The hells bikes
We spend more than an hour with the mechanics choosing and repairing bikes. This was no fun at all. Eventually, we got what was the best of all. After riding for 5 min, Josy realized her bike was wrecked. A KWS van behind us stopped for help. But the choice was only one, to get another bike from the gorge gate. We continued cycling as she got in the van.
Hell-my gears weren’t working well. I had no choice expect keep peddling. This was compensated by a beautiful trail full of zebras, war hogs and gazelle. Sabine and Bethany stopped briefly for photos. I couldn’t stop. Not because I don’t like photos, actually Iam a photo mania, but Iam still a cycling learner experiencing a start off head-ache
We met with the bike track on 4km mark. Josy had a better bike and was smiling hard. The bikes were looking really good. I decided to exchange mine too. Oops! The new one was no better. It had this continuous-I wonna break-pedals warning.
The Hike to the Gorge
The trail to the gorge was characterised by all the words you would use to describe beauty. Yes, name them all. We hired a community Maasai guide (guide fees help Maasai community living in Hell) at the entrance to the gorge. We hiked past lower and upper gorges, lifting ourselves up and down rocks sliding down ridges, with beautifully coloured craggy edges on the rock. We used our weak looking guide who proved tiny can also mean strong. He offered much needed support in no go zone alone areas.
It was great to feel part of nature. We pasted Maasai women and children dressed in brightly coloured kangas. Here, you got a choice to buy their curio or take a photo with them. A photo is a negotiable fee of 500 khs, per pose, great business with lack marketing skills. I didn't see anyone pose with them.The last stretch was flat and relaxing. By the time we made our way back to the bikes, I was exhausted and had little energy for the 8 km journey back.
Heaven with hell’s bikes
Surprisingly my start off skill improved in hell. I didn’t struggle at all. My team took off and I trailed behind. I enjoyed the fresh air breeze. I loved and appreciated “my space only” moment. I sang and smiled as I cycled. Suddenly, my bike’s the drive chain came out. I couldn’t use the bike. I walked as fast as my tired legs could handle. A couple cycling towards the gorge gate pasted me. I hit my head hard for not asking for the help I desperately needed. I could have, but the lady gave me that-don’t talk to us -look. OOPS! This is hell; I reminded myself and increased my pace.
The guy must have read my desperation. He turned back and asked if I needed any assistance. “YES!” I shouted. His woman observed from a distance as he fixed the bike. Hurrah! I started off with haste. A herd of gazelles and zebras grazed happily beside the road. At distance, a giraffe with broken like legs bent awkwardly to reach a water hole.
Evening visitors seemed ignorant to park speed limit. They dint care about cyclist either. I struggled with dust and vision. My little cycling experience could not allow me cycle past speeding cars. I got off the road. And my bike seat got off the bike. Darm!
The van driver got off and came to my rescue. Luckily he had some tools in the car. Two more vans filled with Chinese tourists stopped behind. Excited to see yet another park attraction, they clicked their cameras endless. If you think I was annoyed, you are wrong. I was boiling with anger. To add insult to injury, one of them came out to apologize. The last I wanted at that moment was to converse in gestures. But it worked perfectly. I waved him off and he took off back in the van. The rest just stared and sympathised with me.
I got my seat back and started off. I couldn’t wait to get out of hell. I was frustrated, disappointed angry and ready to give up. I got at an uphill and the pendales gave this-I wonna break anytime-noise again, and then stopped. I literally lifted the bike with all the energy I had left and threw it beside the road. The throw was weak. It landed only an inch away. I stood and waited for someone to rescue me. Tears threatened to embarrass my ego.
I waved two cars but they only drove faster instead of stopping. The third car stopped, but it was packed with five men. I looked at my watch, looked again at the occupants and jumped in without a question. One of them kept my back pack at the boot to create space.
This was a moving party. The bottles in the car were enough evidence of the damaged caused. One of them welcomed me to the party with a bottle of Coca-Cola half filled with vodka. I held the bottle and massaged it. Not sure of what to do with the drink. I like drinking and getting drunk, but a drink from drunk strangers from hell? Hell no!
I realized I got the ride about a 1.5 kilometer or so from the gate. My drunk rescuer s insisted on dropping me before getting out of the gate. Reason, their women were waiting outside and they risked peace-less time if they saw me getting out of the car. Funny huh?
I got my friends negotiating with KWS guards. The guards were reluctant to let them in without paying more, even after explaining I was missing and they needed to find me. That sounded Weird and inhumane. Sabine smiled hard when she saw me. “Sorry my bike broke”. I said apologetically. Josy clapped. I looked at her suspicious. Was I with a sadist? No. She was happy someone else would join her queue of non-functional bikes complain.We tried hard to put our case forward with no success. They couldn’t refund a coin. Their only optional was to get a waiver for a discounted hire rate on return. Who would take a non-functional bike even for free? We gave up.
The magic back pack
I headed for the car eager to get out of hell before any further episode. “Where is your back pack?” Josy enquired. I looked at her and my blood froze. “The drunk rescuers! Darm! “ I cursed. I went back to the same guards to check if they had any information about the guys. Car registration, nick names anything. They had nothing. I felt dazed. Tears burned my eyes but Crying wasn’t a better option. I remembered the drink they had offered me. I was still clutching the bottle hard. I looked at it once, twice. The third glance was a conviction that I needed it so badly.
My mind raced and recorded everything which was in the bag in super time. My house keys , pass ports ,money-enough keep them drunk for several hours, My camera, t-shirts and my new adidas jacket which I acquired by cleaning my friend’s smelly dog for several months.
The guys had mentioned going back to Nairobi. Sabine promised to speed. I promised to keep cool and remember at least something about them. The only detail I had was the car’s colour. I tried hard to concentrate with my drink. It worked. I got in a “nothing matters” mood. I genuinely enjoyed stories and jokes from ladies. I laughed hard even when the jokes were not pleasing. I indentified a similar car and asked Sabine to stop. It had two sober occupants, Wrong identification.
Passing through the Great Rift Valley was exciting. The longonot view was clear and fabulous. Long slow trailers led the way. We followed patiently. We passed two parked cars just near the view point. I saw a woman dancing with unstable moves. A man stood facing the bush. “Stop! Sabine stop! There they are” I shouted excitedly. She stopped. I got out and ran down hills.
One of the guys looked at me and got in the car. Ready to leave, “wait, I forgot my bag.” I said nervously, “In this car?” A woman seated on the front seat asked. “YES!” I confidently answered. “But I saw you cycling, how did you end up in our car?” she pressed. “Can I check in the boot?” I ignored her and directed the question to the man. He gave me “you have just messed my life” look and got out.
I stared at my bag for a while in disbelief. I grabbed it and yelled with excitement. I ran up without a word to neither the suspicious woman, nor a thank you to the man. “I got it! Oh, my magic bag! I got it. “I yelled. My friends applauded. I jumped back in the car and we took off happily eager to get back to heavenly traffick jam city. At the end of the hellish experiences,we raised 20,000 ks.
Hell’s gate national park is great. The cycling trail is one of the stunning moments in the park. But if you don’t own a bike, never opt for the Hell’s ones. Not unless you are a masochist.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 March 2012 07:28|