Brill Crosby and the Bunnies
(21 - 24 March 2019)
Hi, my name is Brill… Brill CROSBY (Adventure 400)
I recently emigrated to South Africa from China. I heard all about this indescribably beautiful country with all too many adventure playgrounds. From the red Kalahari dunes, the flat Karoo, the bushveld, and the coastal mountain passes. I got a dual-citizen Visa with a job at V Custom Cycles. My new boss’ name is Pat Draper. He is an ebullient man with a beard that would make Santa jealous.
I haven’t been in the country for long yet and already my boss called me up for an exciting project. I had to go test these two girls known as the Tank Girls. At first sight they seemed all charming and endearing. I thought it a good way for me to ease into the adventure lifestyle of South Africans. The main objective was to take these two girls and their best friend Booga, down to Durban to go savour a truly South African delicacy called a Bunny Chow?!? At first, I was ghastly shocked at the thought of biting into a little white fluff. WHAT DID I SIGN UP FOR???
Turns out the Bunny Chow is an Indian quick meal that originated in South Africa. The history of the bunny is still clouded in mystery. But to comfort future visitors… it is a hollowed out half loaf of bread with a curry stew and sauce. The choice of curry is mostly lamb, beef, chicken or beans. Though more creative recipes have also seen the light of day.
Thank heavens Bugs was gonna be safe…
We started our trip at 5am before the sun woke. It was nippy and I’m sure the humans still had a few hours before their brains would completely switch to ON-mode. We made it a full 7km from home on the N1 highway when we saw a vehicle doing an emergency stop in the far-right lane, and then the car to our left in the third lane also give a hard swerve and came to a skidding halt… What was going on? The next moment I saw a cow’s horn flash white in the streetlight!!! A cow had jumped over the railings of a trailer and was running in the dark between the vehicles all flustered and scared. Okaay… Raaight… we missed Bessie with centimetres and our humans were immediately switched to full operational mode.
We had no further altercations of the bovine kind and even though traffic was heavy we made it safely into the countryside. The sun eventually woke up with a big fat yawn. We clicked off kilos in mist, in rain, in cold, but my heart kept beating a steady 120 on the monitor. Today – today – today was going to be a good day!
We then turned off the jam-packed highway and rode through a place I heard them say had a ‘golden gate’? I must have missed the gate, but the mountains were astounding! I trotted in awe, staring at the ochre cliffs on both sides. I expected to see Saint Peter at the top of a high ridge holding a short scroll.
We then turned left on a particularly small dirt road. It was pebbly and quite badly eroded. It was time… time to show them what was flowing through my tubes.
After a while they stopped and bundled around me, making me a little nervous. They took turns poking and flicking my switches, pressing buttons and scratching their heads. Why didn’t they just ask me what they were looking for? They phoned my boss, Pat… was I in trouble??? What did I do wrong? I heard them mention ABS and I proudly flickered my light to show them that jip, indeed, I had ABS - front and back.
It turned out later that they were trying to switch the ABS OFF… Oops… Well – more on that later.
Obviously with the ABS on – there were no brakes to be found during any of the dirt road stretches. And here I was thinking they were purposefully riding like that to add an extra thrill to our adventure. I was starting to doubt these two girls’ sanity.
We eventually came to a gate (not golden) into the Kingdom in the Sky – LESOTHO. It is the only country in the world to be entirely above 1 000m in elevation and it has the highest lowest point in the entire world at 1 400m.
Brakes excluded; I think I might have impressed the girls with my agility over the steep rocky sections. With ample ground clearance and a featherweight’s frame (I only weigh 151kg dry) it was easy to manoeuvre through the small twisty dirt roads.
They stopped at a shebeen at the top of a hill where they were offered a brew called a White-Suthu. It is a home brewed beer consisting mostly of Maizena. It was grainy, sour and tasted a bit like the water residue after you washed my air filter. Booga regurgitated after one sip, but the girls took mustache-leaving gulps. I was becoming concerned…
For dessert we got freshly smoked-out honeycomb.
