Volcano and Valley

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Osadabwa, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    523
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    April showers, and May showers, and friggin’ June showers make for restless bikers! And in case anyone thinks “pshht, a real biker rides in the rain”, they weren’t in Kenya this season. The valley has been absolutely hammered. Roads washed away, lakes appearing where they never were before. It’s been wet. But, finally the deluge turned to drizzle and we organized ourselves for a two-nighter self-contained camping trip to our favorite places: Mt. Suswa, the steaming dormant volcano, and the Ewaso Nyiro “muddy river” down below the Nguruman escarpment. Braaaaap!


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    #1
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  2. Vinz Klortho

    Vinz Klortho Square Peg

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    627
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    Well post more pictures then!!

    Under no circumstances is a person permitted to end a post with "Braaaaap" unless said post is accompanied by more pictures.

    I read that that in the rule book...I'm sure I did.
    #2
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  3. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    523
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Ha! @Vinz Klortho , these days a guy has to tease the report a bit to chum the waters else it'll end up buried under scenic but not braaap-y stuff from more civilized places.

    More to come for sure. Scout's Honor.
    #3
  4. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    523
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    First day – Up the Volcano: Mt Suswa

    Loaded up, we were ready to leave Nairobi at 2:00 PM on Friday afternoon. Fifteen minutes of dodging potholes and fighting homicidal minibuses and clueless cagers later, we were fueling up and ready to drop into the Rift Valley. Panic and I decided we’d forego riding through the “meadow” because the meadow was now a lake, but somehow the message didn’t reach Frogger. So Panic and I split up and I went back looking for him. Showing a lack of judgment, I decided to follow Frogger's tracks through the aforementioned meadow and got properly soaked by the spray. It’s about twice the length of a football field and the water was axle deep most of the way with a few little dips to freak you out along the way. But I made it across and we were soon reunited. The Three Stooges back together.

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    Above: Frogger, having gotten lost only seconds after a petrol stop, shows his delight at being found again, knowing he’d never find his way home without us!

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    Above: The valley is green and bursting with color. The cows and the Big Red Pigs love it.

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    Above: Frogger and Panic tumble down a rough stretch of track

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    Above: The fast way to Suswa – a brilliant, very quick dirt road that scratches the throttle’s itch

    We were cruising. Keen to be on top of Suswa by late afternoon to drink the beers we’d packed in our bags, we chewed up the kilometers, racing along the dusty scratch in the valley’s green hide. But too much gusto caught both Panic and Frogger out, with the former taking a high speed low-side on an off-camber corner, and the latter ill-advisedly bailing into the soft sandy edge to avoid some cattle and going down. Apparently unscathed apart from bruises and burnished plastics, we blasted on into what was looking like foreboding weather ahead.

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    Above: Frogger before and after a little mishap in the sand

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    Above: What an amazing place… and finally green again!

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    Above: As usual, my bike gets lots of vanity portraits since I’m the only reliable cameraman on these rides. What a beauty.

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    Above: When has there ever been water in this river?

    We approached the base of Mt. Suswa flying and began battering our way up the volcanic flank. In the distance, Mt. Longonot, usually visible, was engulfed in dark gray clouds. It looked like maybe our evening would be spent hunkering down in tents instead of shooting shit around the fire.

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    Above: On Suswa’s flank, Longonot lost in the rain behind

    Luckily for us, the rain gods spared our little party! We arrived on top of the volcano to a hazy, breezeless view. The guys up there had organized firewood and a jerry can of water and had swept the site of whistle thorns in advance of our arrival, so we were properly ready to crack open those beers and settle in. I’d bought spiced mishikaki bits from the corner guys in my ‘hood and we cooked it over the fire after tucking in to baguettes and pate courtesy the Frog. What a fantastic place to camp, right on the volcano’s inner rim. The silence of the place was overwhelming when it wasn’t filled with Panic’s contagious laugh. We crashed late and slept fast.

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    Above: Arrival beer, to aid with the unpacking

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    Above: Camp established on the crater rim

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    Above: In our places – Frogger doling out the baguette and pate

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    #4
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  5. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    523
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Second day – To the Ewaso Nyiro

    I was up with the birds. Having failed the night before to repair my leaking air mattress (always check your kit before the ride, boys) I didn’t exactly have a five-star sleep. But, I couldn’t complain. The crater was all mine, steaming quietly in the cool morning as I prepared coffee on Panic’s overzealous East German camp stove. Before long the others crawled out of the tents and we were off, down the other side of the mountain, through the riverbeds and rocky tracks to Najile for fuel.

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    Above: Off the other side

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    Above: Riverbed riding, nice and compact, great for a drift or two

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    Above: It’s technically Adventure Riding I suppose, but closer to race pace!

