When was the last time you got on your bike and rode for days on stoke-filled single tracks? If you’re longing for that feeling of being a kid on a bike with the whole world as your playground, it’s time to make your way to Lesotho.
Riders of the Sky
The Lesotho Sky is an annual 6-day mountain bike stage race in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, limited to only 100 riders. Labelled as an old-school mountain biking experience, the event is fully supported and includes accommodation, meals, water points and world-class medical support along the route. The route includes donkey trails, 4×4 tracks, sandstone ridges, naturally formed supertube single tracks and footpaths through some of Africa’s most impressive mountain passes with breathtaking views.
The first Lesotho Sky took place in 2011, covering 430km over the 6 days. From a mere 15 cyclists, the event has grown to a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) classified MTB stage race that attracts professional riders and weekend warriors from across the globe.
Total days: 6
Total distance: ± 330km
Total elevation: 9 800m
The race starts at Roma Trading Post Lodge, just outside the town of Roma, about 34km southeast of the capital Maseru. The race organisers work closely with local communities to ensure the route give riders the best exposure to Lesotho’s spectacular mountains and unique cultural context. The route is GPS coordinated, and only marked on certain sections. For the most part, every rider has to go from point A to Z using a GPS device.
The race is certainly not targeted at the mainstream ‘corporate’ mountain bike market. “I come here to fall in love with cycling again,” says South African cross-country cyclist Cherie Redecker.
The field spreads out quickly and you and your teammate are sometimes alone for hours, with only the silence of the cliffs and valleys that surround you. Along the way you’ll encounter the local people: Men, stately dressed in the traditional Basotho wool blankets, women washing their clothes in the river streams, young boys on horses or donkeys, and groups of children cheering you on, while every kilometer tests your technical skills and endurance. It is a race and experience like no other.
Hate going up, but love coming down? After numerous requests, the organisers have given in to the growing demand for an e-bike stage race category. This year, e-bike fanatics will get the chance to experience a unique e-bike stage race, with challenging and technical trails.
The 2019 edition of Lesotho Sky is on from 23-28 September. For more information, visit lesothosky.com.