Types of animals

Being a biker requires one to be well read, well-mannered and supremely knowledgeable. In this respect, I am happy with most of the bikers but there’s one body of knowledge that bikers treat casually and yet it is such critical knowledge. I am talking about knowledge of the various types of animals found in this beautiful world we live in.

You are about to close this page and go elsewhere but I urge you to check your impulsiveness. You think you know all about animals because you have read books and watched David Attenborough, but you are a miserable impostor of knowledge and I shall show this.

There are four kinds of animals: Domestic animals which are found around our homes offering food or labour, pet animals which are also found around our homes offering companionship, wild animals which are found in the wilderness offering balance to the ecosystem and road animals which are found around our roads offering excitement or terror.

Sir David Attenborough has spent a lifetime educating the world all about animals, but has never uttered a single word about road animals. Lucky for you, I am the David Attenborough of road animals and I shall undertake in the next few words to rid you of your ignorance so that you may be a better biker and perhaps even a better human being all round.

My interest in road animals started one sunny day, somewhere near Suswa town, as I was riding towards Narok. Wait. Please do not think that I am not telling the truth because I have begun this with story with the words “one sunny day”. It was indeed a sunny day and I must therefore tell it as it is, even if I have to resort to such hackneyed phrases.

So, one sunny day as I was riding my bike towards Narok, I caught sight of an animal lying on the road. As I got closer I could make out that the animal was a dog. It was a marvellous dog, the best I had ever seen. It appeared healthy, well fed and had a well-developed chest. From the way it lay on its back with its four legs straight in the air, I imagined that it must have had a very good meal over lunch, and it therefore needed to let digestion happen without any encumbrances upon its stomach. I do this myself sometimes so I was able to immediately understand its method.

What a great sight it was to see such a healthy and content dog! As I got closer, I realised that it too knew that it was a happy and content dog because it was smiling. Across the left side of it’s face (some say snout), I could see a perfect set of sharp canines flashing at me in an irrepressible smile. As I got closer and closer, I could see that the smile was still in place, unchanging and this touched me. The sight of this joyous dog was too good to ride past and so I slowed down and opened my helmet’s visor to take a closer look and perhaps exchange pleasantries with it.

What greeted me was not the healthy joyous dog I expected but a badly mutilated corpse (some say carcass) of a dog. The stench from the corpse was at least 500 horsepower strong and I caught it all in the chest, none of it was wasted. What I thought was a smile was in fact a face, whose entire left side was lacking in skin and flesh thereby exposing the teeth and bone underneath.

When you are on a bike, you catch sights and smells in their raw unfiltered format. So, to give my chest a chance to catch some clean air, I squeezed the throttle and accelerated away, to reflect upon the gruesome sight.

As I explained, it was this incident that drew me to the subject of road animals and I resolved to learn all about this class of animals. My diligent studies have literally taken the breath away and are now being described in some quarters as ‘ground breaking’. Take the next few words merely as a synopsis into a wide and complex are of study that is being pioneered with great self-sacrifice by a kind and conscientious man.

I invented the term ‘Road Kill’ to describe animals that are killed by being ran over a road. It could be a dog such as the one in this story or a cat attempting to begin a tenth life, it could also be a zebra or even a lizard – all I describe as road kill.

Maasai Cow is a term used to describe a type of cows, usually found in Nairobi, that nonchalantly cross city roads with incomparable grace and calmness. They interfere with traffic, annoy business people and drop green mud for bike tyres to skid on. Their defining feature is their calmness and nonchalance while being an absolute nuisance.

Huddling Sheep refers to small herds of sheep, usually found in the hotter parts of the country, huddling together to form a shade for their heads, to shield from the hot afternoon sun. They are almost always found around a sharp bend where you are certain to get acquainted with the herd by way of a collision, making road kill of some of them.

Honey Donkey refers to asses, usually found around Naivasha, that cause accidents when they chase each other across the road as part of their mating rituals. Honey Donkeys are magnificent beasts for keeping time and schedule. First, they schedule to mate on the exact day that you shall be riding through Naivasha and secondly, they time their run across the road so accurately that a collision with you is inevitable. Typically, the running ritual begins seconds after the female donkey delivers a devastating double kick on the male donkey’s chin. During my field study, a donkey, through an interpreter, told me that this kick is the equivalent “let’s go to the bedroom” in the Hi-Ho language that most donkeys in Kenya speak.

When my book on road animals is ready I shall send you a link, for now, be content with this synopsis.

Once upon a time

I grew up with a fellow called Reuben that had a remarkable talent: Whenever we wanted to wake up in the wee hours of the morning, and did not have at hand, the legendary Casio Alarm Chrono watch, that we children of the 90s loved very much, all we needed to do was ask Reuben to wake us up at whatever time we desired.

In the seven years I stayed with Reuben, I made hundreds of requests to be woken up, each request was different – 4.30am, 4.13am, 5.56am, 3.20am and Reuben always obliged. He did not have any clock or watch at hand, he just listed to the radio for the time before going to bed and somehow, something in his anatomy kept the time. It’s like he had an inner watchman that was meticulous and punctual.

