Dumped the kids at school. I was in crocs and my riding kit sans armour and helmet. Back home. Bag packed. Bike started. Fuelled and on the road at 8:00AM sharp. I needed a solo day in the Rift Valley! I had plotted a few tracks I wanted to explore and had dumped them all in my phone. I didn’t really know what I’d get up to. Usually solo days on the XRR are brilliant for just that reason: you never know where you’ll go. It’s like something out of Dr. Seuss but with more horsepower. I said I would launch out of town past Ewaso on the loathsome new tar, but of course I didn’t. As soon as I smelled dirt and the freezing temperatures abated a bit (I felt like I was on a ski lift leaving Nairobi) I drifted and braaaped my way through the rocks, gravel and dust. Ended up deviating and finding a really nice Air-BNB to take the family to some day. Since the valley is now officially fakked, er, developing, we might as well have nice holiday spots to visit, right old chaps? Anyway. The more roads, the more riding, I guess.
Above: Marking my territory… obviously I’d had a few coffees before embarking. The overlook down into a valley that was probably completely virgin 10 years ago is now the view of my next posh holiday pissup.
After my detour, it was flat out past Saikeri, Ewaso Kedong and up the side of Mt. Suswa the old way. The track took me up the Eastern flank of the massif and down the Northern side, ending inside the Suswa electrical substation. The guards were bemused to see me: “Where you come from?”, “Up on the mountain”, “Up on the mountain??”, “Yessss…. BRAAAAAAP”. From there, I took a totally annihilated track from Suswa Town that Panic and I used to take to have lunch at Ranch House. To call it a fekking feshfesh fekking disaster is putting it mildly. It was treacherous. All those volcanoes blowing ash out for billennia plus a thousand trucks has really made a mess of the place. But the Pig and I handle all conditions with aplomb, so in no time I was turning toward the river that exits the ass end of Hell’s Gate National Park. And when I say the ass end of Hell’s Gate, I mean the ass end of the ass’s end. When they installed a massive geothermal plant inside the National Park boundaries, INSIDE THE NATIONAL PARK’S BOUNDARIES, it kinda ruined the atmosphere. Anyway, the ass end of the river is actually awesome and I always have it to myself. So off I braaaped.
Above: After some hunting and pecking, I found the entrance to the riverbed and was surprised to see it was wet. I went gingerly at first, worried I’d sink up to the axles, but after a while I could tell the crushed pumice made a solid base, so I let the piggy run.
Above: Had the place to my lonesome, just how I like it. I can’t figure out why everyone wants to avoid an apocalypse. I say, bring it on!
Above: I stopped under the same tree Panic and I did a few years back for a tin of mackerel and some peanuts. I was glad to see it still standing. 20 meters to my left was the bleeding stump of her chopped compadre.
Above: I’d like to camp in here. Dig a hole for the water to fill up and make a pool. Scrub my nasty feet in the pumice… explore the steam vents and caves… Maybe someday.
Above: Go to far and the canyon narrows too much to continue. I’ve pushed past that spot, but it’s nothing but a shoulder-width slit through carved stone. The Pig is not slender enough to pass, alas.
Above: Look at that pile of fesh-fesh waiting to be released from its bonds! It’s solid enough for now, but let some trucks drive on it and pooof!
Above: This is the iconic shot of the area.
Above: Here’s a video of the place I did with Panic many years back. Solo, you can’t get any fancy moving pictures.
To be continued... 10,000 character limit ffs
OK. After the riverbed, I didn’t know what to do. Looking at my watch though, I was shocked to see it was only noon! Hellsfire! I reckon I ought’a go see about that other track yonder, I said to myself. So I tore back through the fesh, over to the Suswa-Narok tar and zoomed into another unknown track. Guess what it was entirely composed of: FESHFHESHFAFAKSAKE! Honestly, the valley is really the place to test your riding skills and your kit. There isn’t anything harsher in all of East and Southern Africa… probably.
Above: Having submarined through several deep pits of this shit, I finally got my footing and stopped for a wee pic. It doesn’t tell the tale. You feel like you’re riding through a sea of baking flour. But why the hell would you do that? The stuff pulls your feet of the pegs. Trucks get stuck and dump stones in the ruts, making it more challenging. The ruts themselves are slick as you like on the edges, trying to get you to take a lowside flop, and deep as hades in the middle. It’s fantastic. I love it! (Today I did… other days, not so much. Biking, like life, is full of contradictions.
Above: Nobody ahead of me. All I have to do is ride a bit and stop. The fesh overtakes me and blocks out the sun! Glad I was solo… anybody behind me would have been in the dark for an hour!
At the top of the climb, I knew I could continue into the crater or explore the rim. Glancing at the watch… plenty of time… rimjob it is! Suswa has an inner rim (where we usually camp) and an outer rim which is 10km in diameter. I was trying to ride counter-clockwise around a portion of the outer rim on what started out to be a very nice charcoal burner’s track (at least the destructive assholes are good for something). Of course, eventually it vanished into a series of cattle paths… one of which finally connected with the far western exit. It was potentially risky going at times… a bit of a drop-off and some deep ruts to contend with, but I made it with no issues. Of course some Masai guy wanted to block me by cutting trees down and laying them in my path (do these guys do nothing but cut trees? FFS?) but I just shouted “Mambo vipi bwana!” and launched the pig over the kindling like a middle-aged, slightly overweight hard enduro guy on holiday showing off for a group of toddlers. But seriously, I can’t think of one reason I’d agree to stop my ride to discuss absolutely anything with a guy who is trying to block my path and who carries a 2-foot-long knife at all times.
Above: Burn, baby, burn! Charcoal fire stinking of carbon monoxide. They’ve chopped all the leleshwa in large swathes.
Above: Just off-piste somewhere on the North rim. Hunting for another cattle path to get me around the bend.
Above: Way in the distance is the highest point of the mountain, which is the inner rim of the crater… it’s a weird place. In between are a bunch of farms and people with cattle grazing. Soon there will be geothermal plants and pipes no doubt. For now, though, from far away… it is green and lovely.
Above: I hiked this bit from the top. Ended up riding it down no problems, but there was a moment where I thought I might lose it. With the rear brake on the uphill side and nothing but crater on the downhill side… it can pucker the ol’ sphincter. Do I brake a bit, or dab the foot? It’s one or the other, boy!
Having ridden around the outer rim, I blitzed through the middle of the mountain, down the side, up the tar a bit and along the SGR. I was parched and gagging for a beer. Stopped at Drips, but the feckless fekking fekkers didn’t have cold beer or any food (not even chips!), nor did they have their usual cadre of bike washers! One can be driven to distraction, I tell you! To hell with it! Back home I braaped!
Above: At home. 2PM. Not a bad way to spend 3/4 of a day...
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