The towering wind energy generators on Ngong Hills
It is good to dream of achieving a fete once done in the past than a fete never tried before. With Thunderstruck’s Mundoro Smackdown victory, Tsibektican seemed geared up for Her off-road high altitude quest up my favorite fold mountains on planet Earth: The Ngong Hills. Ideally, one would take to the hills at around 9am, buy not me, no. My timing has always been in the afternoon when the sun is hot, and on Wednesday it was no exception. Buying 4 bananas and fitting one on the side pocket of my bag, I left Gathondeki at 1:30pm. My tummy was filled to the brim: Ugali, Terere, Kansiira and Sossi ready to boil the tarmac. Because I have a 7 pack and a small stomach, I had to unbuckle the tummy strap to allow my diaphragm to push my tummy during inhalation. We passed through Kirigu Town to avoid Kawangware’s madness, still this town too has its own share of pedestrian madness but we handled it. I had to yell at three men crossing road as if they were slaying and they owned the road between Dagoretti and Karen. I enjoyed zooming from Karen to Ngong Town effortlessly before turning right up what used to be a smooth road, now a rough example of its former velvet with loose chippings. Baby Bee just climbed on until we reached the beginning of the rough road up the ridge. A KWS van passed as it went up and away, the patrol officer at the back looked at me with unconcerned eyes, gun on both hands. I paused my phone’s timer; I already had done 18 kilometers in 56 minutes. I took out the ready banana, set the timer on the other phone to record my off-road time, resumed the first phone’s timer and I began the ascend as I chewed on my potassium rich fruit.
Munchkin and I getting cold rain & bulking up mud at Kengen Wind Firm
It took me an amazing 16 minutes to reach the KWS gate 1.9 kilometers ahead. This tall guy driving a white Subaru B4 was stopped by the lady warden and it seemed like he paid the entry fee into the conservancy. I have never paid any entry fee to climb the hills, times truly have changed. I paused for a while and soaked in the high altitude fresh air. Nairobi was a foot length with Mt. Kilimambogo forming its background. Kiserian and Ongata Rongai were under a heaven of precipitating water, and it was come towards me. Well, I can shall my dream finally came true, I will be taking pictures in the rain. The road ahead had been diverted, seems like Kengen wants to tarmac this stretch. I starting climbing up, anticipating the warden’s call. And I was right when she called me back: I’m busted. “Just act cool and don’t make a fuss,” I told myself.” Hi,” “Hello.” “I was going into the park.” “Okay, you have to pay.” “ How much is the fee?” “It is 200 shillings for locals and 600 shillings for foreigners,“ she replied. My heart’s energys sort of deemed low right there and then. I have come a long way to complete a long time quest. I had to speak my mind. “I only have 150 shillings with me and since 2008 I have never paid any entrance fee. I was last up here in 2016 now I am back,” I explained.”2016 till now that is a long time, you see things have changed,” she added. Truly they have. “Well, I was going all the way upto Kona Baridi,” I added. This shocked her, no one has ever done that on a bike to her knowledge, further cementing my claim to the ridge conquest’s fame: I am the one and only cyclist to do this on a bike. My inner self was all smiles.“Well you still have time because it takes me 3 hours to reach Kona Baridi,” she said. I was like ‘whoa that is awesome’ for a lady. “But now I can’t go in, Oh well, there is another day,” I said with a heavy heart. I could feel Munchkin’s sad energy go through my right hand. The Lady, feeling a soft spot for my adventure tale, yielded.”Okay, you may enter the park, but next time its 200 bob.” Right there and then my heart lightened up. I humbly thanked her and asked The Most High to bless her. The rain started to drip, signaling my adventure’s continuity.”Are you worried about the rain,” she asked.” No, the rain is perfect for this adventure,” I replied with a warrior’s smile as Baby Bee and I trooped up.
Going up the first hill
Timers back on, the climb went on and higher in minutes. Passing Kengen Wind Firm at the cypress forest, the climb up to the oldest wind mills looked like a mountain on its own. I pedaled on, 28*28 gear ratio as Tsibektican’s rear wheel slid a few climbs on attack up the long slope. A group of religious followers were coming from the valley’s side. I passed two lone women descending the ridge. I could not say hi climbing a 14% gradient slope. The rain pondered on me some more, the green chilli pepper in my blood was working in effect. Nairobi was under clear skies though and as I reached the first hill and looked back, I was blown away by the magnificent view of the clouds engulfing Kengen Wind Farm. They rolled over into the great Rift Valley, then rolled backwards into a spin before rising upwards like cigarette smoke. Mt. Suswa was hidden once again in a storm, so was Kedong valley. I felt as if I was among celestial beings this high above the valley floor, this far from the nearest human settlement. I parked Tsibektican on the stone benches and table to take pictures, the white Subaru was parked on the other side of Teleki path. Three KWS officers armed with AK-47 guns approached us. One of them asked for my park receipt. I heaved and told him the truth: I don’t have a receipt. I mentioned the kind lady and he gladly accepted my plea. I thanked him humbly and Baby Bee & I continued on south, in the steps of the Count.
From afar the second hill looks easy until you feel the weight of the rise clamp your knees above a slippery wet green carpet, but I have trained myself to be a climbing expert on a mountain bike, so I increased my pace and the drivetrain powered me up Number Two and down onto the rise up the third and first major hill. Nearly the length of a football field and 8 storeys high, such a sight makes you know your place in this world. It belittled me once again: A David against a Goliath hill. With Munchkin up my right arm, I carefully climbed up the steep slope with my left hand ready to grip onto the grass should I lose my footing.
