TG Newsletter: RHODES
The more the merrier. And logistically impossiblier!!!
(10 - 12 September 2021)
By no small feat we assembled the seven of us with all our dietary requirements for one whole weekend of serious riding and intense profanity. Profundity!
Skinny had been nursing a sore throat all the way down but vowed not to let her dirty mouth touch our precious tequila bottle – the subsequent small spill was thus medically mandatory to ensure that she and she alone would lose her voice and feel under the weather for the duration of the trip.
Sometimes we have to run eight hundred and forty kilometers from our regular scheduled obligations, just to disappear with our bikes into the faraway mountains.
All that running made the sun set much earlier than anticipated, with us arriving at our quaint little small-town cottage twenty minutes after dark. Crispy and Karen sparked up a braai fire chop-chop while everyone got settled in.
Karen’s special road trip brownies were finally starting to work their particular brand of magic on Booga who had to tap out mid-braaibroodjie duty! Dizzier tomato slices have not since been seen, nor will Team Tank Girls ever allow him to live that night down!
We couldn’t wait to get outdoors on that bright and chilly morning. The Booga Man was feeling alright again and Chikita’s nose hairs tingled at all the mountain twisties that lay before us!
All gravel roads lead to Rhodes. Likewise, they all depart from there too.
The Brave, the Voiceless and the Hungover saddled up and headed excitedly east.
Frikkie sê niks but we all know what he’s thinking…
The sun peeped over the sheep waar een se gatvelle aan die draad vassit!
Some dramatic mountain passes lined up before us.
Mirror Mirror on the Water, who be slayin’ and who be slaughtered?
How about a little cemetery on an empty stomach? Hello! One with picnic facilities! We got onto the agave smoothies early, shedding those dog hairs everywhere. “Esprit de corps” has nothing to do with liquor and dead bodies, by the way.
We toasted the fallen, whose graves were neatly kept in the shape of the word ‘Naudé’, as well as those that are about to fall. Salut!
A foot race quickly separated the winners from the jokers, just so we knew our position should we need to be laughed out of any kind of situation… We knew we were in good hands.
Ascending the escarpment, it became instantly apparent why Booga’s had an enduring love affair with the area. We all just assumed he kept revisiting his former haunts to help jog his ageing, oft-inebriated memory.
But those sweeping bends and endless panoramas speak for themselves in a made-up language of rolling hills, eye-widening skies, and cursive gravel roads.
Naudé's Nek Pass was a breeze – a gale force breeze. That lookout point stopped us dead in our tracks and subtly reminded us to keep Strepsil-breath hydrated. 2500m ASL. Some call it “high spirits.”
Her singing voice had almost fully faded by now and, for a few of us, the day was shaping up to be wonderfully peaceful and quiet!
“Five stars” – “Would recommend” – “Puts the ‘tit’ in high altitude”
Only 3km onwards but also 2.6km above sea level all at once, we faced another setback to our progress. The local beer just had to be sampled!
Rhodes’ own Blackout Stout smells sweet and tastes of coffee and dark chocolate, a velvety mouthfeel, and the alcohol taste is fairly well hidden. It certainly filled a little void that was starting to develop – we had yet to hit brunch and it was already Tenoclock at Tenahead Lodge.
One spectacle after the other unfolded before our very eyes. Snow was melting high up on the hill. A cat went mole-hunting all over the grasslands after rock-hopping across the stream where crystal clear water cascaded towards the viewing deck. Action seats we wouldn’t soon surrender…
Drop a coin and it becomes a Dance Booth!
Anyway, we will now interrupt this drinking spree with some moments of actual riding.
The Tiffindell-Tenahead Traverse is a 27km contour road (SA’s highest) connecting the lodge and famous ski resort, which is now permanently closed (the resort – not the road). The road is also home to one bewildered rinkhals, caught slithering across without looking left or right – which sobered us up quite quickly (all that booze-money wasted!)
The Crispy Nugget astride Cherry Bomb (XT250) and Karen’s super-tjoop’d Bubble (VanVan125) made it all look so easy! And lemme tell ya, there were some hairy pits in places! Especially where Karen came past, pushing her Van around the parked bikes, over ginormous boulders, shouting, “I don’t *bleeping* know where the *bleep* you *bleeping* *bleepers* are going but I’m *bleeping* going home!!!”
The longer we ride together the more impressed we become with our taste in adventure buddies!
Freaky Frikkie ate some drive-thru mud pie. When we caught him out, he just looked the other way. It was way worse than it looked.
The arrival of the Jeep always brought happiness and hielielie’s.
Because that’s how the refreshments were transported.
Champagne on ice, someplace fancy to sit (or lie down), and a bottomless spread!
Add five hungry bikers to the feeding frenzy! Hydrate hydrate hydrate! Aaaaaand nap!
The condition of the road had been unbeknownst to us, and was about to become a little more challenging, but we kept bouncing along, blissfully oblivious. The more you know the scarier the expectation – but the less you know, the more fun you have just figuring everything out along the way!
Crispy and Booga both re-examined their association with Tank Girls and appeared as if they regretted a few life choices. Oh well, nothing they could do about it now!
A little road rage got me through many more peak traffic situations than staying calm in my lane ever did.
At dawn we ride. At noon we nap…
Check this loo with a view that Karen found in the middle of nowhere!
We picked up a stray along the way. There’d been some drama with a couple of old folks in a stranded 4×4 and Abri was on a mission for help. Phone reception was non-existent, so he had to race around to get a rescue vehicle on their scent.
A hero’s welcome: When that first tequila drop hits your soul…
We regrouped at the Tiffindell intersection and unanimously decided to beeline back to Rhodes. We were thirsty, focused, and a little bit fuct.
Carlile’s Hoek Spruit Pass was stunning, and easy-going – as long as you had brakes. Skinny did not have brakes. She didn’t have a voice either. And she so loves screaming…
At the bottom of the pass our flu patient needed a snooze, so everyone jumped in and made it happen!
We headed straight to Walkerbouts Inn, because we needed to lift some spirits in small glasses and say “cheers” a couple more times! What a lekker day!
Local legend, Dave Walker, came out to take his front-page newspaper picture with Freaky Frikkie and the whole entourage. We were truly spoiled with the warmest company and coldest drinks all night long.
Roses are red, tequila is gold.
The pub’s platannas are thirty years old!
Skinny’s Husky voice was better than her Mariah Hairy voice but not as good as her Whippetny Houston voice. Nonetheless, everyone chatted up everyone else in the pub, and nobody went home alone.
Next morning, without too much cuffuffle, we headed south for what was left of winter.
Gallop must have deduced from the hushed conversations that it was going to be a rough ride and summarily went on strike. Chikita and Booga pooshed and pooshed that stubborn horse all the way into the limiter. They were just about to give up when he coughed up the hairball and the back of all our minds went, “ouch, well, glad that’s not my bike!”
If it came to that, Skinny was prepared to ride a sheep to the ends of the earth just to complete the trip with us. You all know it’s true… She’d wheelie the poor thing too, and it’d be the best day of its life!
Dubbed one of South Africa’s most challenging true mountain passes, a white-knuckle ride, there’s only one way up Bastervoetpad Pass. It’s steep, rocky and rolly!
Yet, before we knew it, the hard part was over! The two shorties conquered it with picture-perfect panache!
Skinny whispered, “I don’t think our friends like us very much anymore.”
The Universe whispered back, “They’ll stay corruptible for as long as there’s tequila.”
Baster’s a Bastid! But damn, we could sit there and enjoy that view hey!
Our cocktail menu received a nod of approval from this fab-looking mountain lion. *hic*
The clear winner here is Extra Length Elaine, a leaning tower of enlarged liver.
Gallop’s unreliability caused many mini panics in the rough terrain but also numerous corresponding celebrations when he would randomly start normally for no reason.
We took turns to slide down our bums past the photographer.
Karen got her knee down straight down the downhill straight!
Is it a road? Is it a river? Merrily merrily merrily merrily…
On a cloudy day you can’t see forever. Chikita did this pass six years ago in heavy rain. All that mud mixed with gravity was totally traumatic! Yet it was tremendously therapeutic to observe the landscape like this, in perfect sunlight.
All-terrain Tequila Taxi inbound!
Hidey Ho Hans was right on time, rolling rocks around. It’s tricky!
Respect to these crazy wranglers for crawling after us on all fours every inch of the way.
W O W – because these souls can’t be saved…
Letting the Jet Girl loose and letting it all sink in.
What an accomplishment! Festivility with refreshments ensued.
Having a good time – that’s what we’re here for. The fresh air just as much as the fellowship.
Waterfalls and white horses on top of the world!
After about 15km of preposterous scenery, we had dropped an impressive 830m in altitude.
But everyone’s ears popped because someone mentioned finding a pub in Elliot…
The race was on. And someone was enjoying the sexy seven oh one’s suspension.
Freaky Frikkie, the bright pink unicorn, was taking shortcuts where no bright pink unicorn has ever taken shortcuts before!
There’s apparently a whole braai area built into the middle of this groovy rock formation, with a pool!
How would they even get water up there?
I’m only going to say this once. Don’t lend Chikita your bike. Here’s a 990 @ 90°
After a bumpy ride, Frik just wanted to be held…
Abri Kadabri was giving Skinny the chase but that one’s not a rabbit in a hat that you can ever catch!
Elliot had no waterholes, so we shot through to Mountain Shadows Hotel where us free spirits could drink some expensive spirits.
And just like that we were back on a bender! We’re lucky we got any dinner that night!
Brave or stupid? Who can tell the difference? Karen and Booga were up to mischief again, licking the old wind-up telephone whilst cooking a beef bourguignon, which, by the way, turned out superb in the end.
Skinny’s voice never came back, but we still believe in the healing properties of tequila, because that’s what faith is. At least her sense of humour never left.
Someone once asked, what would we have in common if it weren’t for biking? Would we even be friends at all?
I remember thinking, that’s such a good question! But I forget the answer now 😉
Ladies and gentlemen, an honour! *hic*
Lovingly written, produced and serenaded by Chikita
CHIKITA PRODUCTIONS PRESENT:
We took a few people to ride the magnificent passes at Rhodes. There were lots of guts, quite a bit of drinking, some swearing, and non-stop giggles. These Tank Girls had their big girl panties on and braved where few with bigger bikes have traversed. And everything was accompanied by a lot of snacks!
Video produced by Jolandi Mentz (10 September 2021)
For your entertainment, I rode through the horriepiep, the gorrasluk and the kokkololos. Honestly… I need to top up my dwindling stock of codine, linctus and ‘quarterzone’. The snot-bug bit hard this time – help me fight it! Drop me a few kiem-combating-currencies please.
If you're familiar with the rural concept of the honesty bar, this honesty newsletter ain't much different... I'm a completely un-paid journalist, relying instead on readers using the honour system. You read the newsletter and then leave an amount you see fit for the entertainment you've received.
If you don't find it particularly amusing, then you fork out NO dosh. I won't stop sending you the letter – it is still mahala to those that count their coins and... I love sharing my stories.
As requested by my overseas readers, you can donate to this newsletter on my PayPal account: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can do an EFT transfer to the account below.
!!!NEW BANK DETAILS – PLEASE NOTE – NEW BANK DETAILS!!!
It’ snot like we didn’t have fun!!!
www.pinterest.com/skinny400 YouTube: Skinny van Schalkwyk