20-25/5/2015 Negada Guesthouse, Ongata Rongia
After 5 relaxing days at Jan and Francis house, it was time to move to a guesthouse and book three rooms for the imminent arrival of Ben and Cal on the 22nd.
Another trip was made to the city to see if data could be recovered from a faulty Samsung 1Tb hard drive. No one could recover it. On this drive are all my SA photos.
It was decided to send this home with some maps that are finished with, those of Egypt, Sudan and sadly Ethiopia.
The Negada guesthouse is great it is so handy to everything, there is a Tuskys supermarket across the road. All sorts of other shops and tradersare nearby.
Ben and Cal arrived on the 22nd at 1445. A Matatu was taken to the city then the airport bus from downtown. All this for 150 bob.
I had arranged a pro box with people here in Ongata to come and get us should the taxis be to expensive.
Once at the airport, a lady met on the bus took me to a guy who could take us back in a station wagon for 3000 bob.
The plane was on time, the guys took awhile to get through customs.
It was quite emotional for me to see them come through the doors with their bikes.
It was so good to see them. We are about to embark on an unreal family adventure together.
We just managed to cram all our gear and bikes in the station wagon. Cal and I were in the one front bucket seat and Ben sitting on the wheel well at the back.
We had to watch for police the whole way. The driver was a good guy.
It took over an hour to get back to the hotel.
The guys had bought me over a lot of things, that had worn out in the last year.
We had time to unpack the bikes to see if they sustained any damage. They were all good the guys had packed them well. Paying special attention to a fork spacer at the front.
We chatted for a while and they both had a hot shower and were asleep by 2200.
The next day we just mucked around with the bikes getting them ready before going round to Jans and Francis for dinner.
For the occasion, we bought 1.5 kgs of goat meat and fruit.
Jan cooked up a great meal with Chapati for 8 of us. It had been raining so our walk home was about 2km down a muddy track with a creek crossing. This was made easy with our headlights having been taken.
There is a great little place that cooks samosas and Mendasis on the way. I have been eating here most days for a snack. Once again, people are getting to know me. On the Sunday we got into the finer details of getting the bikes ready. Things like fitting their bar bag mounts, racks and the like. My brake pads needed replacing. On the Saturday I took my new rim that Cal had bought over for me, A Sun Rhinolite 26”, over to a mechanic that Nixon had recommended in Iten. His name was Steve, his shop is on Langata Road south about 300m off Langata Road heading from Galleria to Karen.
Steve did an absolutely brilliant job lacing the new rim. He is a natural when it comes to this kind of thing. So if you need repairs to your bike in Nairobi, Steve comes very highly recommended and can be contacted on +254 717084924.
The rest of Sunday was just spent relaxing and talking about our plans ahead.
25/5/2015 Ongata Rongia to Kiamumbi
D47, T3, Av15.5, Max56, 40905, 5839
Overcast dry and mild
It had raining heavily early in the morning, things were still very wet. On getting up Ben headed down the road to get a few Mendasis.
The guys left their suitcases at the guesthouse. I rang up Jan to say they could have them. They were happy and would come around to collect them, the manager was notified.
We took our time getting ready, as our Couchsurfing host Francis was only some 40 km up the road, still in Nairobi.
Ben and Cal were looking forward to their first day on the road, even though it was going to be in thick city traffic.
Out on the road there was traffic everywhere, luckily there was room to ride down the left side of the slow moving procession.
It was still a job to dodge pedestrians, goats and motos coming towards us. Bens chain broke on the way around here. He had a chain fitted that did not have a quick hitch link in it. We had to break it when we put his bike together back at the guest house.
At times, we were riding through deep puddles of water just to avoid these obstacles. Once we got around Nairobi Nat park we stopped at Galleria and spoke to a Spanish couple for a while who had done some touring in the past.
From here, we went back to Steves bike shop for it was hoped he had a bike computer for me. On the way, a slow leak had occurred in my rear tyre. We repaired this whilst waiting. When he did turn up he did not have the computer.
So we headed off after saying goodbye.
The rain looked like it would hold off. The five day forecast was for clouds only.
From here, we took Longata Rd back towards the city. Along here a guy on a bike said he would show us the way. We knew where to go, however following him we got to the Tika Road turnoff rapidly.
Bikes are so convenient in this city. Sometimes I wonder why people bother bringing cars into the city.
It is so ridiculously slow. I feel anyone who spends more than 20 minutes in a car caught in city traffic to and from work has a very low quality of life. It does not matter how much your car is worth, even a top model Mercedes, you are still just creeping along like a man disabled, along with those in old wrecks.
Not so on a pushbike.
We stopped near the Thika Road turnoff for a meal of BBQ goat greens and Ugali.
The road became a serious obstacle course much was unpaved, uneven, rocky and wet.
Really, it was just crazy riding, having to concentrate all the time. Small cars were just idling along on the uneven roads.
Once on Thika road it was, a 4 lane highway, there was a bike track on the side, out in the traffic there was also something of a shoulder .So in this respect it was not unsafe.
Francis had said he was at work till 1800, so we had a few stops, soon we got to the turnoff at Kamiti road. Here we stopped in the town and relaxed over Watermelon to fill in time whilst waiting for Francis to finish work. Interestingly we spoke about almost everyone if in Australia would have been breaking the law. With regard to hawking, 4 people on motos, dragging steel down the road on a moto, littering, urinating in public, the list goes on.