My inner watchman is not like Reuben’s. He is an unimpressive nervous fellow that worries himself too much and loses count. Whenever I ask him to wake me up at 5.30am and he wakes me with a violent jolt at 2am. I look at my watch puzzled and he suggests that perhaps there is something wrong with it because himself, he is certain it’s 5.30am if not later. He plants enough doubt in my mind, so I get out of bed and go to the sitting room to turn on the laptop to confirm the time. The bloody thing has about 139 updates to configure before turning itself on and revealing the time, so I wait. Finally, I learn that it’s 2.34am and the fellow (my inner watchman), is very sorry for his mistake. I return to bed bad tempered and it takes me another half hour to fall asleep again.

For the next two hours, the fellow wakes me up every 10 minutes and each time he is sure it’s 5.30am. I regret and wish I hadn’t mentioned the thing to him whatsoever! At 5am he goes to sleep himself, worn out by his efforts and I finally manage to catch some sleep. I open my eyes and see some light. My half awakened intelligence doesn’t tell me anything for a few moments and then it suddenly hits me with the knowledge that the meeting has started and that the bird singing like mad outside, is actually the phone beside me ringing. I scramble out of bed, eyes bulging, heart beating violently and I charge about the room madly looking for my clothes. It’s 9am.

I tell you this true story about my inner watchman because I do not trust the fellow whatsoever and tomorrow, I plan on waking up very early to go to the train station to queue for a ticket. I plan to visit Mombasa next week to receive a shipment of bikes that I am very excited about. I mean to use this SGR train thing and I am told that to get a ticket, I need to be at the station very early in the morning and queue with about 5,000 other people. I wonder why the business can’t be done online, or can it? Someone, please tell me.

Anyway, the shipment I shall be receiving has the following bikes in it: The magnificent Bajaj Dominar 400. I believe this is the very first one to be registered in Kenya and I am fiercely proud. The very cool 2017 Bajaj Avenger 200 Street, also a first in Kenya I believe. A pair of very cute Honda Navi scooters, again a first in the country. A triple dose of the irresistible and muscular 2017 Yamaha FZ-25, of course also the first in the country. The very first 2017 Bajaj Pulsar 200NS in the country and finally the regal rogue itself, the 2017 KTM Duke 390, which will not be the first in the country because someone else beat me to it. Confound him!

All these claims to being first are unverified of course, it is simply my instinct that tells me so.

I don’t have a clever nugget of wisdom to conclude this article. Instead I invite you as the biker community in Kenya to come and check out these bikes when they land and to appreciate how far we’ve come as bikers in Kenya. When I bought my first bike on September 15th 2008, a 125cc symbol of humility and poverty, I had almost no choices, but now we live in a world where we can dare make our dreams of owning any bike come true. I shall communicate the date and venue for this celebration so please be on the look out on the various social media pages.

Also, these three bikes do not have owners, so tag a friend that might want one.

Yamaha FZ-25, Blue. Brand new! Ksh. 380,000

 

Yamaha FZ-25. Black. Brand New! Ksh. 370,000.

 

Bajaj Pulsar RS200. Red. 14,000km. Ksh. 330,000

 

 

Petrol stations: Come on! You can do better than that!

I begin by warning that what I am about to narrate is brutal and disgusting in nature and if you have a weak spirit it will ruin you forever. I offer you the opportunity to stop reading this immediately and think yourself lucky to have escaped with your innocence intact.

A couple of months ago, some two gentlemen of my acquaintance convinced me to accompany them on a ride to Masinga Dam. I loved the idea because it was an opportunity for me to see how three bikes I love compare on the road. I was on a Bajaj Pulsar 200NS while the other two were on a Yamaha FZS-FI and a KTM Duke 200. The bike riding and sightseeing was alright, but it was what these two men did to me during a stop we made that defined my day. The two gentlemen are simple unsophisticated Christian men, whose reputation I do not wish to tarnish and I shall therefore not expose their identities by saying that they are called Peter and Danson.

The stop in question was a lunchbreak in a small ramshackle of a town near Masinga Dam called Kanyonyoo Market. I should have taken a hint from the name because it was a pitiable little town and all it could offer was readymade roast meat in a series of horrible looking butcheries that lined the road.

We got into one of the horrible butcheries and the enthusiastic butcher and his assistant led us to a grill that had heaps of roasted meat which to my trained eye, could not possibly be the goat they advertised. The bones were suspiciously too small and I thought it strange that it was on the same grill as intestines and other internal organs which I imagined were meant to mask the actual taste of the meat.

My simple unworldly companions laughed off my feline and canine suggestions and assured me that in Ukambani, people’s tastes were not as diverse. They seemed unperturbed so I reluctantly joined them in the feast.

When we returned to Nairobi, we each went our separate ways home and it was then that it happened. I had been feeling some abdominal discomfort since the suspicious lunch and it seemed things were getting worse. I determined that I would push on until the house but that determination lasted about one hundred meters when my stomach churned very violently and threaten to expel some elements in it there and then.

I grimaced involuntarily and tried to do the same at the opposite end of my anatomy, but my stomach was not having any of it. It had to expel the culprits and it could not wait a minute longer. I slowed the bike and tried all manner of movements on the seat hoping to reverse the looming onslaught but it was getting desperate. As luck would have it, I was riding through a heavily populated area and an emergency fertilization of the land would not be taken with kindness. Tears were welling and I was horrified it would turn into a full-blown trouser accident but I managed to muster some will power to hold because such an accident would mean I would have to remove the trousers before walking into the house and walking into the house with no trousers, I judged, would traumatize my people irreversibly.

