we did a year ago which we didn’t remember was absolutely brutal. None of the photos show the hour’s worth of stones we bounced over on what turns out to be nothing more than a bulldozer track separating two group ranches. It’s an eerie no man’s land spotted with abandoned Masai manyattas, the houses crumbling back to piles of manure and sticks, and it’s just as rough as they come. The bikes took it all in stride, but it was painful for the humans. Fortunately, after the initial exercise, the track reverted back to hardpacked soil and we could twist ‘em open. We flew through valleys, past occupied Masai bomas squatting on brilliant red dirt and surrounded by emerald brush. It was beautiful all the way to the next village where we turned East and shot toward the belly of Mt. Suswa where we’d been on Thursday.


Above: Acacias in bloom

Above: At the turn, a bit of rural electrification happening, and a bad egg

The shot East was a ripper. Fast and furious with plenty of rocks to go around. It’s taking us a bit of time to trust the bikes on the stones. On our previous ride to Turkana, the Teneres had so many pinch flats from the rocks that we all became gun-shy. Now that we have the Pigs though, I think we can safely blast anything. I ran the whole weekend loaded with 22 lbs front and rear, banging and twanging off every rock in sight without a puncture (and a couple of times, I thanked my stars I had a steering damper because some of the hits were unexpected and aggressive). We rolled through a valley teeming with gazelle and Zebra, crossed the river we’d taken our test ride on, and cracked and crunched our way to Najile for petrol, of which again I was dearly in need.

Above: Panic races into the valley

Above: A mini launch to see if pigs can fly

It took all of our strength to ride the rocks south to the Magadi road. The prospect of roast goat and cold beer at Olepolos was the only thing keeping us going, and going fast. We raced ceaselessly down the track, stopping only to make sure nobody was dead yet or to admire the small herd of giraffe that were grazing increasingly diminutive trees (soon they won’t need those long necks at all) just outside Oltepesi. The bikes took it all and asked for more.

Above: Weaver nests in a flowering acacia

Above: My front tyre suffered as much as the rear

Above: Our reward: Goat and fast dirt

Above: Yellow track is Thursday. Red is the weekend, clockwise from Nairobi. Orange is where the two overlapped.

An excellent baptism weekend all in all. 300 Km on Thursday. 500 Km over the weekend. I need a fan for the rad, we may have to invest in the 7 gallon tank from IMS to give us the range we need, and we’re going to have to get bolder over the stones (and maybe keep clicking those clickers to soften the ride a bit) but otherwise, I’m ready to declare it: I’m in love with a Pig.

Until next time. Oink.  :snorting:

Video recap of day 2:
Title: A few more pics...
Post by: Osadabwa on April 25, 2016, 09:55:59 am
A couple more pics...

It didn’t take long before we were keen to get back out there. Sunshine, Kenya and a Big Red Pig go hand in hoof. After our camping trip, we both had the feeling the bike could be softened up, particularly in the front, so we swapped out the fork oil for some 2.5 weight and took her for another spin.

Above: Pigs in Zen

A huge improvement! Even though I learned my bike was set up for a much larger lad and I will probably need lighter fork springs in time, just changing the oil weight took the sting out of the forks.

A week later, we decided to go for another wee spin. This time, we’d aim for a bit of a technical trail that I’d only previously done on my KTM 450. It was hot and the stones were pounding us, but we were making it through okay until Panic discovered he’d lost a bit of brake pedal to a stump. Always prepared, we searched through our tool kit to see what could be bodged together to save the ride. In the end, Panic had the perfect solution: the chain breaker. Worked like a charm.

Above: Clever brake lever repair and a rubbly road to the valley


Above: Pigs in profile

For the next weeks, I was using the XR to commute around the backside of the Ngongs for work in Kiserian, so I got to enjoy again and again the bike and the scenery, and was pleased to see a herd of giraffe hanging out roadside a couple of times. They don’t even mind the braap of the race exhaust, as long as I idle up to them.

Above: Ngong giraffes

All the forums promised I’d be chewing through tyres with this bike, but I’m shocked just how true that has been. I got the bike with a good knobby Dunlop on the rear, but after 2 day rides it was balding enough that I wanted to swap it before our overnight ride. I put on a partially used Enduro tyre from my KTM, and at the end of 3 days, it too was dead. And it wasn’t just the rears… the front tyre still had plenty of knobs, but just as many were either broken away or peeling back all the way to the bead!

Above: The GT enduro tyre didn’t last long

So I dropped dollars on a set of MT21s which are supposed to be a good choice for the bike. They’re wonderful to ride on and look the bizniz, but I’m not so sure they’re going to last any longer than anything else…

Above: About 150 km of rocky dirt and I’m already chunking out the Pirelli

I will be testing the Maxxis Desert IT and the Mitas Stone King next. I need good rubber. What I’m not willing to do is lay off the throttle, however. I bought this pig to braap, and braap she shall!  :snorting:
Title: Another day out. This time with plans to explore new tracks.
Post by: Osadabwa on April 25, 2016, 10:02:25 am
Since the Pigs arrived, we’ve mainly been riding to see what’s what, mechanically. We’ve tinkered with carbs and suspension and tyres (lots of tyres) and have them pretty well set up, so it was time to go do some exploring. I got on Google Earth and plotted out a couple of likely lines and off we went.

We dropped into the valley as usual on the goat/boda-boda path that makes for such a wonderful warmup, then slid over to the West side of the Ngongs and connected to a track I found. While tinkering with a GPS antenna issue (my Garmin 276C is about to die on me… got a Montana on the way that I am hoping against hope will come close to replacing her) we were surprised to see a Kenya Police helicopter less than a kilometer away flying low and slow, doing maneuvers of some sort. They shadowed us (or we shadowed them) down into a deep, rocky valley where the challenging stuff began. I’d found a track that was entirely made of stones.

Above: Panic pauses to cross a stony dry river

The track, still relatively cool in the morning air, was rocky… and flanked by wait-a-bit bushes and acacia trees. Kind of tough going, but much improved since we softened our forks with 2.5 weight oil a few rides ago. Softer or not, the hill climb that took us out was a foot-flailing affair, with the Pig grunting and rumbling and jolting around. We made it to the top pretty tuckered out, but pleased with how well the big bike handled the climb. We are the weak link in the equation as always. She never feels heavy, until she slows down that is…

Above: It’s not just that it’s rocky, but that all the rocks are loose

Above: It's not just that it's rocky and the stones are loose, but the thorns are out to get you too

Done riding bowling balls and baby heads, we were treated to some nice double tracking down to Magadi road. We busted over to Oltepesi for a cold Coke and a chapatti before seeking out our second new track: a whip around the East side of Mt. Olorgesailie which would take us down to Mi-46. It turned out to be a wonderful and varied track of fast flats, rocky climbs and big views. It feels great to find something new.



Above: Paying homage to the Pigs… really powerful and responsive bikes

Nearly to the end of the new track, we came upon a road going back down into the bottom of the valley. Keen to explore, we went down for a look and were greeted by a wide view of a huge commercial farm and an old cotton harvester (I think) labeled (in no fewer than 3 places) “Butt Brothers”. That just made our day. Finding the farm was surprising given how far from Nairobi, or even a good road, we were. Google Earth’s last photo of the valley is from 2010 and it just shows flat valley floor. A worker informed us they were growing vegetables, chilies and maize for the Nairobi market. One day there will be no more bush.

Above: One must have pride in one’s name… I guess


Reaching the Mi-46 to Magadi link road, we turned left and blasted the very rough dirt and stones. The Pig handles it all without blinking, but some of those stones were buried tight and stuck up far enough to make your eyes cross when you hit them. I was again happy to have the steering damper. After a bit of that nonsense, we decided to hit the river bed for a bit of smooth sand riding. It’s a sensation between powder skiing and flying. Very nice.

Above: Recent rains have everything sprouting green green green: The RR crosses the river




We were turned back twice by boulder piles in the riverbeds, and climbed back onto the road for the last few kms to Mi-46. Down the road we met a Land Cruiser that was living testimony to the roughness of the road… stranded with a broken axle (but still proudly displaying an “Internet Access” sticker on the side window). We popped into Mi-46 for another Coke, and I had a chance to chat with a guy about vaccinating his cattle against East Coast Fever (as one does). We each took 7 Liters of fuel (bikes are getting 13 km/L riding hard) from plastic jugs and we were off, blasting North for Olepolos lunch.

Above: The lame Land Cruiser

Above: Another stage in life: bushes in full blossom

We’ve ridden the track north from Mi-46 before, but two years ago it was in substantially better shape. Numerous washouts and lots of ruts have since appeared. I nearly went headfirst into one as I was gazing at the scenery at 100kph and noticed the hole a bit on the late side. All in all, a pretty exciting track made better by a new leg that took us through the valley just below Champaign Ridge and into what apparently is a housing development (or a dream of one) called Enape Ridge that boasts a Church, Amazing Viewpoints, a Proposed Resort, and a Mosque to attract investors. You can have 1/8 of an acre now for only 200,000 Kenya Shillings ($2000) according to their website. The valley was gorgeous.


Above: Leaving Enape Ridge toward Kona Baridi

A quick blast up to Kona Baridi and a squirt down the tar to Olepolos for a few cold ones and a big kuku choma overlooking the valley. Everything we could see below us, we’d ridden in a day. Nothing like a nice 250km ride to work up an apetite. And as we were sitting there, who should appear but the Police Helicopter again! They flew within 50 M of our lunch spot and did a loop of the place before vanishing slowly into the afternoon haze.




Almost 5:00 PM. Time to rush home. Zip under the Ngongs, back the way we’d come. Only donkeys and graders could slow our progress.


Until next time…  :snorting:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: bud500 on April 25, 2016, 10:12:13 am
Makes my throttle hand itch... :ricky:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: 1ougat on April 25, 2016, 10:17:18 am
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Nevar on April 25, 2016, 11:34:10 am
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: DirtyHarry on April 25, 2016, 12:34:45 pm
Very nice. That looks like a proper adventure.
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: ROOI on April 25, 2016, 12:55:00 pm
Great reading .They are wonderful :thumleft: machines
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: COLES on April 25, 2016, 12:55:43 pm
now that is an adventure awesome photo,s

great ride report     thank u for sharing
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Black_Hawk on April 25, 2016, 01:51:35 pm
Great RR and beautiful photo's. Looks like fun. Thanks for sharing  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: evansv on April 25, 2016, 06:00:26 pm
Looks like great fun & well written :thumleft:

Thanks for sharing!
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: boland on April 25, 2016, 06:45:20 pm
Awesome RR!! And people wonder why people are so passionate about lightweight thumpers :thumleft:
Title: Asante...
Post by: Osadabwa on April 25, 2016, 07:58:06 pm
Well thanks gents, seems folks are enjoying the pigs in E. Africa. So, without further ado, I'll add on the most recent rides and then this forum will be up to date.

Cheers  :snorting:
Title: A Lone Pig in Zen (or Reflections on the Merits of Solo Adventuring)
Post by: Osadabwa on April 25, 2016, 08:00:18 pm
A year ago, I was contacted by a friend of a friend out of the blue. She finishing up a grueling PhD in the US and wanted to do something completely different for a month to celebrate. She’d settled on riding a motorcycle somewhere in Africa, and had been put in contact with me to see how she might go about it. I helped her pick a country (Tanzania, where I’d lived for 5 years) and a bike (Baja Boxer… she had very limited funds) and then just generally supported her decision, knowing full well that 98.5% of her friends and family in the US would beg her not to go.

So she shows up in Dar es Salaam, having only passed her motorbike test a week earlier. She dumps her bags in a hotel and heads to the nearest Baja dealer to buy a new bike off the floor. Following morning, having not slept a wink, she gets up and sets off. It was a series of firsts: First time in Tanzania, first time riding in a city… really first time riding period! Apart from the safety test in the US, she’d essentially never been on a bike at all. With all those nerves jangling, she escaped the hell-hole that is Dar rush-hour and rode west into the heart of the country, not stopping until she needed fuel. Not only did she survive the trip, it sounded amazing. She had no major mishaps and came away with a million stories of happy encounters with people and weird situations you only find out there on your own.

That brings me to my latest ride.

It pissed rain from midnight til six AM here in Nairobi, and when I awoke I half knew what would be waiting on my phone: a text from Panic saying he’s bailing out of our plan to hit the valley, citing inclement weather. That raised my hackles. We own Big Red Pigs for dag’s sake! We bought them so nothing could stop us! Bring on the monsoon!

So, ignoring the little angel on my shoulder saying “riding solo in Africa is not safe, and particularly not when it’s wet and slick…” I donned my gear and sped out of town, making sure to rattle the Barnum’s race exhaust near Panic’s house so he’d hear me go past.

And I had a brilliant day. Riding with somebody is great, especially a good mate with equal skills, bike and riding style. A friend provides good banter, safety in numbers, help with punctures or at least words of encouragement, etc… but riding alone is magical. Every decision happens as quickly as you make it. You change your mind, the bike is the only one helping you decide if it’s a good idea or a bad one. You look at familiar country with fresh eyes, see people along the way as potential friends and allies, stop to smell the acacia blooms more… or not, it’s your choice. You become one with the bike in a way you don’t when there is someone else along. You sense her moods, make sure your fuel level is okay, listen for signs of complaint. She’s your one lifeline, and you respect and love her for it.

So, just a plug here for solo adventuring as the weekend approaches. Ditch your friends. Go somewhere you’ve wanted to go. Leave the GPS at home and put the phone on Airplane mode. Ask directions. Stop for coffee somewhere you’ve never been and ride, ride, ride!

I sent this pic back to Panic from the edge of the escarpment to say: see, it’s not so muddy after all. I was proving a point. Rain in Nairobi doesn’t necessarily mean mud in the valley. Of course, there was mud, but mostly the day was tacky soil and stones. Perfect pig playground

Alone, I'm willing to pose for photos with the gals at the Investment Hotel (in Kenya, Hotel means restaurant, so don’t get any ideas) in Ewaso Kedong. I’ve been there many times, but usually just have my chai and mandazi and move along. This time, I shot the breeze. Enjoyed the cool air and hot tea. Being solo brings you closer to the others around you. You’re less intimidating, even in your fancy dress, more approachable, and – because your mate isn’t there yakking at you non stop – you are keen to engage.

I was planning to just drop down to Ewaso for tea, then head back home, but once I got out there I couldn’t help riding on and on, especially since the sun was coming out. I’ve seen this semi-symmetrical pile of stones many times in the past and finally stopped to take a shot of it.

Even though I riding solo, I had decided to try to go up a rocky track I’ve only heretofore ridden down. The escarpment looms over the Najile-Oltepesi road, and the track just scratches its way up it. Alone, if you take a chance, you’ve got to make it count. There’d be nobody to help me pick the bike off my leg if I topple over.


