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  1. https://vimeo.com/263103464 The event kicked off an epic dinner on the stoep of the old house. The atmosphere amongst this clan of Africa’s most badass mountain bikers emanated through the age-old sandstone walls. After a warm welcome, a little local language lesson and the introduction of the event’s most coveted jersey “The D@#k of the day award”, Africa’s first ever EWS qualifier was officially launched. Day 1: The vibe at the start. Photo credit: Dominic Barnardt With all the rain, the first day was shortened to 3 Stages. Everybody loaded their bikes into a truck and jumped into the local taxis for a lift up the road to the start. The top of the 3 witches pass. A brief opening in the weather allowed for riders to get to the Start of stage 1 without rain and take a few snaps on one of the most beautiful liaisons the sport of enduro has to offer.An inordinate amount of flow, rocks and mud set the stage for the day down “Pressure Cooker. Huge smiles at the bottom confirmed what the organisers had always suspected- the trails in Lesotho for Enduro are awesome. Keira Duncan enjoying the liaison to the first stage. Photo: Darol Howes Anka Martin getting low on Stage 2. Photo: Darol Howes Impressions of day 1. Photo: Darol Howes Day 2: With a perfect day forecast, everybody loaded up in the local taxis and headed out to the top of “God-help-me” pass. After a short hike a bike to an iconic start at a cattle kraal in near perfect conditions, racing started. Photo credit: Dominic Barnardt Photo credit: Dominic Barnardt A welcome shuttle after God Help Me sent riders twice down from Bushmans pass on 2 very physical trails before a long liaison to lunch. Daniel Dobinson bombing Bushman's. Photo credit: Darol Howes Loving the liaison- Dominic Barnardt Riders at Lunch, Dominic Barnardt After lunch, the riders were treated to the best trail of the event, called “Love It”. However, riders had to work hard for this as they were in for one hell of a hike-a-bike to the top. The view and trail at the top were simply spectacular! At the top of Love It. Photo credit: Darol Howes Harry Millar enjoying the sandstone. Photo credit: Dominic Barnardt Day 3: After some crazy weather, with loads more thunder lightning hail and general not too perfect riding weather forecast for the afternoon, racing was called off. We did, however, jump in the bus for a shuttle day in the brief 3 hours of no rain for those of us who could still move. The shuttle morning was rad, with riders able to do the hardest trail of the race called “Freefall” and two more trails before the rain set in. The event ended with a rad family oriented prize giving on the old stoep. Katja Steenkamp on Freefall. Photo credit: Dominic Barnardt Despite the cancellation of the final day, it is safe to say that the first EWS event in Africa is now well defined as the most badass race in Africa. Open men top 3. Photo credit: Dominic Barnardt Results Open Men Keira Duncan - 00:58:16,248 Harry Orr - 01:00:50,396 Frank Meyer - 01:03:02,019Masters Men Daniel Dobinson - 01:00:28,604 Harry Millar - 01:11:42,716 David Hartley - 01:17:43,533 Women Anka Martin - 01:14:52,614 Lousie Kotze - 01:27:05,573 Frankie Du Toit - 01:36:04,691
  2. Lesotho Sky is a six-day stage race in the high mountains of Lesotho - a small country with a big heart in southern Africa. Lesotho is also one of the few remaining kingdoms in the world and, thanks to this spectacular event and other amazing cycling initiatives, the country has rightly claimed the title as Africa’s official Mountain Bike Kingdom. https://vimeo.com/240790784 What started in 2011 with a handful of passionate mountain bikers grew into a guaranteed MTB bucket list item. It is by far one of the most spectacular and toughest stage races in southern Africa. The roughly 370 km course, made of mostly single tracks, big mountain passes, rocky climbs and gnarly downhills, takes riders on an old school MTB journey that many will experience as a rite of passage. Staying true to the down-to-earth nature of the original race in 2011, the organisers limit the maximum amount of entries to 100 riders. The field might be small, but the stoke amongst the riders is massive. During the 2017 race, this again proved to be the case. A thunderstorm followed by sudden cold front changed the riding conditions from tough to extremely difficult. The spirit of the riders never wavered and even on a cancelled day, most riders got on their bikes, headed off for the mountains and had a proper old school mudfest. Since 2016, the organisers have made some big changes to the route and the 2018 event promises to be a mind-blowing MTB experience. Uncharted MTB territory around the new base camp in Roma awaits the 100 lucky Lesotho Sky riders. This is truly an African mountain-biking experience with no equal. The spectacular scenery, natural trails, high altitude and friendly Basotho culture make this race a must-do event. Just one warning though: this race is not for the dirt roadies. Every inch, whether up or down, is a test of your MTB skills. The organisers are committed to a raw, tough MTB fest. Trails are not manicured and there are no little wooden bridges built for your pleasure. This is as proper as proper gets. No wonder they call it a ride of passage. Dates: 24 - 29 September 2018Early Bird entries close 1 December 2017. Lodged: Team of 2 - R35,000 ; Solo - R18,500 Backpackers: Team of 2 - R29,000; Solo - R16,500 Camping: Team of 2 - R22 000; Solo - R13 000 To find out more, visit Lesotho Sky.