Just as I was saying the words “take me Jesus”, a petrol station loomed into sight. I made for the nearest security guard and asked him where the lavatory was. He pointed it out and I rode right up to the door and leapt at the door handle only to find it was locked. Damn it! At this point, the churning in my stomach had turned into a boiling cauldron, especially at the sight of the respite. I tried to steady myself by the door and then let out a crude animal yell, asking the security guard to fetch me the key.

The security guard, whose lineage I was certain includes a tortoise, a chameleon and a sloth finally arrived. I stared at him with eyes that were a combination of pitiable puppy eyes and the bewilderment of a man being lynched, begging him to open the door. To sustain my dignity as he opened the door, I had crossed my legs into a double helix coil and TIG welded all the remaining gaps.

The disciplines of seismology, geology and meteorology, cannot sufficiently describe the thundering and sheer force with which my stomach evacuated. It was a brutal affair but after a minute or so, I regained a feeling of wellness. I was glad to have escaped with my dignity and I thought about the two evil men I had spent the day with and wondered if they too were in a petrol station somewhere or had succumbed in more embarrassing fashion. Whatever the case, I cursed them comprehensively, wishing them and all their all their descendants for all eternity the very worst.

My indignation subsided and as I slowly took in my surroundings, I realized that my ordeal was far from over – there was no means of acceptable sanitation. Why do petrol stations do that? For heaven’s sake, you are required by law to maintain a lavatory and what’s the sense in having one when it doesn’t have the very tools required to make a trip to it a success?

It is a wicked shame for oil marketing companies, some multinational, not to bother maintaining a lavatory and yet profit from the country’s citizens. It’s not that expensive I imagine, unless your petrol station is at Kanyonyoo Market, in which case I can excuse you because I know the whole town will be turning up every afternoon after lunch.

You must be keen to find out how I eventually got out, but I shall spare you the details and save myself extra embarrassment. I loved that t-shirt though, it was branded with my favorite musician of all time, the late Kiptesot arap Sang of the Junior Kotestes band.

What bike to buy in 2017

I love listening to people go through the agony of choosing a bike to buy.

My friend Eric aptly calls it “Kung-fu”. In his mind, a sick one I should add, a person agonising over whether to pick a KTM Duke 200 with ABS or one without, is akin to a Kung fu fighter kicking, chopping and performing all manner of martial arts moves in the air before finally settling on top of a mountain with one foot on the ground and another held up.

When the agony moves to whether it’s actually worth it spending a fortune on the Duke 200 with ABS when you could get virtually the same engine and gearbox on a Pulsar 200NS at almost half the price, Eric imagines that the Kung fu fighter has leapt from the top of the mountain, hurled himself across the landscape, kicking everything that’s standing before settling once again on a small twig at the top of the tallest tree in the forest.

I love Kung fu. It’s an absolutely necessary process because it helps justify decisions and creates a feeling of satisfaction, which if you ask me, is more important than the actual value of the bike. As a person that sells bikes, I have been on the receiving end of thousands of phone calls with people performing Kung fu. I write this because I know that several new year resolutions have “Get new bike” or “Upgrade bike” somewhere in them and so I imagine the country is awash with bikers looking for their black belts and getting ready for Kung fu. This article is therefore meant to help you begin the fight or at least show you to the right battlefield.

The broad categories

There are six main categories of bikers (and hence bikes): Those that love racing (sports bikes), those that like falling over and being dirty (off-road bikes), those that love looking good but only in urban areas (street bikes), those that love touring the country (touring bikes) and those that love wearing leather vests, taking oaths and keeping long armpit hair (cruiser bikes).

You might know what category you fall into but question is, at what level are you?

Levels of bikers

The first level is the one-percenters. These are people who feel the urge to ride a BMW R1200GS and they go to Bavaria Auto to get one. You are not a one-percenter if you go to Car and General to get a TVS Apache, read on because I will be putting you in your place soon. This level belongs to those that can afford the best of what the world has to offer right now.

The second level is the decent-second-handers. These are people who want to get a brand new R1200GS but economic considerations make them settle for decent second hand bikes. These are usually well kept bikes from South Africa, the US, the UK and other such places; bikes that might be second hand but still are expensive and very good indeed. I love this level of bikers the most because they are the pioneers who suffer the cost of importing and owning a bike not supported by a dealership, all because of love. These are the true bikers if you ask me.

I like to call the third level the fake-it-till-you-make-it people. These are the folks that will get a horribly old and broken Suzuki Hayabusa and nurse it to ill health, all for the scant reward of telling people they own the fastest bike in the world. These are the chaps whose bikes break down during every group ride and they have a shortcut and an explanation for every single ailment on their bike. They know the mechanic’s children and wife a little too intimately and if you look under their beds, you will find a minefield of broken headlights, fairing pieces, cables and old chains. This level is heavily populated by bikes from Uganda. The idea here is to own a bike with a respectable name, irrespective of how it treats you.