Soon on our way, we met Francis and he took us to his home. He really only took 1 guest but was cool with us. We even had a house out the back to sleep in. His wife cooked up a brilliant meal of Githeri with nduma, a bean dish with tarro root.
Cal could not eat his, he was feeling off.
Ben and I enjoyed a beer with Francis.
When we got back to the house where we had pitched our tents inside, Cal was crouched down spewing all over the tiled floor.
He was purging something his stomach didn’t like during the day.
My new Hilleberg Soulo tent was used for the first time, or at least the mesh inner was. It was great and so much roomier than the Hubba. The guys set the Tarra up in another room.
I was soon asleep. Poor Cal could be heard spewing through the night.
The guys had done so well considering the hectic day in the traffic, especially Ben who had never ridden a loaded touring bike before. He too has a Surly Long Haul Trucker.
26/5/2015 Kiamumbi to Kenol
D49, T3, Av16.95, Max56, 40955, 5888
Overcast dry and mild
Callum had been sick on and off all night. Though, in the morning he was feeling fine but weak. We slowly packed up and went over to Francis place for fried eggs and bread. Last night I had said he could have my old MSR Hubba tent and left it in his house. After Callum getting sick, it was realised that this tent could come in very handy if one of them got sick for some time, the other could get a good night’s sleep. Ben had room in his camping back. Embarrassment best describes my feelings as I asked Francis if we could have the tent back. He understood.
We were on the road by 0900 and got back onto Thika road. Before doing so we were heading in the wrong direction for a few km. Back on track, the main road again was very busy, a good shoulder made it very safe riding. The scenery is becoming more rural with some broad acre crops.
The Matatu vans, all Toyotas make up a lot of the traffic. They move so many people, there are hundreds of them.
Cal was battling with weakness after his largely sleepless night, we took our time in the rolling hill country, the temperature was mild and again we were experiencing a rain free day.
It was 1430 and we stopped for lunch in Kenol. Cal was worn out, so we decided to look for a hotel. We ended up at the Santa More hotel just out of Kenol.
We ate a meal of goat here and had an early night, both Ben and cal were were still adjusting.
I had inspected my rear wheel and found it was not true or round. Steve had infact not tightened the spokes enough, some were very loose. The rough roads had been hard on it.
I tried and tried to get it round without success. I rang Nixon in Iten to see if he knew another mechanic who could true wheels.
He gave me the number of another guy. We arranged for me to be in Nairobi in the morning. Steve was away.
I was up before daylight, and outside the hotel with my wheel, ready to catch a Matatu, I put my thumb out and got a lift from a guy in a big US pickup truck, he took me to Thika. From here a Matatu was caught to Tea Room then a walk to Audion and a bus to Westlands at Spring valley. Here Peter came to meet me.
To cut a long story short he was great and did the job. I was back in Kenol with the wheel at 1400 after having lunch in Thika. On arrival back here Peter had trued and rounded the wheel. The problem was everything was off to one side of the hub. What a mess, it was worse than when I had left. I phoned him and explained. I told him I can’t get the bike to the city. He said he would come here in the morning. I do hope he turns up.
This wheel has been such a problem. Reading the book on wheel building. “The Bicycle Wheel” by Jobst Brandt.
In here it states that all spokes must be done up evenly from the beginning, on inspection last night there were loose and tight spokes.
A good sleep was enjoyed in the afternoon. On awakening, I had another go at the wheel myself. The rim was moved back to centre, and trued. The spokes are still to loose, I feel. The problem is, I don’t really know what I am doing. I am sure as hell learning though. The guys had done washing during the day and just relaxed. In Thika I found a great little restaurant serving pork, my first pork meal since Brazil. It was BBQ’ed with greens and ugali.
Back at the hotel later that day, we enjoyed bread with avocado, red onions, tomatoes and capsicum. It was just like at home Cal said.
Ben is finding this life very different at the moment, and is concerned about catching malaria. I told him just to take it easy and not think about it, or he will get it. They are both on Malanil as prophylaxis. At present, I am refraining and will probably start Malanil in Busia at the border with Uganda where malaria is rampant.
We are trying to set things up so we are independent of each other other, except for communal meals whilst camping. By this, I mean; pay individually for meals and have our own supply of things like coffee, milk powder, breakfast food and other snacks. This way seems to work best and allows us to be responsible for ourselves.
Ben said to me how different it all is. I can understand just how he feels. I remember my first few weeks in Minnesota. It was all a foreign way of living.
I have emphasized to them both about the importance of eating, our bodies are pretty much like vehicles. They need fuel to keep moving. That fuel is food at least three times a day. Being caught on the road feeling hungry is usually associated with weakness, this is not a good state to be in.
So today, a trip was made to Nairobi for nothing in hindsight. I have nearly got the wheel right, however I am concerned about the spoke tightness. Both Cal and Bens wheels have very tight spokes, also my front one. This is how this rear wheel should be, there is still much adjustment to be done yet ,it is felt.
We won’t leave here till it is in perfect working order. This kind of problem on the edge of the road, possibly in rain is not a good predicament to be in.