TG Newsletter: TOT HIE' RALLY (2021)
Tot Hie’ Rally
(15 – 17 October 2021)
…en nie verder nie!
As all things go with age, we inevitably lose a few things as the years pass us by. We lose our lust, our honour, our pride and our skaamte. Some people even lose a bike or two while others keep loosening their minds until those slip right out!
With the dreaded lurgy still hanging around, our enthusiastic followers weren’t sure if the 2020 Tot Hie’ Rally was going to end up being the first, the only, and the last one. But fête was on our side, and of the limited invitees (due to the exclusive nature of this rally that’s NOT a rally) we ended up with a handful of riders sans dos-wheels. Our stable has a few spare but just not enough to feed the bikeless masses.
Luckily the infamous Morag Campbell jumped right in and came to the rescue. Not only did she have a generous contact within BMW, she even offered to join us on one of our riding days, you know, to drag bikes over logs if need be.
And so, it came to this…
The Tank Girls compensated for small things and rode BMW’s for the entire Tot Hie’ weekend!
Penny Sterley of BMW Motorrad South Africa offered us not ONE – BUT FIVE BIKES!!! Red flags popped up everywhere from here to Germany. She was informed very publicly on social media that it might be a risky marketing move on BMW’s part. Not even tanks were likely to survive the Tank Girls – SHE WAS WARNED!
*And not one single soul touched wood… Ghhmf…*
As we unwrapped BMW’s gifts, out popped four G310GS’s and one mafuta R1250GS. Sparkly, shining and not one with a double-digit odometer reading. What do you call a large assortment of loaned GeeEsses in one place? Never ‘herd’ of such a thing!
Barend ‘kick for days’ Craven cranked up a vintage KDX for newbie Ingrid. “Nothing like the smell of 2 stroke in the morning.” The bikes and their throttle-twisting-wrists were getting warmed up and ready for our outride to places known to none.
But first… we wait… Latecomer Leon was brave enough to sign up for this adventure ride on one of the 310’s. So brave in fact, that he had to fill his reservoir of courage the night before at The Real Bosveld Pub, and overslept.
“Hou my dop – ek moet gaan bike ry!”
Finally, the troops were all lined up and ready to roll.
Twoooo Hhuundrrred! Two hundred meters later, Allan tested the excavation capabilities of his 1200. Digging for chrome…
Chikita flying in a no-flying zone and the short but tricky Hell’s Hoogte; Olive Oil going bumpety-bumpety on the baby GS.
THE water crossing specifically incorporated in this year’s new route, and intentionally missed by all but the Skinny. We however made everybody go back and do it again. Opportunities missed is a life not lived…
Marikana, the place of peace, love, and cheap mattresses.
A quick fill of the tanks at the garage gave Skinny time to pop a few shorties.
Only a biker knows why a Freaky Frikkie sticks his head out of the car window. He loves the wind on his horn…
The guys had a ready-steady start down the long, dirty back semi-straight, and surprisingly a 310 can get its kicks on quite quickly. Chikita napped at the green light but made up for lost seconds. Watching the bikes disappear down the road, I remembered telling Leon and Ettas to just keep hurtling straight, towards pastures unknown. I forgot about the unmarked turnoff to the Maretlwane dam. No probs, with the 1250, I would just speed past everybody and catch them before they got lost. OH BOY – how I tried in vain… They pushed those bulleting baby GeeEsses through the dirt corners on their road tires as if they were zooming around Zwartkops! I could see them on the horizon, but as with most horizons, it eluded me.
The day was becoming boiling hot as li’l Crispy worked on perfecting the ‘Captain Morgan’ stance on her high horse to stay upright. That turned out to have some excellent koekie cooling benefits!
Meanwhile, Leon’s baby Beemer was having its own issues staying upright. He is more of a Superbike rider. His riding style, yearning for speed, and leather Honda jacket might give it away. Lucky for me the spring thingy that holds the side-stand up made a leap of faith in a desperate attempt to save its own life. With the side-stand cutting out the bike, Leon had to make an unscheduled stop where I could eventually catch up with him. A piece of bek-en-klou-seer wire was found in the bushes and the ambagsman quickly wired it up to keep the cavorting kickstand in place.
Maretlwane dam, for the hungry.
We had an ‘uithang’ breakfast made by The Real Bosveld Pub on the dam(n) wall. It helped mop up the previous evening’s excesses while looking out over ducks, fish-scoopers and all things quacky enjoying the water.
The fish eagles however must have had something more importanter to do and were replaced with a swarm of dive-bombing torre. Karen and Elaine sorted them out quick-quick and they were soon just another fakttor.
We completely forgot that it was Ingrid’s first time… We popped her bike cherry, and we popped it good! She mastered that KDX with a skill only inborn to some. There were plenty of kick-starts and never did she ever ask for assistance. We liked her when we met her. Now, we like her even more <3
We all successfully navigated our bikes over the cracked dam wall and onwards to the next stop.