The gradual-progress level belongs to those that are not able to break the bank the way the one-percenters or the decent-second handers do, but still want a unique and decent bike to begin with. They prefer to begin with smaller cc bikes and slowly learn the art of riding in the hope of eventually buying their dream bike. The more discerning of this type go for very well made bikes that offer good value for money despite the bikes not being immediately available in the country. For example, bikes from the Bajaj Pulsar range and other global brands with licences to manufacture in India such as KTM Duke, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Piaggio. They know that these Indian manufactured bikes are genuinely well made and priced to offer great value for money.

The final level is the dealership-only fellows. These are people that treasure the comfort in numbers and perception of good service that dealerships offer. It is the place that Mr. TVS Apache belongs. Nobody in this group actually wants the bike they own, it’s just that it makes so much sense to buy a bike from a shop you can see and a bike you have seen at least a thousand others riding. They are a sensible lot I agree, but very boring.

Making the decision

By now it should be pretty straightforward then as to what category you belong and at what level you operate. You will find dealers and a community that will help you choose the best bike. You will also find groups of riders that share your interests and ideas about social life so whatever bike you choose, you will not be lonely.

I should also tell you that pillions, people that don’t own bikes but are always riding on one, are there in plenty and they too are of different categories and levels. I shall not delve into that today because my research is inconclusive but I thought you should know that once again, whatever bike you choose, you will not be lonely.

A banana split and a trouser split – not a good recipe on a bike

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The life of a broke man is not one to be envied. It is full of trials and tribulations, which can only be understood by readers of the book of Job in the Bible. When you are broke, nothing ever works, the simplest plans never succeed, the easiest tasks turn out to be a real mess and you are generally unlucky with everything.

I had the full package with complementary add-ons, of broke man’s luck just after I left university and was trying to forge a career. For fear of invoking painful memories and hence shedding a bucketful of tears that could very well ruin my laptop’s keyboard, I will hold back from telling you about the very worst of my luck and give you a mere incident which did not even register on my Richter scale of bad luck.

So, several months after leaving university, I received an invitation to attend a job interview after a superb through pass that had been played by a sympathetic old man that knew of my abilities and had seen enough of my poverty. It was a promising job in that I was the only candidate invited for the interview and the pay promised was out of this world. All I had to do was show up and  let the interviewer see that I had only one head and that I could hold a conversation in English for up to 2 minutes.

I summoned my girlfriend for a celebratory lunch of two packets of chips, vinegar and salt at McFries, all for 100 shillings. The poor girl was genuinely happy for me. She had been through a lot with my bad luck and yet she saw something in me which even I did not see.

Her words of encouragement and affection moved me and in a moment of thoughtlessness, I promised that I would take her to a Java restaurant immediately after my interview and treat her to something called a banana split, which I had been told by a friend was something quite magnificent.

From my friend’s explanation, three hundred and twenty shillings would do the trick in Java, assuming she didn’t fall to the temptation of anything else in the menu. I calculated that I needed about one month to save the money for two banana splits and so I set a date with her in 45 days (you can never be too sure).

The double dose of good news staggered her but she quickly recovered her composure and had the presence of mind to reward my generous intent with a nice warm hug and a kiss on the cheek.

The day of the interview came and I put on my best clothes which comprised of a shirt, a pair of trousers and shoes, all of which had been bought by my girlfriend over the years as gifts. My bike, a 125cc symbol of humility and poverty (which wasn’t bought by my girlfriend), was washed and stood outside waiting to take me to the interview. I said a small prayer and got onto the bike confident that at the end of the ride I would be a changed man with better fortunes.

All through the ride, I felt that the trousers, which I didn’t wear often because they were above my ‘sunday best’ in the hierarchy of preciousness, were uncomfortable and a little too tight around the thighs and crotch. I told myself it was the modern way of dressing to wear clothes which were a little tight around the crotch, all the successful people seemed to do it and I was about to become one.

I arrived at the venue 10 minutes early and thought this to be a good thing. As I alighted from the bike, I heard a loud sound resembling that of a large bed sheet being torn. I looked behind me to check if I could see the strange person tearing bed sheets in an office parking lot but there was no one. Strange.

I removed by bike jacket and proceeded to tuck in my shirt properly and neaten myself when I felt a small tear on my trousers just below the belt at the back. I felt the tear some more and was surprised to discover that it extended a little further down. I looked down in bewilderment and saw that the tear was a lot worse than I had imagined!

It started from the belt area around my bottom and followed the stitching all the way beyond the zip and button at the front all the way to the belt buckle. It was the worst trouser split I had ever seen, a terrible, vengeful trouser split that didn’t spare me even a little dignity.

I stood there for a while, confused and feeling a light wind blowing through my loins. I considered many things, like tying a jacket around my waist and walking into the interview and in the end decided that I would go to a supermarket to buy a new pair trousers with the only money I had and be late for the interview. I thought it to be the best solution.

At the supermarket door the watchman insisted that I put in storage the bag which I held in front of me. He also wanted me to remove the jacket I’d tied around my waist and to spread my arms and legs wide so that he would scan me properly, but I resisted.

Seeing that he wasn’t going to let me in, I let down the bag and jacket and the two watchmen at the entrance saw for themselves the lay of the land under my trousers. They looked at me in embarrassment and waved me inside the supermarket, it was all that could be said in a civilized world.

