All went according to plan until after the first waterpoint. We climbed the Nkesi Pass out of Ramabanta, in the opposite direction from yesterday, enjoying the smooth tar. We then dropped onto some fun, sketchy trails with one or two nasty portages. We slid down a few of the descents, with a bit less control than may have been advisable.
We were ploughing our way up a sandstone climb with incredible views of the valley and mountains in the distance, when an ominous hissing announced a sidewall cut to Nick’s back tyre. After bombing it we merrily continued- enjoying some more flowing super tube trails.
Shortly thereafter we popped out onto a beautiful open field. We flowed down to what looked like a smooth grass roller but a sneaky drop off midway through caught me by surprise. I landed too hard on the front. The impact on landing cracked the top tube of my frame. Luckily with some careful handling the bike was still rideable and no limbs were lost. Shaken we continued, now stopping at regular intervals to bomb the leaking tyre.
We made it onto the Strava segment for the day, Kananelo’s Tsubinator: a climb of 350 metres over 6 kilometres. This climb feels endless, and features countless rocky gradients that don’t allow you to find a rhythm and pedal it out. Once back on Nkesi Pass, we were forced to give up on the cut tyre and stopped to put a tube in. By this time most of the field were probably enjoying lunch and a cold beverage back at the lodge.
Finally we turned off the pass onto Bruce’s Sting in the Tail, the cruel loop above the lodge that Darol and crew have added this year. More climbing, and some hairy descents ensued. Then, as should be expected in Lesotho, more climbing. We crawled across the finish line, in pieces (quite literally in the case of my bike). Now to borrow a bike for tomorrow’s breathtaking final stage at Semonkong.