Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trans Lesotho: Day 3

Oxbow to Motete
38 km
1073 m vertical ascent
around 10 hours

This day has the potential to be among the best singletrack that i've ridden ever. I say potential, because at many places what should have been a mindblowingly flowing singletrack, was frustrated by too many unridable obstacles and a too narrow too deep path against the steep slopes.

It was nevertheless one of the prettiest rides to be found - and some of the best swimming pools that i've seen. On high spurs you would see silhouettes of blanket-wrapped shepards with dogs. On other high spurs you would cycle past lone huts. The water in the river below is crystal clear, the surface below the water flat basalt. Here's Paddy at one of the river-crossings.

This area will probably be the highlight of future Trans-Lesothos, and I will certainly go back to ride this stretch again when enough riders has gone through there.

We crossed a river, promptly lost Nick (the third time in so many days), and then followed the newly built singletrack downriver. At one point there was another bike-dragging episode for a climb of 100 metres or so. At this point Tumi decided to go back to search for Nick, and the rest of us continued on some wide-grin singletrack. That petered out and we followed the newly-made singletrack where we could find it. The slopes was steep and the track deep and narrow. This made cycling very difficult - if a pedal catches on the slope-side, you'd roll down and come to a stop a few metres below the track. Where the track was wider, there were too many stops for obstacles that could have been avoided by building the track around it :(

Grant (the-photographer-who-hadn't-ridden-a-bike-for-30-odd-years-but-joined-us-because-how-else-would-he-see-the-valley) was concerned about his photographic equipment, and often opted to carry his bike rather than riding it:

When Tumi and Nick caught up with us, we had the tour group's 2 biggest talkers in the slowest group for the day. At every river crossing, and often in between, they started telling stories - the problem was that these were often funny, so everyone wanted to hear the end of the story before anyone could continue riding.

Carrying & dragging bikes rather than riding them, together with all the stopping at rivercrossings, made the group very slow and we knew we would not outcycle the oncoming bad weather.

The already technical singletrack became slippery and muddy with the rain, which made the going even slower.

When we reached the jeeptrack where Dave has arranged to pick Grant up, we left him with the sweeper and picked up the pace ever so slightly. The jeeptrack was of that kind of mud that sticks to the bike and adds 20 kgs of weight in a few minutes. I enjoyed riding in the rain. Although Paddy and Fiona was riding with me, it felt like a solitary ride - peaceful with just me, the bike and some bad mud. Just the way I like it.

When we reached the top of the pass, it was a quick downhill and then a very slippery singletrack to the village. We washed the bikes inside the river when we crossed it the last time, and then continued to the school that would host us for the night.

A lovely day, and it would be awesome riding once the technical problems are cleared up.

What I particularly liked about today:
- Knowing where i was all the time. It was very easy to match the map with the surroundings.
- The deep clear swimming pools in the river.
- The short pieces of excellent riding.
- The speed with which Alice, David & Tamara organised hot showers and tea when we arrived cold & wet:)
- The school choir that welcomed us. The program was short and well thought-out, leaving us feel welcome, but with enough time to sort bike-admin out.
- The slapchips with lots of salt & vinegar in the head master's office.
- The dining hall decorations.
- The evening program that included a bit of interactive background about Lesotho without being intrusive - well done Motete School!

1 comment:

  1. What an adventure!! Looking forward to reading more.