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Offline Michiel

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Roof 2016 Ride Report
« on: December 07, 2016, 09:28:29 pm »


So much has already been said, thanks to those who have shared their stories, good or bad.

I start this ride report mostly because I want to have a designated stage to share the pictures and video
Daniel Roscher Potgieter took along with including some thoughts of my own. This year's event could have
gone a LOT smoother but I'm not going to dwell on that too long. The behavior of Lesotho's Minister of Tourism
was sad and I think it was really unfair to the Bronze riders to be given so little time to get out and do the
Time Trial on Thursday but it turns out that this was only the start. Personally my mouth still waters for the
1000 energy bars they promised that I never lay an eye on!

Most of the media I will share is compliments of Daniel. He is an very enthusiastic young medical student
and have grown a fondness for Lesotho since participating in Lesotho Sky 2015 Mountain Bike Race.
That is where we met, one year later he tagged along to support me. This time round I put my camera in
his hand and hoped for the best. Thanks to Daniel!



Roof of Africa 2016

After all the planning and preparation, the looking forward and training, the excitement and adventure,
The Roof of Africa 2016 is done. I want to say "done and dusted" but for many that wouldn't be the case.
Personally I wished the "high" could last a bit longer. The aftermath left me with pains and aches, bruises
and scabs where I rather not point out. Just turning in bed is a very uncomfortable affair.
My kit is torn and stinking dirty, my poor David kwaai verniel. Despite this the past weekend was very much worth it.
I absolutely adore the sport but as specially the people it brings together. The bikes, the people and the places we see.

This year the event left us with a bittersweet sensation. The Bronze route wasn't suitable for the class
and left many riders broken and disappointed. I'm sad to share the news of Willie-John le Hanie's (#444)
accident and subsequent passing away. We can only imagine his family's despair and sorrow.
Our thoughts and condolences goes out to those in grief.



I am torn between two when it comes to Roof 2016.

On the one side I can't help to wonder if Willie would have been spared if the Bronze riders didn't have
to do Snake Bite Pass on the Friday route. I understand the anger many of the Bronze riders had on the
day because their route was just too difficult for the average Bronze rider. One rider said that he expected
to enjoy his experience and was furious it didn't work out like that. On the route from Saturday I couldn't
believe when I saw Bronze riders on some of the trails I thought were Silver and Gold difficulty. Some of the
off-camber riding was downright dangerous with no margin for error! Having said that I felt that the Silver route
was suitable for the class, even manageable by the average Silver rider.

On the other hand there is the argument that, if you want to have a easy time and smooth ride with little
risk you should rather attend the Madalas or other rides catered for the purpose. The Roof is not called
"the mother of hard enduro" for nothing. It is supposed to be freaking ridiculous and almost impossible.
There are many soft rides out there for people to enjoy without discomfort or risk, Roof is the one that is
supposed to be a notch, or two, above the rest. I will argue that this is exactly why the event is so popular,
apart from the fact that it takes place in the spectacularly beautiful landscapes of Lesotho.

Personally I look at it like this: If I order a plain "soft twirl" ice-cream from KFC and pay for a plain one but the
lady hands me one that includes a flake it is a bonus and I'm happy for it. In such case I can't handle the flake,
well, then I just lick the ice-cream around it and call it a dayÖ (and be sure to return the next time with more of an appetite)

« Last Edit: December 12, 2016, 12:05:48 am by Michiel »
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2016, 06:34:11 am »
It's started...! :) More. More!!


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Offline Dustman

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2016, 07:25:00 am »
 :sip:
"Better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
 

Offline billy-joe

Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2016, 07:29:19 am »
looking fwd to this.
-There is no road to happiness...Happiness is the road.
-One cannot drink beer all day long if you do not start early in the morning says Welsh!!
 

Offline J-dog

Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2016, 07:35:51 am »
 :sip: :sip: :sip: :sip:
 

Offline Dwerg

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2016, 07:53:31 am »
 :thumleft:
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Offline Buff

Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2016, 09:54:52 am »
 :sip:
Present bikes: BETA 300RR, KTM 690, Yamaha WR250F

If you're dumb you gotta be tough !!!
 

Offline Pom17

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2016, 11:25:46 am »
 :lamer:
 

Offline Crossed-up

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2016, 11:35:58 am »
Looking forward to this. :sip:
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2016, 11:45:58 am »
I just came off the phone having a discussion with Losper about the circumstances of Willie's
accident and feel compelled in the most serious sense to share the following. This is not aimed
at Willie because I didn't know him nor do I have knowledge of his riding history.