  3. The four day long event consisted of multiple disciplines spread out over the weekend, catering to all kinds of riding and bikes. One of the main attractions of the event is the use of the ski lift, allowing riders to ascend the main climb without a single pedal stroke. With the altitude meter peeking at 3222m above sea level, this is an absolutely vital factor as even the most basic task puts you (especially living by the coast) out of breath. It also allows for multiple runs in a short span of time, putting the stoke at an all-time high. From the top of the ski lift, riders have the option of three enduro stages and four downhill lines, each with their own flavour, and varying technical challenges. Next level scenery and a rather eventful drive in to Lesotho. Thanks for the lift Mikey! Thursday evening saw the night time dual slalom race take place under floodlights. Standard rules applied with two riders racing to the bottom, with the slower of the two getting knocked out. The icy night-time temperatures, off-camber turns and sometimes extremely dimly lit corners made for some interesting riding, but everybody miraculously kept things rubber side down. Theo Erlangsen dropped the hammer from the start and kept the winning runs coming all the way to the end to take the top spot. Second place was claimed by Roman Kumpers, followed by Matt Minter in third. Left: Jasper Barrett winning juniors. Right: Beanie Thies 1st and Nikki Alvin 2nd. Theo Erlangsen 1st, Roman Kumpers 2nd and Matt Minter looking up in awe of his mountain biking heroes in 3rd. Friday’s racing consisted of two disciplines. First off was the XCO eliminator, with lycra-clad riders racing around a very steep and short 400m long gravel track. The track weaved it’s way around the dam and between buildings with the top two of each heat progressing. Wessel Botha took the honours with Armand du Toit and Albert Moffat in 2nd and 3rd respectively. The women's XCO saw Marli van Eeden take top spot with Henike Wielputz and Yolandi Steyn in 2nd and 3rd. The much anticipated Enduro kicked off at 2 pm and 40 odd riders made their way to the top of the slope to race in arguably one of the best Enduro events of the year. Three super fun and very well built trails faced the riders, with the last stage finishing down by the river for a pop-up party with ice cold beers, Red Bulls, and some boerie rolls. The day belonged to Theo Erlangsen as he put in three flawless runs in a total time of 12:23, making it two for two. The fastest female down the hill was Beanie Thies with a total time of 15:09. The men’s podium was rounded off by Martin Zietsman and Robert Frost, with Louise Kotze and Sonja Engelbrecht taking 2nd and 3rd in the women’s race. Travis Hesom on the mic all weekend doing a stellar job as MC. Enduro briefing underway. Really, really cool to be able to go to a country I’ve never been before. It was so cool to have everybody together in that little Afriski Valley, and just be able to ride with your mates the whole day, using the ski lift. It’s not often that we get that opportunity in South Africa. Generally a very fun atmosphere, especially staying with all your mates and just ride with them all day. I was really surprised about how good the Enduro was - probably one of the best I’ve ever raced. All of the trails were really good, which was also surprising as I didn’t know anyone in Lesotho even did mountain biking. Overall, a really nice atmosphere and well-run event. Theo Erlangsen | 1st Enduro Luke Meyer sending it down SS3. Thanks for hooking me up with some wheels for the weekend! The event organisation was really good. The trails were good. So was the restaurant and the food. The lift really got the job done so you could get a lot of runs in. The dual slalom was really good, except that I got Theo first round and got eliminated. The downhill format is a nice idea and more exciting for spectators than a timed race, but they need to rethink it a bit to make it fairer. The enduro was definitely my favourite event. All three trails were really fun, which is like the first enduro that’s ever happened to me. And minimal pedalling to get there, which was pretty good as well. Stages were a decent length, not too much pedalling, and nice technical sections as well. Overall, a really good weekend. Niko Velasco Riders lining up at the start of SS3. The weekend was incredibly amazing. It was so much fun, and everybody loved it. A big thanks has to go to Max for getting me there, and also to the sponsors for all the prizes. Then to my friends that made it such a fun and enjoyable weekend. The trails were fantastic and a big shout out has to go the crew at Afriski for making it so amazing. Beanie Thies | 1st Enduro female Justin Novella showering Theo Erlangsen with some beer and getting thing started for the evening. Jasper Barrett 1st, Kyle Brand 2nd and Ike Klaasen (absent) 3rd. Beani Thies 1st, Louise Kotze 2nd and Sonja Engelbrecht 3rd. Theo Erlangsen 1st, Martin Zietsman 2nd and Robert Frost 3rd. The final event of the weekend saw a slightly adapted version of the usual Downhill format. Four riders would start simultaneously on 4 different DH lines, and the first across the line would take it. No timing or seeding runs as per the usual case. As to be expected with 4 different tracks though, there were differences that affected the duration and outcome per line. This did spark the debate of accuracy, but with the nature of the Crank Chaos event a more relaxed and less serious one, everyone got on with it. Riders drew names from a hat that determined the lines on which they raced, and the top two from each heat progressed to the next. In the end, Frank Meyer claimed top spot with Martin Zietsman and Barry Futter in 2nd and 3rd respectively. The women’s podium consisted of Beani Thies followed by Nikki Alvin and Louise Kotze. The juniors podium consisted Jasper Barrett in 1st, Ike Klaassen in 2nd and Kyle Brand in 3rd. Ski lift for the win! Drawing names from a hat to see which rider