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Northern Desert Storm Ride to Moyale

Hero X-PULSE 200 at 2000km
31 August 2021
The longer way back
20 September 2021
 

By Senior LM | 4th Sept 2021

Bikes: Benelli TRK 502 & Benelli Naked Street Bike 250

Route: Muranga Town – Moyale via Nanyuki - Isiolo Route.
Distance: 700kms

Day 1

Myself and Oscar Mwangi depart from Muranga Town at exactly 0615hrs with fog and a drizzle keeping us on toes and on bare minimum speed. Road to Sagana has some construction ongoing. We sprint towards Karatina via Kianjege route, some nice tarmac that passes through Meshack Samson Maina home. The fog and the drizzle increase as altitude increases and a resultant net effect on speed which barely goes beyond 60kph.

At Marua junction the fog somehow clears, and we throttle through an uneventful ride to Nanyuki where we do the usual ritual at the equator and zoom off. Time 0900hrs.

We charge towards Timau and ofcoz enjoy the scenery and the expansive farms. We don’t stop. The roads amazing, the winding long curves alluring, bikes are happy, the riders happier.

 

Isiolo

At exactly 1000hrs we are in Isiolo having breakfast. Happy at the progress so far. We refuel at the local shell station, both full tanks. Moyale is a cool 501KMs away with Marsabit coming in between at half of that.

At 1100hrs we don our gear and gently proceed towards Marsabit. Our plan is to have lunch at Marsabit. As we leave humanity behind, the road opens up to a very lonely road, the vast lands on either side rugged with stubs of bushes stubbornly refusing to die, patiently waiting for the rains.

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At Mt. Ololokwe we stopped. This huge rock of a mountain doesn’t need introduction. We took enough pictures, sat out butts on the hot tarmac n moved along. This place feels sacred somehow. Helps me understand how the Gikuyu saw Mt Kenya in its splendor and immediately declared God lives there.

Along the way am looking out for the Chinese graveyard and finally it comes into view. The feeling is creepy and as Kitui Djothefu had advised we speed without stopping.

 

Merille River Bridge is scenic but dry at the moment. This is where Marsabit county starts and straddles all the way to the border, an amazing 363KMs inside one county. That tells you why this county is the biggest of them all. We push harder with sparse traffic through Laisamis, Log-logo and soon we are riding parallel to Mt. Marsabit and we knew we are finally about to get into this famous town.

Marsabit

Finally, we arrive at Marsabit at 1300hrs, 3hrs since we left Isiolo. We do lunch and refuel again at the local Shell station.

We quickly have some lunch, don back our gear and embark on the last leg of the charge. Moyale, some 250kms away. And here the same spell of vast dry lands repeats itself only more pronounced. There is a huge crater some 30mins away from town. Very scenic.

 

So far the bikes are handling well. Remember the BN 250 is liquid cooled so no overheating issues there. And this bike can handle cruising speeds of 120Kph without much strain. In some instances, Oscar with the road all to himself would clearly attempt several top speeds busts, and he would leave me far much behind at 120kph. For me with all the weight I had, I couldn’t dare to attempt such feat knowing that we didn’t have spare fuel and that I would most likely suffer most if l lost fuel before Moyale.

My TRK also held itself together quiet impressively especially through the climbing hills, I would sustain my cruising speed no matter the gradient of the hill. The seat is super comfortable for long rides.

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Moyale

We finally arrive at our destination having cruised through past Bubisa, Turbi, Sololo, very lonely villages and all with police roadblocks. Here we do some pics and retire for the evening at Members Hotel in readiness for the long journey back home in the morning. It’s a comfortable place and affordable for both rider and bike.

 

Day 2

We are up and geared by 0600hrs. At 0630hrs we are at the local Rubis station to refuel again full tanks. Price per litre here is a cool 136 bob, ouch. And we throttle down as the sunrise comes into view. We are determined to be in Marsabit by 0930hrs for breakfast.

30kms from Moyale the real challenge begins. CROSSWINDS. Either it’s the time or its just a bad day. We could barely do past 75kph. The more you try the more evident it is that you will be swept off by the winds. Finally, we accepted our fate and resulted to riding below 80kph and at an angle to be able to sustain the bike on a straight line. And fuel economy suffered, less than 60kms into the journey I had lost a quarter of my fuel. We even stopped to debate what's gonna happen if I burn all my fuel before Marsabit. And we agreed we will do gentle riding. Keeping revs of below 5K.

 

The road back has a lot of fresh donkey dung. So watch out, with our street tyres you can easily go down. Hazard no2. The donkeys prefer to meditate smack right in the middle of road. Possibly at the impending tasks for the day of hauling water.

We arrive at Marsabit at 1030hrs, an hour later than anticipated. Our bikes barely made it fuel-wise, they all had the warning lights on. I recommend riders to ensure 2 litres at most as separate reserve. We take our breakfast and speed off. We are determined to have lunch in Isiolo at 1300hrs. The bikes sing their way towards Isiolo, with regular health breaks, police checks, here we were mostly waved on until we got to Merille when the cops asked to do a search. As Eric Kihiu mentioned, top weed is smuggled through this route.

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At 1330hrs we hit Isiolo, the feeling was exhilarating. It felt home, yet we had 188Kms to our home town. The large swathes of dry lands were now all behind us. Humanity and help was within reach. And just like that Oscar’s chain came off. We had noted it was somewhat loose in Marsabit and though not that badly off. As it came off, the local motorbike fundi was right opposite. We pushed the bike across and got the chain fixed, 20mins we were done and urgently needed a meal which we grab and head out, we needed to get home nice and early for a deserved rest, Monday we were both at work.

5kms out of Isiolo, Oscar notices some clanking noise off his chain and we stop at a local fundi, on close examination, the chain had lost some 2 rollers far between though, thus the noise. However, we decided as Oscar had a spare chain at home we can just ride. Local mech says don’t overspeed though. We gently do 80KPH as we rolled up Timau and onwards to Nanyuki where we arrive at 5pm. We had lost significant time on stoppage.

At 7pm we hit Muranga Town. Tired but happy for a safe return 1,400kms later. Said our thanksgiving prayers and parted ways to go rest both limb and machine.

 

Total Fuel for the 1400kms

TRK 502 – Kshs 6,999/=
BN 250 – Kshs 6,300/=

Titbits

As for every other road trip, ensure your bike is in serviceable condition.

Carry some toolkits and emergency items such as tow ropes, tyre repair kits, clutch/throttle cables, torch, first aid boxes, etc

Strictly ride during the day. Start early. In case of mechanical issues you have enough daylight to fix things or get help.

Carry lots of water and dry food/snacks.

In some instances such as this ride, the fear of running out of fuel is real. The towns lie far apart.. Carry some in a fuel can.

Enjoy!! Watch out for the next diary!

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