This is aimed at guys and girls who would like to ride the Roof of Africa but have never been to
Lesotho or only been to the lowlands and knows little to nothing about the country. This even
counts if you just want to participate in the Bronze Qualifier.

NEVER underestimate Lesotho. The Mountain Kingdom can be as dangerous as it is beautiful
and it is spectacularly beautiful! Do not assume if you can competently ride a bike and have done
various Enduro events in SA or abroad that you automatically have a "license" to ride in Lesotho.

I speak out of personal experience. Lesotho has humbled me on numerous occasions.  By humbled
I mean I have been scared to the point of nearly soiling my pants, I have been exhausted to the point
of passing out and I have been stressed to the point of wanting to cry! I have seen this over and over
again, guys rock up to ride there for the first time, believing there is nothing to it and then crumble when
the first proper Lesotho terrain starts. Seriously, trust me on thisÖ

Lesotho has a vast capacity to offer visitors thrills and adventures and The Roof of Africa was for
me the best and most exiting experience I have ever had. Twice. I will be the first one to tell you to go,
but here is how I recon you go about it.

1 - Go and spectate the Roof. Don't just sit in the pits, walk out on the route for at least 1-2km at every
     spectators point and see for yourself what is going down.

2 - Be a part someone's pit crew. Get first-hand experience of what it takes to participate.

3 - Go to Lesotho for weekend fun rides with your friends. Start with easier tracks and then work your
     way up. Losper is the king when it comes to tracks in the mountains and I'm sure he will be happy to
     share them. Attend the Lesotho Madalas. Attend a Wild Will or Enduro World Lesotho training weekend.
     Get to know the place a bit better in this way whilst learning from riders with Lesotho experience.

4 - Now you are ready to ride the Roof of Africa.

If you feel like this made any sense please share it on other forums so riders may see and do.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2016, 12:09:24 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline JustBendIt

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2016, 04:03:55 pm »
subscribe
The older I get the faster I was
 

Offline BiG DoM

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2016, 06:17:51 am »
Michiel - brilliant statement that hits the nail on the head.  :3some:
"NEVER underestimate Lesotho".
The Roof is no longer a bucket list event for macho weekend warriors to get a medal.

Photo is stunning  :thumleft:
« Last Edit: December 11, 2016, 10:49:08 am by BiG DoM »
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Offline Kamanya

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2016, 08:23:08 am »
Moaaaaarrrrr!
Somedays, life's like a middlemannetjie.
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2016, 07:51:15 pm »
Ok Michiel... enough tease! When we getting a ride report??


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Offline Michiel

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2016, 11:12:49 pm »
Ai guys, I'm suffering from a bad case of post-Roof depression. Don't expect anything like last years report,
which was pre-meditated.

The run-up to the Roof is always half of the excitement. With only a month to go we crammed in one or two
last rides with the hope that this will solve the lack of training during the year. I prefer not to ride at least two
weeks or more before the event to avoid last-minute injuries or damaging the bike and to hunger myself out
for 3 days of some serious time in the saddle.

For all the months of waiting the day suddenly came. Once in Lesotho the reality really set in. I love the bustle
in Maseru as specially around the hotel where the professional teams always set up camp. Registration at the
hotel went without incident and I even got to shake the hand of the legend, Graham Jarvis. The opportunity kinda
caught me off-guard and I unimaginatively asked: "how do you feel?" to which Mr. Jarvis responded: "old".
I think he must be so tired of everyone always bugging him for attention and small talk. Afterwards
I thought I should have asked him how he approach a riverbed or path strewn with loose football-sized rocks
because this always beats my best attempts at riding it. Ah well, next time...

Wade Young is really my favorite star rider and maybe one day I will muster the confidence to ask him that question.
After his injury at Sea to Sky he wasn't able to participate in this years Roof.



The evening came and race brief was the usual drawn-out formality with political correctness temporarily getting
in the way of sport and adventure. As per usual we waited 30min+ for the belated Minister of Tourism to come and
read (or mumble) from a piece of paper and Peter Luck talked a lot but said nothing. My highlight is always
when Justin comes on stage. I like the way he speaks and obviously we really only want to hear what he's
got to say about the routes. Besides Justin I enjoy the occasion for all the people that I see there. Some I
know and strike up vibrant conversations and others I just check out with interest. I event bumped into Craig
from The Impi! Good man that is. He rides Gold Class each year and organizes one hell of an event back home
in Dundee.