I sneaked in, picked a new pair of trousers and wore it in the changing rooms. I plucked out the price tag and took it to the cashier. The cashier refused to accept my explanation that the trouser I was wearing was indeed the one I had just bought and so we had to call the watchman at the door to give an eyewitness account of the state of my original pair of trousers. This was not enough, someone was sent to fetch that original pair, which I’d discarded in the changing rooms, as an exhibit and the cashier, together with the branch manager, grudgingly accepted my explanation.

I made it back to the interview venue half an hour later and was informed that they’d waited for me and disbanded so there would be no interview for me and the job offer withdrawn.

I rode back to the house depressed. I had lost an opportunity to a split trouser and to compound the problem I was not going to buy my girlfriend a banana split because I had spent my entire GDP buying a new pair of trousers.

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Availability of Bikes and Spare Parts

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Whenever I hear older people speak, the talk is mostly about the past and how wonderful it was. No doubt it must have been great in the 70s when girls wore very short skirts, having only two wives showed you lacked ambition and Lungula Transmitted Diseases (LTDs) were as harmless as a light headache. It all sounds wonderful until they get to the part of the story where they had to have a minor surgical procedure and the only pain relief that could be found in the whole country was a piece of wood to bite into.

It was horrible and this am afraid is how everything worked out in the past – a nice nostalgic story preceding chapter upon chapter of horror. I could go on giving examples, and so I shall. In the 90s, we were free to play anywhere with anyone because nobody had heard of child abduction. But then only Tv station in the country opened at 4pm. And when I say opened I actually mean opened, because it started with the national anthem and then a lady, standing in-front of some curtains, welcomed you to the television and asked that you enjoy the viewing and to remember to switch it off after the closing national anthem later at 11pm.

But things are different now and the quality of service is always improving. We used to send money using something called a money order, I queued for 7 hours when it was my time to get a PIN number, buses had no maximum capacity and as a result I used to stand all the way from Nairobi to Kericho.

Plainly right now, this very minute, is the best time possible to be alive.

And aren’t we entitled! This world of convenience that we live in has now led us to thinking that everything good exists by default. You cannot believe a human being does not have access to a mobile phone, and you ask people where their “offices” are as if not having or having only one office is the third worst thing after Ebola and the NTSA.

But I understand this entitlement. It is all the doing of big brands such as Samsung and Safaricom that have managed to bring everything right to your doorstep such that you no longer have to do anything whatsoever, apart from reach for your wallet. Jumia now insist on delivering shoes to your door and thanks to OLX, you no longer have to go house hunting.

For bikes though, this is not yet the case and it is a fact not understood by those of us new to bike ownership. You will be familiar with this kind of post in our forums:

“Hi. Which is the best option for a 1000cc bike with full features (ABS, traction control, power commander) that can do 0 – 100kph in 2 seconds, top speed above 250kph, fuel consumption 45 km/l, very sporty and can go off-road. Very important also is spare parts. I want a bike with spares and service dealership available all over the country. My budget is between 150 and 200K. Please contact me. Serious dealers only.”

You may laugh at this sort of entitled and insane demand but this the sort of questions fielded by bike sellers on a daily basis. It is a situation created by a world where the modern consumer (with full access to mobile money and insurance for their mobile phone) faces a motorcycle industry lacking variety, spare parts, mechanics and everything else.

The industry has not yet developed that much and if you’ve travelled to other countries, you will realise that it never quite develops to the same level of service as Safaricom and Samsung. You will for example find BMW dealerships in South Africa but you will be bitterly disappointed to note that none of them stocks the amazing K1300R. Yamaha Kenya will never stock the MT-09 and the Suzuki dealership in town still tries to sell you the Inazuma, a horrible, shapeless bike with unnecessary bulk.

So dear prospective buyer and consumer, understand that it takes a lot to bring in bikes, it takes a lot to maintain a stock of spare parts, it is nigh on impossible to have an entire range of helmets and riding jackets and you will not find a Service Centre with fully trained and pensionable personnel. A bike is not a laptop and if you find someone offering you laptop like services then they are most likely selling you a bike with as little personality and life expectancy as a laptop.

It is all about passion, building relationships and growing together.

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Airbnb in Nanyuki with some 2 idiots

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I would like to state right at the beginning that this is a true account of the exact events that transpired during a riding tour I embarked on with my friends Eric and Evans. I begin by telling you that this is a true account of things as they happened because some of the things that happened were so unbelievable, that if someone were to tell me this story, without first cautioning that it is nothing but the truth, I would not believe it myself.

I made a resolution at the beginning of this year to be a more honest and sincere man and I hope this story shows the magnificence of my endeavour. And so I shall begin:

We were in my house, frying sausages after a day servicing Evan’s bike, when I suggested that a man with a bike such as his, a CBR 600RR, should have achieved more as a rider. I said that it was a wicked shame for him to own such a bike and to never have exercised its limbs beyond the usual office commute.

There was justice and truth in my rebuke but Evans is an unjust man. He scoffed at me saying that it was a wicked shame too for a man as fat as myself to be riding a 200cc bike.

“Take those road trips you do for example,” he said, “I would rather commit suicide than ride a 200cc bike all the way from Nairobi to Kisumu,” he continued, picking up a sausage and stuffing the whole of it into his mouth.

He is a wicked and greedy man I tell you.