races which line. I’m totally stoked about this event and I will definitely go again. The fact that you can get uplifts and uplifts is definitely special, and something that I’ve missed. The trails are awesome and its super scenic and the event overall is super social and interactive. It’s not like racing were there is usually very serious vibe. I loved the jumps and I’m really stoked that I could ride them all! Simone Futter One more lift to the top as ominous thunder clouds gather in the background. Left: Jasper Barrett 1st, Ike Klaassen 2nd and Kyle Brand 3rd. Right: Beani Thies 1st, Nikki Alvin 2nd and Louise Kotze 3rd. Frank Meyer 1st, Martin Zietsman 2nd and Barry Futter 3rd. Crank Chaos 2017 was a huge success, from a rider as well as an organiser’s perspective. Everyone was very happy with the event, and we definitely saw an increase in numbers from last year for the riders as well as the spectators, which is great to see. The riding this year was of a very high standard, although it is more of a fun event. Some serious racing on the downhill eliminator with some bar bashing and guys going big - I think it was definitely one of the favourites this year. We’re going to just build on it for next year, and try to make it bigger and better, get more riders involved and try to get more international riders at the event. Peter Peyper Party time as Crank Chaos 2017 draws to a close. | Full race gallery can be found here. Be sure to get your photo! A massive thank you must go out to all the sponsors involved with the 2017 Crank Chaos. A whopping R80 000 worth of prizes and goodies from FOX, International Trade, Skull Candy, Motorex, Evoc, Pure Nutrition, Oakley, Csixx, and Ogio were up for grabs. Without sponsors like these, this event would not have been possible. We hope to see you again next year. Let's get the numbers up and make this event bigger and better!
  4. Hi fellow cyclists... I've been long meaning to get to the Sani Pass, so I've booked to do a 4x4 day tour from Underberg to the Sani Pass & the highest pub in Africa for the 1st July. But I was just thinking, as I am in Underberg for the weekend (Fri - Sun), I was going to take my bike along & attempt a ride on the Friday. I was looking at the forums & came across some useful tips, was just wondering if there are any further tips/advice. I am staying at the Sani Window B&B in Underberg, so was going to drive to the Sani Backpackers, park there, and start riding around midday. Questions: - about how long will it take to the top & back (i know this is depending on fitness, I am fairly fit, but just want to take it easy, & take photos along the way etc) - Would just like to be back at my car before dark. - is it safe to go alone - if I don't want to ride all the way up for whatever reason, do I just turn back on the same road/path & head back - take passport - take a warm/rain jacket. Anything else...? Thanks in advance,
  5. Following Isaac were Canadian free rider Kevin Landry and Swiss ex-downhill racer Claudio Caluori, both embarking on a journey that will showcase the beautiful unknown landscapes of this small country. Riding only horse trails, it’s a journey laden with physical challenges for all, but it’s a journey that will cement friendships between a traditional blanket-wearing horseman and two state-of-the-art bike-wielding mountain bikers. For two pioneering mountain bikers, this ride is the most adventurous undertaking they have ever made. For one horseman, it's a ride that heralds a new dawn. For more information head over to the Following The Horsemen website.
  6. With kilometres of natural trails, Lesotho is truly a trail riders paradise! The 2015 Lesotho Extreme was an action packed weekend of incredible trail riding and spectacular scenery. Check out the video here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bbwFQr-UgEs Go to our website to find out more about the 2016 Lesotho Extreme: http://www.detourtrails.co.za/lesotho-extreme-trail-festival/
  7. Preparations are well underway for the 2016 African Continental Mountain Bike Championships, which will be taking place in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho at the Afriski Resort from Tuesday 29 March to Sunday 3 April. The event is organised jointly between the Confederation of African Cycling, Federation of Cycling Lesotho and Afriski Resort. Click here to view the article
  8. AfriSki Resort is one of the few ski resorts on the continent of Africa. At an altitude higher than 3000 metres above sea level, the weather can be unpredictable and during the months of March and April, visitors may feel the weather much colder than they are used to. Visitors are advised to pack some warm clothing. AfriSki Resort is a mountain bike paradise, with a ski-lift for Gravity enthusiasts and well-marked trails heading off in all directions. The resort also boasts some great restaurants and bars. The Cross-country course will be a length of 5km with an elevation of 3047m. The Downhill course will be a length of 1.1km with a drop of 184m. The following events will be competed at the Continental Championships: Category - Race (Class) Men Elite - Downhill (ME DHI CC) Women Elite - Downhill (WE DHI CC) Men Elite - Cross-country Marathon (ME XCM CC) Women Elite - Cross-country Marathon (WE XCM CC) Mixed Elite - Team Relay (XE XCR CC) Men Elite - Cross-country Olympic (ME XCO CC) Men Juniors - Cross-country Olympic (MJ XCO CC) Men Under 23 - Cross-country Olympic (MU XCO CC) Women Elite - Cross-country Olympic (WE XCO CC) Women Juniors - Cross-country Olympic (WJ XCO CC) Women Under 23 - Cross-country Olympic (WU XCO CC) Any riders wishing to participate can do so as there will not be a participation quota, and that all riders who wish to enter, may enter. The African Continental MTB Champs has been opened up for maximum participation to create greater opportunities and to be of greater benefit to our riders and to our sport. In addition, the following events will be held as unofficial Continental