Steve Ireland visits Kenya

Motorcyclist extraordinaire!

 

Kenya - April 2012

steve irelandI have been very lucky in my life with my love affair of off road bikes and my connection with them has seen me travel all over Europe, riding and mixing with some of the best riders in the world. I have also been privileged to visit America for some GNCC races and generally, through two wheels, seen some parts of the world I would not have normally visited.

Nothing however would get me ready for the experience that Kenya gave me. An old mate of mine, Pee Wee (yes that is his nickname) moved out to Kenya over 8 years ago; he has family there and was looking for a new start in life. I kept in touch with him through text and Facebook and often mentioned going to see him but you know what its like; time flies by and another couple of months pass by and before you know it you are another year older… Anyway Pee Wee contacted me just after we had run the Tough One Hard Enduro 2012; he had watched some of the footage through Red Bull TV and it sparked a conversation with him and one of his friends out there that "he knows the guy that runs that!" and so on …

Pee Wee's friend is Netta Ruthmann. Netta is a 3rd generation, white Kenyan that operates very successful safari tours and adventures for lots of very pleased customers. She has vast knowledge of Kenya and what it is about. She is well known and very well respected all across the country. Speaking in a very nice, clear English accent she also is the master of the Swahili language along with 5 others so in all, a very articulate and interesting lady indeed. Netta oozes enthusiasm about her country and is very patriotic and proud. She does lots to promote and preserve Kenya and above all she cares about the wildlife and the African Way. I don't think I have met a more genuine person in my life and will certainly count her as a friend for ever. Netta had an idea and it was to introduce something that has not been done before. She wanted to get some dirt bikes and bring the Safari Experience even closer to the punters.

Pee Wee is a time served bike mechanic and a decent little rider on the dirt too. So she had an instant "member of staff" to help her with this venture. Pee Wee had explained his contact with me and from that moment Netta wanted me out there on an all expenses paid trip to go and cast a professional eye over what they had to offer and to give some help and advice with the running in of the bikes, etc.

So fast forward from January to mid April 2012 and there I am at Heathrow airport with my Mentor and great friend Battleship Bill awaiting our 9hour flight to Nairobi. Now the fun started here because Billy Harris is 6' 8" and 25 Stone, a mountain of a man with a personality to match. Billy was very concerned about fitting in the plane never mind anything else, so after an expensive upgrade to the bigger seats all was well and we were off. On arrival at Nairobi that same evening my old mate Pee Wee was there to meet us and take us back to his place. Some beer and food and early to bed. I was in Africa and excited. Now I could go on and on here with tales and stories of what went on over the next 10 days, some funny, some scary and some plain mad but I want to concentrate on what DUSTY HELMETS have to offer and give you guys reading this an idea of what it is about.

Dusty Helmets is a great name chosen over a few / several beer drinking sessions in their local bar and Netta and her gang had the name well before I turned up. 10 brand-new Husaberg 390 enduro bikes had literally arrived from Austria days before I got there and with lots of ideas and plans in her clever head, Netta was ready to test the package on me, the trails, the bikes and the locations. This is not an enduro holiday or a trail riding break like the masses offer in Spain, Italy, France, etc…This is completely different and it took me a few days to fully understand the difference of what this Kenyan Experience was providing. This is being out there in the game parks, with the animals, riding the bikes steady and respectfully around some of the most stunning and breathtaking scenery you can imagine available to man.

The whole experience is wonderful with lots of quality accommodation along the way, nice people are in abundance, the food is superb although typically British for the majority and Netta has all the contacts and infrastructure to make your adventure very special and memorable indeed. It is about relaxing, not riding stupid hours in the saddle in the searing heat, doing just enough that you are sensibly handling the climate and hazards of the African plains and bush. After I had helped with running some bikes in and stuf,f we then focused on getting some action shots of me on one of the new bikes for the web site promos etc. Here I was wheeling a dirt bike around a Kenyan Safari Wildlife reserve and being applauded for it - I can tell you it felt fantastic. We had a very nice chap with us called Pete Mayes. Pete is the owner of Mayes Media, a professional photographer and motorsport nut from Zimbabwe and again with huge African knowledge and respect. Pete and his camera caught some truly amazing images over those 4 days together and I must thank him for those memories I have downloaded onto my PC.

I saw unrivalled wildlife action in the Maasai Mara. A lion eating a freshly killed Baboon. Croc's surrounding some nervous impala, elephants, buffalo's and giraffes roaming freely around their land. The camp we stayed in the Mara was called "Kichwa Tembo" which means the head of an elephant. It was enchanting and mystical. We had an exiled German with us in the Mara called Dieter - this guy was and is an expert in safari and his vast knowledge coupled with Netta's presence really did make me feel like I had the best possible guides on planet earth with me. Battleship Bill and myself were in awe at what we were seeing and doing. Stopping along the way in some of the shanty towns and small villages, getting mobbed by the kiddies, doing wheelies for them through their towns. It was just a life changing thing that was hard to take in. We visited the equator and I witnessed for myself the water going different directions on either side of the line…and stationary when in the middle! From Lake Baringo and Island Camp through to Lake Bogoria, the stunning escarpments in the Maasai Mara, the stunning scenes around Naivasha, the mad images of a cow being transported on the back of a local scooter!

The journey in Pee Wee's trusty old Landrover (every journey in the bloody thing!) up what I called "Death Road"… a really scary road that has to be seen to be believed, all these things are memories that I will keep for ever and that really cement the quality that Dusty Helmets are offering with their escape packages. A special call out must go to Bill for looking after me and fighting off any nasty little insects or flying things that scared me, he he… He was a stunning holiday partner that is very well versed in African life himself and on day one of our riding out there he showed some great skills on the bike for a big fella, and as a relative newcomer to dirt bikes (vastly experienced road rider and traveller) he tackled all of the trails and off road sections perfectly, just showing that this holiday package will really suit those road riders out there that fancy having a go in the dirt by having really achievable terrain to go at.

To sum up, the itineraries that Netta and Dusty Helmets have got planned and available for immediate booking are simply awesome. You will be riding new, quality machines, seeing things and scenery you can only dream of and most importantly being looked after by great people that know exactly what they are on about and will do their level best to make sure your time with them is everything you expect and more. It is a long way to go and my visit was fleeting, as I was there in a "professional" role. It was explained to me that the packages Dusty Helmets will be offering will be tailored to meet the needs of the customer - however 2 weeks seems to be the length of stay needed to fit everything in. I wish Netta Ruthmann all the very best for the future and I look forward to seeing her soon. She is coming over to stay with me in October to brush up on her riding skills and sample some Welsh terrain and also have a pint of Bitter and a Pork Pie as she has requested!! Please visit her websites and get a gang together and get your selves out there. It's a lifetime experience and one that I will never forget. Thanks for reading this...and as always.. Kind Sporting Regards

You can email Netta here...

See also http://www.nettaruthmann.com

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