I explored and subsequently rejected one track (above L) that looked like it would have broken my bones and stranded me forever before heading back to the track on my GPS. There, the rocky sections were very rideable. Baby heads only, no boulders, and with my Pig very well dialed in, she and I sailed up them. At the top, I continued on a small track that took me slowly through Masai back-yards and thorn fences. I won’t go there again. I hate pushing through thorn fences. But somehow I’m glad I went there alone.

By 2:00 PM, I was within sight of the Ngong hills. One hour from home. I stopped under a nice shade tree for a snack and a rest. Spent half an hour there just chilling. Spoke to a man named John who has a nice little plot and a house nearby. He asked if I was okay. “You kidding? I’m fantastic!”  :snorting:
Title: Two Big Red Pigs and a Husky 701 – Mud, stones and broken bones…
Post by: Osadabwa on April 25, 2016, 08:03:09 pm

Okay, no broken bones… just sprains and bruises. Still, it was a rough day in the Great Rift Valley.

It’s been an eternity since I’ve been out with Atreyou but we finally got it together and made it happen. Panic and I have properly tested our XR650Rs since bringing them to Kenya a couple of months ago, but Atreyou’s spanking new Husqvarna 701 was virginal. She fairly sparkled in the early equatorial light. She needed a baptism. It was time to scratch the plastics a bit. So, we set off as usual down the Rift Valley toward Oltepesi and Mi46 via a rough stony track I’d checked out earlier in the week.


The morning was cool and misty. It has been raining, so even the boda path leading to the Ngong circuit road was tricky and unexpectedly slick in spots. Panic was the first to see his ass, slipping on his right hand side on a deceptively slick bend. The Ngong hills were fog-covered and mysterious looking, with only the faintest glimpses of the wind turbines visible in the early light.

Above: A Candelabra and the Ngong windmills hidden in fog

We rode somewhat cautiously along the road skirting the hills (which we’ve dubbed Ngong 1 for reference), deviating to a rocky and mud-puddled cut that links us up with Ngong 2 (the original road paralleling the hills) before screaming down a nice, quick road toward our trail-head.

Above: Atreyou and the 701 start the rocky day

Above: Panic wisely avoids a lorry-swallowing quagmire

The road was fast and furious and we were soon spread out, enjoying the flow. Not a lot of rocks meant good speeds and good cornerning… mostly. Atreyou and the 701 decided not to follow an abrupt left hander and blasted instead into a nice, spiky acacia, thus tallying up the bikes very first scratches and leaving his bulging bicep bedecked with bright beads of blood.  Meanwhile, Panic had chosen to go an alternative route and only by luck did I hear him calling the phone asking where the hell we’d gone. I didn’t mind riding back to find him since it meant I could blast that track all over again.

Above: Fast-tracking it

With the smooth track behind us, we descended into the depth of the valley on a broken rock-strewn track past Masai bomas and beautiful rocky cliffsides. We rattled happily along and stopped to admire the green acacias, buzzing with life and well hung with phallic weaver bird nests in an empty river bed at the base of a rock-split, dry waterfall.




The descent consists of two steep, rocky drops with a small level spot in between. We’d gone down the first half with no issues. After the rest break though, things didn’t go so great for me. First of all, I nearly dropped the front wheel into a gap that I was just narrow enough to jump but just wide enough to eat your tyre if you mess it up. As I was too chickenshit to blast over it, I needed Atreyou’s help backing the BRP up from the brink (photo credit to Panic… thanks, jerky). Then after stopping to get a photo, I choose what is certainly no better or worse a section of rocky, baby-head-on-ballbearings-covered track and turn it into my own personal hell, dropping myself flat and hard onto the bowling ball sized stones along the edge, bruising and scraping myself all out of proportion to the speed or challenge of the terrain and spraining my clutch hand enough to make me cuss. It made the rest of the ride, lets say… challenging. But we went ahead.

Above: Me captured in my moment of shame…

Above: Right – Atreyou easily navigates the very corner that busted my ass and sent my wrist ligaments aflame

Wimpy wrist notwithstanding, the descent was awe-inspiring. Nice long views down the valley with the escarpment to the left and the green from recent rains evident everywhere quickened the pulse… as did the seemingly endless rolling loose stones. Sweat was pouring off of us as we finally reached the bottom and slipped and slid around in the dusty, sandpacked valley to Oltepesi for a cold Coke and petrol before crossing the Magadi road to skirt Olegorsaile to Mi-46.

Above: Panic (begrudgingly) replaces a Masai thorn fence

Above: Down to the valley


South of the Magadi road, the track was smooth again and flowing. We moved briskly along, pausing only to play in a section of bone-white dried clay and a flat plain of (thankfully dry) black cotton soil. Mountains on both sides of us and puffy white Simpsons clouds above made it an excellent stretch.





Halfway down the valley, the track climbs up on the flank of the hill, probably to avoid a muddy section farther down that on some maps shows up as a lake, and made for some interesting man vs. environment action. Atreyou was enjoying the hard scrabble track so much he decided to do a double wheel drift around a bend… losing the front at speed and gliding along the dirt on his keester like a superbiker come off on a bend. He said he’d never slid so far on dirt in his life. Nor had the Husky… she was starting to understand that, although her owner is a fan of pretty things, she would not be spared the odd tumble in the service of braaping.

Above: Atreyou and I survey the valley from our pebble track

Eventually the track merges with the main dirt road connecting Mi-46 and Magadi road. We turned west and unwound the throttles, blasting over the hard packed dirt and embedded stones. We’d warned Atreyou in advance that the track was brutality incarnate, so many stones sticking up to help you slap the tank or pinch your tubes, but the sunshine and the dust got the better of him and after about half an hour we were watching him repair a snakebite.

Above: the road looks civilized enough, but she harbors rim-bending embedded stones

Above: Working on the snakebite… a few new racing stripes to the 701’s skid plate

Above: Atreyou works on his snake bite while I rest in what shade I could manufacture at 1:31 on the equator. Such a rookie move, getting a flat where there’s no shade! :lol3

Our plan was to hit Mi-46 for a cold Coke but when we got there, the Saturday Masai market was in full swing. Hundreds of beaded pastoralists were milling about selling and buying wares and livestock. It was a circus, and our arrival looked to herald the beginning of the clown act, so we decided to give it a miss. Sometimes, you’re too beat up from the road to enjoy being the center of attention, and anyway, we had beer and goat leg waiting for us at the end of the ride.

The ride from Mi-46 continued to pound our bodies and our bikes. Unlike the previous stretch, this bit of road is washed out in many places, and covered in dried truck tracks that can teach you a lesson real quick if you try to lazily slide a tyre over them. My wrist was now in agony, jangling the nerves with every rock hit. I finally found a relatively gentle way to grip the bar and set to flying up to Olepolos, but nearly paid for it when my rear end hit me in the ass over a larger-than-it-looked bump. Arriving in Olepolos was like being rescued from being mauled by a Cape Buffalo.

Above: Just leave me here… save yourselves…

Above: Olepolos 2.8kg of mbuzi choma and a ravenous Atreyou going to town

We filled our bellies on goat, salt and chips and donned gear for the last hour’s ride home. Panic reminded us that the ride isn’t over til it’s over, and he was damn near clairvoyant on that score. Blasting past the Ngongs, up the boda track and railing along on the happy dirt that leads us home, I was enjoying myself and watching Atreyou’s light in my mirror. He was enjoying it too… and then he was gone. No light. Apparently, he wanted to give the Husky one last ding, so he hammered a big whoop and went flying… head down, feet in the air, slow-motion style, riding the front wheel before crashing in a heap, thankfully on softish dirt. It rang his bell, but he survived it. Bike didn’t  seem to notice…


So the result of the day: Bruises, sprains and great memories. Luckily, it’s raining cats and dogs in Nairobi right now, so I don’t feel so bad being laid up with this fat wrist, and Atreyou is out of the country. The month of May, though, will be big for the Pigs. I’m thinking Masai Mara maybe… it’s time to branch out and race with the cheetahs!  :snorting:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: edgy on April 25, 2016, 08:11:43 pm
Just WOW!!! :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: sidetrack on April 26, 2016, 07:28:57 am
Enjoyed that  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: MRK Miller on April 26, 2016, 09:25:31 am
Fantastic thanks for sharing
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: JonW on April 26, 2016, 10:51:35 am
Great pics and stories here guys, thanks for sharing  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: westfrogger on April 26, 2016, 12:05:25 pm
Excellent as always. Thank you.  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Kortbroek on April 26, 2016, 07:31:29 pm
 :drif: :drif: :drif:

This is awesome! :thumleft:

What you said early on about the XRR is exactly why I bought mine, "It is capable enough to do anything if you have the balls to try it".

Great read, hope to see some more  :ricky:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Rooi Wolf on April 26, 2016, 08:36:14 pm
Excellent read!  :3some:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: BlueBull2007 on April 26, 2016, 10:30:24 pm
Osadwaba, welcome to the wilddogs forum, bud! :paw: :thumleft: I have been hoping you would start posting here for years. The dawgs have a massive appreciation for your type of trips.

Another brilliant report, and your videos are always fantastic! :hello2: :hello2:
What camera do you use on your helmet, and what camera are you using for the videos in these short RR's?

Guys - you should look up his other longer reports of riding in Tanzania on advrider.com :deal: Simply amazing stuff.

Title: Howdy!
Post by: Osadabwa on April 27, 2016, 07:48:42 am
Hey BlueBull,

I'm not sure why I've been lazy to put up here, because it's true the guys at Wild Dogs seem eager to see more rough reports from Africa. It's amazing how quickly they get buried at ADV. Most guys there are cruising the tar in the States.

I have put up some posts here from TZ and KN, but not many and I put them in the "Global Reports" space (which technically is the right place to put them I guess) but I'm going to keep them here unless the Mods say otherwise. This forum gets more traffic.

I haven't used my helmet cam in awhile for one principle reason:  I basically hate editing the hours of POV video that, while somewhat cool to me, never seems to capture the feeling of blasting a bike around Africa. Very few people watch them... I have many videos on my YouTube page but I can see how little they interest people by the click counts (and I rarely go back to them myself). Also, the damn camera always seems to be switched off when something cool happens, battery life is crap, etc. What I want is a "follow me" drone, but I'm not shelling out the bucks for one! The rest of the time I use my trusty Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 waterproof/shockproof camera. The image quality is deteriorating and the zoom sucks, but I can clean it up in Photoshop a bit.

 :thumleft:  :snorting:

Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: BFG on April 27, 2016, 08:51:44 am
Looks like riding heaven
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: BlueBull2007 on April 27, 2016, 09:13:04 am
Thanks for your reply - looking forward to the next one! Keep the rubber side down, boet. :ricky:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Rokie on May 03, 2016, 10:03:07 am
 :drif: :drif:
'nuf said
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: adv on May 13, 2016, 02:47:47 am
great pics!

Julle gaan maak dat ek weer iets stupid doen  :deal:
Title: Big Red Pigs praise the Kenyan Sun God
Post by: Osadabwa on May 13, 2016, 09:10:20 am
Hi folks,

More BRP action coming at you. Glad you're following along.  :snorting:

We are spoiled. Kenya’s weather is sunny and beautiful for 80% of the year, so when the rains come and get serious for a week or two we bikers start getting really anxious. For three weeks now it’s been raining and the bikes have been stabled. Even though it was good to take a break to let my sprained wrist from the last ride heal a bit, to install new fork bushes, a new radiator and fan and a key switch for my Pig (thanks, Panic), we have been chomping at the bit to get out again. Finally, the forecast promised a reprieve so we snatched it.

Plan as usual: get to the Great Rift Valley, have tea and mandazi at Ewaso Kedong and then go see what we see. This time I had a couple of fresh tracks to explore and we were determined to try one. After tea, we did a bit of slow-motion video of each other riding a bumpy section to see if we need to play with clickers at all. Panic looks very planted (maybe a bit of a kick in the rear still) and I seem to be popping up a bit in the front or not rebounding fast enough. Might explain why I feel like the front is dipping in the loose tight turns.

Above: We spent a bit of time doing mid-speed suspension testing on a bumpy lava flow

Above: Slow-mo video link

The valley is rarely green, but this time it was a veritable rainbow of colors with flowers everywhere as well. The most stunning one I saw was a Fire Lily… so bright and fragrant in an otherwise hostile place. Dry places and deserts are the best place to be after a rain. They transform.

Above: Flame Tulip in bloom

Above: A long view and a close up of a cactus flower

Above: Panic’s luggage strap got sucked into the chain… but the repair place was stunning

Above: These plants only grow on this specific section of the valley among big boulders and scrub trees. I have tried in vain to determine what they are, so – as many do in the absence of a scientific explanation – I will simply make up some otherworldly hooey. I therefore declare that they are spawn of an alien race waiting for humans to further deplete the environment such that the CO2 levels are high enough for them to take over… the things are the size of yoga balls… all white, round and sinister… aliens for sure.

We took our usual Najile-Oltepesi road for a while before deviating at an unpronounceable Masai settlement on a much smaller and rockier little track that wound its way through rugged terrain south. The track was really nice. Not fast, challenging in places with sandy riverbeds overgrown with wait-a-bits and rolling stone descents. You could get the speeds up a bit on some hard pack, but the thorn trees on either side kept us in check.

Above: Offering to the sun god

Above: Do you come here often?

Like I said, it was challenging in places, so I wasn’t surprised when I fell on my ass. Still, the place I went down wasn’t really one of the challenging places… just my luck. I was just coming around a little corner after a long section of babyheads and was probably pleased to see dirt again when the front end vanished, I stupidly planted my right leg, flailed a bit, squirted the gas and did a nice two-wheel drift with a 180 degree twist in the trail. Like a good man, I sat there so Panic could see me in my disgrace, but not long enough for a pic because petrol was pisssing out the breather.

Above: One stupid little rock (red circle) was in my path (yellow circle) and knocked my ass hither and dither. Shameful.

The best part of this track was that, although it was small and knotted with Masai encampments, it was not clogged up with Masai fences. Often you are on a nice little double track that is crisscrossed with the thorny buggars, leaving you no choice but to go back (nope) or to wheelie over them which risks punctures and often ends in you collapsed in a heap with thorn bushes wrapped around your legs. Then, if you feel guilty (mmm…), you have to repair the fence which is sticky business. At least this road only had one fence, and it had a clear “gate” which we opened and shut like good farmers would. Civilized like.

Above: Shutting the “gate”

Since we had a late start, it was pushing 2 by the time we hit the Magadi tar. At that point, there’s no choice but to hit Olepolos for roast kuku. It is written. So, with no further ado, we blasted up the tar for a rate runch. The view from Olepolos was great and green, the kuku was succulent and the Pilsner Lager refreshing. Little yellow weaver birds fluttered all about, along with a dozen species of butterfly. It’s a great time of year in the Great Rift.

Above: Looking down on Olegorsaile from Olepolos

Above: Vittles

After lunch, it was all smiles back home. Ngong 1, the first road under the Ngong hills, is always a blast… it’s fast, but with enough turns and bumps to make it really exciting. After the rains, it was even more interesting with large washouts in unexpected places and small patches of still-wet black-cotton soil to catch you out. From there, it was a bit of cage harassment before the goat trail and the sprint up the escarpment. So fun on the Pigs. Damn. I want to ride again already!