Chikita somehow ended up on Nellie the Elephant, (Crispy’s DR650) and coming around a blind corner we found her engaged in a jap scrap dirt burn contest with Leon on a baby Bavarian. Don’t give your bike to Chikita!!!
“But, but but! We were testing the torque difference between a 300 and a 650! For Science!”
It was like watching a rabbit being pulled out of a hat, but there was no rabbit and no hat neither.
I ran ahead of Ingrid to the longer, deeper water crossing to give her some paddling directions. But before I could get a hand gesture in, she stepped on the gas and rode through the stream not even noticing the dampness flowing over the pebbles. Chikita was aiming her lens at the newbie waiting for some splashy action, but she clunked that KDX across the water and climbed the bank with ease. Mad clapping followed in congratulations!
One of our (secret) favourite places is this half completed Gwarrie’s swimming pool. Frikkie was first to take the plunge, eager to meet his hippo family (Karen, stop telling him lies!).
The heat was blistering which tempted even the most wit beentjies to strip down and cool off. Leon dived straight in to save his scorching sunroof.
The strange squishy things underfoot were ignored but we were enjoying the summery weather, and, to a lesser degree, Allan and Leon’s explicit prostate-test memoirs.
The rest of the quest was just to make it back to our oasis, The Real Bosveld Pub and Grill, but things started to unravel and go tits up. As they should.
Misadventure still contains the word adventure.
When we finally arrived back at the tar road, we seemed to have misplaced Barend and Ingrid. We went back searching for them and found Barend looking quite miserable sitting under a tree because his CR250 was misfiring.
At the local tribunal, people’s proposals ranged from fetching a trailer, phoning a friend, and even forming a chanting circle. I spotted a nylon rope in the back of the Jeep and suggested we just tow the bike back. What were the odds with the tally standing at:
10 chipper bikes vs. 1 ailing bike
A quick lesson in hownottobreakyourneck towing a bike and we were on our way once more. Allan on his beefy 1200, stepped up to the plate (or rather footpeg) and took the Honda by its kinky new leash. It would of course be my pièce de résistance to pull off a wheelie like that… They watched with bated breath…
I soon became engrossed in the slowly passing scenery when a tree branch bopped me in the face. I skrikked wakker and realized the sweepers also went missing. Turns out we had another towing cluster, with Chikita dragging the formerly opposed Barend on the KDX, which forced Ingrid for the first time onto four strokes of germanius engineering! She handles every challenge like a true champ, even Majakaneng traffic!
A world first – Karen on her humble Bubble, a Suzuki VanVan, arrived at the pub before anybody else! Our old faithful slowpoke had quietly passed us all with a stylish little wave, and was long indulging in a whole barrel of icy tequila. Eventually we all made it to the pub in 13 pieces, just in time for Marlet’s roosterkoek lunch and what was left of a barrel of icy tequila.
The hottest and the happiest!
The evening ended with impromptu tjops and salad, as the potjiekos was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
A hearty Sunday breakfast soaked up all the leftover ethanol still lingering in our veins.
We had planned a quick braap over Breedtsnek to the Old Post Pub, and back. ‘Quick’ got a whole new page dedicated to it in the Oxford dictionary.
At the foot end (old shabeen) we met up with Morag and Jaycen who already had a scout of the neck. She was concerned as the pass was in a dilapidated condition, and not sure everybody would make it. We shrugged and waved everybody on. There was only one way to find out…
We were told that these 310’s were the adventure bike for beginners. We found it strange that beginners shouldn’t be allowed to stop (the ABS cannot switch off???), but we guess the idea is that they won’t be going very fast in the first place.
Everybody jumped over the first step like show horses. Cheering ensued with every bike hopping to a perfect Nadia Comaneci landing! Crispy let out a victory squeal – she had conquered her dream demon and another round of exuberant high fives was distributed!
Not fancying the crowds of peeps gathering around, and with lots of grunting, cajoling, dancing, sweating, and swearing, Crispy, Booga and Karen went ahead to let the others catch up. I went along with the leading group, but got a call halfway up.
Chikita went down!!!
Scientifically speaking, it was far lower than DOWN, but over to her to give her recollection of the events!
Chikita’s voice ON:
First I was going right, then I was going left, then I was trying to go right again, but ended up anxiously separating myself from the GS (Gutter-Sub). The steep terrain plus perma-ABS combo let me down when I tried to go around a fellow rider who had lost momentum on the rocky uphill. I tried to switch spoors but hit a loose boulder which propelled me down a traumatic trajectory that I’m not prepared to recreate for entertainment, yet… There wasn’t enough time or space in the continuum to change direction, with either throttle or a brake slide and so I had to make do with my own imaginary parkour skills for survival. That, and a brand new pair of knee guards, thanks to Etienne and Skinny!