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    Above: Two XRs reminiscing over the past two years of riding these tracks

    After Najile, it was supposed to be a straight shot to Oltepesi for a beer and a quick bite. But the rains had made the road a variety show of things: one section was newly graded and fast as a highway, the next section was rocky and eroded, the third was essentially gone… with tracks heading every which way, and the “road” bisected in several places with deep gulches. At one such washout, Frogger managed to roll the chain off the bike, narrowly avoiding disaster as his case saver saved his case.

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    Above: Under brooding clouds

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    Above: Frogger trying to climb out of the gulley

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    Above: Ooooh, but why is ze bike not moviiing?

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    Above: Aaah, putain! Ze chain, she is off! Mon dieu! Merde!

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    Above: At least the chain didn’t snap. We think it came off as the chainring rubbed against the dirt of the narrow exit ramp. Panic makes use of our travel hammer (this is why we carry one) to straighten Frogger’s case saver which really did save the day.

    Having dodged disaster, we were soon enjoying a coldish beer and a delicious plate of rice and beans in a metal shack in Oltepesi. Only one drunken lout bothered us, so all in all it was a successful lunch.

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    Above: Frogger takes his medicine

    On our way past Olegorsaile to the junction with Mi-46 and the GSU camp, it was another world. The place has become known as Butt-Brothers after the amusingly named farm at the bottom of the valley. Usually it’s a bone-dry fesh-fesh field, blindingly hot and open as you like. This time however, the story was totally different. Head-high grass, birds everywhere, antelope jumping out in front of your wheels. It was a paradise. The usual tracks were much slower though, because you could hardly see them through the green.

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    Above: Frogger and I spent a few minutes trying to find a missing Panic in the grasses

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    Above: It’s hard to believe there could be such a transistion in a few months. This place is usually a dark-brown, table-flat pan of dust

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    It was anything but quick, getting to the larger road junction. Following our old tracks on the GPS sometimes worked, sometimes didn’t. What was a nicely maintained road a few months back looked like a rocky riverbed this time. We popped out on the big dirt and lifted up the dust. It seemed this road, at least had been spared… not so. A bit farther down we found a truck bogged down in deep mud. The guys in the mud gestured us that it was okay to cross, so Panic and I bravely sent our amphibious friend Frogger across to test the depth before following ourselves. It all went smoothly enough and soon we were on the 20km of hot tar to Magadi for another rest.

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    Above: Frogger doesn’t go slowly into things as can be seen by that bow wave

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    Above: Panic approaching. He had a close call there with a submerged rock, but came out undunked. Sadly, on the short stretch of tar to Magadi, his headlight caught a stone!

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    Above: At the Tata Magadi sports club for a cold beverage, Panic shows his mud-covered lid

    Over a beer at the Sports Club, we plotted our next move. It was getting on in the afternoon, and the heat had us keen to go for a swim in the River at our campsite, if indeed it was even there after all the flooding. So, we decided to go the most direct way, past the Tata Soda factory, across Lake Magadi. However, we didn’t account for the fact that the lake road was also completely submerged! That meant taking the long way around the bottom of the lake, skirting the slippery muddy flats which were also under water and racing up the West side of the lake. And it was fantastic.

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    Above: Being turned back from the flooded Lake road, Panic crawls through the caustic sludge that composes Lake Magadi

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    Above: Normally, the southern route passes through three wide-open flats. They were completely covered in water this time around though, so we hugged the edges where only bodabodas and goats had gone before.

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    Above: Frogger is a good rider, but there's always something new to learn. On this day, he learned to fear the slickness of the Magadi mud! Both Panic and I have seen our asses in that stuff and now fear it, but when I paused to take a photo, Frogger just went zipping past me. Panic saw the result – Frogger hit a slick spot, holds the low-side for awhile and then goes splat, face-down like Superman, spraying foul water everywhere, including in his helmet! I only caught the aftermath.

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    Above: Frogger demonstrates how he slid.

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    Above: Panic picks his way along the edge of an unusually full Lake Magadi

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    Above: Back on solid ground

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    Above: Flamingo populations have exploded as a result of the rains

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    Above: Me and the Flamingos
    Once past the flooded pans, it was time to rip. The road to Oloika is one of my favorites. Open and hard-packed with grainy white pebbles and occasional layers of embedded rock, you can really let rip. We flew through the village and connected to the path leading to Ol Kerimatian and our campsite on the Nyiro. Again, just an absolute pleasure on the Pig. Fast, dusty, sliding, ripping, blasting fun!

