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TG Newsletter: SANIK ON SANI

Sanik On Sani

(7 – 9 August 2022)

You’ll never believe us, but we’ve never ridden Sani UP! It’s normally DOWN, during torrential rains, with the mud knee deep, and obviously… NO BRAKES!

But we’ve been told that Sani is way more difficult uphill.

We had to go test that claim…

But for an indomitably high mountain pass it was safer for us to be accompanied by a Hero. One that can fly, swim, jump, and sometimes even become invisible.

Not that we invited him, but how do you say ‘NO’ when Donovan Fourie informs you that his little red bike, called Ferrari, was adamant about joining the two DR’s (…that Hero Xpulse200 is bloody obstinate).

The philosophical connection made with up/down is always about life being hard/easy. But what if ‘up’ is enjoyable AND ‘down’ is exciting? What if life is thrilling, because you make it so, no matter what elevation you reside on?

We trailered to Himeville cause we wanted to spend as much time as possible on this border post (have you ever heard anyone ever say that before?!?).

We stopped in Nottingham Road at a very English pub where we had to pry the barman away from pouring pints, so he could switch the big screen from some fancy white horses jumping over stacked white poles; to the more serious horses racing at the MotoGP! I heard a ‘blimey’ from the back of the inn…

That night we had a pep-talk which morphed into a whole motivational seminar at the Himeville Arms bar. The bar lady kept our glasses filled to the brim with golden-guts, also known as tequila.

It got cold that night… it got cold!

The next morning started with a wholesome banana breakfast and lending a pair of gloves to our carry-on chum, SnotBaard (Donovan). You would think being born a biker, being raised by Simon Fourie, that there would be basics that had been ingrained on your psyche… like GLOVES???

We had to act; as he called us; the condescending adults… since he also did not bring luggage to carry his duvet and pillow (or any of his other belongings). He also did not have any hard cash for the border gates. I guess Heroes don’t normally take these things into consideration when planning a stupendous event…?

*Through the years on Sani…*

The green hills and valleys of the Southern Drakensburg is just a deceptive façade leading up to the most notorious pass in SA. Have your sweeps and eat it, cause what’s coming next is not gonna be a piece of cake.

Just as we entered the bottom gate of the Lesotho border post, all hell broke into a Rammstein concert!

Chikita’s bike, Brom, the Suzuki DR650 cracked a header – MORS AF! Earplugs could not dampen the noise… the security guards ran for cover… A land slide was imminent!!!

Maybe we could have fixed it, but between I-didn’t-even-bring-a-wallet-SnotBaard and our own vanity case with a tweezer and some foundation, there wasn’t much to work with. The only thing we’ve ever heard about a cracked head was burnt valves as a consequence. Was it safe to continue? Would we make it to the top?? Would we do more damage than good???

There was also no reception at the foot of these mountains, and we had to turn back until we could pick up a bar or two. Chikita had to catch a lift on the back seat of Ferrari – the unrelenting Hero!

We found a ‘hi-point’ next to the road and could finally get a very creaky call through to FokknConrad (Off Road Cycles). “Do we OR do we?”

He assured us that all would be safe, bar our hearing… “It’s gonna get loud – It’s gonna get fokkn LOUD!”

So, to the beat of Slipknot we continued climbing.

What a lovely day out in nature. The scenery was serene, the birds tjirped gleefully, the snails slid sweetly… and then there was Chikita!!!

We leapfrogged past one another as we stopped three million times for photos. That little 200cc adventure was pulling uphill like a pulley. No rock was too big, no air was too thin. How do you stop a Hero? You don’t…

Somewhere along the winding path, SnotBaard lost his cell phone - one of those that costs more than his bike (which doesn’t take much as these Heroes are reasonably priced). He turned back to look for it, while we unpacked a mussels, kips and cheese picnic. A Fortuner stopped next to us, and the lady climbed out handing us her cell. We assumed they wanted us to take a pic of them crossing the stream. Turns out, it was SnotBaard’s cell! She picked it up right there where we were waiting. Now; to phone SnotBaard and let him know we’ve found his cell. Mmmm…!?!

He finally returned all demotivated and discouraged, until we gave him his cell back. Snacks were feasted and we jumped back on the wheels to continue to the top.

When we got to the top, the border babe informed us we had to pay R75 each to enter through the boom gate – every time we crossed it! She would not allow us to drop our luggage at the lodge and go play some more on the pass.

We kept our feelings cropped up…

We pulled our noses up to the idea that we were finished for the day and proceeded with a pivot turn straight back down the pass.

We raced down, we strolled up, we rolled down, we waddled up, we sprinted down, we ambled up, we dashed down, we trundled up, until all our energy was spent up.

SnotBaard decided to play ‘n bit of Snakes-and-Ladders when he saw an MX-rider taking a shortcut down a steep cut-away. He twirled his cape into the wind and dropped down like a mozzie. Be brave – be stupid, nobody can tell the difference!

The day ended at the highest pub in Africa, drinking well deserved shots, while admiring the twisty road that leads up to the Sani Mountain Lodge.

Us… admiring the view!

We were spoiled with a fire place in our room, and a whole flask of OBS (a traditional South African sherry that has saved many souls from freezing over).

The next morning it took at least six cups to warm us up.

The bikes were frozen! SOLID! We boiled a kettle and poured the water over the engine, but it immediately froze up rock hard again and we could not even turn the key in the ignition.

This all while Ferrari was softly whirring next to us, patiently waiting for the bigger bikes to jump to life.

I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so fuckin’ heroic!

*George Carlin*

There was just one descent left before we had to return home.

We took a slow ride while we watched the first misty sun rays stream through the valleys onto frozen ponds.

For fun we ride, for pain we ride, for up we ride, for down we ride!

Buckle up, Start up, Keep up, Give up, Chin up!


Sani Pass! You can make it all the way to the top, then all the way down, maybe upward again, another descent, aim skyward yet again, drop once more, and a final uphill just for the sjits of it. THAT’S HOW YOU RIDE SANI! If a Hero Xpulse200 and a Suzuki DR650 with a cracked head can pull it up - so can you!

Video produced by Jolandi Mentz (9 August 2022)


You want us to ride – you want us to write? Not even a bulldozer will stand the test of the Tank Girls, don’t crit the Suzukis!!! Rather throw money at cracked pipes, congested tubes and choked hoses.

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One down - five up!

Skinny & Chikita

YouTube: Skinny van Schalkwyk

Instagram: @skinnyvanschalkwyk


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