The conversation continued in this vein until I managed to convince him that what he ought to do is take a ride with me to Nanyuki for a weekend so that he could see that even small-engine bikes such as mine could make such trips. He was open to the idea but said some unkind things about my bike. He said that he would have to ride with his brakes fully jammed on if he was to sacrifice himself for such an undertaking with me. But I let him pepper me with abuse because I was determined to make a better man of him and to show him what small under-powered bikes could do over long distances. He swallowed the last of the sausages and agreed that we’d set out the coming weekend.

Friday came and we met at my house for lunch before setting out. It was all nice and jolly until I told him that our mutual friend, Eric, would be joining us for the ride.

“Why the hell would you invite that man for the ride?” exploded Evans, “He rides a Hero Karizma for heaven’s sake!” he shouted.

As much as I didn’t like his attitude, truth compelled me to agree on the point of Eric’s bike. Eric is a decent enough man but he has one fault – he absolutely adores his Hero Karizma ZMR. I am usually more philosophical about his love for that bike, saying that some bikes have looks that only a mother could love and perhaps Eric feels this motherly instinct very strongly towards the Karizma ZMR.

Evans on the other hand uses very violent language and coarse expressions whenever he hears of it. I have often urged him to take a more Christian view, telling him that he ought not to say things to injure Eric’s feelings because Eric and the entire class of ZMR lovers, are a sensitive, yet lovable bunch of people. I succeeded in getting Evans to accept having Eric as part of the trip and later that afternoon, we set off.

The ride started alright and the first incident of note happened when we realised that Eric was no longer following us. I signaled Evans to stop and we waited on the side of the road. After 5 minutes we decided to turn around and ride back to look for this Karizma loving fellow that was delaying us. We passed the point where we’d last seen him and rode for about 5 more kilometres beyond that point. We stopped, looking at each other with puzzled expressions. What could have happened? Even though when I say ‘puzzled expressions’ am not really telling the truth because we were both wearing helmets and thus I could not see Evans’ expression. Mine though, I feel, was a puzzled expression.

At around that time, the news was awash with stories about a cult called the House of Yaweh that believed that the world would end on that very day we were taking the ride. So in a moment of weakness I asked Evans if he thought Eric was a member of House of Yaweh and if he could have been snatched up to heaven.

“They would never have taken the Karizma with him!” retorted Evans indignantly.

I paused for a while to consider this and I too felt that it was highly unlikely that a Karizma, of all the bikes in the world, could be taken up to heaven, especially considering there were two other bikes on offer right on the same road.

As if by a miracle, we saw Eric emerge from a corner. He explained that he did not have enough fuel and had decided to stop for fuel. He thought it was OK to let us ride ahead because he felt he could easily catch up with us if he opened the throttle a bit. We exchanged looks with Evans and let that last statement slide and continued with the ride. A ZMR catching up with a Pulsar 200NS and a CBR600RR is like suggesting a tortoise can hunt an antelope.

If you go to Nanyuki, I suggest that you use the AirBnB app to find a lovely house to stay in rather than a hotel. That part of the country, Nanyuki/Timau, is a magnificent place to visit. Through the app, you will get to stay in an amazing farm house with a river flowing nearby with the sound of livestock and the smell of burning wood in the air.

We rented a room in such a house for the night and it was wonderful. The host cooked up some amazing meat balls and served tea that was creamy and hot. We spent the evening sitting by a bonfire listening to the host, who was an interesting chap with lots of stories.

Just as the stories were getting into high gear, Evans and Eric expressed an opinion that they would prefer to listen to the rest of the stories in the morning when they were not so tired. I protested saying that it was only 9pm and that I did not expect anyone to be tired having ridden only 200km! But I was speaking to the wrong kind of people – they have weak spirits and are not used to fine living.

Much later in the night I too trudged off to sleep. Being a courteous and respectful man, I thought it wise to quietly sneak into the room with the lights off so as not to disturb my friends with whom we were sharing the same bedroom. I opened the door and slowly walked into the room quietly closing the door behind me and telling myself to only remove my shoes when I had sat on the bed so as not to make any kind of noise.

As I was walking in, I found the floor to be quite uneven with some hard bits and some soft bits and I was struggling to keep my balance. I tripped on something hard and roundish and my entire 90kg weight landed with a thud on even more hard and soft bits of the floor.

From the nature of language that arose from the still Nanyuki night, I figured that I had walked over and fallen over some human beings. I stumbled back across the room to the door and switched on the lights and saw those two idiots lying on their mattresses on floor!

“What the hell is wrong with you?” thundered Evans wiping a shoe print off his face.

“I didn’t know you were lying on the floor when there are perfectly fine beds in the room!” I shouted back.

It had transpired that the two spineless idiots had felt that their mattresses were not thick enough to rest their aching backs sufficiently, and Eric had suggested that they stack the two mattresses so that the two grown men would lie together, under the same covers, on thicker mattress.

I was furious, but glad to have taught them a lesson by walking over them and to have finished it off by dropping my significant weight on them just to warn them against such behaviour the next time.

It is only my Christian attitude to things that keeps me as friends with these two people.

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Want excitement in Nairobi? Try parking in town

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There are several ways to derive excitement from living in Nairobi city. There are lots of stunningly beautiful women to stare at, lots of places to eat and thousands of clubs and hangout joints. If you are the nature loving kind, there is a national park within the city, a few forest trails and the Ngong Hills for those that want to trek for hours while breathing in clean crisp air. I hear this is good for the liver.

