Day 3 – Malealea Loop
It was supposed to be a rest day, but it became my toughest day on the bike. The route was awesome and the trails were some of the best I’ve ever ridden, but I just could not get my legs to work and my mind to focus. I felt as if something was holding me back and the more I tried to up the tempo, the more I got left behind.
This is the third year that the Lesotho Sky routes are fully GPS navigated. This means that on almost all of the trails, there are no route markings. I am surprised at how much I enjoy riding a stage race that challenges your mind as much as your body. On a day like today, if you are not keeping your eye on the GPS, you are bound to make a wrong turn. The challenge, however, is that while the route resembles a cross country course, any given climb or downhill offers a multitude of line options. So at the top of Gates of Paradise Pass, my teammate and I missed the correct turn-off and found ourselves on a trail that ticked all the right boxes, except for the correct direction.
Riding with the brakes on
This little detour made us lose the group we usually ride with and we had to work hard to try and catch up. It was at this point I realised I forgot to pack my legs. From there onwards all the way to the end, we trotted and slogged up and down trails that otherwise would have been so much fun to ride.
When we finally made it back to the lodge I asked the bike guys to take a good look at my bike. I felt the suspension needed some TLC and I was not happy with the skinny front wheel the bike had on. When I bumped into Christo, the bike guru, a bit later, he asked me if I struggled on the bike today, because the router on the back disc brake was bent. So yes, something was holding me back after all, my flippen brake!
The art of mountainbike maintenance
The take-home lesson for me after a tough day on trails that want to take you to the edge of mountainbike nirvana: check your gear and bike before you ride. Once you’ve checked all the boxes, go and klappit.
Photo credits: Wayne Reiche