The genesis of most of my encounters is often a case of seemingly random events that lead up to a moment in time that seems to put everything into perspective...this was no different.
I met Samu Kenya about 5 months back after i had posted some of my initial adventures meandering through Kwale County to the "Diani What's Up" Facebook page. He requested to meet and so we did, talked shop and shared ideas and need for some adventure type tours for Kwale and Diani. As that idea marinated in time, i began seeing Liz Noni Nyokabi and company advertising in our numerous motorcycle pages, the Jincheng 200 dual sport....my curiosity was aroused.
I kept thinking about it and loh and behold, started seeing the Haojin Warrior and Hawks moving around in Diani and in time, i managed to get my hands on one and throw it about. I reserved my thoughts about it as i was waiting for a chance to get onto the Jincheng 200 to feel how they compared.
The law of attraction states that the more you think about something, the more of it you see and in time, it comes to you. Well, on my way back from Lake Chala, as I was barreling down the steep hill leading up to Kwale and saw to gleaming while and red dirt bikes. I assumed they were Hondas and as they came closer, i waved at the bikers and they waved back.
Earlier, i had received a call from Samu indicating that he needed a mechanic to get his bikes in order. During our conversation, i didn't ask what bikes they were as i assumed that they were Warriors. I gave him my mechanic's number.
When i arrived home, I took my bike for a check-up. My mechanic was excited. He told me that he had encountered Warrior looking machines but a bit different...he said they are called Jinchengs. I didn't believe it!
I called Samu and asked. He confirmed it. I wrote to Nonnie, and she confirmed it! Last week, i arranged a time and date with Samu to get a feel for the Jincheng 200.
My experience with the Warrior 200 was the blueprint being used by my brain to gauge and operate this Jincheng 200. I quickly had to rip apart that blueprint and start sketching a new one on the fly.
Samu had kitted it with offroad knobies and on the tarmac, they felt like they wanted to tear off the asphalt and catapult me into the electric poles by the way side. The engine wasn't necessarily peppy but sneaked its power to you rather like those car turbos of old, a character that meant now i had to tickle the throttle and play with the brakes like a farmer harvesting honey without any kind of protective equipment. I was immediately comforted by the front and rear disk brakes that brought the chaos down effortlessly.
Before long, I diverted off into what would be 3hrs of a 90km rough and tumble mix of abuse and malice afore thought. It was my first time dealing with extreme offroad knobbies and had never known what it felt like...Everything was new and I had called my ancestors to ride along for moral support!
The front suspension felt stiff, but i attributed that to the air pressure and maybe because it was still new-ish...i got properly rattled and thrown about as the rear hopped and played about left and right...it was like a mobile gym of sorts.
After just 4kms, I stopped, took some pictures, then tried to "feel" the air pressure in the wheels to gauge whether it was my ineptitude with dirt bikes at play or the PSIs gone amok! I decided to give a whirl for a little while longer until we had an understanding of what the bike expected and what I needed.
Before long, I was doing jumps and innumerable skids trying to reign in the CCs and dodging holes here and there. The steering seemed to have a mind of its own and the rear seemed to be trying to keep them all together....so i let them, and played along. That simple understanding coupled with the rising adrenaline, merged into one and suddenly, I was in "the zone".
The gear changes were rapid and aggressive, but the Jincheng took them all in stride, smoothly and effortlessly switching up and down the power train, kicking the rear into action and throwing sand everywhere as i held on for dear life. My inexperience and exuberance got me off the road and into some ditches twice, deep into soft sand, but that was dealt with swiftly by just giving it the beans. Before i got back to tarmac, i had laughed out loud 4 times and had my heart in my mouth about 6 times, and maybe done reconstructive surgery to my backbone more times than i cared to remember....i got hungry....hungrier and thirstier than i had been in a long time.
I entered Kwale town and stopped by a shop to get some water in me. I took down a litre in one go, the wolfed down some scones as i sat there contemplating at what had just transpired. My entire being was experiencing a weird feeling of confusion, awe, happiness and some level of anxiety. My right foot was in discomfort because i realized, like the Warrior 200, the right footpeg and rear brake lever are set up skewed backwards, an uneasy design for we taller blokes...but my body was dismissing that as a "non issue" and focusing on the journey ahead.
I had mapped out to follow the same route Ralf Kamau and i followed the first time to pop out at Matuga because the road had innumerable jutting rocks and corrugations, plus steep inclines and other unmentionables! Before long I was deep into the forest, seeing snakes cross the road and hoping that the elephants were many miles away. Before getting there, i had aired down the tires and was now experiencing a more stable ride, but still as wild.
What i expected to be a long tiresome ride turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining experience. In turn, on my way back, gunning for the final stretch to Ukunda, i was once again in the zone pushing the bike to its limits. I came upon a blind left turn, narrow and at an incline. I had gained confidence in the bike and had taken the inside line, doing 70, leaning in with the hand guards and my knee guards brushing the bushes. Suddenly, a bodaboda guy, on a Haojin 125 appears from the apex, on my line, at full send! I immediately aimed for the opening on my left at a shallow ditch, knowing fully well the bike would take it to avoid a head on collision. I went into the ditch half throttle in panic with the rear on lock, but the momentum propelled me into the farm, dodging low hanging branches of Mikorosho. The casualty was the left side mirror getting smacked and cracking because of a long hanging branch, as i maneuvered out of that miasma in a hurry.
The bodaboda guy was pleasantly perplexed and impressed from the silly grin on his face. I didn't say anything or do anything... I just looked at him and rode away...am sure next time he will ride on those village roads with more care. As i rode into Ukunda and for the carwash, everything felt alien;
This motorcycle is not a city slicker. It will only help you go by traffic swiftly and effortlessly through the city, seemingly gentle and calm, but will try to kill you once you hit dirt.