Thanks for stopping by DO (delightfully Unorthodox). Happy to host you. The next few minutes will offer an escape from brainless routines.
The date is 12th November 2015. I woke up feeling excited and nervous.. Excited because I wanted to win the 600cc categories so bad, nervous because I’m up against the best in the category. I’m a rookie against well seasoned riders… why would I not be intimidated? After breakfast I drove to Kiganjo road on Thika road exit 12. My gorgeous girlfriend sat beside me in the car. She is the reason why I needed to seem fearless… her smile would calm down sea waves… this aided in keeping me calm, that and I’m the one driving.
Upon arrival, she helps me set up at Pac fame where the races would be. After, I allowed her to go meet her friends and family on the spectator side. It’s still early in the morning, the race is yet to commence and spectators are still streaming in as the event organisers carry on with the final setting up. This gave me a chance to interact with other racers on our past accomplishments…that’s what bikers do… talk about how fast we are.
I need to manage my fervor from being introduced as the new star to the crowd ‘MAD MAX’ It’s at this moment I realised that my ego would not allow me anything second to first place. I wanted to win so bad as if my life depended on it.
Soon after we are allowed a tryout the track. After the 250cc category we’re the ‘it’ crew, the 600cc Super bikers aka ‘there is no difference between 1000 and 600cc’ gang. We are the most rowdy pack in the superbike group. A couple warm up laps and I am hyped into being convinced I can beat my rival. Fast forward into the race at the semis, up against Jim Buck aka chainsaw. He is the previous champ in the 750cc category but today, I beat him to qualify for the finals. The win makes me feel on top of the world! I feel invincible, nothing is impossible… especially now competing with ‘G.G’ the previous champ in the 600cc and Paul, the most respected in the game. We made up the finalists that will battle for the crown of 600cc super bike championship. Three of the best racers in all categories, all hungry for the gold. What makes this a major race in bikers history you may ask? We are highly skilled riders that have made a name for ourselves over time but more importantly, have never before competed against each other. Top of the most noteworthy achievement being beating some of the 1000cc riders while racing with 600cc super bikes. Simply put, we are the best in the game.
photocred facebook – Ness Pixels
Now at the finals, I see the checkered flag being waved affront, signaling it was time for me to take this home. Paul has a perfect start, closely trailed by GG and finally Mad Max. I didn’t get to maximize on the start. Having struggled at the beginning of the race, I had to push harder to catch up. Halfway into the final lap and I’m still hot on the other two riders’ heels, Paul maintaining the lead, GG a few inches behind. Mad Max chasing…as it may seem, I have a lucky streak as I overtake the two riders right afore the finish line. That’s one half of the race done. My opponents responded by becoming more aggressive on the final stretch. The flag is finally waved to signal final lap and the now three gladiators are on for a kill! Paul makes a perfect take off closely being trailed by G.G and I. The first place seemed to always slip away soon I secured it… The pressure to perform was now weighing down on my morale. The negative thought was quickly pushed to the back of my mind as I knew giving up was never an option and it is at this moment that my competitive streak kicked in. Deciding to use a trick I’d learnt to gain advantage over my rivals, which was to carry as much speed as I could to the corners. This tactic required me to perform minimum breaking on while headed to the corners and the trick is to take this advantage and surpass the opponent assuming they would slow down almost to a halt. It worked on the first few road bends and I managed to close in on the distance between us. While we approached the sharp Kiganjo macadamia bend, I made a mistake little known to me, that I’d live with for the rest of my life. I carried too much speed into the corner… Too much that my bike was unable to negotiate the corner given the amount of speed I was riding. I eventually lost control and veered off the road. Seconds apart, I was thrown off the bike and on the bare tarmac. It felt like the events were unfolding in slow motion… my mind was spinning as I tried to gain reality of what was happening in that moment. Tragedy befell as the bike was brought to a halt by a pelican road sign and I slammed right into it. The big impact threw me back on the road, spinning severally before finally coming to a halt. Still in my competitive mindset, I decided I needed to get up immediately to catch up with the other two racers, as I imagined they couldn’t have covered the lap and won the race. At the first attempt to stand, my eyes settled on the horrifying scene of the pool of blood that seemed to be coming from my right leg! Now Panic filled, I tried to move it away, not the smartest idea as I couldn’t feel my leg respond. I was not in pain probably because of the adrenaline rush… the medics found their way to where I was lying on the road to try and contain the situation. A few seconds later, a sharp pain was felt in my leg and building up to my shoulder. The medic announced that I’d lost my right foot and had to be rushed to hospital in a desperate attempt to replace it back. They also mentioned that my shoulder injury would be treated in hospital.
The face of death now staring down at me, my last thoughts were of dreading that my younger brother Philip would lay claim to my Mercedes Benz and take out random women to show off his new ride… I imagined my dad back at our rural home in busia expecting the monthly allowance I always sent, I cringed at the thought of my gorgeous girlfriend giggling in the arms of her new lover about my failures, at the thought of GG and Paul celebrating their win and wickedly telling each other what a foolish rider I was to take such risks. All these thoughts gave me the will to fight back as I wasn’t ready to give up and die.