Above: Dude, where’s my road?

Until next time... oink.
Title: Re:
Post by: adv on May 13, 2016, 10:30:35 am
Sick pic's you baaastids

Sent from my GT-N7100 using Tapatalk
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Prototype on May 13, 2016, 01:03:29 pm
Absolutely brilliant! Its the kind of terrain pigs were made for.

You still taking chinks out of your tyres? I'm running Maxxis Cross IT and am super impressed with their durability. After roughly 4000 km on mixed ground (not as rocky as what you are doing though) they are still going.

Whaap whaap  :ricky:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Crossed-up on May 13, 2016, 03:21:31 pm
Great stuff! Thanks.
Title: Maxxis
Post by: Osadabwa on May 13, 2016, 04:39:18 pm
Hi all, thanks for following along. I can't get enough of this country and the Pig.

Prototype, you read my mind. I asked a FB forum which tyre to use and once I sifted through the crappy ideas, settled on the Maxxis Desert IT. I rode with it yesterday so she has 200 km and no broken knobs. The MT21 was flinging chunks after 150 km. The front of the knobs are worn, but not broken, so I consider it the best I've tried so far. Next one I will try before I quit my experiments is the Mitas Rock King. I hear they're durable and gnarly too.

Cheers  :snorting:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Xpat on May 13, 2016, 04:57:18 pm
Lovely trips, thanks for the write-up :thumleft:.

Keep them coming!
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Prototype on May 17, 2016, 03:05:08 pm
 :thumleft: enjoy!

Those desert IT's looks like the right tool
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: TeeJay on May 17, 2016, 03:43:14 pm
Very cool.....thanks for posting  :thumleft:
Title: Najile Canyon Attempt
Post by: Osadabwa on May 19, 2016, 07:46:35 am
At it again. New tracks beckoning, we dropped into the valley as usual and blasted to what we hoped would be a new track to add variety to our menu. The beginning looked promising, with a stony double-track skittering off into the bush, but it rapidly disintegrated into cattle wanderings and met up with a dreaded Maasai fence… a modern one this time, with smooth wire and posts… no way to wheelie over. At the corner was a “gate” made up of thorn bushes, so it looked like there might be hope after all… alas. Once inside the plot, there was no escape. But, there’s no use crying over the slow crawl of modernity, so we backtracked to Ewaso for a cup of tea and a mandazi.

Above: Panic on the main valley road

Above: Panic makes his way through the “gate”

Above: A nice cuppa tea at Investment Hotel, Ewaso Kedong

In Ewaso, the waitresses have become familiar with us and always take our photos. This time, Panic spent a bit of effort trying to explain about the need to properly light your subjects, as we were backlit by a window and the girls couldn’t figure out why their pics turned out too dark. I wonder where our pictures end up? Maybe they have a blog.

Our failed attempt at our first new track did not deter us. I had scoped out several others on Google Earth, so we decided to ride awhile and just pick one that looked good. Just outside of town, though, I stopped to inspect a bit of Kenya’s famous jua-kali infrastructure: a line of electrical poles had been planted without a guy-wire, but some clever sod sorted it out: just wrap a wire around a sapling. It’s hard to be a tree in Kenya: first you escape being butchered for charcoal and now this… either way, people just look at you as a quick-fix for their energy woes.

Above: The clever guys at Kenya Power at their best… the logo I think is supposed to resemble an incandescent light bulb, but it seems the glass is broken… that’s appropriate

Above: A nice look-out spot among a few larger acacias that haven’t yet been brought into the national power grid.

We rode toward Najile until we found our next possible wonder-track. This one I made knowing full-well it could be impassible as it descended a rugged canyon, but it looked substantial enough to be worth exploring so we gave it a go. It didn’t take long for the fairly well-used but rocky double-track to peter out into a used-once-and-abandoned one. Often, these are some of the best, but the origins of the track soon became clear: it was the access way for a construction vehicle to build a concrete rain-catchment thingy at a seasonal waterfall in the canyon. Once we’d skirted the small cliff, the track became a choose-your-own-adventure affair with many rocky or thorny dead-ends. We surmounted a few boulder strewn mini-passes, but were eventually blocked by a rock-pile on one side and a massive canyon-within-a-canyon-within-the-Great-Rift-Valley on the other. That was the endpoint for us.The spot was beautiful and seemingly untroubled by mankind. Goats hadn’t even pulled the grass out by the roots yet.

Above: Awesome Blossoms

Above: Some of the track was a kind of slick-rock, probably an olde volcanic flow off Mt. Suswa nearby

Above: The path narrows

Above: A bit of a scramble before dead-ending at the cliff

Above: Pigs O’ the Valley

Above: If the track had stayed like this, we’d have been good to go… alas

We admired the canyon and looked around on foot for a work-around, having seen boda-boda tracks that made us think there must be a way, but it looked like they had to have carried their ride over the stones. Having decided that portaging the Pigs over one rockpile after another all day in the heat wasn’t the best way to spend a day, we followed our track back to the main road, up to Najile for a warm and unsatisfying soda before splatting toward Olepolos where the usual kuku choma and icy White Caps awaited.

Above: Backtracking

Above: Another police helicopter fly-by… they must love Olepolos as much as we do. Mysteriously, Panic’s Trail Tech Vapor’s magnetic pickup got mangled somewhere along the road… can’t figure that one out.

Although we’d only gone 175 km by the time we left Olepolos, I was in need of fuel. My translucent fuel tank showed about two fingers’ of gas on the RHS which I know from experience won’t get me home, so we stopped at the roadside for a liter or two. The joker who came first tried to charge me 150 shillings each but settled on 100 after I suggested he was taking the piss. Even in the deep bush, 150 would be outrageous, but you can’t blame the jerk for trying… dishonesty being a national pastime and all. We blasted all the way home, crossing the underside of the Ngongs in 9 minutes flat and arriving at our doorstep 45 minutes after leaving Olepolos… try that on a BMW.

Above: Rural Motorcycle Spares… your one-stop-shop for boda-boda crap and expensive fuel.

To my amazement, the Maxxis Desert IT rear tyre I installed 500 km ago still has knobs on it! No big chunks have flown off and, although it’s lost a bit of its roundness (exacerbated in the photo by the fact that it was nearly flat… something I didn’t even notice a day later), there’s still plenty of life left in it. That’s good news because our plan for the coming week is an overnighter down deep in the valley, swooping near the Tanzania border and Mt. Shompole. That is, if it isn’t just a muddy mess… 12 hours of rain and counting happening here now.

Until next time: Oink  :snorting:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: BlueBull2007 on May 24, 2016, 10:12:27 pm
Yep those maxis are good. I like them and Michelin deserts.
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Prototype on May 25, 2016, 12:36:42 pm
Your reports makes me want to swing a leg over and just go ride! Thanks man, and enjoy.

Will maybe give those Desert IT's a go once my cross IT's have worn out. Might be a while...
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Hentie @ Riders on May 25, 2016, 01:58:46 pm
Awesome  :thumleft:
Title: Rift Valley and Mau Escarpment – 3 Days and 2 Big Red Pigs
Post by: Osadabwa on May 29, 2016, 08:18:27 am
After two months of brilliant day-riding, the pigs were scratching to get farther afield. An overnight trip was again in order. This time, the plan was to return to the Ewaso Ngiro campsite on day 1, exploring new tracks along the way, and attempting on day 2 to find a southern passage to the Loita Hills below the Shompole Reserve but above the Tanzanian Border. So, off we went.

Above: The flooded meadow had our tootsies damp right away.

Above: Our perennial first-stopping point. Fully loaded, we weren’t as nimble as when we’re on a day-ride, but the Pigs still make a fine platform for fast, off-road travelling.

Above: We hustled down Ngong 1 to the tar, made a 20km zip to Oltepesi for a morning cup of chai and a chapatti and swung South on the Butt-Brothers Farm track past Olegorsaile to the hard stone-road leading to Mile 46 one way and the GSU barracks the other.

Above: Dust busting

The first half of the day was spent navigating familiar ground. We blasted down a track we’d taken a few day-rides ago and then began to explore a short-cut that looked like it would slice off a 20 km stretch of tarmac and drop us into the Sulphurous, sweltering town of Magadi. On Google Earth, the track was obvious enough, but on the actual Earth, it was elusive. We spent 20 minutes searching but had no luck. It was worth it though: there were two groups of ostriches, zebras, gazelles and impala by the herd and even a pair of cow-sized Eland hanging out back there. A mini wildlife safari atop the Big Red Pigs. Brilliant.

Above: Hunting and failing to find the short-cut track

Above: Dramatic motorbike portraits contrasting the harshness of the terrain with the beauty and power of the machine (yes, I’m a dork)

Above: Still lost, but I found an anthill

Abandoning our short-cut, we splatted the rest of the dirt track through a couple of very large water holes down to the tar by the GSU camp and down to Magadi. Tar’s not fun really, but the ride is nice, with views of the white-rimmed lake on one side and the black stony escarpment on the other. In Magadi we dined on a meal of green –gram and rice with an ice-cold Pepsi, bought fuel and water and set off on the last dusty stretch to the campsite at the foot of the Nguruman Escarpment.

Above: Crossing mirror-like Lake Magadi

Above: A pair of Maasai and their cattle making their way across the caustic Lake

The 50 km or so to the campsite is an XR’s dream. Fast and rough in equal measure, it’s a road that keeps your throttle hand happy and your senses on edge. We stopped the action only briefly to capture a long photo or two, and when a whirlwind was dancing so close to the road I had to interact with it. It was like a live animal, moving slowly along, just out of reach with its tail twenty stories into the sky, digging a wandering spiral into the pebbly ground. Very cool.

Above: The Nguruman overlook

Above: Tell me you don’t want to race down that road?
About an hour after leaving Magadi, we were at the riverbend campsite on the Ewaso Ngiro river. The muddy waters looked exactly as they did last time we were there. The only notable differences included a slightly more pleasant temperature this time of year and a much less fatigued body. The adjustments we’ve made to our Pigs since the last ride in terms of suspension have made a world of difference. Still, once the tents were up, a dip in the river was a happy event. Having arrived just shy of 3 O’clock, we had plenty of time to enjoy the quiet and watch the birds dive-bomb the water. I built a stone cairn to throw stones at, and was thoroughly schooled by my ugly German riding partner who, with Panzer-like accuracy, obliterated my creation time and again while I lobbed duds six ways from Sunday. As night fell, we poured our cups full, settled in for a three-course British military meal and watched the stars wheel around in the sky. I nearly fell asleep leaning against my wheel but a toad woke me up trying to burrow under my leg, then I was seeing skulls in the stars and a Neanderthal head in the trees, so I figured it was time to call it a day.

Above: Arrived!

Above: The riverbend campsite on the Ewaso Ngiro… yes, technically we could have been swept away by a flash flood in the night, but you only live once.


Above: Soaking in the muddy river



Above: Happy to be here, folks!

Above: With the tents set up and dusk approaching, Chef Panic lights up the stove.

Above: A bit of video to round out the day

Tomorrow’s another day. Stay tuned.  :snorting:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Fudge on May 29, 2016, 08:37:19 am
 :ricky: Really enjoying this, thanks!
Title: Nguruman over the Mau - Day 2 of 3
Post by: Osadabwa on May 29, 2016, 07:35:14 pm
Up with the birds and clear-headed thanks to the moderate booze intake of the night before, we had coffee, splashed the sleep away in the river and decamped, ready to see what’s what with the southern way to the Loita Hills. We rode south out of the camp on a double track through a group ranch brimming with antelope and zebra, baboons and the occasional giraffe. The earlyish light made the shin-height yellow grass shine, but I was aware that lion could easily hide in that stuff, so I kept a wary eye open  for whiskers and the throttle hand primed for twisting.

Above: That looks a little bit like Africa, don’t it?

Above: The pigs looking like plump impala on the savanna...

Eventually we reached the entry gate to Shompole, but the guys there assured us that, although we could enter the conservation area and could pass to the other side, there was no way in hell we’d be able to climb the escarpment on bikes. Sometimes people underestimate the Pig, but something in the way they talked about the trail (a very steep hike, no bodas go there, only cattle) made us believers – someday, we’ll investigate the track from the top-side looking down. Unfortunately for us, our alternate plan for the day, to ride East toward Shompole town and back around to Magadi, was also scuppered by equally adamant reports of a washed out road and a wheel-swallowing, black-cotton swamp. It was time for plan C.

Above: Charismatic megafauna of the Nguruman steppe

Above: Not a bad place to spin your wheels, Kenya.

A bit disappointed, we turned back North, dusted back to the main road, passed by the wee village to top up fuel and pointed ourselves toward Naivasha, 120 off-road-kilometers away. The track starts out rip-snorting fast but very quickly disintegrates into a bulldozer track over rough, large, loose stones. It was slow going, and Panic was having issues with his idle; it was kind of kaspluttery and inconsistent and made the slow bits over the rocks harder than they needed to be. I was loving my softer fork springs and lighter weight fork oil. Compared to the last time we were there, I was in heaven.

After half an hour or so of the rough and rubbly stuff, the trail pays off big with fast but tricky riding all the way up to Mosiro. Some quick sections were punctuated with deep perpendicular washouts that were best handled by lifting the front and blasting over each in turn on the rear wheel. Even loaded, the Pig is equal to the task. Amazing bike.

Above: Panic stops to do some checkups… I admire some purdy purple flowers among the thorns

Above: Now that’s an interesting haircut

Above: At Mosiro for a quick liter or two of fuel and a Coke, Panic and I were surrounded by curious onlookers very keen to figure out the GPSs. Personal space being an entirely Western concept, it was snug and fragrant at times, but all friendly.

Above: Look, a blidge!

From Mosiro North was new territory for us. It wasn’t rugged going, mostly a decent dirt track that had been exposed to one too many rainy seasons, but it was fast and fun. After awhile, we started noticing our eardrums popping, and the temperature started to cool. Suddenly, I crested a corner and came upon a rolling wheat field where only moments before there had been nothing but scraggly goat scrub and acacia thorns. Amazing transition. From the wheat field, it wasn’t far to the tar road linking Narok and Mai Mahieu and the little village where we stopped for beans, rice, coke and fuel. By this time, Panic’s idle issue had sorted itself out… probably some kerosene in that last village’s fuel.

Above: Wheat! A wheat field! Make me some bread!

Above: Now that’s a bike doing some serious lifting. Remember: God is Lov.

Having quizzed a couple of boda guys at the pumps about reaching Naivasha via the back-roads, we were pretty certain we had to climb up the Mau Escarpment. I was unaware what that would entail and was in for a real treat. After lunch, we set out for the 5 km of tar to our turn off and were escorted by one of the boda dudes giving his Chinese bike the beans in order to show us the turn, empty milk containers flapping and whacking around in the wind. He was quite a sight.