Championships provided that there are enough competitors in each category: Downhill – Nippers (8-10), Sprogs (11-12), Sub Junior (13-14), Youth (15-16), Sub Veteran (30-39), Veteran (40-49), Master (50-59), Grand Master (60+); Cross- Country – Nippers (8-10), Sprogs (11-12), Sub Junior (13-14), Youth (15-16), Sub Veteran (30-39), Veteran (40-49), Master (50-59), Grand Master (60+); Marathon – Sub Veteran (30-39), Veteran (40-49), Master (50-59), Grand Master (60+); Enduro – Youth (15-16), Elite (17-30), Sub Veteran (30-39), Veteran (40-49), Master (50-59), Grand Master (60+). Entries are open and riders who are interested in competing can do so by entering here: https://entries.cyclingsa.com/events/5381-african-conti-mtb-xco-dhi-xcm. Click here to view all event information, including the route map and profiles: http://www.cyclingsa.com/s/20160229_CAC-Champs-Lesotho-Technical-Guide.pdf Junior and Elite Riders please note that you are required to participate in Cycling South Africa’s Federation kit. Those that need to order kit must please contact Dellah Paul urgently by email dellah@cyclingsa.com. For any enquiries regarding Sporting/ Technical/ Entries, please contact Mark West on +266 63050135 or email marklesotho@gmail.com; Afriski Facilities/ Course, please contact Peter Peyper on +27 716067337 or email peterp@afriski.net; and Accommodation queries can be directed to AfriSki Reception on +266 59544734 or email reception@afriski.net.
  9. After recently working with Brian Strauss to build a XC track at the Lesotho Sun in Maseru, I realise how much “natural riding” terrain Lesotho has to offer. He walked around our purposed track and could not believe his eyes! Something that I had taken for granted on every ride. Having a new set of trained trail eyes gazing at my back yard riding terrain has once again awakened my appreciation for the humble Lesotho dirt. Click here to view the article
  10. Darol and Christian at the Matebele Cafe. // Photo: Jacques Marais. Surprisingly, natural track is pretty hard to come by these days, everywhere we ride purpose built track with bridges, wooden berms, concrete steps and rocks that have been shipped across the country to create a rock garden. Don’t get me wrong, I love these purpose built tracks. I just have a great affinity for the natural riding that I have feely available on my doorstep in Lesotho. Riders Charles Stein and Brian Bontekoning during the Lesotho Sky 2014. // Photo: Cherie Vale. No signs or popular line choice to follow, no specific way to ride, no Strava segment to beat… It’s just you, your bike, the terrain, your own individual riding style and creativity that puts together the most beautiful sense of flow. If you have ridden the single track in Lesotho, the Wild Coast or in the Scottish Highlands you will understand. It is rugged and real mountain biking that will leave you day dreaming for hours…I liken it to surfing, as I very rarely ride the same piece of trail. It changes all the time, just as every wave you stand up on presents a new canvas, each with its own eccentricities that make each wave and each piece of trail unique. So these endless foot and cattle paths, carved through the Maluti Mountains by decades of people and their livestock moving from place to place, become a release of creativity and flow as your tyres choose their own unique way of painting with the hips, bumps, rocks and jumps scattered across the Mountain Kingdom. Darol doing route briefing with ER24. // Photo: Cherie Vale. The few people that ride the Lesotho Sky every year get to ride the best of it, day after day, for 6 days on the trot. Four years of scouting and grooming. The route for the 2015 Lesotho Sky is going to be the best blank canvas I have ever presented to the lucky few riding the event. Riding here is infectious. The only problem with coming to ride in Lesotho is that no other riding you do anywhere else will live up to it. Leaving you disappointed, unless of course you training for the next Lesotho Sky (after all, it is infectious). Sunset hoik. //Photo: Jacques Marais. That being said, I feel that I have a big role to play here, exposing this place's unrelenting beauty, amazing people and unbelievable riding canvas to the world. Free your mountain biking soul, I freed mine right here in the #MountainBikeKingdom, Lesotho. Website: www.lesothosky.comTwitter: @LesothoSky Facebook: facebook.com/LesothoSky
  11. The mix was just perfect as a famous mountain bike brand combined with a spectacular new venue to produce a memorable RockyFest 2014. The brand was Rocky Mountain Bicycles and Afriski in Lesotho, with stunning, freshly-cut single and downhill tracks provided the backdrop to this event. With participants having to make use of a ski lift to negotiate the mountain it was bound to be an experience to remember. Click here to view the article
  12. The superb and warm hospitality shown by the staff was evident from the time we arrived at AfriSki in the northern Lesotho highlands on Friday afternoon. Eager cyclists arriving the Friday in the afternoon pitched tents, lubed chains, adjusted gears, pumped tyres and prepared themselves physically and mentally for the weekend ahead and the high altitude challenges. Additional sections had been added by the legendary trail-builders at the AfriSki resort and five minutes on the bike, surrounded by towering mountain peaks, was enough to confirm that this was a special place to ride. The trails were exceptionally well-marked and put together. Starting off with Bambi's Revenge, this newly-added section took us up to 3 330m above sea level. The extraordinary single track took riders over exciting obstacles, tight twists and turns, inviting berms on soil that encouraged letting go of all brakes and ripping the corners with gravel spraying in all directions. Adding to the excitement of the moment, was a flurry of snow while riders were on the single track. The exhilarating, freshly-cut section ran next to the ridge of the mountains close to the AfriSki