2017 04 - Three XRs do 2000 km of Kenya's Best

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Osadabwa, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    Weeks to plan, 10 days to ride - Kolobus, Rawlence and I returned yesterday from certainly one of the best rides on the continent. We had the right bikes (Honda XR650s), the right attitude, and just enough skill to tackle (almost) everything we set out for. Our route took us off-road through some of Kenya's most iconic scenery and into some of her most rarely visited remote areas. We spooked elephants, blasted riverbeds, flirted with heat stroke, nearly got stoned by villagers and crossed the Jade Sea in a fishing boat. It's hard to sum up, so let me just put a few pics here while I organize the full RR.

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    Above: Me, Rawlence and Kolobus with our XRs

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    Above: Our route, counter-clockwise from Nairobi. Each color denotes a day

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    Karibuni, [​IMG]

    Skip to the first day, Click HERE
    #1
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  2. Brainflex

    Brainflex Been here awhile

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    Great start!
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  3. Dessert Storm

    Dessert Storm Dances With Drunks

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    Fantastic. In.
    #3
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  4. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    Whoa... pinned! Pressure's on to make it a good one!

    Give me a day or two to work through the video clips.
    #4
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  5. #1Fan

    #1Fan Long timer

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    In!! Thank you for sharing your adventures! I look forward to this one! :clap:clap:clap :lurk:lurk:lurk
    #5
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  6. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    Looking forward to seeing the rr!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  7. RedBallRun

    RedBallRun Been here awhile

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    Great to see those luggas again, @Osadabwa! How did you cross the Ewaso Ngiro? Did you ford it at the end of the Kipsing?
    #7
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  8. Smidty

    Smidty Been here awhile

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    In, can't wait for the RR
    #8
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  9. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    @RedBallRun ... yeah the area is amazing. Hang on a day or two and we will make it up to the Milgis... (spoilers for you on the Ewaso Ngiro... We Took a bridge).
    #9
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  10. RedBallRun

    RedBallRun Been here awhile

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    @Osadabwa - bridge?! Now where's your sense of adventure ;-) ?
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  11. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    Let’s ease into this. We’ve got ten days. Step one is getting out of East Africa’s largest city without being killed.

    Easter Weekend was going to make Kenya’s roads a living nightmare, so we got an early start. Tar was unavoidable in the morning, but it gave everyone a chance to get their bike legs under them. Rawlence is still recovering a year after a motorbike crash that will haunt his unborn grandkids, and Kolobus nearly missed out on the trip due to the recent removal of a titanium elbow plate (souvenir from a fall many years back). By the time we got to Karatina, though we were ready to get dusty… right after we stopped for a quick tank-bracket weld job on the XRL.

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    Above: In Karatina, having Kolobus’ XR650L tank bracket welded

    From Karatina, we climbed up the flank of Mt. Kenya, dipping in and out of forest reserve, lovely high-altitude farms and tree plantations. The tracks were dry and we were able to fly, but a capsized truck made us search for a work-around and we were delayed by the magnificence of some very tall African Cedar trees. We popped out in Nanyuki for lunch around two, well ahead of schedule. We were unimpressed with the decidedly meager portions at our lunch spot, and were left perplexed when the owner assured us we’d be seeing “lots of dead bodies” where we were headed due to the ongoing drought in the semi-arid lands, but that she was sure we’d “have a good time up there”…. Choosing to ignore all that, we split up the road another couple of clicks and were chilling at the Timau River Lodge with time to spare for a sundowner or three, relaxed and very eager for the next day.

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    Above: One never quite understands how, but trucks capsize often in Kenya

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    Above: Kolobus on the work-around track

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    Above: Tall, tall trees, a cool, cool breeze and XRs in threes

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    Above: Rawlence and I on the White Caps, Kolobus testing out his travel Espresso maker

    Tomorrow the plan would be, well, considerably more ambitious… and beautiful… and long…

    Stay tuned.

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    #11
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  12. everready

    everready Stuck in Ohio....Ugh!!!