The best way to get excitement out of Nairobi though, I find, is to ride into the city centre and park on any of the streets. First there are no designated parking slots for motorbikes so you have to wedge your bike in between cars. The true excitement comes when you return to your bike, ready to go home. You never quite know what you’ll encounter, it’s the sort of stuff that gets your heart racing and your adrenaline pumping.

Several months ago I rode into town for some business and while I was standing beside my bike, fastening my helmet and preparing to leave, I was approached by three men who greeted me and insisted that I speak to them. I obliged, unfastened my helmet and then one of them, their leader I presume, showed me a heavily faded badge and announced himself to be an undercover parking attendant from the Nairobi City Council.

I laughed heartily at his job description and asked the funny man and his friends how I could be of use to them. His face suddenly turned severe and he wanted to know if I was aware that I was breaking a city by-law by parking my bike without a special permit sticker.

I said I was not aware of such a law. I added quickly that if he assured me on his word as a gentleman that I had indeed broken a city by-law, then I would, without further hesitation, believe it. He gave me the required assurance and I thanked him, proceeding to put the helmet back on my head.

I mounted the bike and one of the henchmen moved in and clasped the motorcycle’s handlebars. I asked what the matter was and the funny man said that this matter could not be resolved that easily. He said that he must take the bike away and that I must follow him to pay a city fine, towing fees, release fees and a whole other list of fees.

As it turned out, these were criminals who pose as parking attendants and extort money from people. I immediately knew I was in trouble because in this lawless country, such criminals work with the police and city council officials, the very people you’d look up to for help. So I had to think quickly.

People tell me that I am a well-made man, about 6 feet in height, muscular but with a growing pot belly which am told does not suit me. People also tell me that with my light complexion and face hair shaven, I could easily pass for an army colonel working with the American embassy. So with my heart pounding and my armpits pumping out enough sweat to wash my shirt, I dismounted the bike and stood beside it, drawing myself to my full height and pushing my chest outwards.

I faced the gangsters and told them in a surprisingly calm voice, that as a senior colonel working with the American embassy, I was not obliged to pay for parking anywhere in Nairobi. I further told them that I knew they were not City Council employees, and that our undercover FBI agents in city have been tracking and reporting their activities. The thug holding the handlebars recoiled and withdrew to a position behind the others and I knew I had them.

It was the funny man’s turn to laugh, nervously I must add, at my suggestion that he was an impostor. He said, calling me “Sir” that he was indeed a city parking attendant and had not worn his uniform because he was on leave and only came to town to check if his colleagues were doing the work properly.

I arranged my face to give the most dangerous look I could give and with an American accent I invented there and then, I told the thugs that they disappointed me. I continued addressing threatening remarks to them, finishing it off by telling them that had I not been a good man who did not want to ruin their families, I would have them immediately arrested or shot.

At this point, the main thug’s henchmen, who were no longer equal to conversation, bolted away from the scene leaving me with their leader. I placed my arm on his shoulder, in an Italian mafia kind of way and told him to think about himself and his family. I told him it would be a sad thing for his family if he got arrested or shot for messing with the American government. He apologized profusely, mumbling all kinds of words and then he too beat a hasty retreat.

I mounted the bike again and inside the helmet breathed a massive sigh of relief. I have never parked on any street in Nairobi since that day, it had been such a warning.

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Tube tyres will get you eaten by lions

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I bought my first motorcycle days after graduating from university. It was a small likeable 125cc that was reliable to a fault and consumed almost no fuel.

My main preoccupation at the time was the weekend. I endured the working week longing for the weekend so that I could meet up with my fellow broke friends and explore the city in new and exciting ways. It was standard procedure therefore that every Friday evening I parked the bike at home, gave my mother a rubbish story about seeing someone and being back shortly and then leaving the house never to be seen until Sunday evening.

One Friday evening on my way home to park the bike, the back wheel suddenly felt weird. A quick stop revealed it was a puncture and it needed immediate fixing. I pushed the bike about a kilometre to the nearest petrol station where the mechanic promptly announced that he doesn’t fix bike punctures. I considered this for a while and had the idea to remove the entire wheel and hand it to him in the same way people hand him car wheels. Minutes later I was back on the road and having deposited the bike at home and inhaled my mother’s cooking, I bolted out of the house for the usual Friday evening activities.

A week later I could scarcely believe when the rear wheel suddenly felt weird again at almost the exact same spot as the last week. Again I pushed the bike to the petrol station and several hours later I was supervising one of my friends vomiting into a flower bed having had one too many.

It really was witchcraft when for the third week in a row I arrived at the same petrol station, all sweaty from pushing the bike, to have the third puncture repaired. The mechanic suggested that I buy a new tube and that I stop riding on the road shoulders because that’s where all the debris that could cut tyres.

He was right. For the next 2 weeks I had no puncture until I contrived to do something really stupid: Keen to impress some girls I’d told I was a biker, I took the bike with me to a house party where I intended to show just how much of a better man I was because I owned a 125cc marvel of engineering and masculinity while the other idiots mooched about on foot.