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    Above: Frogger aims the Big Red Missile at Oloika

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    Above: Some local flavor

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    Above: It’s more fun to see giraffe outside of game parks and from the saddle of the bike

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    Above: Panic leaves a dust trail behind that stretches all the way to Oloika

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    Above: The fast stretch up to Ol Kerimatian

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    Jazzed up from our blast up the West side of the lake, we hit the junction to Ol Kerimatian near the Ewaso bridge and began looking for our campsite. Normally, the ground is bare, with not a shred of vegetation. This time, it was guided with knee-high dried grass glowing in the afternoon sunlight. We made a bee-line to the campsite and were surprised how much it had changed. There was a steep drop-off leading down to the sand bar with some incredibly deep and large elephant footprints embedded in the dried mud. He must have been a serious tusker. And the flanks of the river had been shredded. Trees were down, the island opposite the camp (known as Rawlence’s Folly) had been wiped clean by the force of the water.

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    Above: Looking for the campsite

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    Above: Panic surveys the campsite and Frogger marvels at the size of the ele tracks leading down
    The question became: should we ride down like usual and risk getting stuck, or should we leave the bikes up above. Panic voted for the latter, Frogger and I went for the former. It was going to be a risk getting back up, but it was worth taking.

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    Above: Frogger takes the direct approach...

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    Above: And fails to extricate himself again. No way. We’ll have to make another plan in the morning. But first, it’s time to chill and swim in the river.

    Frogger immediately set to washing the stink out of his gear and we all took a nice cool dip in the muddy waters. It is such a wonderful camp, with a sandbank on the double horseshoe bend in the river. Before long, we pulled out the remains of the baguette and pate, got some sausages on the driftwood fire, and settled down with a little Black Label and some Dire Straits on Panic’s little portable speaker. Stars came and went, bugs buzzed our ears and the sound of the river bubbled in the background. By nine we were all dead to the world.

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    Above: The campsite – ever changing, somehow always the same

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    Above: Frogger’s spot (don't ask me why he's always showing his ass)

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    Above: Evening coming down

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    Above: Pate first

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    Above: Panic organizes the German Sausages

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    #5
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  6. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    523
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Third day - the Long Ride Home

    Morning came early. I’d had another stiff night on the hard ground so I was again up making coffee with the birds. We all were keen to move before the heat set in, and were mindful that we had to extricate the two bikes from their sandy prison.

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    Above: Another view of the elephant prints, and the lovely gold-green morning light

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    Above: The two bikes, ready to climb out of the river
    The elephant had taken an angled approach to the river which we would exploit as our exit ramp. I kicked down some of the bigger ledges made by his enormous feet and the ramp was looking pretty good. I was the first to go and made a pretty good show of it, but Frogger was a real spectacle. First he missed the entry and ended up off-balance, then he kicked up into the sandy bits off the track, but he kept his skinny ass over the seat and the throttle open and roosted his way to the top in epic fashion.

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    Above: I love that sequence. Braaaap!

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    Above: Me packed and ready to rock

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    Above: Panic watches Frogger approach through the golden morning light

    I was psyched to be returning down the West Lake road to Oloika. It was so lovely the afternoon before, I couldn’t wait to do it again. We flew along, making good time, only stopping for a few pics and then to change a puncture – Frogger managed to pick up a piece of wire in his rear tyre which even the Oko couldn’t keep sealed forever.

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    Above: Frogger absolutely destroying the fesh fesh

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    Above: The closeup (soon to become all of Frogger's social media avatars... don't forget WhatsApp!)

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    Above: In the distance, the extinct volcano which would be our exit from the valley

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    Above: Mt Shompole rises up behind the Kenya BRP’s current favorite tyre: Bridgestone Gritty ED78

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    Above: Frogger bitches and moans and sort of fixes his flat (with considerable help from Panic and I, tools he didn’t have, a pump etc… our Frogger is still just a young lad you know). "Uuugh zis is not funnY, zis is BorING..." etc.

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    Above: Poor-man’s areal footage from atop an anthill

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    Above: Leaving the fix-a-flat zone. A small clutch of kids who respectfully gave us plenty of space.

    Past Oloika, right up into the blown-out volcano exit to Torosei. It’s a track I have grown to increasingly love. It’s rough, with lots of rolling, fist and BB sized stones, a few proper rocky sections and a nice fast drifting stretch close to Torosei. The early light had me jazzed up, but I could tell my compadres were not in the same mood. Frogger was bitching and Panic was silent. We needed to hurry to Torosei to get Frogger a beer.

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    Above: The start of the climb

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    Above: Though not feeling overly energetic, Frogger was rocking whenever the camera came out, launching through the stony sections like a boss

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    Above: Panic cuts an imposing figure doesn’t he?

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    Above: Leaving the volcano hills

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    Above: Steep climbs with loose stones just get eaten up on the Pig

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    Above: Panic on an easy Sunday toodle

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    Above: Frogger gets an ouchie on his schnoot

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    Above: At last, a coolish beer at Torosei to see us through to lunch (yep, it was 10:30 AM, don't judge us)

    As often happens, when the riding gets really great, the throttle hand can’t be uncoupled from the grip, so photos suffer. So was the case leaving Torosei. The rest had had the rejuvenating effect we hoped it would have, and the road – a total disaster in places with huge gullies washing it away – was just excellent. Frogger and I were in an all-out race, ripping down the track, skidding to a near-death stop in front of washouts, hammering into dips and over jumps… freaking wicked. But no pics as a consequence.

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    Above: One pic, waaay down the road from Torosei

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    Above: At Olepolos, 100 km from Torosei, Frogger and I pull in for a Kuku choma and another White Cap while Panic races home to be on time for a family outing. We thought the ride was over, that we’d take it easy puttering back home… it’s always the same.

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    Above: We had to see if the road we know as Ngong 1 was really as badly washed out as Panic said. It was. There were at least 5 places where the road was cut clean through and only goat paths remained. One wanted to keep Frogger and I was treated to a very comical set of events ending with him under the bike.

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    Above: Frogger got the bike started again and made this valliant effort, but he still ended up on his ass. It was fun to watch, but he was knackered, so I rode the bike the rest of the way.

    We flew the rest of the way home. There was nothing slow or steady about it. I did chill out when I got back in the crosshairs of the cars and matatus though, and slid into home happy as hell. Even my broken sub-frame didn’t phase me too much (since I have a spare… thanks Faceplant!).

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    Above: Layers of mud and my broken sub-frame – split in half at a weak point created some time ago. I’ll pull it off, have an airplane welder do his thing… in the meantime, I’ll use my spare.

    Pretty amazing bit of riding for a quick 2 1/2 day jaunt straight out of the garage. Until next time, I’ll end like I started: Braaaaap!

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    #6
  7. Vinz Klortho

    Vinz Klortho Square Peg

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    627
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    That was excellent. Thanks for posting it.
    #7
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  8. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    596
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    So good to see another ride report from you @Osadabwa; been a long time! Pretty sure that camp spot on the river is the same from when Frogger tried to ride across it from one of your previous reports?

    Great shots and so cool to get out for a 3-day ride with a couple camping nights. Sucks about the air mattress, but the camp spot on the volcano rim is frickin' sweet (not that the river isn't).

    Glad to see you're still knocking around out there, getting on the bike and making sure we all get a glimpse of what riding is like in your world.

    Keep the knobby side down man...and keep the reports coming :thumb:thumb
    #8
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  9. grizzzly

    grizzzly The Pre-Banned Version

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,059
    Location:
    socorro NM 505-five five zero-2583
    :clap
    #9
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  10. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    523
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    @liv2day - Yes, that's the same place alright, but it was Rawlence who dunked his bike and Frogger jumped in to help him out. This time if he had tried such a thing he would have gone in over the handlebars. The water was deep and fast!

    Admittedly, we're riding a lot of the same terrain when we leave for a quick overnighter, but it's so fantastic I don't even mind. And every time we go the scenery and the roads are different, so it's like exploring a new world.

    Cheers
    #10
  11. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    596
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    I'm with you; even though finding new places to ride is great, there's nothing quite like going back to someplace special. Been riding the same trails and area in the Oregon coast range for years, doesn't get old as there's simply nothing like being out on the bike (and in the woods).

    Enjoyed the report amigo; thank you for taking the time to put it all together :nod:nod
    #11
  12. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    523
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Well, the break in the subframe wasn't the only issue discovered upon closer inspection. I also cracked the actual frame a bit.

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    And now the bike is sleeping for a few days down in Nairobi's dodgy, dusty, hot, miserable Industrial Area and I'm praying a man called Fredrick can repair the subframe and weld the cracked frame. He has all the kit, but it's packed into his shop like huge green metalic sardines...

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    The good news is I have a spare sub-frame and I've explained how I want it reinforced so hopefully it'll stand up to the beating I give it. But the frame worries me. He will need to grind into it and weld over the top, then grind it down again so the bits fit back on.

    Hang in there lil' Piggy!

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    #12
  13. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    596
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Woof, I hope you caught the crack in the frame quick enough and that the engineers are able to get the welding done such that it's good to go for many more miles (or KMs in your case). Imagine a good aluminum welder would be able to reinforce the frame, are you having them do both sides to make sure the same thing doesn't happen?

    Damn :(

    Hang in there indeed :ricky:ricky
    #13