The trail he pointed us to, I had mostly found via Google Earth and we repeatedly confirmed we were on the right track by asking as we went. I couldn’t believe how stunning it was, or how high. It wasn’t pristine Kenya, not like a game park or anything, but it was productive Kenya. Hard-working, farming Kenya. The higher we climbed (and we seemed to climb forever) the more beautiful the surroundings. There were little huts and dukas perched on the edges of the hill, deep canyons with dense tree cover at the bottoms and fields stretching up the long valleys. It was hard to keep the bike on the trail, with all the gawking I was doing.

Above: The boda guy shows us the way, and our first glimpse of the Mau escarpment

Above: We weren’t the only bikes on the road


Above: Climbing higher and higher, the mercury dropping in proportion.

The road surface was very good while dry, but at times you could clearly see that a few moments of rain could very quickly turn the climb into a Slip-N-Slide. It would be wet clay chaos. We lucked out though, made it to the summit and scrambled down the other side to the Moi South Lake Road right at Kongoni where we stopped at the Ranch House for a draft beer to celebrate the day. Later, at Carnelly’s Camp, we spent the evening in the restaurant by a very smoky fire listening to the never-ending rain that – although Panic had sworn up and down would not cross the lake – soaked the grass outside. The drops couldn’t touch our bikes though, they were kept dry under a lean-to, or our bodies since we’d wisely, we’d put up the rain flies before hitting the beers.


Above: A funky disused duka on the ridge along the Mau Escarpment Road

Above: In Maella, a fancier-than-usual butcher shop window

Above: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire… where there’s draft beer, there’s a smiling biker

Above: The rain hammering the escarpment as viewed from across Lake Naivasha at Carnelly’s Camp

At night I slept like the dead, the sound of hippos grazing by the lake and the patter of the rain on the fly lulling my worn out self fast asleep.

Above: A quick vid from the day

One day to go… and we do make the best of it. :snorting:

Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Xpat on May 29, 2016, 09:30:25 pm
Thanks for the update! Keep them coming  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: boland on May 29, 2016, 09:48:36 pm
Yes please, more!!!
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: PHILIPKUHN on May 30, 2016, 06:38:44 am
SJO!!! Dit lyk lekker!!
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: ROOI on May 30, 2016, 09:47:37 am
Title: Day 3 - The Wicked Riverbed!
Post by: Osadabwa on May 30, 2016, 01:19:16 pm
Beautiful morning bird song roused us gently from our slumber… okay that’s a load of crap. Actually, we were jolted awake by a half dozen Egyptian Geese in heat making the most gawdawful ruckus you ever heard for an hour starting at dawn. Early wake up call notwithstanding, we were not exactly super fly keen to get moving and didn’t hit the road again until 10:00 with a belly full of breakfast and damp tents packed.

Above: Morning light on the XRs

Two years ago, I raced in a Naivasha-area rally raid and still had my GPS tracks. I was very keen to roll back over that terrain, so we slipped back down the Moi South Lake Road and pulled up to the Kedong Ranch gate. The lady asked if we wanted to visit the lodge, and we said we did… I was keen to find out if it was somewhere I could take the family. So, in we went. The place is lovely, full of wildlife, and resting smack on the flank of Mt. Longonot, a very distinctive and pointy looking volcano in the Rift. We pulled up to the lodge and the manager informed us the place had had a fire, so our plan for coffee was out. Still, he was friendly and said it would be okay to go out the ranch the back way toward Suswa following my old tracks. So we dusted out of there.

Above: Carnelly’s and the Longonot Lodge gate

Above: Mt. Longonot

The track was just how I remembered it… at first. A sandy double track winding through the trees and dipping into a valley. At one point, the road split with my track veering to the left and the obviously better road veering right. We tested the left road but it looked abandoned so we decided to take the right road instead. We puttered along, flanking the edge of a deep washout. I assumed we’d keep above it, but to my surprise the road dove right in. It was nothing more than a sand harvester’s track that took trucks down into the riverbed. Now, we love riverbed riding, so we decided to explore a bit, thinking we’d go down a ways and climb out, but we rode for about 10 km beneath towering sheer volcanic walls before we had to bail out.

Above: The track skirts this ominous eroded expanse

Above: the road drives straight into a deep gully

Above: the gully is home to a lovely, hard-packed riverbed many meters wide

Above: At times, the riverbed narrowed, but we always managed to keep going

Above: A mini waterfall… we would keep descending until we found something too big to ride back up


Above: Brilliant fun, and spectacularly steep walls

At some point, our luck ran out. We came to a place with a meter high dropoff that we could have ridden off of easily enough, but would have been stranded by if we had to climb back up for whatever reason. So, the decision was made to backtrack until we could find a half-decent escape route. This was easier said than done however. The majority of the riverbed was flanked by sheer walls many meters high, and only occasionally was there a slope gradual enough to permit an escape.

Above: End of the road. The riverbed was composed of two main types of volcanic soil: hard packed gritty sand and a foot or so of light weight, volcanic pebbles (aptly described by Panic as dog kibble) which was akin to powder snow. You could ride into that stuff and just plough right through it. It seemed to have no weight, but in deep enough quantities acted like quicksand. The video shows a place where it was deep.

Above: Here's said video... don't you just love the noise?
(Huge shout out to @BlueBull2007 for writing somewhere how to embed videos... been driving me nuts, but I got it now.)

Climbing out was a team effort. I went first and ground my way to the top of the hill where a two foot lip awaited me. The approach was so soft that my rear wheel immediately dug in and I was stuck, nose in the air. We pushed and pulled, but eventually decided to lay the bike on her side and drag her up the last bit. Panic’s attempt was better, and he managed to grind his way out after a couple of efforts and a lot of us pushing and swearing. I collapsed on the ground afterwards, sweaty and covered in course- ground-black-pepper-sized pebbles. Victory was ours!

Above: My pig, dug in and spewing coolant

Above: Free from the chasm. Panic sucks some liquids.

The riverbed was the highlight of the day. From there on, we were back in typical day-ride territory, so we just aimed at Karen and ripped the rubber. It wasn’t particularly easy going though… climbing up the roads we normally descend showed us just how rocky they were, and as we gained elevation, an evil, cold mist appeared and chilled us to the bone. It had been raining, so there were greasy mudslicks everywhere, the worst of which was only 100m from the end of the track where cattle have churned a section of the pipeline road into a slurry of shit and muck that nearly swallowed Panic whole. No mishaps were in the cards though, and we rolled into the Tin Roof for a well-earned lunch, muddy boots and all.

Above: It’s rougher climbing than descending

Above: The painted rock… stuff for sale? Not for sale? Who the hell knows… And my Tin Roof lunch at ride’s end.

That was a great trip. Although we didn’t find the elusive southern connection to Mara, we had a blast. The Mau Escarpment road and the Kedong riverbed track were awesome surprises, and the rest of the tracks, though well known, never disappoint.
All that’s left now is to plan the next one.

Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: bud500 on May 30, 2016, 03:37:39 pm
Brilliant!  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: NovaT on May 30, 2016, 05:13:47 pm
Excellent!  :thumleft: Really enjoyed the read, and the photo's are awesome!  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Goingnowherekwickly on June 01, 2016, 10:50:07 pm

Thanks Osadabwa

Been following your ride reports for a while, this is the kind of stuff I aspire to..

keep em coming please, cant get enough of this...

Title: Another solo day out...
Post by: Osadabwa on June 02, 2016, 12:31:20 pm
So Wednesday I rode 300 km, 80% of it dirt, to go to a meeting that could just as easily have been scheduled 20 km away in town. Why? Because I love my Big Red Pig and feel physically addicted to riding it as much as possible. I was given the choice to meet colleagues either near the Nairobi International Airport, or waaaay out in the bush near a place called Olooloitikosh where they were working vaccinating cattle. For me, it was a no-brainer. Another excuse to have a solo adventure. As the map below shows, I didn’t exactly take the most direct route to get there, and had an amazing time.

Above: My track starts Near Kikuyu and wiggled around out West before zig-zagging over to the tar road in the far east, then south and back up again for the meeting, topped off by a zip behind the Ngongs and home.
Above: Oddly, I find myself just as willing to get stuck-in on an unknown trail while alone. This one ended up in a seemingly endless rolling mess of babyheads on a steep descent with a blind bottom, so I decided to save it for when I had company (my sensible side kicking in, just in case).

Above: Stopped for a rest on a bluff with a great view of the backside of the Ngongs. Fresh boundary markers and recently cropped brush suggest somebody’s bought the plot. It was square as you like, so I imagine soon it’ll be fenced. Kenya, we’ll miss you when you’re gone.

Above: After my morning in the valley, I licked up to the Kajiado plains and made a direct shot over toward Kitengela town. It was one continuous grassland apart from the quiet riverbed above, and entirely made up of black-cotton soil. Had there been rain, I’d still be there… even a Pig can’t make much progress in that stuff.
Above: After my meeting (I show up on a bike and have a beer at 2:00 PM… I assume that didn’t put anybody off), I met my new friend Camo in the tree I was pissing on by the roadside. He didn’t say much, but showed his appreciation for my bike by doing a wheelie for me.

Riding solo is such a gift, especially somewhere far away and remote where you’re not sure what you might find around the bend. The best part is just how smooth the day goes, even if there are hiccups. Alone, you just roll with it. Looking forward to another excuse to get out there on my own.
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: landieman on June 04, 2016, 07:23:04 pm
BRILLIANT  :thumleft:
Title: Maasai Mara
Post by: Osadabwa on June 06, 2016, 07:04:26 pm
Last week, a horrible thing happened to me: I got a job ;D Well, not really... a multi-month consultancy, which is very much like a job, just not as long.

So, before the thing kicks off, Panic and I are going to make a break for it on the Pigs. We're off to Maasai Mara (or at least the conservancies around it) and the Loita Hills for 3 nights. This time, we'll be going the semi-posh route, staying in tented camps, so the bikes will be light and nimble, ready for whatever we find.

Only 12 hours til we go... I'm not eager or anything... 11:59 to go... okay.  :snorting:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Crossed-up on June 06, 2016, 07:45:23 pm
Have a great ride and we really look forward to the RR.
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Prototype on June 07, 2016, 10:18:21 am
This is what adventure riding is all about, brilliant! You live in a good part of the world for it. Enjoy the light weight pig fest  :ricky:
Title: Masai Mara and Loita Hills – 4 days on 2 Big Pigs
Post by: Osadabwa on June 12, 2016, 08:16:24 am
With promise of a busy couple of months of work on the horizon, it was critical to get out on a decent multi-day ride quickly. So, Friday we hatched a plan and Monday we were on the way. Our destination was West Mara and Speke’s Camp (http://maasaitrails.com/wordpress/?page_id=217) to begin with, and the Loita Hills and Jan’s Camp (http://maasaitrails.com/wordpress/?page_id=195) to top it off. I’d heard the Loitas were spectacular, so I was keen to go. And this time, it’d be fairly posh… tented camps with food prepared and cold beer at the ready. Who could say no?

Above: The usual descent into the Rift Valley. We got a fairly early start, knowing we had about 300 km of dirt between us and Speke’s in the Mara.


Above: We were in Najile, our Valley bottom fuel and Coke stop, in little more than an hour from leaving home. The Pigs were primed and ready to ravel (race/travel). Loaded with only essentials, she feels just as nimble as she does naked.

Above: Some roadside stuff West of Najile. The track is old news for us, but it’s still a great ride skirting the south flank of Mt. Suswa.

Above: Monday I’d changed rubber front and rear to Mitas Stone King (Rear) and Stone Eater (Front). They were touted to be the hard surface Holy Grail. There’s plenty of knob on the buggars, that’s for sure, but I’m not convinced I’m in love with them by this point. I felt the front wanted to walk out from under me on hardpan or dusty/gravelly turns and the rear was unruly at times, crawling up the smallest ridges as I went. Anyway, none of that is to blame for my flat tyre… the valve ripped out.


Above: Got to a river bed crossing and was practicing my pirouettes… I fell down after one turn. Panic came along just in time to see me fall. I’m lucky like that.

One section of this track still has wildlife in it. I nearly collided with some big male Gazelles, glimpsed many Impala and Zebra, and took a moment to photograph this lone Ostrich. I wanted one of his feathers for my hat, but he didn’t want to share.

Above: After Moiro, on the road curving Northward, I’d mapped out a track that looked like an old dirt road linking to Narok through the bush. Google Maps even claimed it existed. In short, it doesn’t. We looked awhile, but eventually gave up and had a tuna and crackers lunch with a nice view of wheat fields below.

From Narok, it was new territory for me. We were following tracks borrowed from fellow riders to get to Speke’s . Right off the bat, we made an error and ended up on Kenya’s worst dirt road. Irony of ironies, this happens to be the very road that accesses the main tourist destinations in the Masai Mara… that is to say Kenya’s foremost tourist site. One would think it’d be maintained constantly, but no… instead it’s a dusty white gash as wide as a dual carriage way but with not a single square foot of it navigable without hitting either stone or gully, pothole or corregation. Even the Pig couldn’t get comfy on that track. I tried 100 kph down the center, 80 kph off to the sides, 60 kph zigzagging like an idiot… nothing worked. I eventually collapsed under a tree and waited for a suspiciously absent Panic whose GPS mount had snapped clean off from the abuse and had sent him hunting for the unit (which he found, amazingly).

Above: This guy, on a knackered bodaboda stopped to mumble at us while we rested. It was a tortoise and hair affair, with us sprinting along, passing Toyota Proboxes and other inappropriate passenger cars, only to be overtaken by the same cars later as we recovered from the thumping.

Mercifully, the bad dirt ended and we were winding around on a double track toward Talek. We passed Jiz’s baroon safari place and arrived in Talek thirsty for a beer at the Hard Rock Café, but the place had changed owners and no longer offered the ambience of earlier days nor the beers, so we fueled up and aimed for Speke’s. It was the way to go… the old double track bumbled along through small stands of bush and wide open savanah with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest, impala, giraffe, gazelles aplenty and even a pair of huge hyena I initially mistook for lion mingling with Masai herders. Of course, the number of new fences intersecting our old GPS track was telling of a future in which none of those creatures will be able to exist, but what to say? People want ownership of their land, and so do you.

Above: That tree… kind of iconic of Masai Mara… and the Zebras too


Above: A dumb biker and a wise old tree


Above: Panic and I handle the river crossing on the approach to Speke’s

At Speke’s Camp, we were greeted with a cold wash cloth and a much welcomed fruit drink. Our tents were ready, we dumped our gear, donned our civvies and commenced chilling. The savannah spread out before us, poofy leather chairs cradled our sore bodies and cold Tuskers rewarded our gullets as we watched the sun inch lower in the West. The staff had prepared us lunch, so we ate that. 2 hours later, we ate dinner. Not much went to waste on our account.

Above: Speke’s mess area, fire pit and dining spot… minimalistic luxury done right

Above: Not exactly roughing it


Above: Eating lunch at 5:00 to be followed by dinner at 7:30… we were hungry

Above: Speke’s by night.