“Hi BMW On Call, you won’t believe this shjaait…”
Luckily, those on the scene noticed my helmet poking over the edge. I was ushered aside and Barend briefly turned the bike into a Christmas tree with tie down straps in every colour. Luckily our little traffic jam had grown considerably and we were able to recover the bike with good old fashioned muscle, instead of overly clever and complicated theories.
I will sommer take this opportunity to thank everyone who jumped in and helped. Hans, Morag and Irma, for doing the digging. Barend and Leon for working together against all odds and culture barriers. Jaycen and others for the heavy lifting. Skinny for hopping on the air and tweeting that I was okay. Thania for all the emotional support. Kierie and Minxy for upping the spectator count. Allan for pointing her up. Crispy, Karen and Booga for waiting patiently. Ettas for enjoying my Husky – it’s the least I can do, really.
Everyone thought the bike was stuffed, but deep down (excuse the pun), I wasn’t convinced. After a few failed attempts, Johan C (an innocent bystander) had the brainwave to flip the kill switch and it kangarooed to life!
“…maar daai kant toe is nie huis toe nie?!?”
Back to Skinny:
In the quintessential Tank Girls tradition, Chikita held her chafed chin up and forged ahead. The cracked and crunched boney matched her bravery and didn’t give up either! There were still a few rough patches to manage with limping limbs and the beer at the pub was going flat.
At the old Ronnie Price house, Olive Oil decided her savings account was too sacred to be funding a scratched loaner and opted to travel the rest of the route via 4-wheels. We hid her bike behind the gate and joined up with the guys waiting on top of the pass.
A quick scrutineering of the gorge-ous little bike and authorization was granted to complete the event.
We arrived down the other side of the ‘nek where Debi and Sharon had opened specially for us. The Old Post Pub Hospital(ity) provided Chikita with some regmakertjies, while the rest of us just needed plain old straight forward DOP. It was washed down with homemade English pies. Again, Karen had made undeniable history to be the first 125cc biker to beat all her riding buddies to the pub! “Bubble wins Tot Hie’ Rally!” it says in the record books.
Chikita was serenaded by the Batman (we can’t make these things up), and she sommer felt a helluva lot better after that.
It was Tot Hie’ en nie verder nie. Okay, maybe just a little…
After all the heart pumping excitement of the day, everybody decided to take the long tar detour back home. But, but, but… we still had to recover one abandoned BMW from the top of the pass. I convinced Crispy to pillion with me on her DR. Ettas decided there was no way the ladies would get to ride the pass again without him. And for Chikita it was a challenge accepted (Who does that??? Chikita! Chikita does that!).
On the way up, I hit a waterpipe and it bumped me off my planned line. I stopped to quickly draw a new line when I felt Crispy getting off the bike??? I grabbed her arm and said, “Don’t get off.” Yet before I even started rolling, I felt her still wobbling off the bike again?!? Again, I grabbed her arm and commanded, “DON’T GET OFF!”
As we finally rolled onto my newly drafted line, I pronounced our third motorcycle rule to all new adventure riders:
3. DON’T EVER GET OFF!
The day was drawing long shadows on the ground and our adventure tracks were slowly fading.
Crispy was surprised to find the injured warrior Chikita right behind us, with Ettas in tow. I got the bike out from its top-secret hiding place and the four of us made it down the deserted pass.
You couldn’t hope to cram more into a weekend with a better bunch of crazy cretins.
Don’t get off!
The road might be long, stretching over the horizon. It might be dusty; it might be gusty. You might see roadkill; you might be roadkill. Throw in a flat tyre, an empty tank, and a blistered spark plug. Cause if you ride for the adventure, you will find the adventure.
DON’T EVER GET OFF!
A big thank you to:
Penny Sterley and BMW Motorrad South Africa – for five loan bikes
Hans (Hannelie van Schalkwyk) – for astonishing photographs
John and Jeremy - for the use of Riempies Guest Farm
Marlet and her team at The Real Bosveld Pub and Grill – for lekker grub and cold dop
Debi and Sharon at the Old Post pub – for opening specially on a Sunday just for us
Daniel Mulder Distributors (DMD) supplying Oxford products, Caberg helmets and Forma boots – for keeping the Tank Girls intact
Crispy (Christy Filen) - who chiseled a huge chunk of this newsletter which has been seamlessly blended with your usual author’s scribblings for maximum dramatic effect
In loving memory…
CHIKITA PRODUCTIONS PRESENT:
When we organize a rally, we assure you that you will be entertained. We will show you all the back roads around North West; teach you how to tow a bike (or two); dop at the best pubs in town; and even show off our skills of diving a BMW310 down a canyon, surviving it, and continuing the ride on a slightly scratched bike. Tot Hie'... because we have to compensate for something!
Video produced by Jolandi Mentz (15 Oct 2021)
She honestly tried to brake. She honestly tried to swerve. She honestly tried to jump. Let’s see if you can match her honesty?
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www.pinterest.com/skinny400 YouTube: Skinny van Schalkwyk