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Offline Osadabwa

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Masai Mara and Loita Hills – 4 days on 2 Big Pigs
« Reply #60 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 to begin with, and the Loita Hills and Jan’s Camp 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.
 

Offline Osadabwa

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Spekes to Jans – Via the 2016 Rhino Charge Site
« Reply #61 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. 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:

 

Offline Osadabwa

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Jan’s Camp and the Loitas – A chill day in the cool air
« Reply #62 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
 

Offline Osadabwa

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Home again home again, sorry to leave
« Reply #63 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!

 :snorting:
 

Offline Rooi Wolf

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Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
« Reply #64 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:
« Last Edit: June 12, 2016, 07:35:13 pm by Rooi Wolf »
 

Offline Osadabwa

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Braaap!
« Reply #65 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:
 

Offline Malcolm

Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
« Reply #66 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.  ;)
950SE  XR650L  KTM250
 

Offline Dustman

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Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
« Reply #67 on: June 22, 2016, 04:39:45 pm »
 :sip:
"Better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
 

Offline JonW

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Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
« Reply #68 on: June 22, 2016, 05:01:44 pm »
Great pics and story, well done  :thumleft:
How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?
 

Offline Jeanette

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Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
« Reply #69 on: June 22, 2016, 05:17:56 pm »
Lekker man! Mooi fotos.
Keep going! Don't give up.
 

Offline Matie spero

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Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
« Reply #70 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!
I could agree with you! But then we both would be wrong.....

Political Correctness is a doctrine, recently fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and promoted by a sick mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end!
 

Offline Roxtar

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Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
« Reply #71 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:
Long live the Underdog.........
 

Offline Osadabwa

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Post sag-adjustment euphoria
« Reply #72 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.
 

Offline Osadabwa

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XR650R From Hell's River to the Volcano
« Reply #73 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

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-fEDpvmvmgbM/V3ZVB6zguiI/AAAAAAAAIII/oHoN1pB-6yspEWBar1H73Rt1tvJA_50pwCCo/s864/07%2Bpano.jpg
 
 
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.

 :snorting:



 

Offline bud500

Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
« Reply #74 on: July 04, 2016, 09:42:47 am »
Luv it!  :ricky:
May the bridges I burn light the way...
 

Offline Osadabwa

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One KTM 690 and a Pair of Pigs Overnight in Maasailand
« Reply #75 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!

 :snorting:
 

Offline JonW

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Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
« Reply #76 on: July 20, 2016, 08:50:42 am »
Awesome riding areas you guys have up there!!!

Great pics  :thumleft:
How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?
 

Offline ROOI

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Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
« Reply #77 on: July 20, 2016, 01:13:09 pm »
Very Nice  :thumleft:
FTS
 

Online Xpat

Re: XR650R Rebooted... In Kenya
« Reply #78 on: July 20, 2016, 03:08:40 pm »
Lucky bastads! O0

Carry on  :thumleft:

Offline Osadabwa

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Cool Runnings - A Change of Pace
« Reply #79 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.

:snorting: