Female adventurer Michelle Morgan, co-founder of the Alchemist bar in Nairobi, and a former presenter on the XOA adventure show, talks to Nomad about her passion for motorcycling, and riding across Kenya.
How did you get into motorcycling?
Growing up, I went to a motocross event, and came home and said, “Mum, this is it. I need a motorbike.” My Mum said, “Absolutely not. You’re going to go to ballet school and will learn how to be a goddamn lady.” At university, any opportunity I got to ride a bike, I took it. When I got back here [to Kenya], I saved up and got a Puzy 200cc off-road bike. That was the beginning of my lust for adventure.
Your most memorable ride?
My solo biking adventure trips feel like somewhat of a calling. My soul stirs for the feeling of the road less travelled. Setting off not knowing when I’ll be back. On my last solo motorbike escapade, I decided to discover Shimba Hills 40 km from Diani beach. After rearing off onto a dusty track of red earthy sand for several kilometres, I found myself at the gates of the elephant sanctuary.
One of the rangers told me there was a waterfall only a couple of kilometers into the sanctuary. Embracing the thrill and sheer terror of the experience, I forged on as we trekked through thickets of bush until we emerged at the frontier of a lush green oasis. Towering before me stood the beauty of this hidden waterfall. I soaked myself in the gushing waters of this magical place knowing this was exactly where I was meant to be. Travel is my vehicle of self-discovery, of connection to all that is. It is what makes me feel alive
Ever find yourself in a fix?
A friend and I went to Champagne Ridge, and on our way back, she was going really fast and went over a rumble strip, flew off her bike, and landed on her head. We were in the middle of Kikuyu Forest, and she was completely delirious. While all this was happening, in the distance I see three men approaching. I was like, “Get on the bike. It was just a tiny fall.”
But she was still not 100%, and I looked at the guys, trying to sus them out. They were teenagers, and I thought I could deal with this. One of the guys got on my friend’s bike and I yelled at him. He got off, and at that point, my friend started the other bike, and I told her to ride. We rode to hospital. She had a slight concussion.
Isn’t it dangerous?
You take a responsible risk. You have to have all the gear. I don’t make assumptions that anyone will stop. But it’s not as terrifying as people think. It’s freedom. It’s so liberating, it’s like my meditation. Just being able to pack my life into two saddle bags is the most rewarding activity I do. A lot of aspects of my life I do for other people, but this is like my ‘me-time.’
Michelle Morgan also blogs about her adventures at thefemalenomad.co.ke or on Instagram @thefemalenomad