Le Petite Puzeys: Skinny and Chakita’s epically small adventure riding 1850km on the smallest bikes they could find
Skinny and Chikita, the famous adventure duo from tankgirls – please subscribe to their brilliant newsletter, took two 70cc Puzey Thumpa bikes (seat height is 55cm; they only weigh 54kg; top speed is ‘supposedly’ 60km/h) and rode them from Cape Town to Johannesburg. A 1852km trip – no service in between. Skinny tells us about it:
We trailered the bikes down to Slaapstad through the night, taking 3hr shifts of driving. It was freezing, we hit cold, we hit wind, we hit rain, we hit snow. Was this what we could expect for the rest of the trip?
Chill out Cape Town, it’s not your precious water we wanted. We just really wanted to get out of the bakkie and release our joint fart collection into the wild – sixteen hours of holding them in through rain and snow is impressive yes, but highly overrated.
A quick visit to Flying Brick brought our final buff-to-panty ratio up 2:1.
Nienke, our fearless getaway driver, was pulled over for overtaking 1 × car, 1 × cop car, and an 18-wheeler on a double solid line in the rain! Fortunately, her thick Dutch accent didn’t expire along with her international driver’s license, and what we saved in traffic fines was cheerfully exchanged for drugs and alcohol later.
…and it was Sunday – DAY 1
Light descended over dark!
WARNING: This story is so small that you’ll have squint-face for two days after reading it…
Our first day was going to be the shortest distance as we planned quite a few tourist attraction stops, and as much kiekies of the ocean as we could fit onto our memory cards.
Starting at Signal Hill and ending at Botrivier hotel – 174km
These two chickens were tackling an epic trip, with miniature proportions.
We never feared that this was impossible. Not for man or machine. Our confidence might be our downfall one day…
It takes months (you could even go back a few years!) of planning and prepping for any adventure to take whatever random course it wants to. But the important thing is that this absurd little voyage finally materialised.
We were told that it was crocodile cold in the Cape, but as luck would have it we started on a lovely, WINDLESS, rainless, bright Sunday morning on top of Signal Hill.
TIP: Always ensure that one of your crew members can fix a puncture. They will be the designated mechanic and have to perform all the required maintenance and repairs for the duration of the trip, thereby rendering the rest of the group free from tool-carrying responsibilities. Because, let’s face it, what a schlep!
The distance from the ignition switch to the front sprocket on this baby is ±50mm shorter than the length of a Biker’s Warehouse keyring, which obviously required rescuing there and then, before we quickly baptized the boneys
Holy Puddle Juice! This was gonna be fun!
Our support started with old friends coming to laugh us off into the wild.
BUFF – TAKE ONE:
It’s when we wear masks that we are ashamed of our looks or our intentions. Or it simply could be too cold…
We had to push on – LADY LUCK NEEDED A LIFT!
So, how do you start an adventure?
Turn the key…
Through the city, Nienke forced our way through traffic. Cagers might not have noticed the mini bikes, but there was no way they could miss the bakkie.
To keep the support squad happy and hydrated we stopped often, making friends with strangers by unloading stickers to them. It was encouraging to see that many people who followed our progress. The all of 40km we’d done so far…
But we were already trying to see what makes the 70cc bikes go faster. We clocked 83 down into Hout Bay (that traffic light was dark orange, I do believe), and averaged about 70km/h, as was loudly advertised by the colourful bakkie that stalked our every move.
We sneaked past the tollgate for Chapman’s Peak, did a quick traffic cone avoidance dance, and four-stroked our way up the mountain. It’s sad when you are being over taken by a herd of cyclists and they mumble something about ‘single file’!?!
Chapman’s Peak was quite the master class for figuring out ergonomics, exposing the left knee as the bad one because it would invariably hit the kill switch on no-one’s behalf. A few times I thought, “Oh well, so much for our dinky toy bikes” but then sheepishly flicked the switch back on and said to myself, “Have a little faith, will ya!?!”
We’re gonna do a weather forecast here, “Blue skies, beautiful day, amazing sea… and not a KAWASAKI in sight! Heaven on earth.”
Romping down the coast we came across a few encouraging signs:
Olympia Bakery used to make the most delectable French donuts. I keep popping round when I’m in Cape Town, hoping to find a fresh batch on the shelves.
Gatiep takes a drag, “Meraai! Meraai! Djierie gras wat djy my gagee het is sterk twak. Ek sien alles sommer klein!”
Gratefully, the staff conceded that it would be dangerous to let us sit on anything higher.
It takes a while, but you do eventually find a comfortable seating position.
Gordons Bay’s main road hesitated to a standstill when we were hit outta nowhere by this celestial sign! We just had to get a photo. But, Chikita was in the right lane and Skinny in the left. The one zigged and the other zagged and we found ourselves on opposite sides of the street. This expert manoeuvre was performed at least one more time which had us both collapse in laughter right there in the road with all the cagers nervously dashing to safety. We took our photo and the postcard will be available from the souvenir shop at the end of this tour.
