|Today, 09:10 AM||#1|
Don't be Surprised
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya’s Rift Valley: People, Cow and Bulldozer Tracks
It was time for another day in the dust. I got on Google Earth and plotted a few likely tracks, looking for a whiff of use, but nothing a big trail bike would be happy about. It’s hit or miss, but I’ve had some good luck in the past. From satellite/aerial photos, it’s amazing what kind of detail you can scare up online for in a place where most maps are sorely out of date and would be of no use to the off-road biker anyway.
Above: Promising track coming in, but where does it go after the Masai boma?
Above: Probably a zinger of a track, fast, dusty and washed out in places
As ever, his Highness King Louis was keen to head out, so we mounted the metal mules and went in search of a new escarpment-to-valley drop in. It’s lovely how in 15 minutes we can be off the tar and into somebody’s fields. 15 more and you’ve descended into the Great Rift Valley and Nairobi traffic is somebody else’s bad dream. The drop-in spot was brilliant with excellent views and a twisty track, but with none of the mad rock-hopping of the other descents we’ve tried recently.
Above: Dropping into the Valley, Kiambu land barons take advantage of a natural roadsign
On the valley floor, we opened it up awhile on the Mai Mahiu – Ngong dirt thoroughfare before making a detour onto one of my G-Earth spotted tracks. It was a doozy right off the bat – bulldozed into the landscape in the roughest fashion. A double track where there was dirt and a single-lane stone road where there was not, it was challenging and exciting, but it didn’t last. The track petered out at a Masai Boma (pic 1 above), vanishing away following the empty-headed meanderings of cattle through thorn bushes deadly as a thousand barroom darts and rocks like the discarded pistachio shells of giants everywhere.
Above: A couple of minutes in the bulldozer tracks
Decision time: Do we plod on in the hope that better surfaces shall reappear, or initiate Plan B: turn back and explore another track? In the end, Louis’ bike decided for us. As often happens while parked, somebody investigates a rattle or clank on their bike and discovers a problem. In Louis’ case, he found two. Both of the (handmade) mounts on his Nimitz-class XR400 mega fuel tank had snapped, leaving the tank free to bounce and bang on the frame, or indeed be jettisoned in the (not unlikely) event of a crash. We opted for Plan C.
Above: Louis on the bulldozer track, half of his broken tank mount problem, the bikes in a hostile landscape
Above: Louis on the retreat, Louis ready to eat
We’re doing enough riding these days that abandoning a day-trip half way through isn’t the end of the world. So we retraced our steps, got back on the dirt superhighway to Ngong and bee-lined it for Karen’s Que Pasa for a beer or two and a burger where, although we stood out a bit from the lunch time crowd in our Stormtrooper outfits, I’m pretty sure we were the happiest guests in the house.
I still have a GPS full of tracks and tomorrow’s another day. Stay tuned.
I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.
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