It had spent the night at the mechanics in an effort to de-skew my derailleur hanger. Sneaking past the sleeping mechanics I grab the bike off the rack. Getting back to the tent I take a closer look with a torch.

All sorted, looks straight. Gears are operational again. We're back in business. Hold on, what's that. A crack? Surely not? A closer look reveals a network of cracks on my chainstay. No doubt an after effect from the events yesterday, but how deep they go I'm not sure. A quick flex of the stay shows a bit of movement. Not good, but lifting the frame protectors the crack appears to be isolated.

What now? What if it breaks mid stage? Out comes the gorilla tape. That'll fix anything! Surely?


The offending crack


There, I fixed it!

Having taped it up with more in the pocket and a few cable ties for emergency Macgyver moves I've got some peace of mind, even if just a little.

The stage starts off immediately into some flowy single track and then jeep track, the Lesotho kind. Still fast and fun the first 10 km fly by before we hit a few technical climbs. And then starts the much talked about descent into a river valley. Knarly and super technical (read sketchy) is how it was described.

It didn't fail to meet the description. Loose rocks, tight turns and steep switchbacks. There wasn't much in the way of traction, but I made it down most of it with a foot out for security. Through the last section which to me looked pretty much unrideable on comes multiple Dakar Rally winner Stephane Peterhansel. Sailing through smoothly and confidently there's no doubt his talents extend to any kind of two-wheeled device.


Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky


Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky


Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky


Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky

From there we head alongside the river on some spectacular trails. Both the trails themselves and the setting. At one point riding out on the the edge of an overhanging rock slab and down alongside the river. For a moment I was in my own mountain bike video (aka 'sick edit').

Heading through to the first water point and onwards the stage was said to be friendlier to the legs with far less of the tricky terrain we'd encountered on day 2. And indeed it was. Fast, gently undulating roads through the Lesotho countryside.

Aside from the occasional goat bell tinkling on the hills and disheveled looking donkey alongside the road, we were in a uniquely serene and isolated place.


Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky


Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky

Towards the latter part of the route we hit the rolling hills the route briefing had mentioned. More just uphills and occasional downhills, but my legs and lungs were feeling great. Unfortunately though, my partner was not feeling the same way.

Having suffered from extended flu two weeks prior to the event he has been feeling the altitude and dent on his training. We nursed tired legs and lungs over the final long climb, awaiting the downhill section to the finish.

Coming over the line in 5h35 it was another unexpectedly long day out. But, still a successful one. My chainstay felt good, whether due to the added "reinforcement" or the lack of any real damage I'm not going to question.

Let's see what day 4 has in store.