The supporting spectators called earlier in the day to find out what time we would be in Betty’s Bay. Our most accurate answer was, “…in about 4 and a half pubs.”
Our security guard at Jack’s – Wolfie!
Our adventure even brought people together that never knew one another. After Fanus asked if he could buy us a refreshment along the way, some other bikers in town met up with him the previous day to plan a saamry-geleentheidwith the Puzey’s.
Small bikes make the world even smaller!
The group was going to escort us to Botrivier, but soon after we pulled off we saw Hoener on his scoot swinging right in between the houses. When we stopped at Botrivier he was on a completely different bike?!?
Turns out the scoot was struggling to keep up with the Puzeys and he opted for wheels with a little more fire.
The majority of adventure riders these days will agree that respectable sand riding requires either one massive liquid cooled GS-bike or two grotesquely big balls… Our pint-sized ponies don’t even come with ABS, and rather than wasting precious adventure-time deflating tires we were applying sunscreen and chasing drones.
We decided to entertain the crowd with our own rendition of Swan Lake.
We performed a classic pas de deux (partner dance). I graciously lifted my devant while Chikita held me up in the air. With a smooth twist I tilted backwards, pointing my jambe to the sky.
“Encore! Encore!” we heard the audience’s appreciation for our perfectly choreographed and executed dance.
Chikita assisted me with the well-known squat-press bike lifting technique. I squatted, I pressed, and the only thing that lifted was our sense of humour…
Taking a final bow.
The Betty’s Bay biker’s association giving us the VIP treatment.
Heaven; the mythological space occupied by goodness, sunshine and a cloud numbered 9. Can also be found behind the handlebars of a bike.
The crowd went wild – we made it to point B!
With no misfortunes, our Puzeys covered the first day well within time.
Thank you to:
Halloumi (we had a good giggle the next morning when Chikita was convinced that it was your name – you do understand that as of today, your name has changed, Salomi), Fanus, Hoener and Mike.
I was frowned upon when I educated this little 9-year-old boy about the vibrations of a Puzey…
BUT HE WAS ASKING QUESTIONS!?!
Another thanx goes out to Boetie for the salami he packed into our lunch box. The kitchen already packed up and we had to scavenge the bakkie for snacks.
The sheer size of that thing…!
With everybody tucked in, our bodies curled into the natural Puzey-riding-positions.
…and it was Monday – DAY 2
Touching heaven, waddling through water!
Botrivier hotel to Barrydale – 233km
With a kick-start AND happy button, this thumbnail of a Thumper has it all! It boasts a whopping 5 horse power, which, to put into perspective, is equal to 5000 honey badger powers. Admired for its agility. Idolized for its intelligence.
Things got tense(d). Sticks got dipped. Seats got wiped.
BUFF – TAKE TWO:
Falling on your face, at the very least, is a forward movement.
Van der Stel pass was going to be our first stof-riding.
Last minute stretching…
The pass was a mere oil-check and chain adjustment away. These bikes come standard with a complete set of front and rear suspension, pre-tuned at the factory for any terrain.
*Sports bras not included *
Needless to say, we were excited to get our minds and our behinds a little dirty.
Thumpa Riding Tip:
Knees! Knees! Always be conscious of the KNEES! With the small wheel base and small tires, these bikes do not counter steer. You actually corner by physically turning the handlebar. But… with not even a millimetre to spare between your already chafed kneecaps and the bars, you have to anticipate any sudden movements. If an unexpected sharp corner appears and a knee is still trapped behind the bars, the only option is to fly straight into the bushes. Luckily our facial expressions were well hidden behind tinted visors.
The hills were alive with the sound of… RIIINNGGG-DINNG-DINNG!
The scenery and sunshine delighted us for miles until someone remembered our fuel range hadn’t been properly tested yet. We got separated from our tribe somehow whilst we were chanting creepily and pushing the bikes over logs and stuff.
Log clearance: Why is there always a tree? That falls in front of a big bike? Right when the bike cannot start? And there is always a bunch of people on hand? That is willing to help carry the bike OVER the tree? Why can you not go around the tree? How big are these infrontofbikefallingover trees?
But… in true adventure style…
It is essential to the expedition because once you’ve successfully team worked your adventure bike across an obstacle you may say, with esteemed gravitas, things like #4wheelsmovethebody2wheelsmovethesouland #lovethejourneyanditwillloveyouback
Farmers slowed down to stare in disbelief, dogs were more interested in the licking of their balls, not event the cows uttered a nervous MOOOH!
After a slightly stormy reunion with the back-up bakkie, we accepted an invite from a strange lady to her cabin in the woods where she fed us coffee and tall tales of moon cycles and a breakfast that never happened…
Diané & Luke
Jacqueline Russell’s sweet puppy dog eyes very nearly ended up on a milk carton, but we had bigger plans for that salami…
A quick SPLISH and SPLASH in Robertson.
