Day 4 – Malealea Monster
Where did your bike take you today? Mine took me on an epic roundtrip in Malealea, Lesotho. Today’s route piggybacked on an established Lesotho mountainbike event, called the Malealea Monster. It’s a 55km route that loops in a figure eight across some of the most breathtaking mountain terrain I have ever seen.
A frantic start
The stage started at a pace that no weekend warrior should attempt at such a high altitude. Usually at a UCI mountain bike stage race, the elite riders and the rest of the bunch don’t really mingle at the starting line. This event is different: pros and average Joes mix like a good brandy and coke. So my teammate and I lined up right behind the guys who were going for the win. Needless to say that our pep talk of the previous night about starting slow and easing into it was soon forgotten when we found ourselves holding on to their wheels for as long as we could. It did not take them long to drop us, but the reward was worth it. The reason for the fast start was to make the most of one of the gnarliest singletrack downhills I have ever ridden. It bumps and flows until it drops you into a sketchy piece that will test your skills, or your brakes. I was mostly on my brakes.
Views for days
The highlight of today’s riding was by far the breathtaking views, but to witness it you had to take your bike up some of the steepest dirt roads in Africa. So soon after the fun downhill stuff, we started to take on the mountains around Malealea. In contrast with the rest of the Lesotho Sky routes, all the big climbs were on well maintained district dirt roads. For a change it was possible to really take in the views and lose yourself in the mesmerising beauty of this country.
Trails with soul
This is my third year doing this race and every time I do it, I feel like I am leaving a piece of myself behind. This event, but more so, these trails have a way of finding the sweet spot of one’s soul. One of my friends here at the race has described the Lesotho Sky event as the race of the soul.
I think she is right. Or at least, it’s the race that touched my soul.
Photo credits: Wayne Reiche