Tayiani Sempele Jul31

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Tayiani Sempele

Tayiani Sempele is a motorcyclist, business owner and model living in Nairobi, Kenya. She chats with us about getting into motorcycle touring on her Hero Karizma and being a part of a new growing demographic of women motorcyclists in Kenya. [Rashmi Tambe, Editor]

Tayiani Semple on her Hero Karizma

Tayiani Sempele on her Hero Karizma

Name: Tayiani Sempele
Age: 27
Country: Kenya
Languages: English, Swahili and Maasai
Years Riding: 2+ years
Height: 5’7
Current motorcycles: Hero Karizma ZMR 223
Past motorcycles: Premier Gy 150Cc
Kms Per Year: 10,000
Website: www.tayiani.com

 

Please introduce yourself. Hello, my name is Tayiani Sempele. I am 27 years old and the second born in a family of seven kids. I was brought up in a small village called Narok in Kenya. I come from a nomadic tribe – the Maasai – that likes to travel and look for greener pastures for their livestock. Hence I have a scattered extended family whom my parents always visited a lot during the school holidays when I was young. I guess that’s where I got my spirit of adventure and my desire to travel and see places.

I went to school to study Tourism and Hotel Management. I worked in the hotel industry for two years before deciding that I wanted to do something on my own that would create more time for myself and my young family. My husband and I moved from Mombasa to Nairobi and started a cyber cafe, and later a salon. I started modeling after school when I realized that I loved eating healthy and exercising. I am hoping to be able to work with bike modeling soon. I also have a seven year old son. It is a challenge to run a business, a family and also find time for riding, but I manage to squeeze it all in to my life.

I am an enthusiastic person who values life and the beauty that comes with it. Motorcycling gives me that, and I totally enjoy riding my bike. I have done several long distance trips but all within my country. My rides are usually 200-600 km away from home. I am really looking forward to travelling outside my country and across different borders on my bike!

A photoshoot with East African Motorcycle Diaries magazine

A photoshoot with East African Motorcycle Diaries magazine

 

Please describe your path into motorcycling. My husband rode a 200 cc Raleigh and I was his pillion for about three months before I decided that I really wanted to learn how to ride. I saw how he had fun riding off-road and thought – “Ah, this is the bike I want”. He bought me a 150 cc off-road bike after two lessons. It was quite tall for a starter bike but I did not want to start small. I could only tippy-toe it, which was a little depressing and fun at the same time.  At the time, I was scared of the ccs on his bike. Now I look back and laugh at the thought of me being scared by a 200 cc bike.

Tayiani on her first bike.

Tayiani on her first bike.

 

Describe your current ride. My current motorcycle is a Hero Karizma Zmr 223 cc manufactured in India. Several people I ride with bought one as a beginner bike and they are quite comfortable riding it.

Tayiani_bike

Have you made any close female friendships due to motorcycling? Several! When I first started riding my bike I was worried that I was the only female biker around so I set out to look out for other lady bikers. I was quite surprised to learn that I wasn’t alone. I have made a lot of friends and we have traveled together. We did the International Female Ride day together and it was such a head turner for several people since motorcycling for women has just begun being popular in Kenya right now. We rode round-trip from Nairobi to a town called Naivasha for lunch.

Group ride from Nairobi to Naiyasha

Group ride from Nairobi to Naivasha

Stopped between Nairobi and Naiyasha

Stopped between Nairobi and Naivasha

Tayiani with a fellow rider

Tayiani with a fellow rider

With my riding buddy Tina

With my riding buddy Tina


Do you have any motorcycling heroes?
I am my own hero, together with all the women out there brave enough to sit on a motorcycle and ride. Most especially, those who are not scared to strap on their luggage and travel the world by themselves.

Are you interested in competing or racing? I am not into racing at all. I actually don’t think I will be participating in any races since I have seen several occasions where fathers, brothers, friends died while racing. I have nothing against racing but since I know it puts my life at risk, I don’t try it.