The drive to the hospital seemed too long because I was in great pain. The painkillers administered were not much help either. By God’s grace, I did not bleed to death before I got to hospital. Last I remember was being wheeled out of the ambulance…
I regained consciousness hours after the surgery, to find a doctor standing over my hospital bed studying what looked like a file in hand. His worried look at realising I was awake immediately made me sense something was gravely wrong. It wasn’t long before the doc patiently explained they had been unable to save my leg. The news hit me hard, what was once my source of joy and sense of accomplishment had instantaneously become my downfall… or so I thought.
“Now walking down a fashion runway just like before when I had both legs, the ladies sat at the front row unable to hide their lusting eyes at my six pack. I smiled to myself knowing they all thought I was desirable”. It was just a dream.
As the days passed still admitted in hospital, I began imagining what life would be like as an amputee. These days were the most difficult part of my life as I battled with depression and regret from my dangerous riding. My family were more affected by the accident. Even though they tried to wear brave faces in my presence, their pitiful eyes betrayed the act. Upon the final realization that life must go on, I accepted the new me and decided to explore options on getting a prosthetic. I studied widely about amputee survivors and their drastic life transformation. In a sense, it gave me hope for better days. A more optimistic view of life. During this time I discovered about Oscar Pistorius. He is a celebrated hero among st people like us. His story aided in the journey towards accepting the new me. I am now walking into greatness… well rather, limping if you may. Haha
Super bike Riding has been viewed as a flashy sport for the affluent folk. This meant that the middle class often shy away from engaging in it’s activities and events. Well this may not be the case, as shared with Bill Kasanda aka Mad Mike a long time member of The Super-bike Association of Kenya and die hard fan of riding. Bill’s first exposure to bikes was riding on his father’s motorcycle, on his way to school in Busia county every morning. It did not take long before he got more interest, or maybe just as expected of a child, he imitated his father’s choice of mobility.
One sunny morning when his father was away, Bill convinced his cousin who was staying over for the holidays, into accompanying him on his mission to take the bike out for a test. Little to their knowledge, his father had chosen to drive on the said day since the bike was low on petrol! Of course, knowing the old man would be out for most of the day, the boys would not have taken caution by keeping to their compound. Why would they when they could show off to their friends how cool they were to be allowed to ride on their own?! (I know in our teens most of us sneaked out first chance we got, even after the stern warning from our parents on the consequences we’d face if we’d dare to… as if that ever stopped us!). Thirty minutes into the adventure and the bike’s engine went dead smack in the middle of town. Bill could already envision the dark stare from his father, when he realized that they had broken the machine. After several desperate attempts to turn it back on, the two teenagers decided to push the bike back home and quietly return it to it’s original place. Hopefully ‘papa Kasanda’ wouldn’t suspect a thing… They got the beating of their life. Eventually after a re occurrence of the same, Bill’s father had to accept that his son was hooked to riding and finally supported him on the venture.
This is just one of the many tales Bill was brave enough to share with me while we sat at a coffee shop. Having met just a few minutes earlier, I was pleasantly surprised at his openness and ease talking about what was clearly life changing. In a way, he explains that it changed him for the better. It also birthed his new found passion in creating awareness on safety riding. The Super Bike Championship which provides racing opportunity on controlled riding space such as tracks is one of the many steps you can take for a responsible riding. Here are some more pointers;
SAFETY RIDING TIPS
Before Getting on the bike
As a bike owner, you develop a bond with the beautiful machine over time. No one will know how to maximize on its optimal performance more than you do. Of course, this also means any mishaps it may develop overtime will best be managed by you. But should something be wrong with your motorcycle, it’s in your best interest to find out prior to hitting the track.
First rule of riding is having the proper riding gear – helmet with a face shield or protective eye wear. This will help minimize chances of suffering a critical head injury or even death, should an accident occur. Proper riding jacket and pants, comfortable riding shoes and gloves will further protect the rest of your body and keep it intact.
Reflective tape on your riding jacket is recommended for easy visual of you on the road by other motorists.
To make sure that your motorcycle is in good working order and fit for the road, here are a few keys pointers to look at before hopping on;
- Tyres – Make sure these are in good shape, with the right pressure and condition. I suggest investing in best quality for durability and certainty that you won’t experience a blowout.
- Lights – All should be working. You may run late and end up riding in the dark. You need to have good vision of the road and other motorists. Even more important, they need to see you. This way you avoid anyone blindly driving too close to you. Better safe than sorry
- Brakes and oil leaks – I cannot stress on how important these are. If you don’t pay close attention to both, you take away your ability to maintain control while on the road.
- side mirrors – Should be in tact and in place. Ensure they are clean otherwise they will be useless.
If you have checked out all the above congratulations! You are now ready to ride.
There is a special kind of feeling or experience if you may, that a speeding bike gives a free soul… bird-like feeling. As if you are free and untouched. Riding at a very high speed when you lack experience, is dangerous and should be left to the pros. Obey the speed limit; the faster you go the longer it will take you to stop. Stick only to the speed you can handle. otherwise, train long hours in more controlled environs such as tracks to revamp your skill.
Do not assume that a motorist has clear vision of you, as nearly two-thirds of all motorcycle accidents are caused by a driver violating a rider’s right of way. You should always ride with your headlights on; stay out of a driver’s blind spot. Blind spot is the position where driver has no clear vision of you neither through his eye view nor through his side mirrors. Signal well in advance of any change in direction and watch for turning vehicles.
Thank you for reading this far, I sincerely hope that this was educative and fun. If you have points that you feel should have made the list, pop them down below on the comments section and keep the conversation going…
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