Long Distance Rides


4 DAYS EARLIER:The genesis of this tale begins with Kelvins Kartel and Subaru Leone trying to fix their bikes 3 days before the ride with Ralf Kamau fuming at their heels with my availability still very much in limbo. Meanwhile, over in Malindi, Shebz Delmon Vstrom seemed nearly prepared and our little whatsapp group, formed a few days after a successful adventure to Marafa, had his enthusiasm for this trip written all over it. The work on Kelvin’s bike seemed to be headed south while Subaru’s silence and my unconfirmed availability reeked of an imminent postponement! Shebz decided to take his bike for a once-over final check while i managed to get the needed approval for this endeavor. Midday through the second last day, Shebz confirms that he had ran into trouble. His bike needed an oil filter that was much too specific for be interchanged with another while its availability was way off into Nairobi. It arrival would be the next day, scheduled for the trip…. Alas! He was not going to make it! Ralf was evidently fed up but, once the rest of us made our availability known, we proceeded to make plans for the meet ups speed and formation.

THAT MORNING: I was to launch from Diani at 4.30am and cover 113kms through the dark forest of Shimbahills to Samburu where the warm rays of the sun would kiss me on my way… This was a silly thought… The ride through Shimbahills was the most nerve racking 40min ride of my life! My M4 crackling through the steep inclines and thundering on the numerous corrugations and sandy stretches did not ease my nerves. I hightailed it out of there to avoid dumbo and sons catching wind of my audacity….i was positive the KWS personnel are still investigating what manner of unholy racket bombed through their tranquil Sanctuary! I got to Kinango in time to readjust my heart and bladder. I also checked the condition of the rear, especially the new chain adjusters I had put on and chain tension. I proceeded to stick my ear plugs on, knowing i was now going to have to push it to get there in time. While all that was happening, Ralf on the other end of Nyali was prepping and packing while Subaru and Kelvin we looking for each other. The latter had managed to hook up and were headed down to Mariakani to join up with Ralf. I had began gunning SAKAYO as fast as he could go when suddenly i was accosted by the most frigid chill I had encountered in a long time…simple explanation; Kinango is on the leeward side of Shimbahills! I stopped after trying to brave the cold and put on my jacket immediately…even the rising sun didn’t help! RALF had encountered a peculiar situation too as he came flying to Mariakani. A trailer truck had managed block off the road end to end. Police were there, cars had began jamming up…..Ralf did not wait… He went to the police men and introduced himself as a government agent headed for Nakuru….they managed to clear a path for him through some bushes and he was off! By 6.50am, i was in Samburu. I had to get some tea in me to get my engines working! I was happy I was in time and waited for the rest for a whole hour. By the time they got there, Kelvin and Subaru needed to eat something too while the legendary Ralf was good to go! By 8am we had set off. We covered that stretch from Samburu to Voi just doing speeds of 80-100kph…not for long though…. Subaru’s ZMR was encouraging him to do weird things. He sped off into the distance and disappeared for like 10kms. We found waiting somewhere near one of the Tsavo gates and buggered off. He rejoined and by 11.20am, we had made it to Voi. I had to refuel seeing as to how i had covered more kilometers than the rest to have sufficient fuel for the second leg of the journey.