Sidewalk parking is allowed, only if your vehicle looks somewhat like the décor.
Wherever #23’s side stand spring went, we just hope it’s happy and living a full life.
#47’s battery holder tried to run off after it, but we tamed it in time with zip ties. Invaluable little things and, we decided, a future sponsorship well-worth exploring. Oh yes! If any nurses are reading this, Chikita is still waiting for her burnshield…
Always practise proper pack riding, and whenever possible, try to meerkat. Or in our case – meerkitten. Especially if you want to see over the tiny handlebars. Standing on the pegs is the internationally renowned standard for affirming your place in the hard-core adventure community. Countless BMW riders can’t be wrong.
AND THEN – THE INEVITABLE HAPPENED…
She popped a stanchion!
Hans, “What is a stanchion?”
Chikita, “It’s something that’s about this big and it goes POP!”
And so she limped on…
We got the most amazing support! People everywhere would come ask for photos. People would pull us over on the side of the road, asking about the bikes. Even speedcops waved!
The wildflowers on the roadside were resplendent, and with these bikes’ outstandingly low cruising altitude we could smell them without having to stop! This meant we had more time to slukbeer!
That must have been one potent Kwak. As we saddled up and started down the main road of Swellendam, I tapped Chikita on the shoulder and signalled that I was going to try and wheelie.
With an auto-clutch and a bit of throttle twist we’ve been getting a little air under the front. I figured I could get a proper lift by winding-winding-winding the cable. But the combo of high revs and auto clutch gives unexpected results. Bruising not optional!
My first ever wheelie flip. It happened so fast, not the even the support crew saw it. All they saw was me sprawled in the middle of the road, under a vicious flesh eating Thumpa.
I limped away – lucky to be alive!
Here’s our custom-made baby-bike soft-luggage by Nomad Bike Bags™ as well as Tradouw Pass by Thomas Bain™. The former holding as much as seven days’ worth of sleeping bag stuffing! Simply amazing!
Tradouwpass is also known as Women’s Path by the Khoisan. Probably because it has some of the most exquisite curves.
…and it was Tuesday – DAY 3
And the land encroached like mountains on the horizon!
Barrydale to Prince Albert – 244km
Early morning maintenance rituals were a well-oiled operation by now (a.k.a. a messy affair is what it is, and our gloves smelled like oil for three days)
Every morning a fresh layer of cable-ties were applied.
BUFF – TAKE THREE:
A buff might keep the wind out… but it also keeps it in.
It was a bit nippy that morning, especially considering it was already Springtime in South Africa. I guess scientists are correct: Thermodynamics tells us that hot air is less dense than cold air and hence hot air will rise. We were either too low, or maybe just a bit dense…
We swung by Ronnie’s. You can call us swingers!
Maybe Ronnie ran out of wall space to complete “Ronnie’s Senex Shop”?
They say wise old bearded men sit on top of mountains and it is worth the climb to the top to ask them for advice and sound judgement.
Maybe this oldie found it a bit boring there at the top and decided to rather open a bar in the Karoo. His wisdom can be found in the bottom of a beer can. Keep searching!
Nope, no broekswere discarded. Our stock was limited for this trip…
We’ll call this stop ‘breakfast’ and the next one ‘brunch’!
At the Koedoeskloof Country Lodge, we stopped, hugged, brunched, rocked, then rolled.
Veldbrand and Debi left Gauteng a few years back and made the Klein Karoo their new home. Dreams aren’t brave. It’s the step following the dream…
The Puzey Cat Dolls took to the stage for an unforgettable, once in a lifetime performance at the Dwars Bar.
One of the many gems along the illustrious Route 62 is this Seweweekspoort.
We treated it as a cul-de-sac but the only thing it killed was our kidneys, how much travel do you think those mini-forks have???
First rule of water crossings: WALK IT!
Walk through the crossing to check the bottom for, water depth (do we need snorkels?), rocks, deep holes, piranhas, the Loch Ness Monster, or gold. All very valid reasons to stop.
We tried washing our socks in the river but discovered that Forma boots are indeed very waterproof. And so are these Puzeys!!! Tough as acrylic nails, fun like floaties!
Wine tasting at the Nel family’s Boplaas kelder. One day I will learn how to turn wine to water… so I can top-up my whisky!
When travelling through Africa, always be on the lookout for asses!
Making mountains out of molehills
#23’s Battery holder also attempted to flee the scene, but not a single stanchion popped that day.
Swartberg Pass, the ultimate Thomas Bain creation. It was reopened just in time for us after some heavy snowfall during the week! This magnificent beast took eight years to build in the 1880’s (almost the same time frame it took is to mount it).
We happened to catch it around sunset which produced a breath-taking spectacle! It was too much!
Spot the Puzey…
The geology of this pass showcases one of the world’s best examples of fold mountains. Due to continental drift some 330mil years ago, plates collided and creased the sandstone layers. The ironing lady must have been pizzed…