TG Newsletter: SANI PASS
(8 August 2015)
What is the definition of a biker? Of a motorcyclist? Of a two-wheeler? How do we describe these odd creatures that like the feeling of freedom blowing in their faces?
There are so many different disciplines in this brotherhood, but each one of us has a tick list of things to do that would award us with a badge of belonging.
I’ve already tick off a few on my list e.g. being able to drink copious amounts of Jack Daniels; racing for 24hrs; and warding off an attack of a fierce-flying-geyser on the M2. But this was a tick I never thought I’d conquer.
Three chickens: Kraai, Skinny and Jolandi each dusted off their spare bags of guts. We rolled out our wheels early on Saturday morning heading south to the kingdom in the sky - LESOTHO.
It took us a few hundred kilometres to find a road less travelled. These Gauteng bitumen-worms are spreading further and further out into the platteland. It’s getting harder each trip to find a decent adventure.
Our first stop was a surprize for Kraai. She had no idea what we were concocting behind her number plate. We kept her in suspense until she rode through the first farm gate at Reitz and six huskies stormed to greet her.
We were at the...
HUSKY ROMI WOLF SANCTUARY!
There is an intercom system on our helmets between Kraai and myself. I can confirm that Kraai can speak a language only dogs and dolphins can understand. She squealed back at the wolves and huskies in a pitch higher than any dog whistle.
Larry took us on a tour of the facility. They currently have 218 dogs (wolves, huskies and cross-breeds of wolves and huskies). They are a non-killing facility and try to interact daily with each and every rescued dog.
Larry places them in the environment they are used to when they arrive. There are a few dogs roaming free on the yard. These dogs came from suburban homes. They sleep in the house and even sleep in Larry’s bed.
*All of a sudden I’m thinking about Red Riding Hood?!?*
One of these free-roamers is called Leila. With a convincing positive vote, we three chickens nominated her as the best dog EVER!
Leila belonged to a guy for 4 years until his fiancé decided she didn’t like the dog and he had to give her up (the husky, not the fiancé). If you touch Leila she starts growling, gnarling and showing teeth, but you quickly realize it is her way of showing affection.
She’ll run up to you begging for attention and as soon as you start rubbing her…
“Last night I dreamed I was chasing a pack of wolves, trying to belong.” - Edgar Cayce -
Larry has even tried to train some of the larger wolves to ‘KILL’. He invited us into one of the cages and told us to walk quickly and go stand at the top of the little hill – we would be save there. He then ordered the wolf to KILL us.
If licking was by any chance a deadly force, we would have been in beeeeeeg trouble.
“A mountain with a wolf on it stands a little bit higher.”
The alpha male in the last den decided he wanted to claim me and marked his newly found ‘territory’, which covered most of the left side of my jacket.
It was getting late and I knew that wolves hunt at night! These three little piggies still had about 100 clicks for the day left and it was already getting dim. So, three pigs and a quarter dog saddled the bikes again to try and make Clarence before midnight.
“Home is where the hair sticks to everything except the dog”
The last few kilos were freezing. We all had tinted visors on and had to ride with the visors open to see the road in the dark. I’m sure my teeth froze and cracked!
We slept in the Clarence herberg (back packers), joined by a group of people obviously not planning on being woken up at 5am with a babbelas by back firing, revving, clicky-clicky motorbikes. SURPRIZE!
Riding through the Drakenberg that early in the morning, you watch as the mountain starts glowing yellow with each ray that hits the cliffs.
We were super excited for the twisty dirt roads lying ahead, but got a bit suspicious when a group of Harleys passed us at the border??? How would they ever manage the Lesotho gravel, mountains, rocks and goats?
Apparently, they’ve changed the spelling of this kingdom to Li Su Tai. I think they struck a great barter deal with the Chinese, considering the Sotho’s got a fully paved road from top to bottom for it (I AM only kidding, about the name change part…).
We swung our handlebars through some majestic passes and climbed a few hundred feet within a short ride.
We stopped at a mountain of ice. So we decided to try ice-skating and even hummed Jennifer Rush tjunes (as they used to play at the Boksburg ice rink), but graceful… we were not!
At the Mahlasela Pass we finally found snow. Please understand that Vaalies (Gauteng dwellers) don’t know this fluffy white powdery stuff that falls from the sky. It has been mistaken in the past for candyfloss or even densely packed sheep.
We HAD to stop!
Playing in the snow is the true play of a grown-up… until your panties get soaked.
We made snow-angels…
We snowballed the passers-by…
And even got a few close hits in – YEAHHAAAA, koes!
The Eskimos have 52 names for snow because it is important to them. That’s just so crazy!
