Highs and lows. A theme written into the ground and into the unfolding of today’s events. Referring to it as a low is over exaggerated but if compared to Day One and Two’s experience it did not carry the same level of euphoria.
As I mull over it, the day feels as though there were two happening concurrently. What actually transpired and what rumours, opinions, gossip and predictions suggested would happen with rain, doom and gloom being the main topics of conversation. The one moment I was in the present and the next living in the future.
We crawled out of our tents under the face of the rising sun but it lasted only a short while as the North West first sent wind, then dark clouds, lightning bolts and ultimately a downpour.
The possibility of riders being sent out to dodge lightning strikes in the heart of these mountains is not a risk to be toyed with and so the stage was cancelled. We, or should I rather speak for myself, are strange creatures. Before the decision was made, large parts of me wished for this outcome. After we heard the news, an overwhelming disappointment sank over me and I wanted more than anything to ride.
Darol Howes and Christian Schmidt put together a guided tour that left in the rain and tackled the mud. Well, judging by the ride’s images and the state of the bikes, the mud tackled the riders.
I, reluctantly, opted to pass on the invite to ride but the frown was quickly turned upside down when the sky became less menacing and talk of riding on the tar up a steep climb reached my ears.
That was the route I followed. A fifty five kilometre ride with over one thousand metres of climbing on the road between the Roma Trading Post and Ramabanta Trading Post. The views were breathtaking and for a change I was quite at peace with riding alone. The well built tarred roads afforded me the opportunity to look around more often than down at the road in front of me. Today was Lesotho’s day of independence so the roads were more quiet than what they would normally be. It worked out perfectly and my fear of missing out had been quenched.
For the rest of the day I tinkered on bicycles and chatted to folk from various parts of the world, all in the hospitality of the Roma Trading Post Lodge. An estate that recently fell under the management of the Lesotho Sky’s organisers. Their vision for the lodge is to turn it into a cycling hub. A destination or as they would have it an All-Roads-Lead-To-Roma. This is a space to keep an eye on.
Another team which is to be commended is Boteng Molapo and the bicycle washers. They do a sterling job. One that is leaps and bounds ahead of those I have encountered at other events. Due to the water shortage and difficulties with electricity, it is all done with buckets and watering cans making it all the more impressive.
We are eating exceptionally well at Roma and this evening was no exception. After dinner and the race briefing we were treated to the viewing of an outstanding documentary on the trade routes linking these Posts. It is well worth your twenty minutes. I thoroughly enjoyed it partly because it involves a man by the name of Claudio Caluori and partly due to the spectacular footage of the area, an intriguing horseman and a clever intertwining of the modern world and that of days past.
I have understood that we are riding tomorrow come hell or high water, ?, as it is moving day. The predictions are horrendous and the thunder is rolling in the distance. We are bracing ourselves tonight. May it be in vain!