Long, hard first day, but what a beautiful place to wind up. After some discussion, we decided to press on to Jan’s Camp in the Loitas the following morning, chasing tracks I’d found on Google Earth that would hopefully take us through some unspoiled bush very near the Mara Reserve before climbing up to the cool Hills. At night, we listened to Hyena and Zebra in the distance. Not a bad duet.
Title: Spekes to Jans – Via the 2016 Rhino Charge Site
Post by: Osadabwa on June 12, 2016, 08:25:19 am
At 7:30 sharp, I was awakened with a plunger of coffee delivered to the tent. I sipped that while the birds went on and on about their night’s activities and marveled at the peacefulness of the place I was in. Surely in the night a few gazelles munched by lion would disagree. After another hot shower and breakfast on the savannah, we packed up the bikes and hit the road.

Above: Tent-side parking


Above: Just around the corner from the camp we came upon a nice collection of herbivores. The giraffe looked particularly out of place so far from tall browsing opportunities.


Above: The morning light gives the savannah a larger-than-usual feel, and kept us from rushing along. There was so much to look at. Apart from the big animals, there was a business of mongoose (Googled it, apparently sometimes also called a “mobbing of mongoose”… I think I like mobbing) blundering along, a dozen or so together. And to think we weren’t even in the park proper.

Above: The slow retracing of the previous day’s track brought us back to the horrible murram road, but I was keen to never set tyre on that again, so we fueled up at the hand-operated pump and cut onto a track that skirted the northern border of the Mara through a rocky, bush-covered valley.



Above: We were taking it easy, enjoying the scenery and in no rush to arrive. We passed Olaimutiek Village with a fence of red-flowering Agaves where we were directed off our errant Google Earth path toward Olkoroi Village, a tiny little thing tucked deep in the forest among the hills. Olkoroi was a diamond in the rough. Small and remote, the people were curious but not obnoxious and were happy to try to point us in the right direction. We sprung for cokes and topped up the petrol and set off on a fairly non-descript track toward Naikara on one of the main Loitas Roads.

But we didn’t get five kilometers before we were struck dumb by the Sand River. The lushness of this relatively untouched place was in stark contrast to what we usually find. Huge yellow acacias flanked the shores and birdsong filled the spaces between. I was keen to see if we could ride up it, as I had made a track, but we very soon abandoned the plan. The trickle of water running in the riverbed created a very effective quicksand and swallowed Panic’s Pig up to the front axle. Getting the bike free, my legs sunk to the thigh in the sand… hard work, but a beautiful place to stop for lunch.






Above: The sand looks innocuous enough, but once it grabs your wheel, you can forget it.


Above: Lunch on a rocky section of the Sand River. Beautiful. A highlight of the trip.

Up to this point, we were tracing a Google Earth track I’d made to visit the site of the 2016 Rhino Charge (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhino_Charge). A number of friends had told me how dense the bush was and how lovely the place. They weren’t wrong. It was a challenge to find our way through it on bikable tracks, and there were signs of the Charge trucks everywhere in disturbed earth and cracked branches. We re-crossed the Sand River or its tributaries a few times and explored some dead-ends before finding the track to lift us to higher ground.




Above:  Climbing out of the Sand River basin up to higher ground. Flowers in bloom and bikes ready to pick up the pace a bit.

After some time, the track met a large, smooth dirt road and we opened the throttles a bit toward Naikara. Open territory once more and the Pigs were eating it up. My tyre was still squirrely, but I let a bit of pressure out and it seemed to improve a bit. After half an hour or so, the big road climbed up the flanks of the high Loitas and began to fall apart. A couple of very deep washouts nearly showed me my ass, so we throttled back and growled up the hill, feeling the wind get colder with each vertical metre.


Above: A wind-sock made of a plastic bins bag

Above: Dotting the Loitas, traditional Masai huts still predominate. The remoteness of the place was very refreshing.

Above: The climb up the Loitas to Jan’s Camp

Passing Entasekera , we arrived at Jan’s camp at 4:00, just as the light began to lean toward the golden end of the spectrum. A hot shower was first on the agenda, followed by a short snooze and a bit of a walk around the area, looking deep into the forest-choked valleys listening to the growls of Colobus monkeys and marveling at the riot of yellow flowers everywhere among the shrubs and long grass. The allure of the Loitas is the simple beauty of the place, and the quiet, cool breeze that tricks you into thinking you’re off the Continent. It feels wholly unspoiled.





Above: Views around Jan’s Camp

The plan for the following day: we’d make it up as we go along. But first I had to survive the night. It was an interesting one, as my hut was invaded by a troupe of Safari Ants who woke me in the pitch dark by crawling over my bedspread. By the light of one solar lamp, I could see the situation was more than a can of Doom could handle – they fell from the ceiling and covered the floor – so I grabbed some clothes and got the hell out of there, the jaws of the ants nibbling on my shins as I went. Panic’s room had twin beds, so we didn’t have to share, but man can that boy snore…  :snorting:

Title: Jan’s Camp and the Loitas – A chill day in the cool air
Post by: Osadabwa on June 12, 2016, 08:33:17 am
We planned to stay another night at Jan’s Camp, so we made no records getting out of bed. Only the prospect of coffee coaxed me out into the cold morning. It was worth it. Mornings in the mountains are the best. Our plan came into view as we enjoyed breakfast: Take a walk in the morning, then hop on the bikes after lunch to putter over to the viewpoint and explore a few other little tracks around.

Above: Some morning observations

Above: My hut and a little hilltop water hole

Above: Safari ants in their element – transporting eggs beneath a tunnel made of even more Safari Ants… a smaller scouting party of these suckers was what sent me packing the night before

Above: A taste of the forest.

After lunch and another quick snooze (it was a very lazy place) we rucked up and hopped on the Pigs. For the rest of the afternoon, it was a 1st and 2nd gear affair, puttering up and down little worn paths in the long grass, stopping by the viewpoint, and exploring. The highlight was a track we found that descended from the grassy hilltop down into a gulch through dense forest. At the bottom, a slippery little creek crossing tripped up Panic, but otherwise, it was lovely. We stopped on a golden hillside to salute the mountain with a sip of Jack Daniels out of an Aquamist bottle and saluted the Masai herders that came buy, whipping their donkeys and sheep. Really a nice day, and further testament to the Pig’s versatility as an adventure bike. She’s nearly as happy taking it easy as she is blasting the dirt… well, nearly.


Above: Highlight of the day: I stopped to take a pic of Panic surrounded by a herd of cows. While I fumbled for the camera, the dun colored hussy on the right picks a fight with her mottle-hided friend. In their squabbling, the tan one’s ass end backed up and knocked Panic on his. And then she had the cheek to look at him as if to say: What the hell are you doing, mate?


Above: The rocky outcropping provides a pretty decent view


Above: Following a very small goat path, I had just decided to turn around when Panic points out my flat rear tyre. I’d trod on thorns minutes earlier, believing wrongly that I had Oko slime in my tubes. Instant death. So, in an uncharacteristically lovely place for a tyre change, I got wrenching.


Above: The root-strewn descent through the forest


Above: Our JD break spot on the grassy knoll



Above: Panic’s slippery mudbog



Above: One more little trip out to the lookout in the late evening light. Under ideal circumstances, you can see as far as Oldonyo Longai and even Kilimanjaro, but the lowlands were hazy for us that day.

Back at camp, we hit the showers and located the beers, took a stroll to the mobile phone spot on the ridge and admired the afternoon view. Rested, we were in good enough spirits to go well into the night shooting the breeze and telling lies. I wound up buying myself a long, red-sheathed Masai Kisu (panga/knife/machete thing) from the old askari there. To beat the cold, the guys brought fire for us inside the mess tent in a huge jiko. We reverted back to JD and the night was a long, loud one with music playing on the little gizmo Panic brought. A great end to a fantastic day.

Above: Pig skull, Tusker Throwback and kerosene lantern details

Above: Am I happy? Yeah.

Above: A lizard with the same idea as I had and the mossy trees on the ridge

Above: Jan’s Camp!

Above: Panic dries his muddy gear

Above: Camp scenes and me with the old man who sold me his kisu

Above: Nightime hooliganery
Title: Home again home again, sorry to leave
Post by: Osadabwa on June 12, 2016, 08:37:53 am
A seven O’Clock wake-up call was necessary but not appreciated. With a long day ahead of us, we needed to get moving. Packed up and breakfasted, we bid farewell to the guys at Jan’s and the cool views from above. The plan was to make it to Narok without hitting that horrible murram road from day 1, and I thought I  had just the track to get us there. Turned out it was a wild goose chase through a swampy spot that afforded us a nice morning ride but added an hour to the day.

Above: Parting shot from Jan’s… colobus monkeys launching from branch to branch in the big trees below


Above: Our wild goose chase through the swamp. It ended up being a 40 km loop from Entakasera and back again via the airstrip.

Once back on the right road, we really just settled into the idea of getting home. There were 300 kms to go and we were pretty worn out.

Above: Still in the Loitas, the real danger was falling off the bike from fatigue

Above: Off the escarpment, we were back in more familiar terrain

The roads were rough, but not as horrible as they could be, and we hit Narok around noon in time for a cup of tea and a mandazi with our petrol stop. From there, we just put our heads down and rolled. Familiar ground it was back across to Moiro, under Mt. Suswa, to Najile and Ewaso Kedong, up the rocky and ruined escarpment road to home. Panic picked up a nail in a village, otherwise we wouldn’t have stopped at all.

Above: Puncture repair Panic Mechanic

Above: Parting shot, detail of Jan's tracks

Above: About 875 km of Kenyan Dirt

All told, it was another great adventure. Nearly 900 km of tough riding. The XR650R is truly a vicious travel bike. She allows you to attack fast dirt or putter around in the slow stuff, and if you’re not carrying the kitchen sink, you’ll get there with all you need. Hats off to the boss of Speke’s and Jan’s Camps. You have lovely accommodation, bwana! Hope to visit again soon!
That’s all from me for a while. Keep the rubber side down!

Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Rooi Wolf on June 12, 2016, 07:33:58 pm
Osadabwa, your stories are riveting and captivating, your pictures beautiful, your pig something to drool over and the riding you ouens are doing looks like soooo much fun. Makes me wanna put a leg over and go braap :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: Braaap!
Post by: Osadabwa on June 19, 2016, 06:12:52 pm
Thanks Rooi Wolf and others,

This forum understands the Pig and the terrain better than any other I've seen. Glad to be filling the place with the sound of 'OINK'  :snorting:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Malcolm on June 22, 2016, 03:42:14 pm
Awesome trip.

Please keep them coming.  I am originally from Nairobi and i miss that place big time.  Loving the scenery and stories.

Santesana Bwana!
My nickname amongst my riding group is swahilli.  ;)
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Dustman on June 22, 2016, 04:39:45 pm
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: JonW on June 22, 2016, 05:01:44 pm
Great pics and story, well done  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Jeanette on June 22, 2016, 05:17:56 pm
Lekker man! Mooi fotos.
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Matie spero on June 24, 2016, 09:52:05 am
Epic epic epic!

this is exactly why I ride! enjoyed this way to much, also want to go there!
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Roxtar on June 24, 2016, 12:40:36 pm
Luv the reports......keep them coming! Awesome riding country asnd the right place for a serious machine like the XRR :thumleft:
Title: Post sag-adjustment euphoria
Post by: Osadabwa on June 28, 2016, 06:11:29 pm
Hey guys, without further ado, more  :snorting:

The sun came out at last so there was nothing to do but blast (hey, that rhymes!)
With my work contract STILL unfinished, there was no choice but to ride. On Monday we revisited our bikes’ riding sag and found both of us had it set too soft, so we adjusted it and went out to see how it would feel. Result? RESULT! Both of us noted a clear improvement in handling and plantedness and the upshot was faster, more confident riding and happiness all around. Hard to believe we made the Pigs better again…
Awesome sunny day in Kenya. The Ngong Hills in the morning.
Above: Picking through a nice groovy 4x4 track only to find a fence being constructed right across it. It’s never the same one week to the next out here. The pace of change is unsettling… particularly since we’re fairly sure nobody’s in charge. Below: Mt Suswa in the distance.

Above: We stopped in Ewaso Kedong for the obligatory cup of chai and mandazi at the Investment Hotel. The weather is spectacular all of a sudden… sunshine but cool air. Brilliant for riding. We stopped in Najile after experimenting with a couple of interesting little roads I have had my eye on.

All that change we’ve been seeing… one major downside is the obvious deforestation. There are cut trees absolutely everywhere. Charcoal burning is supposed to be regulated, but that’s a farce and people local to the the area don’t seem to value their trees. I wonder if Masai get the connection between trees and soil and cattle/goats/sheep. Doubtful. Cut away boys! Live for today!

We explored a nice little 4x4 track that I hoped would take us down a long valley to Oltepesi or maybe loop back over to the road that scuttles along south of Mt. Suswa. Alas, it just dead-ended in a rocky drop-off where only quadrupeds dare tread. Even though it meant backtracking, it was a worthwhile detour… gave us more time on the Pigs!
Back on the main Najile-Oltepesi road, at the village mid-way down (with the unpronounceable Masai name) we popped in for a Coke. The local guys checked out our bikes and we checked our theirs. Bajaj 125s mostly, but remarkably hardy. As we blast around at 100kph with 12 inches of travel over brutal stones and gullies, it’s not lost on me how many people putter around on those same tracks on their little Chinese bikes… going places, moving stuff, doing business…

Above, Left: Not far past that viallage was a nice example of short-sighted charcoal burning in action. The pile above is about the size of a Land Cruiser, and that tree stump is easily as big around as its wheel. The few trees still dotting the area look increasingly shrub-like and the sun bakes the soil a bit more with each chop. Right: Farther down we found a wide-open, flat, white clay spot perfect for practicing our flat track racing.

Above: Me practicing the art of the drift
The Rest of the track was rocky in places, dusty in others with the occasional big viewpoint between stretches of scrubby bush. The bikes were eating it up. All the horizontal washouts got soaked up like they were nothing, the rolling rubbly rock stretches no longer seemed so fearsome. These things are dialed in.

We hit the Tar at Oltepesi, blasted to the petrol pump, blasted some more to Olepolos, scarfed the massive kuku choma and beers and set off again by 3 O’clock. Blasting Ngong 1 (in 9 minutes or less according to my GPS) I was not ready to call it quits, so we deviated back to the morning’s track to add some kms to the afternoon. Wonderful riding. Happy Pigs. Happy riders.

