This year, the organisers have turned the race on its head, literally. The legendary six-day route is going to be in reverse, meaning that they have changed the direction of all the prominent stages of previous years back to front. The good news is that all the climbs that broke your heart in the past, are now rad descents. The bad news is obvious: the crazy downhills are now “you-must-be-kidding” climbs. Riders will also be spending two nights at Lesotho Sky’s new home: Roma Trading Post Lodge. It is here where they took hands with Claudio Caluori and Velosolutions to build the first ever Pump For Peace pump track in Africa.
The total distance of the race: 369km with an overall elevation of 9827m. As always, the race will start at Ramabanta. In previous years, riders used to ride from Ramabanta to Malealea and later back to Ramabanta from Roma. This year, the route from Roma to Ramabanta is in reverse. It will be shorter than the original and include brand-new sections that will leave riders in awe. It will take riders to the base of Popa Mountain, where a tribe of cannibals once lived. The riding here is so awesome, you will eat your heart out (or your mate's...).
Day 2 is all new. Since Roma has become their off-season basecamp, the race organisers have been scouting routes like mad. One of the new trails will will take riders close to the fortress mountain where the legendary African king Moshoeshoe forged a new tribe that eventually became known as the Basothos.
On the third day riders will ride from Roma to Malealea, passing the home-village of king Moshoeshoe II and the present King Letsie III. The day will show who's got MTB royalty in their blood, because it is going to be tough. Race Director Darol "Pain Cave" Howes has given this a beer-recovery rating of five-and-a-half-pints out of six. Some might need a whole keg.
From Malealea the race heads back to Ramabanta. This route is a reverse of previous years. Seasoned Lesotho Sky riders will love the change of scenery and see familiar spots from a completely different angle.
Back at Ramabanta, two days of classic Lesotho Sky riding awaits. The Ramabanta Loop on Day 5 is always a tough little bugger. The profile looks like the graph on a heart monitor of a horny teenager: short, steep climbs followed by rad descents to the bottom of yet another climb.
The final day is just plain awesome. The Semonkong Loop takes riders to the edge of the spectacular Maletsunyane Falls. This must be the most breathtaking MTB stage race finish line in Africa. Pull out the baggies: this day is all about fun. There’s not much climbing, but due to the altitude, each climb will feel like a punch in the face.
Riders will get to the ride the notorious Wild Goose, a spectacular piece of single track with an elusive flow. If you are able to find it, you’ll go straight to MTB heaven. If the flow eludes you, the Wild Goose will expose the inner roadie in big-talking mountain bikers.
There are still a few team and solo entries available. Entries close 1 September 2017.