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    Cannot see images........
    #12
  13. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Hell yeah, most definitely in! Can't wait to read all the installments :D:thumb
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  14. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    Day 2 - Timau to Mathews Range via Borana Escarpment and the Kipsing Lugga

    To say we were eager to ride doesn’t begin to describe it. We were gagging! Up early and on the bikes, we were greeted by the benevolent face of Mt. Kenya, completely free of clouds who watched us turn North and rip our way to the edge of the Borana escarpment through a game area of the same name. The roads were very quick and the views were wide. In time, we reached a forested area with a meadow in it that represented the end of the highlands. From here, there was nowhere to go but down.

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    Above: The XRs and Mt. Kenya

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    At the big meadow, we decided to take a small detour to what I believed would be a lookout spot on the edge of the valley. Google Earth is an amazing tool for finding places like this, and it turned out to be a beautiful spot. The only downside was the presence of very, VERY fresh elephant shit that, as the point person pushing through dense bush, made me more than a little uneasy. I’ve been on walking safaris where not even the guide saw the elephant until he was only a bush away, and here we were on bikes with nowhere to turn. Fortunately, our noisy aftermarket pipes were signaling our arrival well in advance, and wherever Mr. Tembo was, he was hiding from us.

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    Above: That’s fresh stuff, man… flies and everything

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    Above: The lookout. Our route down would take us behind those peaks

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    Above: From the relative lushness of the highlands, the dusty haze of the semi-desert below looked foreboding

    We began our descent. The track down the escarpment was once a road, but now a 4x4 would struggle in many places. At first there were signs of boda boda tracks and bicycles, but they quickly vanished and we were on our own. The few villages we saw as we got deeper and the temperatures rose were small and very traditional. Goats seemed to be doing okay on the patchy green from recent rains, but it was far from lush down there.

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    Above: The descent begins. Nice, hard packed dirt with plenty of rocks to skitter around on

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    I’d given the other guys the GPS tracks I’d made from Google Earth. Home-made tracks, though very accurate, can have a few inaccuracies that need to be evaluated on the fly. I’m used to this. The guys aren’t. Before I knew it, I was alone in the bush. Cutting the engine, I heard one bike laboring somewhere, but couldn’t hear the other. I turned back and found Kolobus climbing out of a riverbed where he’d been misled by an old track, but Rawlence was nowhere to be seen. I scampered back up a scrambly section to find that, sure enough, he had gone straight down the spine of the ridge on a foot path rather than angling down as we had. I found him on the hillside, XR wedged in some bushes, none the worse for wear but overheated. It was a struggle to pull his Pig out of there, but we were soon back on track.

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    Above: Rawlence decides to go enduro

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    Above: The Pig rests in the bush, Rawlence hydrates from his MSR water bladder

    Coming down from the rescue mission, I ran over a branch that quickly wrapped itself into my sprocket and rear brake. Fortunately, we bikers are prepared. I pulled out my Masai Kisu and whacked away until the branch gave up and we could proceed. In no time, I was flailing on a tight inside corner where I couldn’t quite ride around, and couldn’t quite get my feed down either. Rawlence and I opted for the walk through, but Kolobus did a dainty little ride through, showing us how it’s done. The track became ever rougher until we finally caught sight of the river bed. The famous Kipsing Lugga at last! We celebrated with a box of smashed crackers mixed with various sardine options and drank as much water as we could. It was getting hot, damn hot.

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    Above: Using the Kisu to free the Pig, walking the Pig around a (not so) tricky bit

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    Above: The road continues, roughly through the thorns and heat

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    Above: Our lunch spot on the Kipsing Lugga

    Of course, we celebrated too soon. Right away, a Samburu warrior, shirtless with beaded chinstrap and all, greeted us and told us we couldn’t ride the riverbed here due to a big rock fall ahead. I of course didn’t believe him… until I confirmed it for myself. This left us to climb back up the riverbank to hunt for a passage beyond the rocks. It couldn’t have been more than a kilometer, but no track made itself visible to us and the bus was a messy nest of wait-a-bit bushes and other nasty greenery. Finally, I got fed up and aimed straight for the lugga hoping the stones had passed. Elation! Success! The sand superhighway was waiting.

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    Above: Looking for our track – check the girl sprinting to get away from me. Story of my damn life!