Is there any other kind of motorcycling that you’d like to try your hand at? I have tried dirt biking before and I must say I love it so much. That’s where my heart is. I am hoping to get myself a dirt bike soon and go do some serious off-road riding. There is a lot to learn and enjoy. Cruisers are also something  that I would like to try because they seem so comfortable. 

Do you do maintenance and repairs on your bike? No. My husband would do maintenance on my off-road bike. I get my current bike serviced by the company that sold it. I intend to have them continue servicing it since they understand it better.

If you could change one thing about the world of motorcycling, what would it be? I would change people’s perspective of bikers. We are not outlaws. We are simple people with careers, families and a thirst for adventure.  

 

MOTORCYCLING IN KENYA

Tayiani on a ride to Narok

Tayiani on a ride to Narok


If I were to visit you and we went riding for one short morning ride, where would you take me? 
If I were to take you on a short ride, I would take you to the Fourteen Falls in Thika. It’s a very, very beautiful place to be. It’s approximately 43 km from Nairobi. Thika Falls/Fourteen Falls is where the Gordon Scott Tarzan movie was filmed in the 1960s. You could also see Ol Donyio Sabuk mountain from here, which is now a National Park.

Riding to Fourteen Falls from Nairobi

Riding to Fourteen Falls from Nairobi


What’s the best part about riding in Kenya?
Most communities in Kenya are very friendly and welcoming. You can set out riding to a particular part of the country and a family that you have never met will be ready to accommodate you for free and advise you about the area and what to look out for. The climate here is always beautiful most of the time which makes riding quite enjoyable.

We however have elephants crossing your path sometimes but I’ve never heard of them harming anyone on a bike. Thorns are also things to look out for, especially if you are travelling through the dry parts of the country. We have guys who travel on big touring bikes and carry spare tyres because of this.

In general, Kenya has very cozy little lodges, big hotels, and different sorts of places for accommodation to suit different people.

What kind of food can riders expect to stop for on the way that is typical to your region? Kenyans love meat! Whatever the tribe, we just love meat. Bikers love to stop along the way for well grilled beef and ugali – a meal made from maize flour that goes well with almost everything, whether vegetables or all sorts of meat. 

Women Who Ride - Visiting a childhood friend along the Narok route

Visiting a childhood friend along the Narok route


Is it safe to ride at night where you live? 
It’s quite safe to ride in Kenya, especially in Nairobi since it’s a major city which is well lit. As long as you are geared up and visible to other road users, it shouldn’t be a problem. Having said that, I usually avoid night riding, especially on weekends when most of the road users are drunk. 

Is motorcycle theft a problem? Not really, unless you leave your bike unattended and have no security measures like a disc lock or an alarm system. Most of the people I know use alarms and ask the guards to keep an eye on their bikes. I cannot say that bikes don’t get stolen but when safety precautions are taken, bike theft is minimal in Kenya. 

Are there any motorcycle specific laws?
We are not discriminated against. Our laws in Kenya mostly protect us. We have to wear helmets, have proper insurance cover, and carry a pillion with a helmet. You know, it’s just regular stuff that’s even in place for your own safety.   

Are any motorcycle related sports popular where you live and do women actively participate in them? We have motocross competitions and young ladies participate in the competition. There are also enduro camps where off-road bikers meet and ride as they socialize and have fun. 

How are women motorcycle riders treated by male motorcyclists and non-riders? Male motorcyclists are very supportive of us. They appreciate the fact that we share a passion and we do it well. As for the rest of the people, they are yet to come to terms with the fact that ladies are embracing motorcycling. They always call out on us when they see us lane splitting. Most of them love it and  move out of the way so we can pass. Only a few don’t like us, especially women. It’s very hard to get a lady driver to give you way.  

Some guys escorting us out of town during the Narok ride

Some guys escorting us out of town during the Narok ride


Do female and male motorcyclists have the same amount of freedom to pursue motorcycling activities?  
Yes, absolutely. It’s just that the women biking community is so young here. We have a few ladies who have started practicing for races. Very soon they will be good at it and start racing with the guys.  favicon

 



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