Ride Your Own Ride by Lucy Monyenye

Riding my own ride

I can’t stand vibrations, let alone vibrations in between my legs!! Hold up, get your head out of the gutter, you dirty little soul😈. We will get back to the vibrations shortly.

I have been riding for a while now, hit 3,000kms!!!🥳🥳 and I have had a top speed of 107kph (6 months later!!!😢). Some good advice I received when I started out was ‘ ride your own ride‘. This, I was told, should extend to all rides solo, group and couples😍.

As a newbie (uh huh, am still learning and did I invite you to a graduation? 💁🏾), you are learning (1) to look for harzards, (2) your bike, (3) to wave when you see the other biker pass by (I still struggle to release the handle and wave, at times I end up noding after he/she has passed🤦🏾‍♀).

With all the amount of learning taking place, you are bound to have information overload. It helps to know yourself, what works for you, and stick to it.

A. You are bound to meet so many other riders, trained by different people and using different styles. A buddy of mine, once told me (if you are alone on an empty road, like the southern bypass, achilia hiyo engine because the car coming behind you is speeding and will chota you. This advice makes sense, but it doesn’t apply to me, especially newbie me. See, when I speed, my heart races which means am about to panic. Once I panic, I will not remember how to use the controls and slow down/come to a stop if I need to.

Lesson one: if you are giving advice, package it in a way it will be helpful to the recipient; on the flip side, don’t take everything thrown at you.

B. Group rides are a great opportunity to meet new people, see other bikes and fall for the bikes🙈 and pretend to also like the owners. 🏃🏾‍♀🏃🏾‍♀ Remember how we talked about difference in training, this is the ground where it plays out. Some people will ride at the middle of the lane, others will be at the edge of the lane, others will keep racing up and down while pulling stunts.

Lesson two your fellow bikers can be hazards on the road too. You need to watch your side mirrors check their indicators, brake lights and movements. It is not just about the other road users, your mates on that ride are hazards too. You need to have enough reaction time and distance. At times this may mean falling back and letting the ‘fun’ ones take the lead and at other times it may mean pulling over/turning back. I will trust your judgement on the particular instances and not give further guidance. Provided you are clear on your abilities and your weaknesses (we all have them) you should be okay and make the right calls, when need be.

C. Still on group rides, there is an excitement that builds when we are in motion in large packs. This could, easily, lead to confusion and give false courage.

Lesson three Know your limits to the point that you will have fun in that larger group.

I find some of our pipes irritating and can’t ride around them😬. I am not a fast rider, I only speed up when I need to, all other times am enjoying the views at speeds of 60-70kph. Remember those vibrations I mentioned? When I rev at the wrong gear, the bike produces this very annoying vibration, it also produces them when am at high speeds, I think it is a problem with my rev matching…🤔 we shall figure it out.

So in most group rides you will find I have my own sweeper who will go at my speed and let me do my thing.😊

The last one was amazing☺, he’d speed, stop take water and relax. I would pass him. He’d give me a head start of about 5-10mins then he’d hop onto his bike and ride behind me and pass. We did this repeatedly for a distance of about 170kms. By the time we arrived to meet the large group, I wasn’t tired and I had enjoyed my own little quiet ride within the main group ride. 🙃 The return journey is where I hit 107kph, yea I had confidence, having used the road before. 😎

D. As a planning note it may be useful and more coordinated if you access ride rules and plan before hand. It may also be useful to organise people according to Nyumba Kumis that way teams are grouped before the D-day and show up ready.

Lesson four: communicating to a large crowd without a public address system is difficult, let alone informing them all the rules, stop over points and grouping.

Just as you ensured to get proper training and gear, devote some time to understand your self, how you react to different situations and be comfortable controlling that machine. Learn to ride your own ride and you will always have fun!

Now my child, go forth and….🏍🏍🏍🛵🛵🛵

Our First Long Distance Ride – Vienna & Justine

Vienna

I live in Kiambu county…along Limuru Road, as soon as I heard that the area had a nyumba kumi…I started looking for admins to add me to the group…and before you know it, there was a ride being organized to Oloiden Campsite in Naivasha. I have to say, at this point the thought of hitting the highway scared me and I kept saying to myself I am not ready!

Fast-forward to D-day, I literally woke up at 2am not knowing how I would handle the ride on the HIGHWAY and anxiety is real.

