The route varies every year but always includes minimal road, maximum single track, a good deal of portaging and some killer down hill. ABSOLUTELY no tar! The 2011 route will be 5 days and details will be given at the briefing. (It will be some where in this area)
We will most probibly once again cross Ramaepho’s Pass (over 3000m and very taxing). Last year many found this tough going. Unfortunately if you want to do the Thin Air you just have to be fit. The mountains will not excuse you! Access to Ramaepho’s is difficult and extraction almost impossible, so self-sufficiency and riding in pairs or groups is essential.
The route is not for beginners and includes 95% technical riding at altitude (sometimes over 3000 meters). The 2008 route profile was awesome.
The days vary between 40km and 65km. With average speeds below 15km per hour due to lots of technical riding and portaging. If you are not fit you could experience some exciting night riding (see below).
All days are very remote, and cyclists will be away from vehicle backup for most of the day. We are arranging a motorbike to back up (can sling bodies over the back and maybe drag the bits) , but the third day is not accessible by anything other than foot, horse, goat or intrepid MTB.
You will need to be totally self-sufficient and take lots of slime, patches, liners and spare tubes as its really thorny in the sandy area along some of the route.
The campsites are all rather groovy - grassy with lots of water nearby for sweaty bodies to swim. Again, groups must be self-sufficient in terms of camping equipment, drinking water (can top-up at village taps), first aid, food (can purchase from stores en route) and fuel - there is none on route. Last fill-up is in either Matatiele or the town of Qacha’s Nek.
Limited bike spares will be available at cost, with bush mechanic services at R1000 per hour (or biltong and cider) i.e. bring your own spares if you don't want to pay:-)
Cyclists are advised to take out medical insurance to facilitate extraction to RSA should they become injured. Cyclists will be required at the start of the event to sign an indemnity and disclaimer of liability.
All riders should cycle in groups of at least 2 at all times.
Helmets gloves and the goods listed in the pre-event inventory will be mandatory. Cyclists will not be permitted to ride in the instance that they do not have the requisite equipment.
In view of the fickle nature of the weather in the mountains, cyclists will be required on the second and third days to carry warm clothing and emergency food.
The 1 : 250 000 colour map produced by Lesotho Survey Dept is highly recommended as a reference for all participants, and the planned route can be followed on this map according to the description above. They can be purchased from PMB Maps and Laminating. There are also very good 1:50 000 maps available. For those interested please phone Mark annd he can give you the references.
Cyclists are required to attend a pre-event briefing on the morning of or the evening preceeding the event – you will be advised in due course.