resort. With the river far below and the vast range of mountains in the background, this was mountain biking at its most beautiful. After a delicious lunch at the Sky Restaurant, an exciting night ride awaited. The crisp fresh air all contributed to a perfect evening’s ride in the Maluti mountains. The amazing Knog lights were tested as we rode up to a plateau halfway up the mountain where we were greeted by a massive bonfire and a glass of gluhwein before we also had a taste of the tracks we would face the next day. After a buffet breakfast at the Sky Restaurant on Saturday morning a group of 20 riders took to the escarpment while some cyclists enjoyed the new tracks on their enduro bikes - and being pulled up by the ski lift after every run. Guided on a 13km one-way track to the escarpment meant a 26km round-trip with 960m vertical ascent. And this was all over 3 000 m above sea level. The challenge was to keep a good pace but it was as much a test of the riders’ technical skills as it was of their fitness with a high altitude ride of between three and four hours over a terrain is packed with climbs and dips. Most of the cyclists underestimated the 13km and what would have been a warm-up ride in normal conditions was a challenge in the mountains. Still, it was fitting day for riding with the weather holding up well and all the participants made it the escarpment and home safely. They returned with a real sense of achievement after the climb to the edge of the escarpment which brought a stunning view over the vastness of the Free State. Certainly the riders felt entirely justified in making their way to the Sky Restaurant for refreshments, a well-deserved Craft beer especially brewed for the event and a delicious lunch. From the Sky Restaurant the ski slopes and the newly-created downhill tracks are clearly visible. Some took to the ski lifts to the start of the DH tracks and those still chilling out at the Sky Restaurant were entertained by the adrenalin junkies flying down hill. It had been a spectacular day of mountain biking. The evening was spent swapping war stories around a spit braai at the Sky Restaurant and savouring what had been a highly successful and enjoyable RockyFest 2014. Would you like to see more from Afriski Mountain Resort? Follow Afriski on Facebook: Afriski Mountain Resort Follow Afriski on Instagram: @afriskimountainresort Follow Afriski on Twitter: @skiafriski
  13. The Lesotho Sky 2014 ended on Friday 26th September with the final stage from Roma to Ramabanta. Capping off their overall victory the Contego pairing of Louis-Bresler Knipe and Gert Heyns claimed their fifth stage win for 2014 crossing the line in 03:18:40. Shaun Mackenzie and Simon Zahnd of team My Gas followed in second place in 03:27:38. Team Alliance Insurance 1's Teboho Khantsi and Phetetso Monese came home in 03:29:33 taking third place. The final overall standings for the 2014 Lesotho Sky are as follows: Contego - Louis-Bresler Knipe and Gert Heyns - 17:54:36 Alliance 1 - Teboho Khantsi and Phetetso Monese - 18:55:13 MyGas - Shaun Mackenzie and Simon Zahnd - 19:06:00 For the first time in the history of the Lesotho Sky Race a Basotho team won a stage. Day 4, also known as the Malealea Monster loop day saw a team from main sponsor Alliance Insurance Company take the win ahead of Contego. 70 riders from 12 different countries competed in the 4th edition of the event, another record achievement for the event. Click here for complete results and here for pictures and here for videos of the Lesotho Sky 2014 race. The efforts of the organisers to take cycling sport in Lesotho to the next level are starting to bear fruit. After last years Lesotho Sky Race Lesotho jumped up in the international rankings and is now ranked 2nd in Africa in mountain biking, behind South Africa and ahead of Namibia. Apart from prize monies, the prize for the fastest team from Lesotho is an entry to Europe’s biggest Mountain Bike Stage Race, the Craft BIKE Transalp, sponsored by our partner SwissBikeTours and Lesotho Sky. This race takes place from 19th – 25th July 2015, starting in Germany, passing through Switzerland and finishing in Italy. The package includes flights, accommodation and all meals for the team from Lesotho. Outside the Lesotho Sky this team is also known as ACE-The Sufferfest Lesotho MTB Team, Lesotho’s first professional UCI MTB team. Community development is at the heart of the Lesotho Sky Race which lead to the partnership with Sentebale, a charity founded in 2006 by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso from the royal family in Lesotho. With offices in Maseru and headquarters in London, Sentebale is an organisation of global dimensions. Sentebale works in partnership with locally run organisations, government ministers and chiefs to provide healthcare and education to vulnerable children and orphans in Lesotho. As of this year individual and corporates are able to buy charity entries to the Lesotho Sky Race. The proceeds of this entry go straight towards Sentebale‘s projects in Lesotho. The first company to purchase a charity entry is SABMiller through their local subsidiary Maluti Mountain Brewery (MMB). Thanks to our charity sponsor as well as the generous donations from riders and crew during the event Lesotho Sky managed to raise R132,500 for Sentebale. Sentebale country director Tumisang Leduma: “The funds will go a long way towards helping us to provide care and support to many more vulnerable children through the build of the Mamohato Children’s Centre, currently under construction in Thaba Bosiu. We are exited about this partnership and look forward to more opportunities with Lesotho Sky”. We would like to thank our two main sponsors Alliance Insurance Company as well as Total Lesotho and all other sponsors for their strong commitment to the Lesotho Sky Event. Entries for the Lesotho Sky 2014 Race open on Monday 6th October at 12pm (SAST). There are only 60 team entries available. The 2015 dates are 20th – 25th September 2015.
