Lesotho Sky Prologue: Having been woken by the generator at 5am, Lolita Van Aardt and I were ready to go by 7.30. So after a delicious breakfast, we headed off around 8:00, towards Semonkong where the prologue was to be held. It was a breath taking, scenic drive up into the mountains, (literally breath taking as we were climbing to 2200m above sea level). Even the car was struggling up the steep hills. We had been taught how to greet the locals in their language the night before, at the race briefing, so we were gaily greeting the locals along the way and they responded with such enthusiasm.
After climbing up many steep and winding roads and ‘oohing’ and ‘aaahing’ at the views, we finally arrived at Semonkong. It was time to put on our race faces and get serious about the prologue. After much discussion about tyre pressure and how awesome Bianchi Methanols are with the guys next to us, we all trundled down a very rocky road to the Bridge in front of the Semonkong Lodge. This was to be our start place. True to the relaxed ambience and attitude of the place and the people, we all sat around chatting and catching up with mates, dodging the donkeys and cows as they came past, until it was time for the start.
Local riders from all around had been invited to join in the race for the day. They arrived on an assortment of bikes and with great enthusiasm lined up with us. There was a neutral zone in which the bikes were to be lead out by local men on their horses. The gun went off and we all surged forward only to screech to a halt as one of the horses had decided to go backwards. Off we all set again, this time a little more cautiously up a nice steep hill that got the heart rates up and the lungs burning in the first 400m. The race route was made up of jeep track, cow, donkey, goat and sheep trails. At first we flew along a road for a while and then began to descend along the animal trails. It was a lovely technical descent and had me smiling all the way. We crossed some small rivers, tackled rock gardens aplenty and generally had a pretty awesome ride. Before we knew it we were climbing up the last climb to the finish gasping for breath and dashing at an angle to the wind across a plateau to the finish with the most spectacular view of the Maletsunyane Falls. Possibly the highest single drop falls in the Southern Hemisphere. Here we were served pack lunches to enjoy while taking in the scenery. Then it was back on the bikes for a short but challenging ride back to the Lodge and to our cars.
Well done to Cherie Vale and Vera Adrian on wining the Elite Ladies Category. Lolita and I came in 2nd. All in all a wonderful start to what I think is going to be an adventure of epic proportions through the beautiful Mountain Kingdom.