First Ride Out to Ilorin….Ronin’s account
I hadn’t been riding for very long and had learned, from my mechanic, all the bad habits that could potentially put me away for a very long time. Needless to say it was a 5 minute lesson, teaching me basically what the controls could do and not much else. Fast forward 12 months and I stumbled on a couple of guys on Facebook talking about the legendary ride Blanks (as he is known to them) did from Africa to Europe..as they spoke I said to myself… “abegi make I hear word, how many p*ick e get? No be to mash the meshine till you see oyinbo land? Nothing dey there” but no matter the perception there is a method to every madness. So I said to myself “if you wan climb tree no break waist, make you learn from monkey wey don do am before” out of curiosity I signed up at the Ride Easy School. The idea being to boost my confidence enough to ride long distances etc.. After the lessons I knew two things for certain first I was never going to ride long distances any time soon and secondly, I had been riding rubbish and it was only a matter of time before I hurt myself. Anyways that’s a bit of background so we know I was no expert and my confidence was at an all-time low before embarking on this trip to Ilorin.
….at the beginning
Kwesi sends me a Whatsapp messaging asking if I was coming on the first ride round to Sagamu through to Epe ..I said to myself.. “see your mouth like Epe, you and who? if I wound na you go pay? Dress far bobs” but I politely told him I was not included in the email group and thus was too short notice for me… I dodge am….and I dodge am neat and I sure as heck wasn’t going to any Jos, so my story no go ever finish for this waka… or so I thought.
Few days later, the 8th of October to be exact Biodun sends out an email about going to Ilorin on the 15th and 16th of October and the only reason I looked at it twice was one reason and one reason only… ILORIN. I went to high school there and hadn’t been back in 25yrs. Besides I liked the price of the waka…much cheaper than if I had stayed in Lagos and no I am not half Ijebu either…so I signed up to go at the very last minute and with a lot of apprehension to say the least…in other words “fear tie me double wrapper, gather me waistcoat join”
So still I wasn’t 100%…I am naturally more superstitious than Okonkwo son of Unoka from Umofia so I always watch for the signs from the “gods” before I embark on anything whatsoever. The first being my daughter and wife were having none of it…”ehn? Travel to where? And leave who alone to raise two children on my own? mba nu” she says.. “Never”.
Ride Day 15th October
3am and its starts raining heavily and so I woke up and said to myself…my chi is speaking. If this doesn’t stop I will abort the ride. 4am Thunder begin curse lightening mama na im rain no gree stop…5am it didn’t let up and I sent a message to Amaka, since she lives near me, to touch base on this and if I should abort. As shame no go let me back down where she believe say make I soldier on. She says to me “ride will go on…this na rain? na shower be this na” Cant remember who it was and he sends an email saying he had an emergency and couldn’t make it…”Chi” speaking with sign number 3…I say to myself “you sure say you no go pull cloth go sleep? No be over feeding be this?” But the thought of a ride to Ilorin and the photo effect was overwhelming…besides if it’s raining on this end and it would have stopped in Ikeja. So off I go with no rain gear. I get on my bike (everybody still dey sleep for house) and I head to Ikeja… thinking the rain would have stopped by the time I get to 3rd mainland at the very worst. No such luck it rained all the way to Epesok and then some… I was the first to get there and my first instinct was to turn around and go home… “heck it’s raining no one is going to turn up right?” WRONG. Kwesi and Biodun turn up before I could make up my mind…dang! No escape.
Egbon Yinka turns up and says it his anniversary and wouldn’t be coming along< sign number 4> and Kwesi says his clutch is bad… I said to myself “now why didn’t I think of that?” <sign number 5> Anyways Kanu calls and says he would be late (he got fined for that BTW) and Chibuzo had just come in… still it was raining…”hian these people no wan throway this waka? I go soon form diarrhea o”… Kanu turns up and off we went…
Road captain was riding point, I, as a newbie, was given number 2 and Segun was 3. Chibuszo, 4 and Kanu 5. “ah ah? “ride formation” ke? I thought they said riding in groups was dangerous and more often than not they ran into each other, with this ride formation that rumour is false na? kuo?” ABSOLUTELY… I settled down into it a little bit and become comfortable… By the time we passed the tollgate traffic i had forgotten my fears and focused more on the ride and started enjoying it. It was raining too hard to push it on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and for the first couple of minutes we couldn’t really go fast (not the aim anyway) because it was wet and muddy. By watching Biodun I soon learned how to use the wind as Visor-wiper/cleaner by turning my head slightly to the left and right so the force of the wind help clear the mud and water off my visor thank God for that as visibility was becoming a concern…
Coming out of the traffic, Segun and Chibuzo don open engine pass wetin oyinbo make am as they were no were to be found. Biodun and Kanu were breaking-in their engines so couldn’t go too fast…ope o… weather improved by the time we started approaching Sagamu by which time I had forgotten I originally wanted to stay home. The adrenalin rush was at 100%…at some point I started screaming in excitement in my helmet…I stopped so I don’t scare bystanders into relocating … The ride all the way to Abeokuta was pretty good and I settled in well… to the point I had regained my long lost appetite and remembered something…breakfast!