AT VOI AND SECOND LEG:Since we were all sufficiently hungry, we followed Subaru into Voi town to look for a Cafe for food. After a hearty breakfast, we stepped out of the restaurant to a little audience, pondering and wondering about out bikes and the journey. Some kids gawked when they realized mine was just a Bajaj Boxer while others flocked around Subaru, until my M4 and Kelvin’s Akrapovic came alive and made the street rumble and bang with petrol and polar bear killing fumes! We bolted off, took a picture at sign post and joined the Voi Taveta road.It was smooth riding all the way to  Mwatate…..and this is where things get peculiar… Upon arrival, we decided to go up to Wundanyi and burn some rubber on the twisties up there…. I had forgotten how epic and precarious they are! I got to a point where you have to trust the bike, the rubber, the engine, the lean and instinct……i am not sure what racers call it….i think i will call it “THE ZONE”…it was pure bliss. At one 30 degree turn, i just attacked it and “believed”…..Subaru will tell you what he saw!Long story short, we made it to Wundanyi, but had to double back when we discovered that the route we wanted to take would take us too far off course and through some narly dirt sections. So, downhill it was… This is where Ralf and Subaru shined. Their rubber stuck, their leans and brakes were up to par. Kelvin and i had to hold back… I didn’t trust my brakes and nylon MRF tires with gravity and slippery looking tarmac… I didn’t have disks anywhere either and am not well practiced… So, they literally disappeared and 10mins later, they were waiting for us in Mwatate… Bridgestone rubber is good!!

 THIRD LEG: I will segregate this section into “itself”… Why!? Well, for one, there were a fee animals to see as we crossed the Taita Naitional reserve and the Tsavo national park. Secondly, the dry heat of the plains was beginning to play havoc with our engines. My SAKAYO could still pull to 80kph but struggled to get to 90kph, Kelvin’s Slayqueen and Subaru’s Kiki seemed to be losing grunt too…Thirdly we stopped several times to take pictures and soak up the scenes and try and keep to the speed limit. Soon, Subaru and I exchanged bikes. He complained that his throttle was getting iffy and we assumed that he needs a new throttle cable…. However, I pushed that ZMR to 120kph and it felt wonderful…I understood, very fast, why people buy sport bikes! They are not pleasant for the long haul though… He seemed to enjoy SAKAYO thoroughly. Along the way, kelvin worried about his coolant level and fatigue was setting in too. Before long though, the looong straight stretches ended to Chala town and we booked into Chala hotel. This was at 2.50pm. After some showers and resting, a bottle of Johnny Walker red label was opened up at 4pm and we began to unwind as we waited for dinner to be prepared. We told many tales of bikes and experiences on the way and before long, our belies were full and sleep beckoning!

DAY 2.We woke up slow…by 7am, we were get ready to grab some breakfast and leave… We had decided to hit Lake Chala then tear through the parks with no regard for wildlife and speedlimits to Voi.After a modest breakfast, we cleared our bills (surprisingly, since we all shared the costs, we ended up spending 2k each on everything), passed through the town to get bananas and water (i ended up carrying everything on account of my panniers and top box) and we were off to find Lake Chala. The road to that Crater Lake is dusty and properly rough but manageable. SAKAYO was in his element! I just flew by and went romping away into the distance! It wasn’t exactly a long stretch and soon rather than later, we had arrived at the base of the climb. We managed to urge our bikes up the sketchy edge upto what we assumed would be a wonderful viewing point. We encountered a dead end to what was once a resort, now crumbled and run down, fully blocked off. After doing some botch repairs on Kelvin’s rear brake leaver, we took a number of pictures and left behind our insignia on a tree.

CHALLENGE: As our names went onto the tree, a new challenge was born, that however else(BIKERS) would come there would have to find that SAME tree (clue is in the pictures) and add their evidence onto it. At the same moment in time, a new name was born for the group: that We would forever be called “THE NOMADS” Down hill, Ralf took my bike and i took the Warrior away for some crazy time! Is is a fun bike! Too much fun….i have talked too much…At the end of the trip, i had covered 680kms and battled crosswinds, cars and trailers…we had changed the dynamics of group riding and formed a lasting bond….we had tested the limits of what others like to call “little CCs” but had more fun and enjoyed better comradeship because we were just boys just being boys….I tend to think bikers have forgotten what it is to group ride and mingle regardless of motorcycle CCs or horse power….you forget one thing; that there is a whole human being straddled on that motorcycle.

Written By: Morris Mbogo

Photocred: Morris Mbogo

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