So we jumped on our bikes, motorcycles, motorbikes, scramblers, boneys, choppers, two-wheelers, rice burners, crotch rockets, cruisers, dual sports, enduros, Gixers, scooters, tourers, Zooks, hogs, mopeds, dirt bikes, MX’s, puggies, set of wheels, bobbers, rat bikes, baggers, street fighters, nakeds, café racers…
We got super excited every time the road turned to stof, but the excitement lasted but a wee second, as it was only for the road works every few kilometres.
There was a bad patch of marbled-gravel road and my nerves claimed the use of my brain. I screamed in Kraai’s ears that I was NOT in control, until she calmly asked, “Why don’t you just stand up?”
Aaah… Problem sorted!
For lunch, we made a bokdrolletjies and biltong picnic next to the road. What a view!
We finally got to the SANI PASS!
Sani is one of the most hair raising pass in South Africa. Sani Pass starts at 1544m and climbs 1332 vertical meters to an altitude of 2876 m. The road is notoriously dangerous and is approximately 9 km in length. Caution must be exercised as it has claimed many lives.
Never in my wildest motorcycle nightmares would I have ever thought I’d be riding down Sani.
But we first had to laaf our central nervous systems. A good shot of tekwiela, followed by a decent substance of meat and drowned by a bubbly loath of bread.
I wonder if tekwiela floats quicker to your brain at this high an altitude?
We were still munching rustig on our food when we realized the border closed at 6pm and it was 5:55 on our watches! We tjomped, gulfed and then swiped our cards in but a mere few seconds.
Luckily the Lesotho border post also worked on Africa-time. But they did look at us in disbelieve for attempting the hardest pass in SA while it was getting dark outside.
As we slowly slid down the first stretch, we saw that the road was not only rocky, but wet, muddy and iced over in places.
Kraai came to a dead stop in front of me; which was an amazing feat in itself as there wasn’t really any traction for the bikes to slow down. ‘Na-ah’ was all I heard.
I convinced her that we were going so slow - the worst that could happen was that we would fall over. We needed a little bit more momentum to fall over the side…
As I passed her on the inside, my mind kept telling me, “If you fall down now – THERE IS NO WAY WE ARE GETTING KRAAI DOWN THIS MOUNTAIN TONIGHT!” I think my giggles eased her mind.
At the first look-out point we stopped for an onsie (a selfie of more than one person: ONS). Guess which one was still sitting on her bike.
Jolandi tamed the pins like a matador. She even came flying past me with both hands in the air. All she needed was a capote.
They were switching off the lights behind us as we crawled down the mountain. I’m sure they started rolling up the pass at the top – I could feel them tugging. It was getting darker, colder and wetter with every inch we dropped.
There was still a few toit twisties and a water crossing or two before we got to the SA border. I’m sure I saw the border official rolling his eyes at us…
Three chickens rolled down the dark side of Sani pass… and we liked it!
I always thought Sani pass was way out of my league. I thought it would always just be a dream, but it turned out to be nothing more than a little hill.
There was still about 30 kilos of mountain pass left before we would get to Himeville, but it was dark, BLACK DARK. The kind of darkness that eats the light before it can hit the road. I knew there would still be a few steep drops and tight corners, but luckily we couldn’t see any of these and we hooved it for the last stretch.
We got to Himeville Arms at about 8/9pm where we slept for the night.
I have to hand it to these chickens. They start their engines while it’s still dark out and they don’t switch off that ignition until waaaay after dark. They prefer to fill their days with riding.
That night while we kuiered with an MX-rider crowd, Kraai revealed secrets about one of our members. She explained to the group of guys that even though Jolandi doesn’t wear any make-up when she’s on the bike… they should see her when she’s ON STAGE! WOWWEE!!! Her real name is Chikita and she is the best dancer you will ever see. Her signature move is one where she ‘walks the pole’. With that, Kraai started a Johnny Walker move with her fingers up an imaginary pole.
I’m not sure whose jaw dropped more… the guys’ OR Jolandi’s.
The next morning we had a long haul back home. The roads were long and uneventful, but I guess after Sani – no road will ever be the same again.
We stopped at Oliviershoek Pass to get blood flow back in our monkey bums.
On our trip we saw things, we heard things and we said things. All the things that makes us brave, that makes us adventurers. Long live SANI PASS!
*IMPORTANT: Any grammar errors spotted in this article were put there because I could.*
CHIKITA PRODUCTIONS PRESENT:
Chikita produced a must-see video clip of our weekend: Camera – Action – Roll!
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Dusting off the last sky from my tyres!
www.pinterest.com/skinny400 YouTube: Skinny van Schalkwyk