Breakfast was absolutely FREE as Kanu had to pay a fine for being late…much to my dismay this was my first trip by road outside Lagos in at least 10yrs so I wasn’t sure what the rules were concerning the bush and the leaves being used as a substitute for a bathroom and toilet paper… na e i respect myself no chop much. If not, free food??? na today?? I be wan sample everything from meat pie to snail via stockfish and pounded yam and Egusi..
Time to continue… small problem. I had carried a backpack as opposed to harnessing my bag to the rear of my bike, this was no matter at inception because I had other things on my mind but after breakfast and I had relaxed into the ride, the bag all of a sudden felt like a ton of bricks on my back. I remembered seeing on another bikers thread a comment about “failure to plan and spoiling the ride for others…blah blah” so I wasn’t going to ask we stop to buy straps or ask if anyone had any… if na today the back wan cut then by all means make e cut..I must see the end of this waka. All die na die, na not to dey among, participate or at least try your best to try when you don chook head inside any waka na e be the nonsense die… Despite a pre-existing medical condition I have, I bone the pain the bag was giving me… bobs… the ride was too enjoyable.
The ride through Odeda, Ogun and Apataganga were pretty simple and the roads were quite reasonable considering na naija we dey… Ibadan was pretty calm and as expected 5 “pawa” bikes turning up at the same time was bound to create a bit of a spectacle with shouts of “baba o” here and there… “baba o” abi? Come try carry this heavy load wey dey my back let see how baba o you feel afterwards… well to be honest this my 5 mins of fame is not bad at all…
The ride continues into a lonely road in Oyo with rough terrain…hold on, please tell me it’s just a bit of sweat running down my ears… no, it can’t be…at some point when I lost visibility because of the rain I had opened my Visor…do I wear a balaclava? No , never… so for my trouble a fly has made its way into my helmet and was having a jolly good fly around in my ears…”calm down” I tell myself “e go soon tire, ear wey I no clean as normal with cotton bud this morning? The fly go soon faint no worry” as much I tried I had to stop to take the helmet off for relief else I lose concentration from the discomfort or worse still I go mad. Biodun was way ahead so Segun, Chibuzo and Kanu stopped as well to find out what was wrong. Fly was shooed away… ok so remember now we’re in Oyo and well you can’t really blame me can you?
Then I looked up ahead and saw this big mountainous rock ahead of me… I mean, it’s a rock right? And it’s big isn’t it? I turned to Segun and asked “that’s Olumo Rock isn’t it?” You need to have seen the shock horror on his face but he is polite I must give him that. He calmly turned to me and said in an even tone.. “no it isn’t. Olumo rock in is Ogun state” how I wan take know? I be Geography teacher?
Oyo to Ogbomosho via Fiditi was quiet interesting and my inexperience came to fore when I tried to overtake on an inner lane… no not on a dual carriage road, on a single carriage road. The car looked rickety enough and I figured I had speed and acceleration on my side right? WRONG. Soon as I moved into place he remembers his own lane to avoid a pothole and on coming traffic and almost swerves back into me… EASY RIDING… nothing a little application of the brakes a prayer and all what not cannot cure. Still waiting to hear what Segun has to say about that as I saw him shake his head several times after that… I mean I am new… its allowed.
Well!! Not really. Lessons learned. Kanu says to me when we get to Ilorin.. ”two word I have for you… “ESCAPE ROUTE”… “You box yourself in too often” na him know bobs… the waka sweet pass… sweet pass ehm pass… e sweet pass EVERYTHING.
Ogbomoso to Ilorin: Heck Yeah!!! That’s was really something . I mean the road be like abroad bobs… not a single pothole and nobody for miles. As usual Segun and Chibuzo took off breaking formation as agreed and, well, let’s put it like this… I stepped on it on Biodun’s cue and I mean stepped on it… no seriously… return of he Jedi type stepped on it… and guess what? I learned a great lesson… no be by CC if you like carry 5000cc bike if you no get mind, experience and skill… dem go dust you like small pikin. I mash am mash am mash am so tey I got to 230KM/H and I still couldn’t catch up with them. And I mean seriously at some point I lost sight of them. Then I heard Segun and Kanu’s voices in my head during pre-ride brief “ride your own ride” yup! dem no dey tell blind man say market dey burn…I stopped trying to catch up and focused on my own ride… the Easy way. That stretch is one I wouldn’t be forgetting in a very long time. It was something else. The rest of the trip was great and the weather was fair, good roads all the way in and we were in Ilorin in no time. The guys did a lot of looking out and it’s much appreciated. I initially started off with a lot of fear and apprehension but YEAH it was great fun and then some…
Next stop JOS…… you know I am going to go. If rain like make e fall from now till next year.
To be continued
Part II ..the journey home.