Thursday morning is when the nerves really gets on edge. Off to Maseru again. We stay lodged 50km out of town.
With Round the Houses a part of the event it has become a good time to mingle with fellow competitors one
last time before we scatter off into the mountains. I bumped into Louis Bresler Knipe and Luke Walker, both
ambassadors for the sport. Calvin Hume was there too and looking good. With his race number indicating 101
I knew he was in it to win it. Calvin is one of those kids who went from nothing to something to behold within
one year!



Found this picture I really like of Travis Teasedale waiting at for his turn to race at Round the Houses in Maseru.
Credits to the photographer.



I was lucky to be in the first Silver group to race Round the Houses which gave me lots of time to continue
to Bushman's Pass to ride the Time Trial. Losper on the other hand only got to Bushman's at 2H30 PM and
only finished the Time Trial short before dark. This is a bit unfair towards the Bronze Riders. I hope the organizers
address this next year.

It was so strange. At Time Trial I felt super nervous. Didn't want to get in line to start but didn't want the experience
to end either. Nervous and exited! Once up in the mountains and with a cool fresh wind blowing I knew it was time
for action. I wanted to pause the moment forever.

The Time Trial didn't go as smooth as I'd hoped. I didn't feel completely in control of the bike and couldn't establish
a rhythm, even going over the bars at one point. Managed to clock a mid-group time which at least put me ahead
of the bottleneck causing riders for the first race day.

« Last Edit: December 23, 2016, 08:31:27 pm by Michiel »
 

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2016, 08:23:25 am »
Cool, bring it on Michiel.  :ricky:
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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2016, 12:44:47 pm »
Really enjoying this, Michiel, thanks for your labour of love. :thumleft:

Thanks also for your wise comments and advice.
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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2016, 12:53:26 pm »
Nice so far!  :sip:
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2016, 07:00:21 pm »
It was so strange. At Time Trial I felt super nervous. Didn't want to get in line to start but didn't want the experience
to end either. Nervous and exited! Once up in the mountains and with a cool fresh wind blowing I knew it was time
for action. I wanted to pause the moment forever.

The Time Trial didn't go as smooth as I'd hoped. I didn't feel completely in control of the bike and couldn't establish
a rhythm, event going over the bars at one point. Managed to clock a mid-group time which at least put me ahead
of the bottleneck causing riders for the first race day.

I heard the time trial was quite tough this year? Did you experience any bottlenecks or does the staggered start give everyone a pretty clear run?

Offline Michiel

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Re: Roof 2016 Ride Report
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2016, 10:40:22 pm »
I would describe the Time Trial as rough but not overly technical. At the time I headed out to clock my starting
position for the first race day there were few riders on the route and most of them were Gold and top Silver
class so I didn't encounter a single bottleneck anywhere on the route. In fact, compared to the rest, I must
have been one of the slower and weaker riders out at that point.

Unlike 2015 the Time Trial of 2016 followed new paths on the highlands which means the track is very narrow
and bumpy, sometimes overgrown with shrubs or no path at all. I suppose it was a faster sort of route with few
technical sections but bumpy and jerky as hell. Not a nice ride at all.

Here are some pictures from Time Trial. I gave Daniel the bakkie keys and sugested after I left he drive down
the back-side of Bushman's Pass to Fossi where the Time Trial route crossed underneath the tar road twice
and headed up an climb where spectators can see some action. His first shot was of Travis Teasedale making
waves as he blasted through the Makhaleng River. This can only mean Travis took his time and waited more
than an hour before he went out for his lap. I thought about this and realised it might be a stragedy to let the
first riders clear out a path in the bushes so he can set a quicker time by not having to navigate virgin terrain.



You can always tell between a pro rider and a weekend warrior. That river crossing is strewn with submerged
loose and slippery rocks sized anything from tennis balls to soccer balls. Because of the water it is really hard to
tell where the big ones are so most average riders make the crossing slowly and cautiously. Not Mr Teasedale!





The climb out on the other side gave riders their first taste of a good steep uphill. No 311, my 2015 lucky number.
Goooo Janneman!











The Time Trial also included a complete new passage up a valley I've never see before. We made our way up a gradual
slope, covered in thick bushes, all along a stream with tens of little waterfalls. The path was a bit treacherous for it ran on the
edge of a 10m drop into the stream so there wasn't any opportunity to enjoy the views.

After +-40km we finished at Bushman's top.

« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 04:47:01 am by Michiel »