It was late in the day and we were all feeling a bit famished. There was still 50km left to cover to get to Sani Lodge, but we just HAD to get something to eat (I have a size 16L stomach and can easily get 400km on that juice). It was a bit out of the way, but we found a dilapidated petrol station in a town on one of the side roads. Us three bikes each filled up at three different pumps. While the Skinny one was filling me up, I tasted the petrol was a bit off. But… when in Lesotho – do as the Sothos do. Maybe this was a different brand of fuel? It was upsetting my stomach…
We arrived at Sani, freezing and soaking wet. The owner took one look at the dripping threesome and immediately changed our accommodation from camping to the back-packers. And even though he was fully booked, he cleared a table in the pub so the three humans could have a warm buffet meal. The word ‘thankful’ was inadequate.
After dinner, we pulled up next to the sleeping quarters and they unpacked only the necessary (note that I come standard with 35L pannier boxes). But someone came to call them (he had a bit of a nervous high pitch in his voice). My knees were weak after a long day of exhilaration. I got a bit dizzy and plonked over my side stand… onto a brand-spanking-new Amarok!!! I was sooo gonna get fired the moment I got back to the office…
They helped me back onto my wheels and even though I broke both my mirrors, it looked like there wasn’t any damage to the Rok. The Rok-owner was also an extremely nice guy and shrugged off the mishap with a smile. From this point on, I kept my left-side vacated.
The next morning, we woke up with frozen seats and a fairy landscape of glittering droplets. It was still drizzling, and I wasn’t looking forward to a muddy road. What they didn’t tell me was that Sani doesn’t enter the realm of ‘road’ so much…
The Skinny-one peddled all of about 5 meters down the first wet, rocky section of Sani Pass. Let me just mention that Sani Pass is the mother of all South African mountain passes. Statistically and in every sense, it out distances, out climbs, and out performs all its competitors with consummate ease to have become the most iconic gravel pass in SA. At the top the pass stands at 2876m ASL. It drops down to 1544m at the bottom. Certain sections are as steep as 1:4!
And remember – they were going to attempt it all without BRAKES! I wanted to roll into the fetal position. I wanted to phone my mom with a collect call and beg her to come fetch me. Africa is not for sissies…
Luckily Booga came to the rescue. Brakes??? BAH!
Booga took over my steering and slipped down the pass all the way in first gear. We would wave and screamed at any oncoming traffic to make space, as there was no way we could come to a stop. We had a minor slip in an extremely knee-deep muddy section, because Kenda Dualsport rubber is not made for endless streams of slippery mush. Thanks to my built-in crash bars, bash plate, hand-guards, headlight protector and sump guard – I did not even get a grazed knee.
There was a gang of bandits at a look-out point, they sarcastically called themselves the Road Warriors. We secretly referred to them as the Okes-With-The-Lekker-Bikes!
The Halfwaytherebutnotgettinganyeasier pub! They serve Jack and Sani stream water.
The Skinny one slipped back onto my seat halfway down and encouraged my weak soul to keep trying. It took a full eleven kilometres of listening to her sing, “BRANNEWYN HETTIE BRIEKE NIE!!!” Oh, my weak throttle and my squeaky chain…
At Himeville Arms, we stopped for lunch, where we got to see the seat where the mystery of the one we call Chikita was created. Chikita, who can walk-the-pole like no other dancer!
From here things were supposed to go smooth, but 20km outside town my stomach could just not handle yesterday’s dinner anymore. I was blasting a few powerful farts out my exhaust and I kept dry-hurling next to the road. We pulled off a few times, but we had no option but to continue. We still had to make it to Toti!
At Pinetown we rushed to the Emergency Room (Rocket Racing) and I crawled into the parking on forks and pegs. I had a fever and it felt like I was dying… The mechanic had already gone home and the guys in the shop could only give me sympathy – albeit in copious amounts. According to them, my belching and gagging could be symptoms of anything e.g. electrical, battery, filters, pump, carbs, sparkplugs… you name it. I would have to go in for a full engine-scan. They did not think I was going to pull through. I started hoping for koeksisters at my funeral.