  14. The 4th edition of the Lesotho Sky Race saw 12 different nationalities at the race and Basotho team win a stage for the first time. Click here to view the article
  15. Friday was the final chapter of my 2014 Lesotho Sky adventure. Already it had been an incredible experience and unlike any stage race I’ve taken part in to date. The terrain was at times brutal and unforgiving, but the routes and settings so inspiring and rewarding. Click here to view the article
  16. Having mostly taken part in “mainstream” multi-day events with 400 or more teams coming to an event with just 40 registered teams was a new experience. And a strangely daunting prospect at first. Though the more intimate and less anonymous aspect was something that made the event all the more enjoyable. Over the six days you begin to know the various characters, other riders’ stories and their backgrounds. You hear of other teams challenges and experiences each day becoming more invested in their experience through the event. Not just your own. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky On the start line in Roma for the final 55km stage there was an excited yet relaxed atmosphere. While we still had a tough stage ahead there was already a feeling of accomplishment. We were almost there. The day earlier we’d already (accidentally) scoped out the first 2km of the route so we new we started climbing early. A short downhill took us to a river crossing and up a steep bank where the climbing began. The route would take us along a ridgeline which formed the Roma amphitheatre. After a leg testing initial climb towards yet another cell tower, we seemed to have reached the top of the ridgeline. We’d been promised a day for the single track rider and from atop the first climb we could see the paths snaking along the ridge. We swept through the winding and gently undulating trails. Down grassy embankments and up some short, but steep climbs. The grass soon faded and the rocky dirt trails began. What must be footpaths and cattle trails could have easily been mistaken for purpose built mountain bike trails. Smooth and flowy with natural lines, perfect cambers and a sprinkling of loose rocky sections and rocky outcrops to keep you on your toes. So enjoying the trails we were very soon at the halfway point. Where was the time going?! Up ahead I could see the chopper parked on the hillside. Knowing race photographer Cherie’s plans for the day there must be some kind of feature up ahead. And sure enough we were greeted by a tire-grabbing sweeping rocky corner followed by a steep rocky, sandy downhill. Making it down smoothly I could hear the cheers from the chopper team and some local spectators. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky From there we began a gradual downhill towards the final climb of the day. More technical rocky trails tested fatigued muscles and minds. Off the ridge into valleys and farmlands more flowy hard-packed trails began. Pushing faster and on the edge of control I very nearly lost the front wheel on a sweeping but flat corner. Thanks to the surrounding grass I was saved. Phew! Okay, time to calm down a notch. Just 15km to go now lets not make a silly mistake so close to the end. Heading down another sharp rocky dip and up the other side I hear a call from Dane behind me. Looking back I see him attending to his wheel. “Puncture!”, he shouts. Not immediately seeing any damage we try to inflate it. A mixture of stans and air spews out the one sidewall. It’s grazed just enough that the Stans struggles to seal it. Not wasting time we pull out the valve, pop in a tube and are soon rolling again. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Up ahead we can see the final tar road climb which takes us over to the finish in Ramabanta. Riding beside the road and through villages we slowly begin climbing, passing a few teams who’d passed due to the puncture. Hitting the tar road the gradient kicks up though we're assisted by a welcomed steady tail wind up the climb. Over the top it’s all downhill to the finish and a speedy one at that! Without any effort we’re touching 70 km/h. With the odd donkey and many pedestrians walking up the road we’re not taking chances. Staying on the brakes we wind down towards the tradepost dodging unaware pedestrians strewn across the road. A final off-road section we’d ridden on day 2 brings us out onto the grass in front of the lodge and across the finish line. With only a few cuts and scrapes, tumbles, mechanicals and a cracked chainstay we’ve done it. What an amazing week on and off the bike. A truly unique event powered by an incredibly passionate team. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Day 6 Highlights Cliphttp://vimeo.com/107324280 View all the results, reports and photos on www.lesothosky.com
  17. It’s the morning of day 5 the longest stage in the 2014 Lesotho Sky at 89 kilometers. Also a moving day we’re up a little earlier to pack and load bags for transit to the next camp in Roma. Click here to view the article
  18. With my stomach doing a few somersaults and a pounding headache I’m a little apprehensive about the long day ahead. Not knowing just how tough a day it’ll be we set off at a manageable pace. From the camp at Malealea Lodge we soon start climbing a pass named the Gates to Paradise. And once at the top the view certainly lived up to the title. Looking back over Malealea and beyond to the distant mountains was a phenomenal scene only enhanced by the perfect morning. