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Vintage Bikes Ride the Rift Valley - Kenya's 2019 DGR

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Osadabwa, Oct 2, 2019.

  1. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    738
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    It was time again to don spiffy duds, fire up the vintage bikes and participate in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. Of course, in Kenya, nothing works like it does in the rest of the world. It’s part of what makes it so maddening and magical. So, as per our tradition, rather than saddle up on Sunday like the rest of the planet’s DGR riders to putter carefully from café to café, we like to head out on Saturday, ride 100km into one of Kenya’s hottest places, stay the night and return the following day. It’s always a great weekend, and this year we had 13 bikes (in admittedly varying states of vintageness) plus three support cars. Quite the convoy.

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    Above: The crew on DGR day

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    Above: My favourite of the old bikes: the BSA Golden Flash. Plenty of real-world patina on this baby.

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    Above: The most pristine of the vintage bikes: a lovely old Yamaha XV750. She’s been pampered, showed off in bike shows for years, and now she’s back on the road getting some dust on those cooling fins.

    Leaving Nairobi is always a mess. Traffic is horrible, and with so many bikes all trying to lane split and overtake, somebody always gets confused. It’s also the best time to find out which bikes are giving issues. This time, it was the black Honda who decided to loose oil, but Famous Rick sorted it out in a trice. As for getting lost, we had five guys ride past the pre-determined checkpoints and only notice it about half way down the valley… It’s all par for the Nairobi DGR.

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    Above: My XT on Ngong Road, the five bikers who can’t follow instructions, Famous Rick sorting our first issue

    Past Cona Baridi, we slid quickly down the shoulder of the Ngong Hills to have some refreshment at the Jordan Breeze. This gave us time to figure out where the others were and to check all was in order. One of the Enfields was acting up, and bad fuel was to blame… maybe so. We pressed on.

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    Above: Coming round Cona Baridi

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    Above: My ’81 XT500 Nairobi Special looking the business among the acacias

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    Above: Checkpoint Jordan Breeze

    We set off for our perennial lunch spot under one of very few roadside trees large enough to offer a bit of shade. Lunches emerged from the vehicles and the five eager beavers returned from the valley to join us at last. The grub was excellent and there were special refreshments to quench our thirst in the steadily rising heat.

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    Above: Lunch spot and shade tree

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    Above: Obligatory "modern vintage" Triumph promotional photo… Triumph being a sponsor of the DGR

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    Above: Draining the Enfield’s fuel… it seemed to make things better, and better’s good enough. Ugy and I helping from afar via telepathy.

    Off like a herd of turtles, we roared over the wavering sun-baked tarmac past Oltepesi and Olegorsaile toward Magadi, our oven-hot destination. I zipped ahead to set up a few photos while the line of bikes steadily disintegrated. First the big Harley Davidson’s battery connections rattled loose, then a new Enfield 500 lost her battery cover. I sat in the shade enjoying the quiet while the rest tinkered and fussed. Shortly though, everyone roared past down the road to Magadi.

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    Above: Leaving Oltepesi

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    Above: The Golden Flash climbs toward the GSU Camp, Olegorsaile in the background

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    Above: Me chilling in the shade, bikes being fixed, jokes being shared

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    Above: At the Magadi TATA Soda Factory gate

    We soon found ourselves beers in hand soaking in the nice pool at the Sports Club, but for some of us, the riding was not yet over. It’s become a side-tradition for some of us to set out into Magadi’s surreal landscape to get some dirt on our wheels. The first time I led the group, two of the guys were just starting high school. Now, nearly graduates, they handle their bikes with a lot more muscle and it was a blast to see them chewing up the dirt.

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    Above: An Enfield in the Magadi pans

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    Above: Hooliganism ensues

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    Above: The XR600 throwing roost

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    Above: Weird landscapes are what Magadi is best known for… and mid-day heat

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    Above: XT and a pair of Enfields

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    Above: Above the golden plains below

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    Above: Shiny new Enfield out on her first long voyage

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    Above: Enfields showing this scrabbly hill who’s boss

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    Above: Back on the lake shore, heading for the sundowner spot

    At the sundown spot, we met up with one of the vehicles who happened to be carrying a refreshing pitcher of margaritas and a restaurant-sized bag of chips with salsa to boot. It was dark before we knew it and the boys led the way back to Magadi at a pretty decent clip, headlights bobbing down the road. I kept well back, running as I was on my XT’s weak excuse for a headlamp. Back at the club, dinner was served and we chowed contentedly this year before heading back for a night cap to close out a good day.
    #1
    AZ Africa Twin, wilddoktor and Bors like this.
  2. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    738
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Sunday is the actual start of the DGR, and for us it doesn’t officially start until half way back to Nairobi where in theory others could, but never do, join us. So, having broken the fast, we headed over to the petrol station to add go-juice to our steeds and get a group photo in our glad rags.

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    Above: Ugy and his Golden Flash looking flashy

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    Above: The whole crew, ready to roll

    The morning was lovely. Cool and inviting. I again split ahead to snap pics of riders zipping past. At some point, riders stopped zipping past. I waited and waited, then finally checked our group chat. A Triumph had a puncture (and was now riding in the pickup) and one of our crew had come off going too hot around a bend. With that news in hand, I promptly started the bike and raced… ahead to grab a beer with the few who had gone before me. It sounded like all was well in hand behind.

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    Above: Wasn't easy getting that big girl in the pickup I bet...

    At Oltepesi, the official Nairobi DGR starting point, we rested under the trees and had a cold one while we waited to see how bad the damage was to the fallen rider. Happily, everyone arrived in good spirits, and with a bit of bodge-wire work from Famous Rick, the injured bike was good as new. All together again, we set off for the city.

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    Above: The scene in Oltepesi

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    Above: Waiting for the laggards

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    Above: The local bar… relax everyone, Mnazi means coconut tree

    Back in a group once again, we set off. Most of the crew aimed for home and some of us continued on to represent people who actually ride bikes at the annual Concourse de Elegance car and bike show at the racetrack. All in all, it was another successful Kenya DGR. Hope to see everyone again next year!

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    Above: We joined one Enfield Cafe Racer... all told, he put in 200km to be with us!

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    Above: Golden Flash hauls golden ass up the valley's steep hills... that old girl still has plenty of punch

    Cheers from Kenya!
    #2
  3. Faceplant

    Faceplant Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Oddometer:
    266
    Location:
    Swahilistan
    Nice one, Hunter
    #3
  4. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,643
    Location:
    Kingsmill Corner Ont.
    Nice pics and report. Thanks.
    #4