by Rohan Surridge

Mountain Biking - Blog Entry 9

Spine of the Dragon - Blog Entry 9

Spine of the Dragon - Blog Entry 9
Spine of the Dragon - Blog Entry 9
Day 26
Start: Mansonyane
Finish: Semonkong
Distance: 67.8km
Climb: 2261m
I’d told the guys that this ‘ride’ would be memorable, not knowing that this would be true for all the wrong reasons!
After hearing thunder all night, we woke to light rain and mist at Father Thabo’s house at St James Mission Hospital. After a little umming and ahhing, we had decided that it isn’t too bad to be a little wet, and we had to keep moving to get to the Cape after all, so left for one of my favourite day rides (in good weather!). The riding was world-class and the scenery beyond comparison. We couldn’t see much through the mist, but we weren’t getting wet and the trail was quite good.
After about two hours, we passed the point of no return and the heavens just opened up. Visibility fell to less than two meters. It was raining and snowing! Even after quickly putting on our wets and any other gear we had, we began to freeze. But keeping warm wasn’t to be our biggest challenge as the trail quickly turned into a muddy quagmire, gunking up our bikes as only thick black mud can. Our bikes just aren’t designed to operate in these conditions, so they collected so much mud and grass that the wheels could no longer turn and weighed so much that we couldn’t pick them up! Pushing a sledge across the Lesotho highlands was what it became with us sometimes being able to ride the odd downhill.
All three of us sank into survival mode as we battled the elements and our bikes to make some headway.
Even the usually awe-inspiring drop into the Senqunyane valley wasn’t appreciated. Even less appreciated was the 3km hike out the other side. All that kept us going was the knowledge that Sarah and the Mother Ship were a mere 5km after the climb. These 8km took us around 3 ½ hours, but hey, the hot chocolate was well worth it!
Three wet, bedraggled adventurers arrived at the Mother Ship with three bikes in various stages of disrepair, so we called it a day and settled in at Semonkong Lodge. The next day was to be a compulsory ‘bike rebuild’ day.

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