The 4th edition of the Big Sky Ride took place a few days ago. This was a ride across the most scenic and highest road through the mountain kingdom of Lesotho! Thirty riders accompanied Melt Swanepoel and I in this journey, and most had never ridden over such terrain before!
The adventure started with the ride up the 'hill' to Sani Top Chalet for a night at 2800m! In variable weather and light rain, we ascended the magnificent Sani Pass, glad to arrive at the Sani Top Chalet, and get warm in the Highest pub in Africa!
The push up Sani Pass was worth a sunrise such as this the following day!
The second day dawned in perfect conditions, and enjoying the views of the pass from above we prepared for the day's ride to black mountain and beyond. There are very few days when the wind is not blasting at the edge of the escarpment, and this was one of them, breathtaking and beautiful!
The ride took us to new heights, 3100m, and very close to Thabana Ntlenyana. This was the highest point in Southern Africa and just a stone throw away from the path that we had ridden! (It is up at this altitude that you experience the Big Sky!)
Spectators at any part of the road!
The rugged terrain through which was passed consisted of small villages, plenty of sheep with herdboys to watch over them, and always the threat of poor weather. We enjoyed a feeling very unlike anything that could be found across the border in South Africa.
Our long day was a monster, besides the 20 km climb, much time was spent around 3000m! (Graph from Suunto Training manager)
In four days, everybody got up all the climbs, though some interesting weather changes, 265 kms of Lesotho mountains, and just over 6000m of climbing. Most people had an average of 15 hours for the four day ride! Managing things at a reasonable pace, it was challenging but possible! A true mountain adventure, and everyone can be very proud of themselves for riding the route! (with a little thanks to the assisting tailwinds!)