To paraphrase some other complete nut-jobs: You can take my Pig when you pry her from my cold, dead hands.
Title: XR650R From Hell's River to the Volcano
Post by: Osadabwa on July 01, 2016, 02:42:16 pm
My job contract keeps getting kicked down the line, so it’s a good thing I have a hobby.  :snorting:

On Wednesday I’d shared some GPS tracks with Neb who was planning a 3 night rip around the valley. Their first overnight spot would be the top of Mt Suswa, a place I’ve visited many times and always thought would make an amazing campsite, so I hatched a plan to meet them there. Thursday morning, I was off, loaded with gear and loving the plushness of the BRP loaded. My plan was to take the usual roads in the valley to Ewaso for my customary cup of chai and then proceed north to a riverbed Neb mentioned that wiggles its way out of Hell’s Gate National Park though a pretty serious canyon. I love exploring new ground, and doing it solo always lends an added something to the experience. Here we braap.
Above: Just another day on awesome roads in the Great Rift Valley
Above: My stop at Ewaso’s Investment Hotel for Chai
Above: My pig over here, my pig over there
Above: Having crossed the Mai Mahieu – Narok highway, I was in new territory. From Suswa town, where I filled up my thirsty Pig’s tank, I shot straight north toward a funky volcanic ash cone before swinging East to connect to the riverbed. The bike was purring along. I was in no hurry. It was only noon and I had all day to enjoy.
Above: I met the riverbed among a lot of scratchy brush and deep, dry sand. I quickly found a place to drop in and began gliding upstream. The sand was wet in places, but firm, so I could just kick it in gear and cruise. No effort required. It felt a bit like I was in a boat sightseeing. I spotted klipspringers hanging around one of the many natural geothermal vents high on the Cliffside, and spooked a beautiful hawk who flew into a tree and dropped his prey (a mouse I think), scowling at me all the while.
Above: A real beauty of a riverbed

Above: I rode up the riverbed until the canyon began to peter out. I knew it ends up in Hell’s Gate National Park and bikes are not permitted there, so I decided to turn back. I parked up under one of two beautiful yellow acacias near a rock island and had myself a little rest. With the engine off for awhile, the canyon filled the void with the sound of birds and rock hyrax. It was beautiful, but I’m restless when not moving, so I spun my wheels and kept on.

Above: GPS indicating serious topography. Massive chunks of obsidian – the OG of primitive spear making raw materials – lay in the riverbed along with the lighter-than-water pumice stones and other volcanic debris. The whole area must have been a steaming hell back in the day, but it sure is lovely now.
Above: Having been down deep in the canyon, I swung further East to explore a track that looked like it would take me up high, maybe give me some long views of Mt. Longonot and Suswa. The track was very old and neglected. It was great riding, and I was enjoying scrambling over rubble and blipping the throttle to wheelie over washouts, but at some point, the enduro stuff became too much for me alone. The rut above was just a wee bit deep and the ledge just a wee bit narrow for me to risk solo.
Above: Turning back, I followed an old powerline access road and got my big views. Now the plan was to head back over to that ash cone and see what there was to see.
Above: I followed some pretty decent roads over to the ash cone and ended up attempting to ride all the way around it. Unfortunately, the track once again became something it would be unwise to attempt alone, so I backed out and decided to try for a bigger loop. I took the main road nearly all the way to Olkerian Geothermal plant before cutting West, high up on the edge of the Mau Escarpment and back South toward Suswa. In the lee side of that ash cone lives a family with a big plot of green grass on one side and the hill on the other. Really nice. It nearly made me want to be Masai. Nearly.
Above: Going too far… probably a bit rugged for a solo trip on the Pig

Above: Climbing up the Mau. I ended up taking the low road which curved around and crossed over one of the big drainages before spilling out down in a rectangular maze of maize fields. The whole area is stunning right now, like an emerald blanket. I nearly lost my life sideswiping a donkey though… the ass came running down a blind path onto the road just as I was passing. We brushed rumps and I shouted like a madman, but nobody was worse for wear.

Above: It was time to start thinking about the ascent to Mt. Suswa. Crossing the Tarmac at Duka Moja, I fueled up, grabbed some extra water, and aimed my wheels at the sky. I’d climb up from the West side and the others would attack from the East. It was 4 O’Clock. I figured I’d be at the summit before 5. The others were having bike issues, so I didn’t know for sure when I’d see them.

Above: The summit in the evening is really something. I’d called ahead to organize some water and firewood and was pleased to see it all there and ready to go. The caretaker came, I changed, scarfed down 2 cans of tuna with crackers, and set up my tent. After a little walk, dusk was deepening, so I got busy sorting out the fire. Darkness fell and there was no sign of the other guys. Cell coverage was bad, so I settled in with a glass of Jameson by the fire, fully expecting to sleep there solo.
Above: The crater and the skin of a snake. He must have enjoyed molting on that rock… it faced the afternoon sun perfectly.

Above: At 7:30, I tried my phone one more time. There was a message from Neb saying they’d sorted bikes and were leaving at 5:30. He reckoned it’d take an hour to arrive. But it wasn’t until 8:30 when I heard a distant rumble and saw the bobbing of headlights in the distance. The three of them arrived making a serious racket. Neb had lent his friend his ’78 XT500 which was missing a muffler. It was the backup bike after his ’85 XL600R decided she’d rather not start. What a noise they made. But their raggedy entrance was soon forgotten. Within minutes of arrival, the three of them set to preparing the 2kg of meat, potatoes and onions they’d brought into a mountain feast. We settled in with our meat and Jameson and BS’ed the night away.

Above: Campfire cooking

Above: Dawn broke and I got busy getting ready to head back to Nairobi. The others were slower to get up, and seemed to be in no rush to get moving. Their next destination was quite a distance off, but I decided to keep my avuncular comments about not riding in the dark to myself. They clearly have high tolerance for nonsense, in fact, it seems they positively seek it out! So, I decamped, packed up and blatted my goodbyes. Not 100 meters from camp though, I found myself in a serious situation. I had ridden straight into a wire fence. Mt. Suswa is geologically active, and the government is trying to exploit the geothermal energy possibilities there. As a result, the local Masai have begun carving up the surface with fences in hopes of reaping some benefits in the form of royalties from the extraction. Can’t blame them, I guess, but it’s pretty f***ed up to put a wire fence directly across a popular 4x4 track.
Above: Steam rising below the inner crater rim.
Above: The three hooligans slept under the stars by the fire amid the bikes like cowboys of old.
Above: A wee spider soaking up the sunshine on his whistlethorn perch
Above: What was going to be my parting postcard shot until…
Above: Whamo! I rode straight into this fence.

The bike was completely tangled up in the wires and pissing out its fuel. I was banged up, but not badly, and tried to free the bike to no avail. Being rather ticked off about the placement of the fence, I just cut the bottom two wires and left. It’ll be an easy fix. My soul is at peace. Thank goodness the wires weren’t barbed…

Despite being hog tied in the fence, the trip was awesome. Again, the experience of chasing a track solo was just brilliant. I found some great new places to ride, and really got to enjoy being in Kenya a bit. Normally I’m going too fast to appreciate what’s around me more than just a passing sensation. This time I was in a mellower mood and really enjoyed it.

Eager to go out again… maybe that job can hold off a month or so… I won’t mind.


Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: bud500 on July 04, 2016, 09:42:47 am
Luv it!  :ricky:
Title: One KTM 690 and a Pair of Pigs Overnight in Maasailand
Post by: Osadabwa on July 20, 2016, 08:20:41 am
Another escape, this time Kajiado-side for a quick overnight ride before everybody disappears for Europe on family vacation. The Pigs were ready to roll, and we’d picked up our friend Frogger, a reject from the Dar Bikers in Tanzania, to come along. In typical fashion, Frogger first made fun of our bikes, then teased us about our luggage and when he finally showed up he was sporting a nearly bald rear tyre. He’s a knucklehead, but he was also carrying the Black Label, so we put up with it!

Above: Three of us in a big riverbed near Selekei

It was a cold morning for Kenya standards. We started off as usual with a blast below the Ngong Hills. We’d decided that Champaign Ridge would be the best way South, and I coaxed the group up a steep little short-cut I found sometime back. Frogger’s bald rear tyre made for some comical moments as he slid and skittered around, but we made it up and started screaming along the ridge.

Above: Frogger spews stones

Stopping for a brief break, it came to light that the 690’s suspension had never been adjusted to fit Frogger’s slight French frame. Panic, not being one to allow such heresy to go unanswered, took it upon himself to go play with the clickers. The result was an immediately smoother ride and a much happier biker. To think he’s ridden the bike too stiff for 5 years!

Above: Not a bad rest spot

The descent into Mile 46 is a nice mix of twisty cattle path and rocky 4x4 road. We were moving at a nice pace, zipping along, until we met a Maasai fence. At least there was a gate to open… thorny as it was. From there, we entered the little town, had a cup of tea and a mandazi (Frogger, in typical Dar Bikers fashion, was asking where he could get a beer) and splatted out of there toward the marble quarry and Kajiado for lunch.

Above: Dropping off Champaign Ridge

Above: Thorny maasai gate

Above: Mile 46, the boys discuss their bikes

Above: Kajiado Kenol Petrol station “best food in town” they said… ‘road runner’ village chicken and half decent chips were the best on offer

From our uninspiring Kajiado lunch spot, we slid down the tar a minute to connect with the road leading to Amboseli National Park via Mashuru and Selengei. That road was in rough shape. There has been too much truck traffic and too little maintenance. The trucks, it seemed, were solely devoted to sand harvesting, a practice involving the removal of river sand from seasonal streams for use in construction. Apart from completely ruining the riverbed riding potential, it also kills the river systems themselves, accelerating the water runoff speed and increasing erosion. We bounced along, rattled here and covered in fesh-fesh there. I paused at a washed out bridge and waited for the others… when they arrived it was pretty clear they’d taken a spill… both of them were covered head to toe in fesh and were nursing banged up knees and hips. Must respect the fesh!

Above: A stretch of fesh-fesh… when it’s deep, it can end your day in a heartbeat

Above: A nice piece of modern art

The road between Mashuru and Selengei improved greatly, and we were racing fast toward the campsite as late afternoon set in. Panic had stumbled upon it several years ago, and we were hoping it’d still be there. We ended up being led by a boda-boda rider to the gate and were really impressed with Leonard, the owner’s, and his setup. Basic as you can get, it had everything you needed. There was water for a shower, a bonfire, some chairs and a lovely wide acacia under which we set up camp.

Leonard, a Maasai, was very switched on and full of good info about the area, including helping us understand why some areas have trees and others are being denuded in the name of charcoal: the answer, Maasai politics. Some sections, particularly those whose leaders are big-shots in Nairobi, are selling out their future to Kikuyu tree hunters. Leonard’s section thinks differently, so the area was beautiful. It’s obvious Leonard is a different kind of guy though… he has 63 camels (worth about $150,000 if sold) which is rare for Maasai, but he’s a business man who has tapped into the Somali market and is wise enough to see that in addition to their sound economics, the desert creatures (dromedaries, technically… says Frogger) have a light touch on the environment and require very little maintenance.

Above: The camp and the fire

Above: Frogger in his bloody scarf pretending to be a fashion model

The night was raucous. Leonard had organized beers and Frogger had the Black Label etc, so there’s little to tell. We ate our British rations and crashed, some more sore than others (I had come away from the day unscathed, apart from the boozy headache which appeared around midnight). Panic snored away the better part of the night and the full moon arced over the acacia, dragging the sound of distant hyenas along through the bush.

Day 2 – Big River Back Home
Up with the birds and just the weakest thread of sunlight through thickening clouds, we slowly pulled together our kit, bid Leonard farewell and got on the bikes. First destination: the whopping riverbed that parallels the Selengei-Mashuru road. We dropped in and blasted it for about 20 km, growling over the soft sand and hopping the little steps made by the last runoff.

Above: Frogger wondering if his bald tyre would do well in soft sand…

Above: The riverbed was up to 200 meters across in places

Above: The surface was mostly uniform, but there were deep soft areas that extorted a groan from the engines

Above: Sand, sand, more sand

Above: We came upon a giraffe family nibbling the larger than average acacias along the shore

Above: The larger than average acacias

Above: Panic, bruised from previous day’s spill in the fesh, powering through the riverbed

Above: Cows, fat and shiny from a good rainy season, congregate to nibble on the riverbank, sucking out the salts and minerals their diets require

Above: Back in Mashuru for a petrol stop at Ole’s Stations

From Mashuru, we crossed the river one more time and embarked on a full morning of beautiful riding. The road was narrow, but smooth in most places with just enough trickiness to keep it interesting. It wound straight over the hills that had been brooding in the distance all morning, taking us higher and higher until we reached the Namanga-Nairobi Tar.

Above: Lovely morning riding in the Kajiado hills

Above: Nice weather, nice road, brilliant bike

Above: The little road vanished into a Maasai homestead, but a tight winding track took us to the next junction

Above: A bit lost in search of a path

We jumped over the tarmac straight back into the dirt, aiming our wheels roughly toward the Kenya Marble Quary, Mile 46 and home. Again, brilliant riding. The road was good, then it was bad, then it disappeared into a cattle right-of-way with a river section narrow as a 4x4. Past the quarry, it was fire-breathing, top-gear blasting all the way to Mi-46.

Above: Frogger lets his 690 take a nap… he does this from time to time… not sure why

Above: The little road dives into a little riverbed

Above: Dust and glory, brilliant riding in Kenya

Above: At Mi-46, Frogger smokes in front of a petrol pump in the bookshop…

From Mi-46, it was the milk-run back to Olepolos for a massive kuku and White Cap lunch before a record-breaking Ngong-1 splat to the goat and boda path back home. Frogger suffered on the rocks, beaten like only a KTM can beat you, while Panic and I just giggled. One or two washouts nearly claimed our lives, but we survived to tell the tale.

Above: Frogger rock-hopping the boda/goat path

Above: Parting shot, heading home

Good riding with good people. Can’t get enough of this stuff. When we’re back in September, it looks like we’ll be gearing up to do bigger and tougher stuff. Fingers crossed!

Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: JonW on July 20, 2016, 08:50:42 am
Awesome riding areas you guys have up there!!!

Great pics  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: ROOI on July 20, 2016, 01:13:09 pm
Very Nice  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Xpat on July 20, 2016, 03:08:40 pm
Lucky bastads! O0

Carry on  :thumleft:
Title: Cool Runnings - A Change of Pace
Post by: Osadabwa on July 26, 2016, 06:58:30 pm
The job fell through. I gots nothing goin’ on. Need therapy: Must braaap.

Now, I love the desert and I love the Rift Valley, but I have just about ridden every square kilometer of the valley out my backyard, so I decided to take my latest solo day-trip out toward the Aberdares, through the twisty, winding, tea- and coffee-lined roads and trails North of Nairobi. It’s stunning out there. So green it’s silly. So much agriculture and obvious prosperity (relative to the rest of the country…); it’s nice to see homes I could live in scattered around with paint on the walls and roofs that don’t leak. The roads have been variously maintained – most are crap, but there are many feeders in good shape – making for decent lazy running (lazy is still 80 kph when the rest of humanity is putzing along at 40). I was planning to take my venerable old XL600R, but my back is glad I took the Pig instead… her desert racing pedigree makes for a plush ride over endless ruts, corrugations and dried mud divots out there.

