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Geeking out on a Motorcycle Trip

Today I had a lot of fun, one of my old schoolmates (Markus) from here in Kenya asked me if I wanted to get out of Nairobi and hit the trails on our motorcycles. Of course, the answer was yes. We headed out towards Naivasha early this morning and then took a side road off towards the escarpment.

The roads are dirt and with the recent rains they’re really quite rugged and beyond most normal vehicles. Markus is an experienced trail rider on a KTM 450 (kitted out), I’ve ridden a lot of trails, but years ago and not nearly as experienced as Markus – and I’m riding an offroad/onroad Suzuki DR 650 (stock).

We ended up having to run through, and beside, a lot of 5-10 acre farms that sit at the base of the escarpment in order to find a road up to the top of the escarpment. A lot of this was on cow paths and required some fine-tuned leveraging of our bikes through gates and streams. The road to the top of the escarpment, when found was a fun ride, minus the part where I wiped out on a simple turn (the one below)…

Bruises (and bruised ego) aside, we kept going up into small-farm, where quite a few more people live, and which is almost entirely denuded of trees that were there just 15 years ago.

After talking to some of the local community, we were advised to head down a certain road, with assurances that it would lead us to the bottom of the escarpment. It did, eventually, but not until we had backtracked, sidetracked, followed animal trails (in buffalo country), and then realized that the washed out gully we were in was supposed to be the road.

3.5 hours of wrestling a mammoth 650cc bike through this terrain left me exhausted. This type of bike is not made for that level of technical riding down boulder strewn gully’s and game trails. However, it was also hugely rewarding when we finally found our way to the bottom of the escarpment and much easier riding.

Mapping the Malewa Motorcycle Trip

I also brought my Android Nexus One along for the ride, hoping that the battery life would allow me to use it for tracking our trip. The Nexus One has a GPS, and there’s an Android app called My Tracks, that tracks your trip, allows you to add waypoints, then easily shares it to Google’s MyMaps.

Here is the result:

View Malewa Motorcycle Trip in a larger map

It doesn’t look very exciting like that, but it does give you the exact data for having your own challenging ride if you’re in Kenya.


  1. Great trip nevertheless. U know to some of us such things are just as exciting as a mobile payment system.

    Re: battery runtime. Did it last? An alternative could be http://sportstracker.nokia.com/nts/main/index.do for your E71.

  2. Looks like a fun adventure. We’ve spent some time in the Malewa Bay area and its gorgeous. Beautiful views of the rift.

  3. @JKE, the batter lasts just over 4 hours if it has light use. Once I started doing the actual tracking via GPS, it really only lasted about 2 hours total. The one saving grace about the Nexus One is that you can put in your own batteries, so I’ll be picking up another one soon for that purpose.

  4. Good stuff 🙂

    On the G1, I usually track my trips using My Tracks – quite handy. If I don’t need the maps, I just turn off the data and use GPS alone to make the tracks, then after that upload it to My Maps.

  5. @Josiah, true that helps some. However, I’ve found that the GPS alone sucks up quite a bit of energy.

  6. Sounds like a good exercise. What I like (or maybe dislike) about Kenya rural folks when you ask for directions is they tend to underestimate the distances; they would tell you that your destination is just around the corner; you will soon find out that around the corner actually meant an hour away…..fun

  7. I had a similar trip. Very fun riding on the highway but can be quite scary.

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