The road from Hell. Moyale to Marsabit 11-14 Feb

I had heard this was the worst “road” on Earth but I actually now believe it was created by satan and he clearly hates bicycles. Mostly rutted dirt track covered with stones, I just endured the worst 4 days of my trip and haven’t enjoyed a single moment of Kenya so far.
It was 260km (246 plus 14 to get to and from Sololo) but I cycled just 218km as a part was in a police truck.
My total is now 14,512km.
If you can face the trauma, here’s the day by day account….

11 Feb Moyale to Sololo 43km (plus 42km on a police vehicle)

Well today has been different and also shocking.

I knew Moyale to Marsabit had seen tribal fighting recently but also that they had agreed a peace deal so I intended to ride. Everyone who approached me in Moyale said it wasn’t safe to ride because there were many bandits and I should take a bus. But they were trying to sell me a bus ticket so I ignored them and asked the police who said it was safe. So I set off. And it was always rutted, and bumpy, rocky, sandy and just plain awful for cycling. You literally bounce up and down constantly putting huge pressure on your tyres, but also on your arms and back. But I saw baboons again, and Dik Diks (tiny antelopes) which was amazing. I had no people harassing me…..All the huts were abandoned, and despite the eerie nature of the road it seemed peaceful and I saw no sign of trouble. And then in the distance I saw two men. At least one was holding some sort of rifle. I started to worry a little. As I drew closer, I saw they both had automatic machine guns but was also relieved to see the “police slow down” signs and their uniforms. i asked if it was safe. They said yes, continue. So I did. I managed 36km and fixed 2 punctures before something very shocking happened.

A police vehicle pulled alongside and a very polite and well spoken Policeman (although with a giant machine gun and two grenades strapped to his chest, he couldn’t have looked more like a marine) apologized for the disturbance but asked me if I was “Edward Alexander” from Great Britain and he had been instructed to ask me some questions.
I said “Yes that’s me but how do you know my name?”
He said they had taken the information from the hotel I had stayed in. They then asked if I had been accompanied by anyone in Moyale and I said yes, a man had helped me find the hotel.
He asked if there had been any confrontation with the man, and I said not at all. And with the hotel owners? I said “no, the man seemed to know them and everything was fine”.
He then spoke on the radio and told somebody that I was being friendly and co-operative. Then he asked “what was his name” and I said he told me his name was **** (the name is completely unimportant now) and all I remember is that he was quite short.
And they said, “we believe this man was found dead last night”
I thought “!?!????***#%^*]{??,!!!!!”
“we may need you to report to the police station in Sololo and give a phone number and make a statement”
“Of course” I said, still shocked.
“It is not safe here, please let us give you a push until we reach a safe area”
Well, when a man wearing grenades tells you that a person you saw yesterday is dead, and that an area is not safe, you take him seriously. I loaded my bike on their jeep and sat in the front seat.
For 40km the conversation was only about what I was doing and Jared and Vincent were incredibly nice and I felt like I had made two new friends. It was so strange that I couldn’t help but wonder why they weren’t making more fuss about the suspected murder or why I was being treated like a celebrity rather than a suspect.
When we parted company at the junction they gave me army supply biscuits and a tin of pineapple. They even asked me for a copy of my book after I have cycled the world.

I cycled just 7km more to the tiny but delightful town of Sololo.
I talked to a young lad and in no time, I had a room, a shower (a bucket of course), food, drink, and bought a phone and just talked to people who were lovely to me.
I had to wait while my battery charged up on my Kenyan phone, and used the time to go to see the police. I went to the police station and told the story but the young guy there just said “ok no problem, come back when you have your new Kenyan number and leave that with us”.
It was odd. Surely this was some sort of murder investigation?
Well then I saw some beer bottles and sat down with some nice men and ordered a beer. And the man I was drinking with was the head of the police! We talked for a long time and drank a lot together. He was an intelligent and jovial man and he explained to me that Kenya is still very tribal. The young man probably walked into the wrong side of town. In Moyale there are areas which you cannot enter if you are from a different tribe. They will simply kill you. He had obviously seen this happen all the time.
“But I am safe?” He said “yes of course. You are not from an opposing tribe.”
Wow I said.
“This is what’s wrong with Kenya” he said.
Damn right I thought.

