Kyle in Lake Assal, Djbouti

Sunday, March 6, 2011


The plan to go to Hell's Gate National Park failed. I was told about a mystery road that is not on my map. South of Nanyuki, off of the main highway, it goes west to connect to the Nyahururu Highway. It would save me about 60km of peddling.

I headed south, finally crossing the Equator. I crossed it before while trekking Mt. Kenya, I believe, but then returned to Nanyuki. After peddling my loaded bike across the rather tacky sign just south of Nanyuki, Low2High is officially in the southern hemisphere! I pushed for about 30km to the town of Naro Moru and found the shortcut to my right. The dirt road was a bit rough, but running parallel to it was a user-made path that was very smooth. I followed that until a junction, where locals told me to turn left.

Turning left was my downfall. The bumpy road knocked one of my panniers off the rack. The elastic strap that keeps tension on it caused it to swing into my rear wheel, smashing against it and breaking 6 spokes. I found myself on the side of the road, rebuilding my rear wheel, again. The only good part was that it was the left pannier, so the broken spokes were not on the cassette-side of the wheel. The fast-moving spokes also tore a hole in my pannier. I field-patched it with, of all things, a mango juice carton, the contents of which I finished with my roadside lunch. The repair took about 2 1/2 hours with truing, so I had a lot of time to think and reflect.

Low2High started with a very ambitious route. Traveling through Somaliland would have been an experience to say the least, but the short 30-day visa for Ethiopia forced me to skip it and go directly from Djibouti to Ethiopia. That same time constraint forced me to cross into Kenya at the common crossing in Moyale, instead of the path-less-taken route around Lake Turkana. The final deviation from the shortest route possible was to go around Lake Victoria, visiting Uganda and Rwanda, with potential side trips to DR Congo and Burundi. With the constant mechanical problems I am having, that route too is now being sacrificed. I have no choice but to head south, directly to Kilimanjaro, staying on the asphalt roads. Otherwise, the bicycle may not make it.

A part of me always thought that the bicycle was the weakest link in this whole plan. In reality, I should have planned better and gotten a better bicycle, better tools, and learned more about bicycle maintenance. I can only blame myself for the repetitive breakdowns.The bike is an easy scapegoat, but I planned this trip from beginning to end, so it's all on me.

All I can do now is take the path of least resistance from Nairobi, over the Tanzania border to Arusha and Moshi, and then up the mountain. Low2High will still be complete, but the side trips that are more 'Kyle's Vacation' and not crucial to the expedition have been dropped.

That all said, I am enjoying a few days of in Nairobi, Kenya. I fixed the bike, made it to tarmac, and headed immediately toward Nairobi. I am staying with a Kenyan couple for now, but may move closer to the center of the city with to a house occupied by Americans and Europeans so I can see more of the city. The traffic here is INSANITY, so I'm planning my bicycle movements carefully.

I'll write another update when I get moving again, but for now, here is a quick rundown of the last few days.

Day 44: Rest Day in Nanyuki after descending Mt. Kenya.

Day 45: Nanyuki, across the Equator to Naro Moru, west to the Nyahururu Highway, then south to Karatina for an overnight in a hotel.

Day 46: Karatina to Thika, where the road becomes a major 4-lane highway under construction. It's a nightmare to cycle on at the moment, so I actually spent most of my time cycling on the dirt shoulder.

Day 47: Thika to Ruira via the highway, then from Ruira I took a different road to Kiambu town, which is a suburb to the north of Nairobi. This is where I've been staying for the last 2 days.

Day 48: Rest day in Kiambu.



  1. Glad to hear the progress. Sorry that you never went to Naivasha, but glad you cycled through to Nairobi!...The pic at the Equator is great! -though the tag is wrong? reads (Kyle in the Bale Mountains, Ethiopia) its the Equator, Kenya! Ride on and keep the updates coming---I hope the bike remains strong till you get to Tanzania!

  2. I love hearing about each step of your adventure, Kyle! Keep on going strong. I know you wanted all your side trips, but you're doing the right thing to keep Low2High a success. Keep up the good work :)