Above: First, there’s tea - pay attention Brits, this is where it's from

Above: And more tea, with a bit of actual forest thrown in the mix

My plan wasn’t to tempt fate with rugged riding: just gonna follow big dirt and tar. I wasn’t choosy, just bored and keen for a change of scenery. Mostly, that’s what I got, but there are always moments where you get yourself down in a hole and think “should I?” and the answer is usually “yes”. Alone or not, when a trail beckons, you go for it. I ended up on a walking path at the bottom of a deep valley lined with tea and bananas with the exit pointing fairly straight up and very rutted. The old lady tending her plot nearby smiled and made braaping motions, so I went for it. I laughed when the Pig stalled (twice)… so steep the front brake wouldn’t hold her still and I was sliding backwards… I laughed because I’d just told Xpat about how difficult it is to kick start a pig in such situations. Got her still, didn’t drop her, kicked and she roared to life. Spluttered up the hill and was victorious.

Above: My one brush with singletrack… beautiful place, no complaints

Above: Singletrack heaven… if you make it

Above: Up and away

Around noon, I was itching for sustenance. Blatting along, I keep my eyes open for a decent Hoteli, hopefully free of dickheads. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a lovely little spot with a fruit stand out front, flipped a U and went back to see what was what. The place was great. There was a baby cooing behind the counter and the lady running the place was happy and smiling. Shame the tea and chapatti were absolutely horrible because otherwise, it was perfect.

Above: My noontime pitstop

Above: Cool mug, shitty chapati (I said: Hii ni ya jana, eh? And the lady: Oh no, just made laaaate last night… which is to say, yes.)

I splatted along for half an hour longer and decided to curl around and figure my way back home. There are so many valleys and ridges sliding off the Aberdares Range that the roads are anything but direct, still I managed to zip back home in a fraction of the time it took me to get out.

Another brilliant solo day out. I need to keep this habit.


Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: bud500 on July 27, 2016, 01:13:23 pm
Enjoying it.  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Osadabwa on November 06, 2016, 11:20:42 am
It’s rare to get 4 guys on a ride at the same time these days. Work schedules, family and other assorted excuses often take priority (clearly, we’re not good at prioritizing). So, it was my intention to make it a big day when it looked like we had a crew together. It would be Panic and I on our XR650Rs (finally in their final form as long distance raid/travel bikes with XXL tanks and light luggage systems fitted and tested), Kolobus on his XR650L (it may be the Big Red Pig’s little sister, but that thing hauls itself over anything you ask it to, and not slowly), and Frogger on his modern, utterly boring and yet obviously capable KTM 690.

Above: Panic (XRR), Frogger (KTbla 69bla), me (XRR), Kolobus (XRL)

Leaving Nairobi was the hairiest part of the day: a light drizzle had coated the tarmac with slick and we all had that puckering sensation where one or both tyres wants to try a little lateral dancing around a bend. It was the first time I’d filled my new IMS 26L fuel tank, and I was feeling the top-heaviness a bit, but once we got onto the dirt, all was forgotten. The Pig will lift that front tyre whenever you ask her to, big tank or not, and we racied along below the escarpment toward a new powerline access road that has recently appeared.




Panic and I had explored a part of the powerline road a few weeks ago, but this time we wanted to see how far it would go. The powerlines hugged the side of the escarpment, affording lovely views of Mt. Suswa and the valley below. From our vantage point, we could see isolated rainclouds moving across the landscape like enormous brooms sweeping away the dust. Unfortunately, the densest cloud was hanging out right above my proposed lunchtime destination (a riverbed, so maybe not the best place to be in the rain), so we changed plans and swung down to Ewasso Kedong for a mid-morning cup o’ tea.



Above: three monkeys at the now familiar Investment Hotel in Ewasso Kedong.

By the time we’d finished our tea, the ceiling had fallen and rain was on the way. In Najile, most of us donned rain jackets (Kolobus felt no need, claiming to be the manliest among us, despite the lusterous, flowing, Fabio-esque hair) before we rode into the gloom. The cloud never really gave us a soaking, just putting down enough water to settle the dust a bit. Sooo… we blasted it. Frogger will be annoyed with this comment, but I continue to be impressed with the XRR’s stability at speed over rough terrain. She won’t buck you when you slam a washout, she rarely hits bottom, she drifts with the grace of much lighter bikes and your head feels like it’s on a steady-cam all the time regardless of how rough it gets (quite unlike much lighter bikes). I’m so hooked.

Also, the Pig doesn’t fall apart on the trail… more than I can say for the 690 on this trip. At our customary pit stop at the pass, Frogger was surprised to see his number plate holder had snapped and was sticking up in the air like a spoiler. To be fair, it’s probably not entirely KTM’s fault… Frogger has still not set up his suspension and rides like a demon anyway, so the bike is being jackhammered to pieces!

A conga line of 650+cc Africa-ready bikes




At the pass, I hatched a plan to slow things down a bit and to keep our tyres off tar by climbing the flank of the escarpment that slices South toward Oltepesi. Last time I rode it, I tweaked my wrist tumbling off the bike on the loose rocks, but it was time for a little Hair of the Dog… plus, I knew it would annoy the hell out of Frogger who was sporting road tyres and gearing on that 690.  The first part of the road is rough, but clearly marked, then it vanishes completely, appearing only as a track on my GPS, then it shows itself as a wait-a-bit-and-acacia-thorn lined ascent that has been liberally peppered with baby head rocks. It was all about keeping momentum and finding a good line, which we all did… mostly. I flailed, Panic stalled, Kolobus toppled over, and Frogger complained bitterly, but we made it, arms pumped and lungs working overtime.



After only about 20 minutes of hard going (and what seemed like an eternity of Frogger’s whinging), the track smoothed out and became a scramble through the brambles. Having satisfied my urge to ride just a little bit more than usual, I was now content to make a break for Olepolos and their world renown kuku choma and cold White Cap.  So, we buckled in and blasted it. The track climbed up to one of the bigger roads, then split onto a lovely smaller road full of tricks and surprises. We were making great progress and I could almost smell the roasted chicken when I suddenly lost sight of headlights in my mirror.



A sizeable washout across a very quick section of road, too wide and deep to drive a car through, had been filled with stones. Big stones. When I saw it, I did a nice combination fishtail skid / wide open splat to get over it, aiming for a place that looked a bit less gnarly than the rest.  Panic saw it and skipped the braking, opting to simply give it more gas and rely on the Pig’s suspension to save him. Then came Kolobus… not so lucky. He must have got the front tyre light enough to keep him alive, but the rear came down so hard it bent both sides of the rim and split the tube lengthwise a foot or two. By the time I got back to them, Frogger had Kolobus’ bike propped up with a stick, and the boys were well under way changing the annihilated tube… so I crawled under Panic’s bike and took a rest in the shade, offering abuse from the sidelines like a good friend.



Tube fixed, job done, onward to Olepolos! Rip, splat, roar we arrived, sat, ate, drank, lied, teased and laughed. Fed like kings, we picked our teeth in the shade a bit before stiffly donning our gear and remounting our bikes for what never ends up being a leisurely ride home. Panic thinks the bikes are somehow more powerful in the afternoon… I know he’s nuts. It’s the familiar track below the Ngongs and the afternoon light that makes the bikes roar a bit louder. In under an hour, we arrived back home, had Kolobus’ wheel straightened passably in Panic’s 20,000lb press, and were piled on the ground with cold beers to celebrate the end of another great day.



Good run, boys. Next time, lets go farther!  :snorting:

Title: Solo Tuesday Expedition
Post by: Osadabwa on November 15, 2016, 08:23:17 pm

Another break in work opened up, freeing my Tuesday for a rip in the valley. Nobody was able to go with me, so I took full advantage of being solo to explore places I ordinarily wouldn’t drag others. I’ve had my eye on a section that promised interesting tracks to remote places, but I was sure there’d be plenty of missteps and backtracking, so I’ve never pushed my friends to go there. Today was my day, and I had a blast.


Right away, I got into scrambly, rocky sections and unused roads that vanished into livestock paths. I passed a couple of Maasai houses and a water point or two and chatted with a lone kid moving his 20 head of scrawny cattle through a dry riverbed. I was trying to drop off of the escarpment, and the number of tracks I found was promising, but when I came upon a pickup I realized why: they’re just charcoal burners access tracks. One I was on petered out, leaving me to bump across an open area strewn with large loose rocks, slowly picking my way and sweating hard. The bike spewed coolant when I stopped.

Above: Kid in the riverbed, just knee high to the BRP


Above: The charcoal booty being transported out – the leaching bastards. Something for nothing... free money... to hell with the consequences (just like the rest of us, I guess). The off-road section and a bit of fast double-track.

Though I searched, I did not find. After some time crunching stones, I ended up making my first of several loops back to where I began. Every road dead ended. Later, I would verify what an old Maasai man I met told me: there are no roads off the escarpment. A sheer stone face keeps each level of the valley separate from the others, like massive steps, and only cattle (and maybe some intrepid two-stroke endure nuts) make their way up and down on sketchy, rocky footpaths.


Above: On a whim, I climbed a steep track to nowhere on a rocky hillside. I think somebody may be putting a homestead there soon. As I went up, I passed a minivan trying to climb up it, a guy out in front tossing the bigger stones off the road, but by the time I descended the passengers were afoot.

Down the tar for a bit more, I pulled off again to explore a rut or two. The riding was fantastic. It was that kind of sandy hardpack that the Pig loves to eat alive. Every corner is an opportunity to drift. With thorn trees on the inside of each one, it’s like a high-stakes giant slalom course and I love it. There was great visibility, so velocities are unchecked and grins are encouraged. I hit a couple of dead-ends that were hard work (roads recently etched from the stones by guys with crowbars and pick-axes), but eventually linked up with a track I’d found before (the famous and unfortunately named Butt Brothers loop), which put me back firmly in the land of the known. I didn’t want to live there long, so I sucked down a hot Coke at a shack in the dust and went back to hunting the new.

Above: Great tracks and a big green excavator, there was a whopping big area cleared in the dust that I can only assume will one day be a school

Above: My Coke stop

After the Coke, I was zipping along a small rock face and began to feel a tad hungry. Spying a volcanic rock with a flat top under a “tree” offering some “shade” I decided to stop for lunch. A tin of mackerel in mustard sauce and another of tuna hit the spot. The place was lovely. In the distance, towering dust devils churned up the landscape. The sun played in and out of the clouds and a breeze kept me cool as I chilled against the rock and enjoyed my solitude.

Above: Lunch stop and a bloody tough tyre: Mitas Stone King CO2

Above: The XR650R – now with 26 L fuel capacity. Best damn bike in the world: no sh*t.

My post-prandial ass was dragging for a bit, and I had visions of just puttering back home, but then, as always happens, I spied another tempting track and had to test it out. It was tantalizingly close to a track I’d made with Google Earth, and I was very sure I’d find a way to connect to the tar, but I ended up in a boulder field instead. Not wanting to backtrack, I let myself be drawn in the wrong direction and ended up linking back up with the previous track. From there, it was a full-throttle fesh-feshy mess of truck ruts and dust to the tarmac and a blitz back across known ground to home, a light sprinkle of rain extracting that brilliant smell from the old, old soil.


Above: My salute to the f***ing charcoal burners, that was a nice sized tree you cut down, ye bastards.

Above: My rambling ramble.

Solo riding is really addictive. I’m so in love with my bike and have it set up so well that just shy of really horrible stony climbs, I’m comfortable to go wherever I feel like going… whether I feel like it or not is another story of course. Today was a brilliant mix of stones you can ride, stones you can barely ride, and a whole lot of fast, sandy drifting goodness. If there’s something better than riding an XR650R in Kenya, I’d like to know what it is!

Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: bud500 on November 16, 2016, 08:27:12 am
Still brilliant to follow.  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: ROOI on November 16, 2016, 08:35:15 am
 :thumleft: Thanks as alway very enjoyable
Title: Gear-test Friday
Post by: Osadabwa on November 19, 2016, 06:51:11 am
Rain during the night left the tarmac cold and damp. Two large XR650Rs rumbled out of the quiet Loresho neighborhood, keeping speeds and RPMs to an appropriate level for the hour, and taking it easy with knobby tires on the damp streets. All was going well for the first five turns, but on the sixth, Panic decided to perform a slow-speed low-side right in the middle of the street.  You know, just to test his gear. It was like an omen of ill things to come, but we ignored it. Dusted off, bike none the worse for wear (tough beasts, these) and rider only a bit bruised and annoyed with himself, we set off down the familiar madcap streets of Nairobi, searching for the safety of dirt, stones and whistlethorns.

Riding bikes on tarmac in Africa is a form of torture, especially during rainy season. In Nairobi, a bit of rain makes people insane… as if they were Gremlins squirted with a garden hose or something. Never adept, respectful or even sensible in the best of times, during or after a rain the city’s drivers become positively mental. Suddenly they’re all on high alert for potholes and swerve madly to avoid even the smallest of them, oncoming vehicles be damned, eyes fixed only a few feet in front of their bumpers if they’re not glued to their cell phones. Our day rides only include 15km of tarmac, but I swear it felt like 150 today. There were half a dozen different types of slick stuff on the roads: red clay from dump truck wheels, oil from broken down lorries, the mysterious black grease of human habitation near shops (maybe it’s refined banana peels, I dunno), etc.  By the time I got my tires on the dirt, my nerves were jangling like a Lingala guitar riff.

But soon, all was right in the world. We left the cars and drivers behind and sped down our familiar tracks, out toward the Magadi Road and down a brilliant track I found Tuesday on my solo ride. Some tracks have a good rhythm. This is one of them. Lots of little twists and turns, all drift-able, interspersed with a rocky section or two and ending in a flat flood-plain where I raced behind a male Grant’s gazelle –taking chunks of dirt to the visor, kicked up like a roost – and clocked him doing 75kph before I ran off the track, having missed the corner. Brilliant.

Above: The pigs ain’t no gazelles: as far as motorbikes go, they’re the king of the beasts, and this is their kingdom

Above: The flood plain, not yet flooded, great for chasing gazelle

Above: Ladies, ladies, ladies!

The new section led us to the long, fast zip down past the Butt Brother’s Farm and connected us with the stone-embedded track leading to Mile-46 that has maimed the rims and pinched the tubes of many a fancier bike. The plan was to grab a soda and maybe play around in a riverbed awhile, but Mr. Panic had other ideas. Just before the village, the bone-racking stone road turns to flowing hard-packed sand, and the only thing to do is drift every corner. But, get overzealous with the throttle and you might see your ass, which is just what Panic did. Coming hot into a gentle right-hand bend, he gave it that extra squirt and found himself sliding sideways and looking at his headlight, performing some form of low-side/high-side routine (we can’t figure it out) and ending up in a heap gasping for breath.