I went to retrieve the phone and when I returned, rain had forced my friend to retreat inside but now there were many other men. The level of English was so good that we could discuss and joke about the world like old friends and especially with a doctor who had lived in Italy. I laughed and chatted with them for a few hours and I genuinely felt at home.
I had to raise an eyebrow when the doctor (I think he had just finished 4 beers) said “I have to go back to the hospital to check if a woman in labour is ok or if she needs surgery.
“And will you have to do that?” I said, half -joking.
“Yes” he replied!
Well all I can say is I hope very much that she didn’t need surgery.
When the chief of police headed home I did the same, hoping I would meet more nice people as i had already done, that none of them would be killed, and wondering what more Kenya will have to surprise and shock me.

12 Feb Sololo to Turbi 54km
The only shocking thing today was the road. It was still shockingly bad. Every part of my body was aching and it was frustratingly slow as I bounced all over the place like a ragdoll. I had huge puddles to avoid and I avoided dragging the bike through a huge puddle.
A mechanical problem and another puncture caused by all the weight bouncing on my back tyre made me wonder if I could even get to Turbi. A fun tea stop with some very friendly locals raised my spirits but they soon dropped again as the relentless bumps shook my Garmin GPS from its already broken holder and I didn’t notice as I was too busy concentrating on trying to stay on the bike. When I noticed it had fallen off, I cycled back 2km but found nothing. Gutted. It was a very expensive and incredibly useful bit of kit.
A tiny stretch of Tarmac appeared but then disappeared after 5 mins as another diversion onto unpaved horror road began. This time an almost completely finished road covered in almost dry tar was too tempting and I rode on it for a while before all the black stones stuck to my tyres convinced me I could end up doing irreparable damage if I continued and I retreated back to the road of evil.
I reached Turbi but I was angry, tired and in pain. This part of my journey is starting to feel quite masochistic. Sadly I can’t wait for two years when they will have finished laying the Tarmac. So tomorrow I will carry on.

13 Feb Turbi to Bubisa 75km
Well this really is the road from hell. Claims that there are parts with tarmac were false and I struggled all day on the terrible road, now every inch covered in stones just big enough to make cycling almost impossible and sitting on my saddle simply too painful to bear. With nothing by the roadside I had nothing to eat and completely ran out of energy. I had 5 punctures which i repaired but the last one was a nightmare and took 2 attempts. My inner tubes now look like patchwork. When I finally reached Bubisa, the tarmac appeared, and I found food. But having had no electricity, I now had no power in my camera, so no photos. And no electricity in Bubisa still. I fell asleep early.

14 Feb Bubisa to Marsabit 46km
I woke early at 5am and got ready and heard the ominous sound of the wind whistling through my window.
Nobody else was awake but there was the huge body of a hyena lying in the road. It had obviously been hit by a truck in the night.
I waited for breakfast but all I got was one chapati and two cups of tea. I was now on Tarmac and expected an easy day. And I asked if there were restaurant on the way to Marsabit. “Yes many big restaurants” was the reply but I later realized he misunderstood me. There was nothing. And the wind became a gale, which was heading northwest directly into my face, and pushing me back or blowing me into the centre of the road. For the whole day, progress was painfully slow and I ran out of energy again. The only thing that kept me going was the “I hate Kenya” song I had in my head.

What else can I say about Kenya? Apart from the dangerous bandits and warring tribes I hear so much about, the people are polite and more well mannered than the Ethiopians. They are very friendly but you just don’t get the constant noise and hassle and its a relief. They speak English as well as Swahili (I get called Muzungu here). It feels very lazy to just be speaking English but I will cope!
Kenya was a British colony and they drive on the left, have British electric sockets, and tv in English. We also seem to have left a good education system. I see schools everywhere and the kids are actually going to school rather than lining the street and chasing cyclists.

In Marsabit, I am in the Nomads Trail hotel with the best warm shower I have had in Africa, with great food, and very good wifi. £18 a night seems expensive but it’s wonderfully comfortable and clean.

I have been told that the next stretch of road is not only bad but also very dangerous in terms of security so I am researching but I may take a bus to Isiolo. The dangers in Egypt to Ethiopia were tabloid nonsense but the dangers in Kenya seem to be real, so I will take no risks. After Isiolo, I have been told it’s “Hakuna Matata” (no problem)!!!

Ps happy valentines day x

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