It was still 30 kilos to Amanzimtoti but I was feeling fatigued and lethargic. My Kendas just didn’t want to carry me anymore. But again, these two koekoes chicks wouldn’t take NEEP for an answer. Skinny realized that by chopping the throttle repeatedly she could force fuel through my system and even fetch up to 140km/h! But she still couldn’t see behind her (mirror-mirror on the wall…). Chikita covered my rear and for the next 15min I had the most hair-raising ride of hell through bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway. If you ever consider getting yourself one of these ‘boere meisies’ – they are no good for commuting!
Not only did I have food poisoning, but now I was car sick as well…
*Yeah – that’s a mini-wheelie*
But I finally got a nice warm garage where I could rest my weary frame for the night. They headed out for their first bunny chow, taking to the streets of Toti.
(400 Kingsway Rd, Amanzimtoti)
After a sunset dop and walk, they found a little café just a block away from our flat. They were served by a very friendly lady called Agnus. On a scale of guppy to dragon for chili hotness, this one scored the rating of ‘sardientjie’. After every bunny, the serviettes would be rated; they would attempt an exercise (in this case it was a skêr-jump); and performed a short Bollywood dance routine. The owner came out and even played some more appropriate music while secretly taking a video of their silliness. There was ample bike parking and easy access off the main road.
The next morning, I was feeling a bit more solid, but still a little queasy. We rode back to Durban, but before we even got to our breakfast bunny, my guts turned inside-out. The group phoned Pat and after an online diagnosis it was agreed that I had vrot Lesotho petrol in my system. Dougie, the manager at the Shell garage, opened a medicine bottle and dipped a stick in my tank. The fluid changed cerise pink! CONFIRMED - IT WAS BAD PETROL!
They then fetched a big plastic container and started pumping my stomach. As the first fluids poured into the bin, Wordington – the petrol attendant that was helping us – stopped and asked (with the biggest flippen frown you’ve ever seen) what that ‘fluid’ was?!? He showed us the real colour of 95 unleaded - it was supposed to be green. The stuff they were pumping out was a murky brownish green with black slimy pieces floating in it… All of a sudden it made good sense to the three humanoids why I had been wheezing for the last 350 – YES – 350 kilometres! It was a blerrie miracle that I survived at all.
A sexy XT700 pulled up to check on my condition. Boy, would I have asked her on a date if I felt a bit better.
Her rider, Derek, gave us his number – just in case we needed further assistance.
They gave me a healthy tank of good 95 with a prescription of one can of injector cleaner. Why did it take The Great Unwashed so long to fix me? How could I ever recommend bikers like these to any of my bike friends???
Our second bunny was luckily in the café next door…
GOVENDERS CURRY DEN
(Edwin Swales Dr)
After I had a good 95 breakfast, it was time for the two-legs to fill up as well. The building next door had a restaurant with its own secure parking. It was early but already quite busy. Vishnu and Saras welcomed the Vaalies, while Saras dually told us that she just turned 60 – CONGRATS! They sat at a table in the middle of the restaurant with fans blowing wildly. The bunny scored a rating of ‘python’ for chili-ness – and all of a sudden, the fans made sense. As exercise, they had to touch their toes, even though two of them can’t even touch their knees on an empty stomach.
With breakfast behind them, we rode through the city to our next stop. All my carbs and plugs were finally working again, and I felt on top of the world. I could almost forgive these food-fired-imbeciles, but then…
…everything just went black!
We parked on the side of the rode and Chikita started pulling me to pieces. A quick call to Pat again and it became clear that the side stand switch was acting up. All the way up in Pretoria, the team took hold of another 400 Adventure – Bing... Bing Crosby. They started cutting his wires and pulling out connectors to see how they could disconnect the switch. While holding on the line, we followed their lead and soon we were up and riding again.
Dylan was the waiter and pointed out that they had a bar. Why??? Did our humans look like alcoholics? Never mind… Forget that I even asked that question… The curry was extremely mild and scored the lowest ‘guppy’ points. They set their goals a bit high on the exercise and attempted the crab-stand. Everyone could however lift their full bellies at least a few centimetres. I really enjoyed their hop-hop dance, but they received concerned stares from the other patrons. There was also no bike parking and we therefore took over most of the sidewalk. But at least they had tequila!
