200km in a morning

By Christopher Owuor
Saturday, April 3rd, 2021
Ok, a little dramatic.
In summary

There are periods in life that work out, I mean, really work out. Everything in these moments feels right and doable.

You sleep early, wake up early, eat healthy, work out and feel motivated to do anything and everything.

There’s an energy that feels channelled from the ground. That’s the word, you feel grounded.

It’s never entirely clear who betrays who, but it’s a period that disappears. Maybe the universe decides you’re getting cocky, or you compromise on one bad habit and plunge into a downward spiral.

The result is, you find yourself in a miserable state of mind where little gets done and little joy is found.

You don’t necessarily underperform in life; you just don’t get the most out of it. It’s like being stuck – you get by, but nothing to write home about.

I know the feeling all too well. I’ve known it my entire life. The question of whether it’s something that can be permanently fixed isn’t one I have an answer to, maybe it’s life.

And that would make sense; life is inherently difficult and undulating. You’re not meant to arrive – it’s a journey through and through. The crap bits make the less crappy bits feel great; it’s a sad trick.

Well, I have a trick of my own. Whenever I get stuck, I do something drastic and scary.

All in the hope of shocking the system back into imagining better times and actually going out there and trying to get it done.

Basically, to be able to achieve or at least continually and relentlessly try to be the best version of myself. It’s hard ish, but it’s good ish.

As you read this, it’s the weekend. This happened on Tuesday. The decision, however, was made on Monday, and the idea had danced around my head since I got the bike.

A number of things had stood in the way, not least the rear tyre, which is now a wide-as-can-fit Dunlop.

I also had an issue with a few cosmetic touches that made the bike feel incomplete for lack of a better word. Right now, there’s nothing left to do on the bike, it’s fully restored.

OK, I could clean the headlight or use a brighter bulb, but other than that, I’m happy.

The plan was to leave Rongai for Lake Magadi as early as 5am and had I heeded the 4am alarm, that could’ve happened. I ended up setting of at 6am, which as it turned out, was perfect.

The rain in the night had turned into a drizzle that went on till about the planned departure time, so that was never going to work.

By the time I was dropping down into Kiserian, there was significant fog, which got exponentially worse as I went on.

Turning right into Corner Baridi was the worst of it, with less than 30 metres of visibility in some places.

Thankfully, it cleared as soon as the first drop, and all I had to contend with was the cold in my legs.

This was working out beautifully. The first sign I saw told me I was 60km from Magadi, another good sign.

I had enough distance ahead and back to figure some things out. I also realised that I’ll be pretty beat by the time I got back. 

The views were everything I hoped for and more. And riding alone was so peaceful I’d pay money to do it.

I cruised, barely going 90kph at the fastest, as I took in the arid scenery and beautiful imposing hills that just begged for a visit.

If I’m ever so rich that I could burn cash for heat, I’m building a crib out here.

The weather was a cheat I suspected, because thanks to cloud cover, the heat never allowed me to sweat once, and that’s not fooling anyone, because Magadi can be a scorching 30o°C.

As I clicked off the kilometres, I finally hit the 10km mark and started to get a glimpse of the lake on the right.

It was, surprisingly, full of water – if you could call it that. I’d mentioned the plan to visit the lake to a friend days prior but he’d told me it was dried up.

Not that it would have mattered, as even without the 1m deep water pan, a dried up Magadi can be just as beautiful with the countless polygons creating a vast whiteness on the lake bed.

At the Magadi sign, there was an unmistakable directive next to it that prohibited access of Magadi township to visitors, and since I didn’t have papers, this would be it.

I hadn’t intended to visit the town, but now that I wasn’t allowed, it made me curious.

I got off the bike at the edge of the lake, video-called my girlfriend to show her my life without her and took some pictures of the flamingos – you would be forgiven for thinking they bleed pink.

I took a detour after a couple of kilometres on the way back to check a gravel road that went around a hill, to see if I could access the lake from higher ground.

All I got from that was some nice gravel roads with a few rocks thrown in to balance it out.

Some locals told me there was nothing in that direction, so I turned around and got back on the tarmac.

The locals circled around me as if I had the plague, and it’s understandable. They pulled their masks up as I rode past them, well some of them.

Some were laid back, including one that I gave a lift for a few kilometres.

I made a few stops on the way back to get a better look at the scenery and take some photographs.

I got rained on at two points, but carried on through it. The only concern was fuel, because for some reason – maybe the desire to live dangerously, I had fuelled Sh500 the previous day.

I must’ve had another Sh200 in the tank, but by the time I got to Olepolos, I was running on fumes.

Bikes are crazy good at fuel, especially when you consider fuel is Sh122 per litre. By then, it was 11:30am, and I decided to have lunch at a roadside hotel.

Back on the metal horse and I took on the uphill sections after Olepolos through Corner Baridi.

After that, a desire to get home just overwhelmed me. That’s largely due to the familiarity with the landscape and the amount of traffic.

It just isn’t as enjoyable to ride, especially if you had nothing but you and the road for the best part of 200km.

I got home, left the bike at the local car wash and went up to my house. What I needed was a nap. When I woke up, it felt like the beginning of the rest of my life.

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