The second and third hill
If God is a smoker, then ganja smoke is the clouds
There were these beautiful half an inch bright pink-violet flowers sparsely growing on the path. With a few more pushes, I was 2,350 meters above sea level (asl). Standing at the same spot I stood 5 times since 2007 made the moment superbly nostalgic. The storm in the valley was coming to the ridge’s leeward side. Carefully, I descended down to a gradient safe for cycling. My cleats were thick with mud so I forced in onto the SPD pedals. I dropped on but realized I was dropping too fast. I braked hard but the grass was smooth in rain droplets and Baby Bee just skidded off before turning right and Her front tyre went airborne. I was going to land back first onto a back full of bumpy metal; my cleats were stuck, I had to act fast. I managed to quickly unclip my right foot and I swang both bike and body by using the centrifugal force gained to land safely back on a 360 degrees turn, facing the fourth hill. I did not panic in between or after.”Good Girl,” that’s all I said as we went on to rise up again.
This hill’s path near the top was eroded so I had to dangerously climb up the leeward side. I could see through the close bushes many tiny houses spread more than a kilometer below. Baby Bee once again on my right hand, we reached the top.
Heaven's warm clouds, Baby Bee might have spotted prophet Elijah
I always wanted to feel the clouds on my skin, today I finally did as the whole hill went white. The air was a still as pot water but as warm as an ironed napkin, the caress was out of this world, I felt teary with happiness; I was in heaven in physical form. Flying Duchess stood there scanning the warm vapour as She viewed further south. We descended on, I then had the weird thought that I might meet someone up here and there halfway down the hill, the figure of a man in white shirt appeared through the clouds. I kindly greeted him and wished him safe journey back to Ngong Town. Afterwards I could hear voices, prayerful voices, I soldiered on as the clouds cleared and the fifth hill presented itself. It looked greener than the last time I left it. The constant rains had enriched the ecosystem up here; the flora has grown unopposed. Where I left the trees young and apart I found them overgrown and forming tunnel canopies with moss and algae growing on the boughs underneath. The sixth hill was even much thicker with olive green vegetation. I could bare see the path underneath and Tsibektican’s wide eagle bar was been met with strong branches. I had to carry Her. Her bar pushed a branch rich with moist leaves back and it sprang back with smacking force onto my left eye. OUCH!! Glad it was not thorny.
Some thick vegetation on the Sixth hill
We meandered through till we reached the backdrop of hill number 6 and there it was: The nearly 1000 meter drop of death. On wrong move and neither Tsibektican nor I shall be found, ever. I carefully walked on the pass looking ahead as this creepy feeling of an invisible hand dragging me by my bag down to the valley curled on me. I could still hear the praying voices echoing on the ridge’s side.”Kwani, where are they praying from?” I asked myself. I was just about to climb up the father of them all when I had the voices getting closer. I chose to wait as a rainbow formed above Matasia. A group of holy men and women appeared and a few exchange of words and invitations to both our passions to the other ensured; I and Munchkin had to finish the last and highest hill. I came across a big smooth boulder and I could not help but think of how big Leakey Hero’s head is. It served as a step up the part to the summit. I passed three more boulders that were rather rough edged. Finally, Tsibektican became the third bike to reach the summit of Ngong Hills at 2,459 meters ASL. I looked towards the East and at the bushes nearly was a holy man who had set camp here. I greeted him and I narrated my story; his response was what gulfed me with hope. He said that for me to come all this way to the mountain top meant that my journey shall bear fruit, that God shall bless me in the days to come. For that, I believed him and thanked him, I humbly took Munchkin by my right hand and slowly dropped down the summit.
Tsibektican, the 3rd bike to reach the 2,459m asl summit
There was a natural mark I was looking for. Alas, there it was: the Nature Tunnel. I clipped in and let Flying Duchess fly under the boughs, through the dark and out into the light. The winds up here were not strong at all, making my ride much comfortable than before. Next stop, Boulder Farm (a place with many small boulders spread across the descend). I did not meet any Maasai herders as I searched for the murram road that drops to Kona Baridi. I found it but it looked nothing like the road I once knew. It was eroded and soft, so Munchkin and I rode alongside on the grass side. Careful not to wind deep into a small deep hole hiding beneath the mountain grass, I glided down then braked repeatedly. I got on to the muddy road and slowed where the rain had cut the road deeply. Somehow, I felt my body tilt leftwards and that’s when stiff SPD pedals and muddy cleats equalized Sam falling down. This time, I fell hands and face down, hard. I turned around, I was still locked onto Baby Bee. I tried unclipping, nothing. It took me three tries before my right leg was free. I tried freeing my left, it was hard but eventually I succeeded. Tsibektican was okay, just a slight slide of Her neck to the left. I used my brute strength to re-align He stem. I actually got a good chance to see the spike spores my leg warmers had plucked up there. We went on the rough descend and came to the right curve that leads onto Magadi road. We made it Munchkin, 3 hours 21 minutes.
The drop road to Kona Baridi, soil erosion has denied Munchkin a downhill thrill
5:59am , Flying Duchess lands on the tarmac of Magadi Road
The sister mountain of the ridge looked spectacular far west, many sharp peak mountains populate the land heading to Lakes Magadi and Natron. After clearing my cleats off the mud, it was time to finish the remaining 53 kilometers; 38 kilometers to Nairobi City’s GPO and 15 kilometers up to Gathondeki. “Ready to terrorize motorists, Munchkin?” I asked cheekily. Of course She does. Kona Baridi, till we ride back here again. The Ridge has been conquered in warrior fashion.
God's Eye above my helmet, He loves cyclists