Couldn’t sit still. Had to go ride. Over the weekend, I got replacement body armour for my slowly disintegrating, but trusty, Alpine Stars armadillo thing. This one is a shiny, white Leatt and I wanted to see how it felt… I already knew it made me look like a Stormtrooper. I left early and struggled to get into the rhythm. On the way out of Nairobi it was sketchy as hell with wet red clay on the tar roads where dump trucks had spilled it. Like riding on ice, particularly with a quite bald rear tire and a falling-apart front. It put me in a cautious mood as I started into the valley along the new railroad. Above: Everything’s better on the dirt. I spent some time adjusting clickers and enjoying a cooler, greener, less-dusty valley. There are so many new roads now that service the railroad. I followed the main one awhile and ended up in a huge, barren area where they’d mined soil and stones for backfill. A little track led out of it, and, though I could see it was rocky and steep, I was warmed up and keen to give it a go. My enduro skills let me down, and I stalled in a large stone section from which a bit of off-bike manoeuvring to extricate myself was required, but I managed and was feeling good. I often end up doing more technical stuff alone. I try to make sure it’s nothing that I can’t handle one way or the other. Above: A new road down into the valley servicing the new high-tension lines and the railroad Above: My rocky ascent from the quarry… another day I’d have cleared this spot, but today I needed to do some pushing and pulling to get out once I’d dug myself in. A nearly bald rear tire didn’t help matters, but it’s my lack of skill that cinched it. Having successfully broken a sweat, I kept up the exploration and dropped off the big dirt onto a rocky path leading to a quarry in the distance below. I don’t know what the stuff is useful for, but it was gleaming white in the morning sun and quite a funky spot to explore. Above: Back off the main roads in search of littler tracks Above: Red bike down in the white mine Above: I imagine all of that stuff was spewed out of Mt. Suswa or Longonot a few hundred thousand years ago in a hot, toxic ashcloud Having reconnected to one of the usual tracks, I sped into Ewaso Kedong for a Coke and the worst mandazi I’ve had in a good long while. It would have made a better roofing shingle, frisbee or floor tile than a food item, but I was hungry so it went down anyway. From there over to Najile on what has become a truly abysmal road full of ruts and stones, and even more annoyingly: bodabodas. There’s so much more activity down there than only a few years back. Above: Having turned toward home, I paused under a lovely shade tree to tinker with the clickers again and explored off-piste where I had a great view of the rift. Nice pics I took too, but they died with my phone a little later on… I’m always looking for little tracks that crisscross the valley, hoping to open up new riding possibilities in a place I sometimes think I’ve explored to death. To my surprise, today I found some, and even though they didn’t connect anywhere really, it was fun to see a new place and it somehow highlighted just how rugged and beautiful this place is (despite the charcoal burners). Again, better pics went to digital heaven along with my Samsung. Above: Looking down on a school in the distance… I think the teachers just gave up and let the kids go on recess when they saw me… the kids were kind of distracted by me and the bike. The many bluffs of the valley become more obvious from up above. It’s a rough place to eek out a living. I zipped back home on the usual track beneath the Ngong Hills, but I don’t think you can really call anything “usual” anymore. This time, there were washouts from previous rains that made me pucker and a few new culverts that startled the hell out of me because they looked like huge holes (black soil being used, not wisely, to cover them up). The amount of effort being put into trying to keep this road alive is silly. They won’t succeed. The forest that used to climb the shoulder of the Ngongs is going going gone… now when the big rains come, water rockets down the slope like a freight train. Then, just like that, I crashed. Hard. I was within a few kilometres of the tar on a bit of track I know like the back of my hand. Just coming down the hill to where the pipeline crosses, I hit something and was on the ground crashing over embedded stones in an instant, the bike making an awful racket as it left metal and plastic bits everywhere. Turns out my new protector is the bee’s knees… didn’t feel a thing where the pads were… badly sprained my wrist, but that’s cause I still haven’t learned to fall right. Above: Beats the hell out of me why, but here’s where I went down. I actually think it was a front wheel wash out… I have a shagged tire and a tired mousse up there and I think I just came in to the rocky part off-centre and maybe a little bit relaxed and lost the front. I’ll be ditching that setup post-haste. Above: Unfortunately for me, I cracked my radiator… again… and it was leaking pretty heavily. I tried in vain to fix it with JB Weld, but just ended up making a horrible mess. Lots of people came by to offer help. One lady offered to let me leave the bike at her place while I organized a pickup etc. Considering how we ride through this place sometimes, engines screaming, dust flying, spooking the animals and kids… I was humbled by how empathetic they were to me and my plight. In the end, I just started the bike and took off for home, sprained wrist screaming over the last km of recently deposited stones to the tar. I stopped every so often to top up the radiator at petrol stations and made it home with no problem. Above: Well, almost no problem… I killed my phone. Body armour worked though. Thumbs up for Leatt! My new phone has been delivered to my house already (3 hours after getting home… sometimes Nairobi’s service industry blows me away). Now to place an order for replacement radiators… Oh the joys of off-road motorbiking!