It was time for that soda. We stopped, pushed his handlebars back to some semblance of straightness (again, the bike was fine otherwise), yakked with a booze-reeking Masai mzee. Panic popped an ibuprofen, very Zen about the whole thing: “falling’s part of riding”. Still, it probably didn’t make sense to keep pushing too much, so we aimed for Olepolos and a big kuku choma and beers. On the way, I nearly had a head-on with a pickup grinding its way out of a rocky riverbed (me: “Oh chips!” Brake, skid 45 degrees left, skid 45 degrees right, throttle on and around) and had a number of close-calls with would be tank-slappers (thank you GPR stabilizer). The Universe clearly wanted to remind us who was boss.

(http://Above: Ladies, ladies, ladies!The new section led us to the long, fast zip down past the Butt Brother’s Farm and connected us with the stone-embedded track leading to Mile-46 that has maimed the rims and pinched the tubes of many a fancier bike. The plan was to grab a soda and maybe play around in a riverbed awhile, but Mr. Panic had other ideas. Just before the village, the bone-racking stone road turns to flowing hard-packed sand, and the only thing to do is drift every corner. But, get overzealous with the throttle and you might see your ass, which is just what Panic did. Coming hot into a gentle right-hand bend, he gave it that extra squirt and found himself sliding sideways and looking at his headlight, performing some form of low-side/high-side routine (we can’t figure it out) and ending up in a heap gasping for breath. It was time for that soda. We stopped, pushed his handlebars back to some semblance of straightness (again, the bike was fine otherwise), yakked with a booze-reeking Masai mzee. Panic popped an ibuprofen, very Zen about the whole thing: “falling’s part of riding”. Still, it probably didn’t make sense to keep pushing too much, so we aimed for Olepolos and a big kuku choma and beers. On the way, I nearly had a head-on with a pickup grinding its way out of a rocky riverbed (me: “Oh chips!” Brake, skid 45 degrees left, skid 45 degrees right, throttle on and around) and had a number of close-calls with would be tank-slappers (thank you GPR stabilizer). The Universe clearly wanted to remind us who was boss.)
Above: Somewhere near Butt Brothers Farm

Above: Always classy at Olepolos

Usually, we eat and head straight home, but after resting awhile, we had regained some of our energy and it wasn’t even 3:00 yet, so we made an extended loop. The bikes, the afternoon light, the terrain… it’s just the best thing ever. Fast on the hard pack, over the ruts, around the trees, battle down the stones, hard on the throttle and brakes… more, more, more, something like the sound of Beavis and Butthead in your brain grunting “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”

Above: Panic double-take down the Honda suspension test section

Above: That’s a quick corner, Mr Panic… nicely done!

Home and alive to ride another day.


Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: Probie on November 19, 2016, 03:33:58 pm
 :happy1: :thumleft:
Title: Oruk and Amboseli - Southern Kenya 3 Day Blast
Post by: Osadabwa on December 09, 2016, 07:07:33 am

A three day ride was in order. The Pigs were restless and so were the riders. I’d been plotting tracks on Google Earth until the whole southern part of Kenya was a veined network of possibilities, but I didn’t plan to ride as far as we did through such incredible scenery. We ended up riding around the southern border of Amboseli National Park, along the northern flank of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We saw all manner of wildlife, elephants included, and the tires barely ever touched tar. It was a blast. More to come.  :snorting:


Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: ROOI on December 09, 2016, 09:17:35 am
SUB :sip:
Title: Nairobi to Orok - O sweet dirt and riverbeds!
Post by: Osadabwa on December 09, 2016, 10:12:24 am
It’s been a busy month, but we saw an opening for a ride and we grabbed it. This meant getting the bikes in order. I dumped the oil and replaced the front tire, extracting and patching 4 long thorns from the HD tube in the process (for a total of 13 patches up front… all holding strong). Looking at the knobs on that Kenda, I was afraid I wouldn’t make it the 15km from home to the dirt, and I was almost right, but only because some guy came all the way over onto the shoulder of my lane to avoid a series of potholes, sending me into a hard braking, fishtailing maneuver. Red flag. Full brake. Tunnel vision. Chase ensues. Shouting so loud spittle stars the visor. Thinking how to kill him and get away with it. Heat receding now. Shouting will suffice. Maybe kick out his taillight… damn, missed. Onward to the safety of the dirt.


We covered 90 km in about an hour and a half with a non-stop splat down very familiar tracks. Under the Ngongs, past Olepolos and down to Mile 46. Loaded heavy with camping gear, spares and big tanks full of fuel (more than 26L in my case) you’d think the bikes would be top-heavy and awkward, but it’s the opposite. They sit firm, the ride is smoother and the speeds need not diminish. One noticeable change is the effort required to slow the train, but we’ll be sorting that out in due course as well (280mm rotor and adaptor on the way). At Mi46, we stopped for a Coke, and though it was only around 10 AM, the dogs had already established themselves in full rest position under the shade trees. Even the explosion of the engines didn’t disturb them.


The road South from Mi46 is madness. It’s so good for riding fast. There are tricky sections and washouts, but nearly all of them are hittable at pace and there aren’t many stones. The only question is: what’s on the other side of that culvert, and if I go flying, will I end up in a pile on the other side. We had reached the Tanzania border town of Ole Seni before we knew it. Once there, a fascinating bit of recon intel emerged: there is a track west to Magadi! Very exciting news, but we had plans to explore the East this time around, and puttered out of the village having heard from almost everyone that there is no way over the hills…




Many times we thought we’d found a way over the hills, but they were usually the tracks of the ubiquitous and loathsome charcoal burners of Kenya, an extreme version of the rest of humanity who really, truly don’t give a f**k about the environment they live in, and will trade anything for a quick buck, particularly if what they’re trading wasn’t theirs to begin with. It was a bit frustrating not finding the passage, but the track we did find was awesome. We dumped down into a dry riverbed that dead-ended in a stone waterfall, then diverted up what looked like a very suspicious cattle path that happily delivered us safely to the top of the hill.




Once atop the hill, we got back into the quick riding groove. The roads were spectacular, long, open, winding and surprisingly well maintained. We were following one of the tracks I’d made earlier that was heading toward the Namanga tar road, but deviated off of it to continue south on dirt. What a great choice. It went and went, smooth and fast, and then vanished in a village in a valley. From there, it was a cattle path, rocky and slow, connecting at last with a stony mess of a road that kept the right trajectory toward Meto, another border village with a view of Oruk, the high stone landmark of this area at whose feet we planned to rest for the night.




With Oruk in the distance, we pulled into Meto to stock up on drinking water. Being basically a border town, you could be forgiven for thinking everyone there would be some version of pushy, aggressive or drunk, but the opposite was true. Everyone was happy, chill and eager to just ogle the bikes and let us get on with it. In fact, charcoal burners aside, every single person we met on the trip was good to us. They gave directions, asked if we needed help and never begged us for anything. Our surprise at this tells me one thing: Nairobi is a diseased environment, a contagious aberration, and we need to keep that in perspective. The rest of the planet (charcoal burners, again, notwithstanding) is predominantly good.

Above: Oruk in the distance

Above: Meto water stop

It was pushing 4 PM. Time to find a campsite. From Meto we headed towards Namanga on the dirt until we crossed a wide riverbed. This would be our entry point to the deep bush. We blasted the riverbed in search of a campsite along its banks. Our criteria: 1) must have good views of Oruk and 2) should be discrete and not too close to anyone’s house. Polite as everyone had been, it would still not do to have a half dozen kids standing around watching us all afternoon.




Every bend we came around brought us closer to Oruk, and the angle of the sun made her look more warm and inviting. Finally we settled on a flat spot among the thorns to set up camp. As the day waned, we put up our tents, got the stove going, made a fire, tucked into the British MREs we bring on these trips and sipped Black Label under the 4 day old moon. It was, as you might have guessed, a very good day. And tomorrow would be another. 



More soon  :snorting:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: pietas on December 09, 2016, 10:37:31 am
Like usual, great pix and great landscape. Thanks.
Title: Day 2 - Under Amboseli, over Kilimanjaro
Post by: Osadabwa on December 09, 2016, 04:19:06 pm
My sleeping mat leaked. Three times I had to get up and blow it back up, but in between I slept like the dead. Only heard hyenas once, but I’m sure they were whooooping all night long. Morning was like being in the middle of a war, only instead of bullets the ammunition was birdsong. Tweets and warbles and screeches ricocheted through the trees as the sun tried to peek over Oruk’s head. Panic had the coffee going, and soon we were packed up and pushing downstream, following the riverbed until it wasn’t ridable any more.



Clear of the riverbed, we sped along lovely tracks in the morning light, riding around the northern side of Oruk and heading fast to the Namanga tar road. We topped up the fuel tanks and splatted down the slab for a few kms, turning toward Amboseli National Park at Namanga. The road leading to the park gates was wide, white and corrugated, but the loaded Pigs didn’t falter (and mine, with the GPR turned to 5, didn’t even wiggle).




After 30 minutes or so, we came to a village that held promise. The road split: one way seemed to angle down along the border towards Kilimanjaro, and the other seemed to go around to the north of the park. Keen to explore (we were off track by this point) we opted for the southern route based on one man’s suggestion that a “pary-ferry” (or periphery) road around the park existed. We were not disappointed. First the track went through bush, then it emerged into a spectacular wasteland with dune sand whistling around our tires, past seriously desolate and half abandoned looking villages, over the top of a dried lakebed dozens of kms long, puffy clouds playing with the sunlight. It was dusty, fantastically dusty, and a offroad bike lover’s dream.







The track was nearly touching the Tanzania border. To our right was Kilimanjaro, her head covered in clouds as is typical during midday, and the plains spread out before us. To get a bit of perspective, I climbed up a steep little hill to have a look around. What a view! As we were eyeing our options, a Masai climbed up to greet us and encouraged us to continue onward, pointing out the track in the distance. As we were looking, I spotted a large lone elephant making his slow way along next to the track. In a few minutes, we’d meet him close up.





Elephants are always stately, but this guy took the prize. Our bikes are uncorked and loud… obnoxiously so, one might say, but do you think this big Tembo gave a damn? Did he alter his snail’s pace to glance at us even? Not once. He just trudged along, one foot in front of the next… the king of the savannah. It was so great seeing him, knowing how much poaching pressure elephants have been under in Kenya and Tanzania lately. Still, being there with nobody around for miles, a border within 3 easy kilometers of us, he also seemed extremely vulnerable. Good luck, mzee! As we went, we rode through herds of gazelle, zebra and impala… all in a day’s ride you know




to be continued...
Title: day 2 continued
Post by: Osadabwa on December 09, 2016, 04:20:32 pm
... continued (exceeded character length... thanks to useless Google Photo which now has links a mile long)

Up to now, we’d had great luck finding tracks without help from the GPS. It couldn’t last forever. Once we left the edge of the park boundary, we needed to swing back around to the North West to get to our Selengei campsite, but the roads weren’t cooperating. We finally got aimed in the right direction (again by a very nice guy I mistook for someone who was going to ask me for something) but dead-ended in the stone village from hell. There, nobody knew anything. It seemed to be populated with zombies. We went around and around in the stones, cursing audibly trying to get out of there. When we were finally back on track, we wisely stopped for a quick bite to eat. Morale can go to hell really fast. Sugar and a rest can bring it back just as quickly. And after that, we flew! Straight, sandy roads. No vegetation. Throttle at the limit! Amazing bikes, amazing scenery! Kili never showed her face, but you could feel her watching and saying: yeaaaaah!


We deviated from the arrow-straight roads and onto a 4x4 track through the bush. It was tricky, and lined with thorns. Placed between Amboseli and Selengei conservancy, the road was chockablock with animals too. I’ve never seen a herd of Eland, let alone watched them launch over the road. We spooked a group of Giraffe who sprinted ahead of us in their unique way. It was stunning. We stopped to catch our breath under a tree and to call the campsite. Motive: to get beers ready, we would be there soon.





I can’t tell you how quick the approach to Selenkay camp was. We’d paused for a Coke, then once again the bikes lurched down the road at the throttle limit. Drifting corners fully loaded is a supreme pleasure. It was just after 3:30 when we pitched up to Leonard’s Selenkay Camp, a nice little spot we’d visited on a previous ride. He’d organized hot water for the showers and the beer boda arrived as we were still unpacking. We agreed on a kuku dinner, and set about chilling out. The beers were the temperature of the rest of the world, but they still hit the spot. We sat around the fire until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any more (well before Orion came up… so probably just about 9:30). Another fantastic day gone.




Above: A thumb-sized spider skitters off as the flash bulb snaps: he was chowing a juicy fly... spider stuff.

Title: Day 3 - Home again...
Post by: Osadabwa on December 09, 2016, 04:28:46 pm
Slept even better than the night before. This time, we broke no records getting on the road. Going home has a way of making a lazy bones out of you. We packed, chatted with Leonard a bit, and took off up the big riverbed toward Mashuru for fuel. This year there was a lot more activity in the riverbed: sand miners, digging up the riverbed and trucking it to Nairobi to complete the city’s sprawl toward Armageddon. Apart from making cities less livable, this practice also increases erosion and (in conjunction with, you guessed it, charcoal burning) is just a monumental environmental timebomb waiting to explode. One day the Masai, the old keepers of Kenya’s wilderness, will wake up and go: what happened around here? Answer: You sold your future, b*tches.





Above:  A little repair needed… my makeshift heatshield flattened down and melted through my makeshift side cover’s makeshift patch job…
We did about 40km in the riverbed. To me it feels like riding a snowmobile in deep powder. The engine roars, the bike wallows around, you lurch ahead over hard packed areas and bog down in the soft stuff. You don’t really have to watch where you’re going, but occasionally a stone or something could pitch you off in a heap. It’s fun. Heats up the Pigs though, so eventually we pulled out of there and headed for the hills. It was a direct repeat of the trip we did with Frogger in July, and it was just as fun as before. The road is just perfect. Lightning quick in spots, slower in others, but great flow overall. It took us all the way back to the Namanga tarmac where we slammed a Coke and chapatti before launching back towards home; through the washed out cow path, up the stony quick road to the marble quarry and past mile 46.







We stopped once under a tree to take a breather. A pair of young guys came by on their boda. The scene was hilarious. They kept saying “Whoooooweee!” back and forth, ogling the bikes and yakking in Masai. Every time we answered a question of theirs, it was met with another “whooooweee!”

It went like this:
Them:   How much is a tyre
Us:        10,000 shillings each
Them:   Whoooeee!
Them:   How many cc’s
Us:        650
Them:   Whooowee!
Etc etc etc

It was a great parting moment. After a little while, they said goodbye and hopped back on the boda, spluttering off down the road and we mounted up and splatted the other way, home.

Go ride, people… unless it’s cold and snowing where you are, in which case :imaposer:

Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: ROOI on December 12, 2016, 09:57:38 am
Thanks for sharing  :thumleft:
Title: Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
Post by: bud500 on December 12, 2016, 10:48:16 am
Awesome writing and riding!  :ricky:
Title: Freezing this thread
Post by: Osadabwa on January 07, 2017, 07:55:18 pm
Hey bud500 and ROOI (et al),

I'm done posting on this thread. It's soooo 2016. This year, I'll be posting in a different thread found HERE (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=204059.0)

Happy New Year!  :snorting: