2020 has been disruptive, you could say. Months of lockdowns globally and economic turmoil. The globally popular Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride even had to change their format, encouraging everyone to go for a solo ride this year instead of toodling around in dapper mobs. So, this year’s Kenya DGR year was unofficial, and the organizers bear no responsibility if any of us keel over later. In fact, this was not the Kenya DGR at all, it was the Kenya “kinda” DGR. Caveat out of the way, on with the ride. We met a Patient-P’s at 9:00AM, right on time and an hour early because the Karen contingent was taking their sweet time as ever. This was fine with us because it meant we could enjoy extra coffee and most of the bacon and eggs P made for us. Plus, it was gloomy and the longer we waited the better the weather might be. At last, the other guys arrived, and it was a motley crew… we had bikes of 4 makes, 5 models, 4 decades and all states of vintageness from the BSA Golden Flash, to the brand-spanking new Africa Twin. Again, this wasn’t a real DGR, so the rules were flexible. Above: The bikes – XT500, XL250, BMW R100, Honda Arica Twin, BSA Golden Flash, and a Triumph Scrambler in the back For the past four years we’ve made something of a mini-adventure out of the DGR, riding down to the sweltering bottom of the Great Rift Valley to the Magadi Sports Club. Here's a link to last year's ride. It’s a tradition we’ve enjoyed as it pits man and machine against the environment in a very Kenyan sort of way… the heat is insane and some of the hills are steep, giving the oldest bikes a run for their money. This year, however, Magadi is off-limits due to Covid fears so we decided to explore another side of Kenya. Rather than sweat our wheel nuts off in the valley, we’d ride north into the coffee- and tea-covered hills below the Aberdares to Ndakaini Dam. The exact destination was utterly random. We just needed somewhere with beds, food and beers about 100km away from home. It turned out great. Above: We crawled through Nariobi traffic into the nearby rolling hills. Above: Patient P and Ugy had chosen our destination. It was my job to get us there. I’d picked us a route that was hardly ever straight, but almost totally tarred. The road network in the highlands is impressive, with lots of good tar roads and a zillion decent murram ones to choose from. You can go North and South very easily, but it’s much harder going East to West due to the many small river valleys coming off the Aberdares mountains. Above: Ugy on his Golden Flash. That bike never fails to impress. She handled the hills and valleys with grace and ease and later she’d prove capable on some dirt as well. Above: Stopping for a quick break somewhere in the eucalyptus and dust We were making good time so we decided to stop somewhere for some nyama and and a cheeky mid-day beer. Not being remotely picky about these sorts of things, we pulled into the first dodgy joint we saw that had dead things hanging in the front window. We got ourselves a few medium-cold ones to wash down the ugali and beef and shot the breeze, enjoying being on the road. Above: Don't worry, we're of age. Above: Ah, White Cap. The refreshing choice. After lunch, it was back on the bikes and higher into the hills. We had to loop south to find an East-West road to take us North again, but nobody was complaining. The roads were dry, the sun was shining, and we were enjoying the views. As we switch-backed and climbed up and around, we zoomed between vegetable plots and fields of tea and pineapple. Interspersed along the road would be a trading centre with agro-vet shops, petrol stations and markets catering for the farms around. It’s a prosperous part of the country that has enjoyed a lot of benefits over the years. Above: Round we go Above: My XT500 down in a verdant vegetable valley Above: Stopping for petrol in a trading centre. 10 year old me would have loved this guys paint job. Above: The higher we went, the more pronounced the terrain Above: One of dozens of little stream crossings coming down from the Aberdares Above: A hillside of tea and pineapple. I’m a little worried about the appearance of pineapple here… means that tea isn’t as profitable as it once was. Pineapple is a pretty harsh crop for soil health and requires a fair amount of spraying which in Kenya is uncontrolled and winds up in water sources. Alas. Above: A bit higher up, this stream might be stocked with trout Around four PM we arrived at the Ndakaini Dam Resort, put our gear in the “spacious accommodation” and began enjoying a new round of White Caps. The place was typical in many respects, but located on exceptional grounds with nice views over the reservoir. When the sun went down, it got positively chilly and we all donned our warmest kit and crowded around the fire they prepared for us. We chowed down and shot the breeze late into the evening, but once the Caol Isla single malt was done, we called it a night. Above: Ndakaini Dam Resort Above: The reservoir… beautiful, clear water… but no swimming allowed. It’s the water source for Nairobi so it’s prohibited. Boats are okay and agricultural runoff is fine, however. Above: Thumbs up for the glass-enclosed veranda and wood stove. Thankfully, Kenya still has a 9pm curfew, so we could say one thing for the Ndakaini Dam Resort... it was quiet. Tomorrow, back home.