Nobody took the bait so at 2am I decided the cause was lost and headed home. My mind must have been preoccupied by the inquest into the unsuccessful evening because I didn’t notice anything wrong until I took a corner a bit too sharply and almost lost control of the bike when I realised that the rear tyre was once again punctured. Damn it!

This time I was in real trouble. It was the middle of the night and I was on the loneliest road in Nairobi – the stretch of Magadi Road between Ongata Rongai and Catholic University, that’s right alongside the Nairobi National Park and a known lion den. I was horrified.

Now, I have always maintained that being eaten alive is the worst possible way to die. There is nothing more humiliating than meeting your creator via the digestive system of another animal. So there was no way I was stopping or even reducing speed in the name of saving the tyre. I made it into safety and got home very angry with the bike and myself. The next day I was even angrier when I discovered I would have to buy a new tyre and tube. The decision had been made, my next bike and every one after that, would have tubeless tyres.

Fast forward and I don’t understand why lots of bikes still have tube tyres. They have no discernible advantage save for the fact that the tyres are made of a softer compound and hence stick to the road better. But this is inconsequential because whereas tubeless tyres aren’t as sticky because they are made from a harder compound, they are less susceptible to punctures and last much longer.

So if you don’t use wire wheels, ditch those tube tyres, they are a disaster waiting to happen.

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Mr. Pope, please help me forgive these bastards

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At this time, Kenya is blanketed by a warm air of reverence and holiness because Mr. Pope from Vatican City will be popping in for a visit. Catholics have been slaving for months building furniture and drawing up an itinerary while Kenyans on Twitter have been clamouring for a public holiday. Both camps have been successful.

Moses Kuria appeared on Tv a few days back to continue his crusade of wonderfully skewed logic where he’s seeking to undo all the hard work he put in getting people to give false evidence against others so that they get prosecuted. Even he is looking forward to Mr. Pope’s arrival because at some point he said “… he’s prepared himself for the Pope…” or something like that. It’s just a sweet piece of irony that he got arrested for some hateful words he’d spewed a while back, and might not get to see Mr. Pope.

So in this spirit of forgiveness and reverence, I as a biker, would like to draw up a list of people I’d like to see Mr. Pope do something about. These are people we find on the road who make the simple process of going from one place to another a torrid affair full of pitfalls and nasty surprises.

In order to truly express my feelings, I will turn to the comedian George Carlin, whom in his wonderful piece titled A List of People Who Ought to Be Killed, expressed his feelings in a tone that totally resonates with me right now. So here goes:

I’ll start with the lunatics that overtake despite seeing a bike approaching in the opposite direction. Why do they do this? It’s a dangerous thing and a horrible feeling to be run off the road by someone that thinks bikers are nothing more than motorised insects. I fail to understand where their consideration for other road users went to, I fail to understand the impunity and I fail to understand why they have never been struck by lightning.

Another group who ought to have their hair set on fire are those people that overtake indiscriminately then squeeze back in line to when the truck coming from the opposite direction is 30 centimetres away. These idiots see other people as pawns in their game and they never care about the consequences of sudden braking or squeezing others out of their lanes.

Still on the overtaking theme, I would like to see the painful removal of fingernails from the people that overtake from the left, on the road shoulders. There’s no shock nastier than finding a speeding car inches from you on your left side when that was the last thing you expected. It is downright dangerous because bikers drift laterally across the lane every so often and nobody thinks to check for such a thing. Interestingly, bikers do this a lot, even in fast moving traffic. Don’t do this, it is stupid, you will die, and furthermore you are almost always guaranteed a puncture if you ride on road shoulders and your haste will count for nothing.

Another bunch of people I’d like to take to a forest never to return, are tailgaters. Especially those found on busy city roads like Mombasa road. These are the folks that drive too close behind you, causing you to speed up and inch ever closer to the person in-front. If the person in front brakes suddenly there will be nowhere to go and you will make the meat of a car sandwich.

I hate to say this, but the biker community has always had a bunch of show-offs that ride on public roads with speed and lane weaving that isn’t safe or considerate at all. A true story is that I have flagged down and warned 2 riders on 2 separate occasions about their riding and seen them dead minutes after I did so. Do not lane split like a fool, junctions are to be taken seriously, your bike is limited by grip and quality of parts and you the rider have limited skill.

I reserve my worst thoughts and wishes for the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA). This is a bunch of triple chinned men and women who sit in meetings making unfathomable rules about road use. My problem with this organisation is that it exists to extort from Kenyans and does absolutely nothing about road safety. Imposing silly speed limits and checking if someone has a KEBS approved bandage in the first-aid kit is idiotic when there are real problems on the road. The only thing this organisation should do is educate the public and focus on the things that matter – pedestrian safety and catching the truly dangerous drivers (and riders) in order to educate them better (or take them to the forest).

So Mr. Pope, I’ll end my list here because I imagine you are too busy to read 900 words. You know what my true feelings are towards these people and I too know that you actively campaign against such evil thoughts and actions.

So instead I ask that you send some divine intervention our way. Tumble down a miracle for example, that will get me appointed the head of NTSA and I will show them how to run a tax payer funded organisation. If this is a far-fetched request then please say a prayer for these people I have mentioned or better still, ask your Italian friends to arrange for a horse’s head to be placed in the beds of these cretinous bastards while they sleep. This should scare them into being sensible human beings when they wake up.

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