JustineI really second and third guessed myself about this camping trip. Riding to Naivasha was going to be such an accomplishment in my life, but the thought riding on that highway was terrifying and nerve wrecking especially when my Nyumba Kumi (NK) said we will use the Mai Mahiu route. Driving on that road just gives me the chills, so I imagined myself riding and going downhill then sticking both legs out to avoid ramming into a trailer should I chicken out and fail to hit the brakes but instead throttle on. So just like Vienna , I couldn’t sleep, anxiety was at another level, despite psyching ourselves up for the ride. Riding to the meeting point, I was still not sure, I was going to do it, but I went anyway and met my fellow riders who had more riding experience , yes now I consider myself experienced after this trip. Doreen and Robert Kyalo in my NK that gave me their bunjee cords to tie my backpack, thank you so much, you literally took the weight off my shoulder, literally. It was great riding without a bag on my shoulders and all that weight it had (I still don’t know what was making the bag heavy, perhaps I had packed too much fear in there that was going to be dumped in the lake)…Vienna
The group met in Ruaka at Total Roselyn petrol station…and the journey began! I have to mention at this point that we were about 3 riders who had not done the highway…We opted for the Banana, Tigoni to Limuru route as it is a smooth and scenic route, however we encountered a little bit of rain but we pushed on! We had a brief stop at the view point and got a few tips from the more experienced riders. Somewhere in Kinungi area we encountered some serious fog and of course with this low visibility (I had never experienced this) at this point, I kept thinking I did not sign up for this and contemplating my life choices Jesus! But riding on low speeds, we waded through this cloud like champs (Thanks to the experienced riders)! The next thing I saw was a barrier “Welcome to Nakuru County”..If I could have had an opportunity for a happy dance, I would have parked my Bike on the side of the road and danced! I did scream inside my helmet that I could not believe I made it and that we were all safe with no incidents!

JustineThe Banana-Tigoni road, is such a beautiful road to ride on but I was not enjoying the ride as it was raining lightly. But since I decided to face my fears, I had to ride on and make sure the weather doesn’t dampen my courage . The million times I prayed underneath my helmet for God to bring sunshine, little did I know that He was preparing me for the fog ahead. The weather went from bad to worse and my prayers from a million to gazillion times. The fog was one I have never experienced, I could only see like about 5metres ahead, thanks to the hazard lights of the rider who was ahead of me. In this moment, I really really really questioned my decision of going on this trip and choices I make in life, like bacon/sausages & bread for breakfast 😁😁 , but by God’s grace we made it through the mist/fog and God answered my gazillion prayers, as after that stretch there was a bit sunshine and we made it safely to Naivasha and Oloiden camp.

Vienna

We got to Naivasha had a group lunch at the famous Njambis restaurant, passed by Buffalo mall to pick up a few amenities and we started heading out to Oloiden campsite, approximately, 30 Kms past the town…a lot of bumps and potholes as the road is not so great! Did I mention that we spotted some wild animals (read Zebras and Warthogs J) Unfortunately, just before we reached the campsite…I took a serious tumble! Imagine, after coming all the way with no issues…I fell! This is what happened and the series of events as I recall…I saw a bump and it was too late and my first instinct was to slam on my brakes…now I hit the front brakes…BIG BIG mistake! I saw myself down, skidded forward on the not so good road and when I came to a halt, I was trapped under my bike, I call her Alexa. At this point, I am just thinking this did not just happen, please God as I thought I had broken a bone and was just bracing for the sharp pain to kick in! A fellow biker and a motorist who were behind me picked up the bike and I managed to stand…good thing I did not break a limb…ATGATT! Always ATGATT! I was shook and my arm was in pain as I landed on my left shoulder, a rider took me to a local clinic and was cleared of any damage except for some tissue injuries and was given pain killers, made it to the camp and I must mention, the lake view is absolutely breath taking, beautiful and calming. We stayed up and got to know each other in the riding community!

Justine

Mai Mahiu Route: Dee had warned me of cross winds but I didn’t think much of them, in my mind, I thought it’s the kind one experiences when riding on Thika Road at 30kph then a Githurai 45 bus overtakes you at 80kph, that kind of wind. These crosswinds were crazy, at one point I had this vision of my bike being carried away and I have the angelic wings as I ride/ am carried away by these winds. We conquered them and now had to deal with the fear of hill balancing as we rode up the curves behind the trucks going at zero speed. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, we aced it really well. I honestly preferred that route to the main highway. I am glad I took this trip and conquered my fears, riding on that stretch as well camping, I always imagine things (read snakes and spiders) crawling into my tent.
This is such a great personal achievement. I sharpened my riding skills, made new friends and had fun.
Lesson learnt from group ride, cheers to the good marshals we had and the other riders on this trip to every rider who cheered me on, thank you. You made the ride smooth and enjoyable.
Parting shot, you can do anything you put your mind to and fear should never stop you, you stop the fear….so sky-diving I here come. 💃

Vienna

I woke up the next morning and seriously contemplated not riding back to Nairobi…Sema cheering squad…I realized that my fall was nothing compared to what the other riders have gone through. We had our breakfast and started our journey back to Naivasha. The group decided to use the Mai Mahiu route, another stress as I was not ready to deal with the trucks up that hill, how else would I learn, had my pep talk, we said a prayer and off we went! No one prepared us for the CROSS WINDS! I will just leave it at that…Up the hill and back to Limuru and onto the road where we began our journey.