Wasting no time, we went straight to the next chow…
The waiter was extremely shy but considering that these three have always been a rowdy bunch, Liton (the waiter) just blushed and took their order. Again, the mild curry was cooked by someone with really small hands and it scored a ‘goldfish with Dracula teeth’ on our chili chart. They entertained the two waiters at the entrance with their roly-poly dance, but maybe offended them when their exercise turned into a burping competition. There were lots of parking but being on the beachfront all the parking was full, so we again stopped on the sidewalk right in front of the restaurant… and nobody complained.
It was time to take a short rest, and the team wandered off to the beach and like the smelly-bums they are – they took an hour’s sandy nap.
After that it was off to…
This one was inside a mall which had designated parking, but we opted to park amongst the street vendors, with their colourful stands and even more colourful language. The waiter, Judah, was again one of the shy-guys but within minutes he pushed a steaming plate of bunny onto the table and gave a little evil grin. This one had more bite; it was rated as a ‘5m crocodile’ on the burn-scale. YUM! For exercise they tried push-ups. TheThinOne did half a push-up… the bottom half. They were a bit disappointed that they didn’t get coins thrown at them, as they performed a dance routine that would impress Aishwarya Rai.
Last bunny on the list was at the legendary…
They left the most formal eatery for last and pulled into the parking lot behind the hotel, with security guards and all and all. They decided to dine in the pub area, with Nash as their waiter. He was so cool and funky; we could imagine him rapping of the main courses on the menu. Even though everybody were trommel-duk, they looked forward to this chow that has been spoken about by bunny gurus for decades. And it did not disappoint… it was served with little ramekins of sambals, pickled chilis and atchar, and boy did it kick! It got the highest chili rating as a full ‘toothless dragon’. For the workout they aced the squats, and their dance was Filmfare award winning stuff!
With stomachs filled to capacity, we all headed back to the flat.
The next morning Skinny and Booga would attempt to make the 640kms back home without a glitch.
Chikita was left behind to spend a few extra days at the coast and took the scenic route through Lesotho back home.
Be warned… Lesotho mountains can get very angry!
Melk decided that Clarens was his new home and refused to respond to any of Chikita’s commands like, “Start jou blikemmer!”; “Have lighter – not afraid to use it!”; and “I know your trade-in value…”
Crispy and crew to the rescue! Luckily, we have friends that love us too much and they drove down to pick-up one Amazi and one Chikita.
My preliminary report to Pat:
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to experience Africa and its people first hand. What a country! What a people!
I have not traveled much through the rest of South Africa, but I find it hard to believe that I will find more friendly and caring folks than the banana-people of Durban.
The winner of the best bunny chow was… BRITANNIA!!! Best presentation, best side-dishes, hottest curry, smooth tequila. Tjinne, nou’s ek alweer honger…
But for a real Durb’s bunny experience - Govender’s took the authentic spot. It felt like we came home to mamma’s food.
The two girls turned out to be royal nincompoops. For an adventure, take them out of their boxes for a few days, but sign the indemnity form that comes with this product. They are adventure with a heartbeat. They laugh at distress and smite comfort. WARNING: Not to be used for easy-riding.
My name is Brill – Brill Crosby! I survived this trip and made it home. That in itself should warrant me a raise (…take note Pat).
The one called Melk (I think he was a 701), didn’t make it back. An emergency pick-up had to be organized for collection at Clarence. Obviously, Husqvarna’s should be given additional warning about the use of these Afrikaans nooiens. We’re not all built tuff enough to endure their antics.
The Crosby Adventure 400 will only cost you R69 000! And it includes all those nicetohavebutyoureallyshouldn’tbewithoutthemwhenyou’reonanadventure extras. Check out their website for more details:
The past is a ghost, the future a dream, and all we ever have is now
We decided to test ride the adventure capabilities of the new 400cc Crosby Adventure - through Lesotho (the Kingdom in the Sky), all the way down a muddy, rain-soaked Sani Pass, and ending in Durban (home of the Bunny-Chow). Boy - can these two Tank Girls (and their Booga friend) put a bike through its paces!?! But a big congratulations to the Crosby (aptly named Brill) - he survived!
For entertainment, we collect scars, bridge solenoids, and test fuel quality. What do you do for fun?
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