That time of year again. Time to polish the old bikes, break out the fancy duds and ride 100km down to the bottom of the Rift Valley and back in the name of men’s health and a good time. Last year, the Nairobi DGR branched out and started a new tradition: we’d take the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and make it our own, using it as an excuse to take an overnight ride down to Magadi in Kenya’s Rift Valley.
Above: We fit the spirit, if not the strict guidelines of the DGR… some bikes are more classic than others
Above: The stars of the Kenya DGR are two properly vintage BSAs…
Above: The Golden Flash making her debut... would she make it all the way there and back?
As per tradition, we were late. Mechanical woes plagued the Cowboy’s little Honda 175. Only one cylinder would fire despite the best efforts of Mythic Rick and Lobito. Cowboy was forced to abandon the little guy and chase us down on his Africa Twin later in the day. I, too, was forced to leave my beautiful XT5000 back in the garage as just two weeks ago I managed to burn her down in a spectacular lapse of mechanical oversight. So I would be riding a decidedly undistinguished, if vintage, XL600R in yellow, red and orange.
Above: Lobito and Rick try to fix up the 175
Above: On the road at last, the first half hour is a slog through Ngong and Kiserian. Ron on the GL5 and Don Guy on the BSA
Above: Cowboy, Patient P and I discuss Cowboy’s return journey. His 175 wouldn’t make it all the way down.
Above: Eric on his Triumph reaches Cona Baridi
Above: Patient P on the most excellent and very old BSA chased up by Lobito on a sort-of-vintageish R80
Above: Speaking of not-quite-vintage… my XL. Oh how sad I was to not be on the XT this year!
Above: Don Guy descends the shoulder of the Ngong Hills
Above: Eric Jr on the meanest looking bike in the group: an Enfield Café Racer
Once past Cona Baridi, it was smooth sailing. The air was still coolish and the old bikes were enjoying an easy descent. We made plans to stop for lunch before the heat became biblical.
Above: A bit of bike-swapping took place, giving Lobito and Eric Sr. a chance to enjoy the 79-year-old BSA’s utter lack of modern conveniences
We lunched and stretched our backs, Rick gave the Flash a quick zip, and we were back on the road.
Above: Triumph sponsors the DGR, so there should be at least one promo pic in here of the sleek 900 Scrambler
Above: Flash testing
Above: Not a bad picnic spot as long as you don’t pick up a thorn
After lunch, our good luck continued and the bikes behaved marvelously. The Flash lived up to its name, blasting down the road at an even 80kph while the rest of the crew took it easy behind. Every meter we descended brought a perceptible increase in the heat and by the time we reached Magadi and the Tata Sports Club, we were very happy to have a cold beer and a swim in the pool.
Above: Lake Magadi at the bottom of the Rift Valley, our sweltering destination for the day.
After a cool dip in the pool, a small group of us got back on the bikes for the day’s second act. Last year we explored the dirt roads south of town, and it was the highlight of the trip, so it has become a must with some of us. We set off just after 5pm as the golden afternoon gets seriously beautiful.
Above: Our road, me and Lobito
Above: Lobito in the golden grass
Above: Cowboy, having caught us up on the AT, bringing the big girl down the track
Above: The Riding Erics make their way across a very slick pan
Above: Me losing an argument with a dead flamingo
Above: Eric Jr ripping up to the look-out on the Enfield
Above: The bikes pose for a sundown shot
Above: The off-road group
On Sunday the 29th of September, I will don my finest attire with my fellow men and women across the globe to join the fight with The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride to raise awareness for prostate cancer and men's mental health. But before I press my tweed and polish my boots, I need you to donate what you can for this meaningful cause and help me reach my goal.
For your uncles, your brothers, your fathers and friends. Donate what you can, for their lives need not end.