I did learn a great deal from this experience;

1. ATGATT is important! Always have your full gear!

2. When you get to a bump and you have no time to slow down, do not slam on the breaks! Ride over the bump!

3. Lane splitting is not for the faint of heart…I know I will conquer this one day.

4. Make your decision and act on it on a busy high way e.g. when overtaking

5. Group rides are awesome, I felt like I am in a group of big brothers and sisters and coordination is important

6. Shamba! I am now a proud owner of land in Naivasha and prime property at that!😉

Would I do this again, Yes 💃! I am looking forward to more group rides.

I am NOT an organ donor

Is there a safe space for motorcyclists on our roads?

The following is an excerpt from a conversation we had with Mimie below, who finished her rider training and bought her bike a few weeks ago.

My first days of riding I got mixed reactions everywhere.

When leaving home I dropped the bike because it lost power as I was ascending with the choke was on (smh). In full sight of my family, so not what I had in mind for day 1.

I then got into work late because it took me an hour and a half to cover a 30 odd kilometers stretch of my commute.

My collegues were already getting into their classes so they were all like, wait up, wow! let’s see this awesome bike and its rider getting into our compound.
As I remove my helmet and they recognize me, all they have to say is “naona umeamua kuwa organ donor”!!!

And when I got home after I had dropped it trying to ascend that morning , mum told me to sell the bike and she shall help top-up the difference to get a small car🤣🤣.
Well I was like just to be stuck in traffic again no thank you.

Many people see motorcyclists as adrenaline junkies and mid life crisis victims. Other road users don’t respect our right to be on the same roads as they are. Incidences of tailgating, brake checking, being pushed off and generally bullied of the roads are on the rise.

We have had candid conversations with several riders who have quit riding as the risks on the road far outweigh the joy of riding.

Is there a safe space for motorcyclists on our roads??

Guide to Dating a Biker – a girl’s POV

Everyone thinks bikers look cool- even my mum (. There’s something that evokes a sense of danger and freedom at the same time that calls out to you.

And if you are the girl or boy dating a biker, you are the envy of all the girls or boys. You could both be bikers, which has its own set of rules of engagement, or one of you is the biker.

Here’s our mini guide, and not in any order. And ps, don’t take this all too seriously.

First off- expect the unexpected. Biker dudes set up the most romantic dates. You just never know whether you’ll end up going for an outdoor outing at The Forest, or a random ride to Wote twisties. Basically, most of your dates will be outdoors so get used to it.

Be prepared to be jealous a lot! Your girl or guy will always be the one drawing attention. Get comfortable with it, and when you do the indoor dates (read Java and movies) keep your hand close and your attention on your guy/ gal.

You know how cool it looks to be a pillion, bikers make the worst pillions. So just get used to not riding the same car. Get helmet comms so you can tell your partner if you see something interesting to point out. Or learn signals and develop your own sign code.

Dating a biker dude is like dating a Subaru guy- they spend lots of money on their bike, or mostly their gear. When he or she says I’m broke, it could be that he or she splurged on that 15K pair of riding boots or jacket that goes with the helmet.

Don’t take it personally if your partner suggests deodorant- biker jackets smell, as does the helmet, so clean them both regularly. Invest in a couple matching jackets, and look cool together.

When you go to your partner’s place, remove your jacket and please don’t place it on the seats- can you imagine all the gunk it carries?

Don’t be a serial biker dater. Bikers gossip like the Mean Girls. Your story will be everywhere, and even before you date anyone, they will be knowing all about you.

On the same line, if both of you are bikers, try and keep your lives separate- have your own group of friends and haunts. There’s nothing worse than breaking up, everyone knows about it, and you keep running into each other.

The BroCode is real. Much as you can, don’t date a biker’s partner (especially when they are still together). And no revenge dating either. It just creates a vicious cycle.

If you are the kind of person who wants your every call answered and text responded to immediately, you are in for a long wait. Four one, your partner could be riding or using that as an excuse not to respond. So chillax.

Lastly, remember you are not alone. Football widows and salon boyfriends can relate. Be ready to have a lot of me time if you aren’t a Biker, coz Bikers love me time.

That 10 minutes of “I am going out for some milk” could most probably turn into a 3 hour random ride coz he/she metsome guys on the highway. Or they just couldn’t resist the me time the ride offered.

Ride Safe