Nairobi’s impressive skyline was still visible behind us when we both realised something serious was about to happen. The back tire felt like it was just missing and stopping seemed impossible – an accident was almost certain. We managed to swerve from the middle lane of the highway to the left but the road was just too shitty. Bad tarring had left two wide ditches deeply carved into the road by the many trucks that use it and driving through them to get off the road was impossible.
As we were about to fall I desperately looked behind me to estimate the amount of time before one of the many racing trucks behind us would be on top of us. The bike started to skid and we could hear it hitting the tar, scraping marks into the road, when Guillaume managed some of the best driving to have ever been done and with a jerk and a 90° turn we came to a halt. The tire burst at exactly the right time (if there ever where one), there was not a single truck behind us and we were safe!
Such a silly word, “safe”, when you are heading west out of Nairobi on a road notorious for its bad truck drivers! After the tire was fixed we made the 70km to Lake Naivasha in fear. Trucks overtake us by simply forcing us off the road while taxis simultaneously try to pass them and at the same time another truck will be approaching from ahead. We screamed a lot; at trucks, at taxis, at the world and at each other.
We had reached a breaking point. The bike is suffering and is very top heavy, limiting sudden movements, and we have gotten to a place where using it is not merely uncomfortable but now also fearful. Guillaume had driven 7000km through Africa, without a break – that alone is enough on anyone’s nerves! We know that north from Nairobi the roads are getting worse by the kilometre and that in Kenya no one is used to bikes, making it even more risky. In Uganda one of the highest causes of deaths are accidents on Boda-Boda’s (our bike) whist Ethiopia is renowned for bad driving and children throwing rocks at bikers and cyclists. It seems that the party is officially over.
Now we face a fork in the road. Leave the bike and continue with public transport, brave it up and face whatever might happen on the road or take a break and hitchhike with the bike by putting it on a train or truck till we reach Rwanda.
Big decisions to make on a small (and very much loved) bike.