    The riverbed was luxurious. Wide, hard-packed sand flanked by tall acacias and sometimes topped with tall hills in the distance, it was a blast to ride and much quicker than the descent from Borana. We took turns leading, leapfrogging along at a nice pace, scattering camels in our wake. It was so nice to see full grown trees again… the Masai areas near Nairobi are so badly depleted. This is how the bush should look. Untouched. Brilliant.

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    Above: Yours truly, enjoying the lugga

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    Above: Rawlence scatters the camels

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    Above: Kolobus taking the XRL through her paces

    We jumped out of the Kipsing River and found ourselves in a village (Kipsing, no doubt). We were greeted by a nice guy who served us warm cokes, tried to find a bolt for Kolobus’ missing one (rattled loose from the rack) and gave me an Ostrich feather to decorate my Pig with (it lasted 20 kms). Baba Kelly he was. Nice guy. The rest of the village did the usual village thing; gawking at the bikes, speculating about the wazungu, quizzing us about really bizarre things e.g. “Is that the petrol tank” etc. It’s all par for the course, and we were in good spirits to play the game. But, it was time to braaap on. Our destination was still very far away.

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    Above: Rawlence doing his usual thing: distributing sweets to the gathered throng of kids.

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    Above: My Pig’s Ostrich plume and Rawlence’s crew (this pic makes the kid in the button-down shirt look like he has an enormous hand )

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    Above: Posing with Baba Kelly and Kelly himself

    The next section of track would take us West toward Baringo, where we did not want to go, before turning back East toward Wamba where we did. We began to call it the “Dust to Glory” section due to the vast expanses, very good roads and blistering speeds at which we were comfortable sailing along. It was hot, dry and fast, and apart from a short delay for a herd of clueless camels crossing the Ewaso Ngiro river bridge, we made cracking time.

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    Above: Camel traffic

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    Above: Africa glory – a serious speed section on the way to Wamba

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    Above: Rawlence’s kickstarter-side boot, and the boys chilling in a cool corner having a Coke in Wamba

    In Wamba, it was abundantly clear we would not make it to Ngurunit before dark. The planned track was anything but straight, and went winding into the spectacular Mathews Range mountains, south of the Milgis River and the Ndotos. Still relatively fresh, we were completely prepared to rough camp in the bush if need be, so we set off, enjoying the ever more golden light and spectacular riding. What a place, the Mathews has long been on my list of places to go, and I would go back in a minute.

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    Above: Approaching the Mathews Range

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    Above: Quick tracks and good roads characterize the approach

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    Above: As evening settled in, the road became more windy

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    Above: Late evening, beautiful scenery

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    Above: The golden village

    Soon there was more shadow than sunlight, so we began to look for a nice spot to make camp. We looked at several hillsides, but decided instead on a small riverbed with sandy stretches interspersed with large stone. It was tight and secluded and made a perfect camp (assuming there was no flash flood). We set up tents and tucked in to the rat packs we’d brought, as well as the emergency supply of Black Label. The stars came out in a moonless sky. Satellites whisked past. The occasional airplane beacon in the distance. It was wonderful there. Perhaps it was the heat, perhaps the excitement, but it didn’t take much booze before one of our party went from hyper talkative to unresponsive. We considered leaving him there, he looked so comfortable, but decided we’d never live it down if he were stung by a scorpion or if hyena came and ate his face. So, instead, we photographed the corpse, woke him up and lugged him to his tent. We all slept like stone.

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    Above: The last of the light

    See you tomorrow.

    But before I go, here's the video summary [​IMG]



    Skip to the next day, Click HERE
    #14
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  15. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    Ok
    #15
  16. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

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    Amazing scenery!
    That's bucket list riding right there.
    FYI only the Day-1 post is missing pics. The others including the video show up fine.
    #16
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  17. allroadtoine

    allroadtoine Been here awhile

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    I'm in, thnx wonderfull ride. Only the pics of the first day I miss.

    Osadabwa, please continue.

    Greetings,

    Toine
    #17
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  18. everready

    everready Stuck in Ohio....Ugh!!!

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    For me, post #11 is a just a series of dashes surrounded by a circle.
    #18
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  19. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    Okay, I think I fixed it
    @everready, refresh your page and confirm.

    Thanks
    #19
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  20. everready

    everready Stuck in Ohio....Ugh!!!

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    Surreal! I don't know if I'd have the nerve to do a ride like that.
    #20
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