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Over the top we descended on some rolling gravel track before turning off onto single track. With a few technical climbs and some fun, fast and flowing downhills we quickly arrived at the first water point. Getting going again we entered a grassy section with various tube like trails cut into the turf. Follow the lines visibly most traveled and you were in for a bit of a treat, but it was easy to miss a turn here or there and come short. The grass made way for a drop into a river bed and onto sections of solid rock. With the banks of the now barely flowing river heavily eroded and cliff-like, the surrounding landscape was almost surreal. Heading up and out of the river bed we began to slowly climb. Climbing up into a steep, but hard packed dirt trail a mother and children are perched alongside the trail, part spectator and part herd minder. Into a deep wheel-sized dip I shift my weight back to pop out and up. Nope, got that wrong as I attempt to save my OTB trip from full on face plant. With only a slight bruise to my ego having a line of riders behind and the spectating family (clearly strategically placed) watching on I head on unscathed. The route now takes us up to the highest point of the day on a varied technical climb. Steep hard-packed sections with a loose surface separated by barely rideable rocky turns it was tough going but enjoyable. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Stephane Peterhansel bombing down at his only speed: fast! / Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Once at the top and at water point two we’d already done much of the climbing for the day. Race director Darol joked in the briefing that if we saw a cellphone tower we’ likely be riding up to it. Sure enough, three out of the three I spotted on the day were on our route. A refill of bottles and top up on some food I’m hungry today. Two mini apple pies down, some chips, a potato and half a bar. I’ve probably had too much rubbish, but I’m pretty ravenous. After the concerns earlier in the morning though I’m now feeling good. From waterpoint two we still had a long way to go, but it went by quickly. Long sections of downhill gravel road with some slight climbs and more downhill. The kilometers were ticking by fast. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky After a fun piece of similar grassy tube like trail we climbed up towards Roma. In the distance we spot a team we’d ridden with and dropped the day earlier. Today they were ahead of us and now in sight. Heading over the top of the hill we catch up and roll quickly down the other side. In the distraction of catching up and speed of the course we roll past two flags and some bunting tape. Was that not the finish? Being at the back of the group of four I speed up to get in contact and share the news. But the group is already into a straight rocky downhill at a pace where my shouting has little impact. At the bottom I catch up and prompt the turn around. Convinced that we still have two kilometers to go and that we’re still following the green arrows marking the route we head on. Eventually deciding that it was in fact the finish we turn back and up the hill. We’d been following the course markings for day 6. At least we're well prepared for the first 2km tomorrow. What a fantastic day out on a bike!
  19. Once again the route delivered smiles early as riders immediately entered undulating, but fast flowing single track. Rolling district roads led up to the first major climb to Ribaneng and the reward of more singletrack thereafter. A final lengthy climb from water point 2 brought riders back up towards Malealea Lodge and the finish line. Local stars Teboho Khantsi and Phetetso Monese (Alliance 1) came home first in 02:48:02, with overall leaders Louis-Bresler Knipe and Gert Heyns (Contego) following closely in 02:48:04. Arriving in 02:53:46 third place went to Jonasse Machere and Thuso Makatise (Alliance 2). Day 5 brings with it the longest stage in the event: an 89 km route from Malealea to Roma. The endless singletrack is guaranteed to delight, but the many climbs will be a test for weary legs on this penultimate day of the 2014 Lesotho Sky. View all the results, reports and photos on www.lesothosky.com
  20. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky After a solid nights sleep and thorough replenishment we were renewed and all set to go on the ominous sounding 55km “Malealea Monster”. From the start we soon hit some singletrack. Letting a few of the quick guys through we settled into a good pace in the flowing trails. Having been used in a single day event earlier in the year, the route was said to be a little more manicured than what we’d encountered the days prior. Although still no walk in the park, the work was soon evident. For the first 5km I was smiling ear-to-ear with the fast paced, but still windy and technical trail. It culminated in a very loose rocky switchback descent which soon caught out the Swiss rider ahead of me who landed chin first on the apex of a switchback. Helping him up he was okay and we continued on. The first water point came very early at 8km which doubled as the second due to the figure of eight loop we’d do on the day. A quick stop to remove layers in the now warm, mostly sunny conditions and we set off again. Onto rolling district roads we got into a good rhythm, sticking with some strong teams and dropping others who’d passed us by the day before. I was feeling good and it seems Dane had bounced back with a bit of form. Making good time we reached the first big climb of the day. First swiftly dropping down into a river valley we could already see the climb snaking up the mountainside. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky We set a steady tempo, carefully measured knowing a 9 km climb awaited before the finish. At the summit, not wanting to revisit any past issues we took time to eat and drink. As a reward for the somewhat uncomfortable climb we were treated to a long section of single track. At first rocky and a little loose, then fast and flowing over hard-packed pump track like red dirt we finally reached some more rocky switchbacks. Less sharp and comfortably rideable we wound down to another river valley and more undulating trails. Having caught up to a few more teams on the climb we could see them all up ahead as the trails made way for more rolling district road. We were both still feeling good and making great time. It had been a fun stage so far, but we knew another long climb lay in wait. Soon hitting waterpoint 2 we quickly topped up and began the final long climb. With some early gentle undulations and only really a 3km section which hurt the legs we were soon over the top, having caught another team and still feeling fresh with just 10km to go. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky We upped the tempo on a final section of trail through a small settlement and along the hillside towards Malealea. We’d caught up to another team who seemed to push the pace even further as we made contact. Eventually easing off and letting them go we arrived on the final section of district road with one small climb it was then all downhill to the finish. Home in 3h37 and 15th overall we’d had a MUCH better day out. With an unfamiliar amount of time to spare we enjoyed a welcomed cappuccino and casual conversation with some sporting legends at the famous Malealea Coffee shop. Do yourself a favour. If not the whole Lesotho Sky event, make a plan to head to Malealea and take on the "monster". It's a magic place and a highly rewarding route. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky
  21. Some slight rain overnight and overcast conditions on Day 4 had us donning a few additional layers on the start line. The stage started from the new camp at Malealea lodge where we’d been treated to some t-bone steaks which would rival any top end steak house. Click here to view the article
  22. A riverside single track treated riders to some breathtaking views out of the valley carrying them to the first water point. From there the road opened up and soon began the countless undulations en route to Malealea. Once again it was the Contego duo of Louis-Bresler Knipe and Gert Heyns claiming top honours in a time of 03:32:55. Now a solo participant, Craft-Rocky Mountain’s Guido Thaler followed on their heels just a second behind. Shaun Mackenzie and Simon Zahnd (My Gas) were the second team across the line in 03:44:44 with Alliance 2’s Jonasse Machere and Thuso Makatise third in 03:50:23. View all the results, reports and photos on www.lesothosky.com
  23. Off the start line we had a short neutral zone leaving the Ramabanta Trade Post Lodge. Before long we met a tar road which signaled the end of keeping things civil and the start of the mean climb up Nkesi Pass. While tarred the gradient was on the edge of discomfort and the front runners quickly whipped up the pace. Heading swiftly down the other side of the pass we turned off-road onto some bumpy gravel-ish roads. Keeping with our nearer competitors we set off to a comfortable pace. The gravel roads gave way to some fun windy hard packed dirt. Finding lines down the steep rocky sections was a bit hit and miss at times, but we quickly learned to spot the path of least resistance and roll with it. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Things were going well. After a quick trip through a river and a precarious portage up a rocky hillside we continued up. The path up took us over some solid rock with a few easy step ups. Or not. Wham! Awkwardly I land almost face first on the rock ahead, my bike clanking down beside me. Up on my feet it's status check time. Me: slight graze on my knee, all good to go. Bike: a few scrapes, but looks in order. After a pedal stroke something is off, chain maybe? Nope, a thoroughly twisted derailleur cage. Disaster. While we struggle to delicately straighten it, all but the last two teams in the race pass by offering assistance. Twenty odd minutes later the jockey wheels are functioning again and my newly reduced 2x3 gearing is good to go. Finally setting off again we head onwards and up some steep loose climbs, eventually catching up to another team. We're not completely alone! The day seemed to be all about ups and downs - literally. If we weren't tackling a technical climb we were headed down a most often tricky descent scattered with loose rocks. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Midway through the day we did have some respite with some gently undulating hard packed trails. Taking the breather to briefly look around and absorb the incredible scenery one thing comes to mind: The sheer beauty and remoteness aside it is clear that one or more of the many sizable hills in the distance is our route home. Sure enough we were soon heading up, and then down, and up again. And repeat. Having limited gears I had little option, but to power up most of the climbs. After the barrage of hill repeats and occasional postage the legs and knees began to feel the additional effort. Nearing the tar road we had come down just a few hours earlier we knew the finish and an ice cold Maluti Lager were not far. Over the top of the hill and speedily down towards the tradepost. To give an idea of just how steep the tar climb we’d started the day with was - guys were clocking 95-105 km/h coming down with little more than an aero tuck. Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky Photo: Cherie Vale / Lesotho Sky With the finish within reach the route had one last sting in it’s tail thanks to a chap called Bruce. More climbing, more rocks and some more really tricky descents just to make sure we were still awake. Over the line at least an hour slower than anticipated it was a tough day out, but an incredibly rewarding one. Tomorrow we head into even more remote areas on a route that’s said to be quicker (mile for mile) than today. One thing is for sure: the Lesotho Sky will no doubt continue to test, impress and reward us in equal parts.
  24. Sounds of distant roosters and the welcomed smell of bacon wafting from the nearby kitchen was my day 2 wake up call. With some breakfast shoveled down, kit on and bikes checked we were ready to roll. Click here to view the article
  25. 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.
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