2008 Roof of Africa is definitely not for the faint hearted
"Baboons" Lesotho Sun ROOF OF AFRICA - 27 to 29 November 2008 - Lesotho
With less than a month to go to the start of the Roof of Africa in the streets of Maseru the tension and lots of excitement is really building in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. As Ashley Thorn, the Route Director, phrased it: "I thought last year's route to be the ultimate Enduro test in the history of the Roof. I like to believe that this year the route will not disappoint and the event will again be remembered for many years to come."
If the 'Key Hole' in the picture is anything to go by, there will definitely be many moments and many places that will be remembered on the 2008 Roof of Africa.
With this year's weather patterns quite out of the norm, we could quite easily see similar down pours to last year, again making some of the routes so much more difficult and river crossings impossible.
After the Round the Houses, on Thursday 27 november2008, the competitors will do the 60km Dinosaur trail to determine the starting positions for Friday's route. Once you've gone up Lancer's gap the route takes you along the Lesothosaurus track, an ancient fast running bipedal plant eater resembling something of a tired motorcyclist; past Thaba Bosiu up the plateau, down the other side back to Roma before doing another couple of ups and downs in the nearby hills and across the freshly ploughed lands before finishing at the trading Post. Promised by the organizers this 60km section will feel somewhat more like 160km.
Friday, 28 November 2008, a simple 200km stage, starting at 06:00 in Roma the powers to be expect the leading competitors to spend 7 hours out on the route, hence the reason for the early start to enable back markers to make it back home before nightfall. If last year's winner, Lourens Mahoney is in his fit fighting spirit hopping across the rocks and bouncing from mountain pass to dirt trail at his usual awesome pace, like a high speed mountain goat, he and those challenging him, might be able to finish under seven hours.
As Peter Luck mentioned: "We will see a very even playing field this year as most of the route is new; we go up the escarpment and then back down, only to head straight back up on the very next track, the route is unknown and the terrain in many places unfamiliar this year."
From Ashley's description there are no less than 13 mountain trails or mountain passes that will be negotiated on the second day.
On Saturday, 29 November 2008 a group of very tired competitors will again start at 06:00 at the Trading Post in Roma for another agonizing 150km ride that should keep every nerve and adrenaline pumping blood vessel occupied for the best part of six hours before they finally finish at the same place.
With Mountain Passes such as Boilers Pass, Bushman's Pass, Belekomo Pass, Circumcision Pass, Zig-Zag Pass, Donkey Pass, Mankaluba Pass (translated to Horse and Donkey Dung Pass) and Short Drop Pass this spells a day of serious agony with only the strong and fit emerging to claim their Finishers Badges once they finally arrive at Roma.
The greatest news from the organizers is that there will be very good prize- moneys for the finishers, with class wins and special achievements being rewarded for their hard work.
Although KTM has declined sending an international team to the event after Samuli Aro was forced to withdraw as a result of an operation to his hand. The KTM Team will back there local rider and last year's winner, Lourens Mahoney, as hopeful rival for this year's top conqueror.
BMW rider, Gerhard Forster will definitely do his best to keep the local riders honest. His bike is already on its way to South Africa. At least one international competitor who will get some support from Ian Shrosbee's GO Chain Wax Lube.