Welcome to Lesotho Sky 2016 Day 5.
There’s something special about the people who come to ride the Lesotho Sky. Throughout the week the Afrikaans word gees came up in conversation. Gees is something you have or experience. It literally means spirit, but it can also mean good vibes.
To get the pronunciation right, start with a scratchy sound in the back of your throat, followed by “ear”, and ending with a solid “sss”, like the sound sealant makes after you’ve punctured your tyre.
Someone with gees has a great attitude. It’s someone who livens up the room and makes everyone else feel great. Gees makes you get back on your bike after a hard fall and, instead of cursing, you smile. Gees is what you feel at a waterpoint, stuffing your face with brownies and boiled eggs. Gees makes you stop and help out another rider.
Today was all about the gees at the back. It was one of the shortest stages of the week, and everyone was hoping to give it horns. After a long climb up Nxgesi Pass and down a fast descent into the Ramabanta valley, the real route opened up. The climbs were short but punchy, with kicks on every corner. The downhills were as gnarly as they come here in Lesotho. It was a day for the dual-suspension Pygas, the trail riders with mad skills and the party boys who stop at every viewpoint to take a selfie. The boys in the front gunning for podium suffered. The ones at the back riding with their GoPros and slack suspensions had their best ride of the week.
Unfortunately there were some mechanicals and injuries. The leading men in the Open Men category, Nathan and Stephen, had yet another day of breakdowns. Since the start of this week, they have had mechanical issues every day. Dylan Chilcott almost lost his left ear to a tree branch. Word from the community is that the tree is doing okay. Dylan, however, ended up with three stitches and a bandage around his head.
The biggest culprit of the day was a sneaky drop-off from a grass embankment, where a number of people flew over their handlebars. Kylie Hanekom of Team BikeHub crashed and cracked her frame. Glynnis Byron suffered a more severe misfortune: the solo rider came down and broke her collarbone. She is already on a plane back home.
The route finished in spectacular fashion. Darol brought back Bruce’s sting in the tail, a 5km loop around a hill, with a gravelly and rocky downhill into a valley before the final stretch into the lodge. It gave riders a breathtaking view of the lawns of Ramabanta and everyone who crossed the finish line did so with a massive grin.
Read the awesome Race Report about Day 6.