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Racing the Roof of Africa – Every second counts

This past weekend saw the running of the 49th Roof of Africa Motorbike Endurance Race in the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.  Nicknamed the “Mother of all Endurance” races it is certainly not for the faint hearted!

Alfredo Gomez Cantero (AG) & 2015 champion, Graham Jarvis battling for the lead in the Motul 2016 Roof of Africa race.

Alfredo Gomez Cantero (AG) & 2015 champion, Graham Jarvis battling for the lead in the Motul 2016 Roof of Africa race.

For those of you who don’t know what the ‘Roof’ is, the race is made up of 4 sections over 3 days.  Day 1 comprises of the Round the Houses event through the city of Maseru, the capital of Lesotho followed by a time trial to determine the starting positions for Day 2.  Days 2 & 3 are full on endurance motorbike racing through the mountains and valleys of Lesotho, over high mountain passes, down perilous rock slopes, through rivers & past villages that haven’t changed over hundreds of years.  The riders are split into 3 categories, gold, silver & bronze & each group rides over different routes graded by ability.  At the end the times for each event are added together to give each rider their overall time.

This year was the first time that I had managed to see the race and I have to say that I was in awe of the riders physical ability to get to the end & still be able to stand!  I was fortunate enough to be able to capture the two leading riders coming down the mountain to the refuelling point at Makhaleng Causeway.  At this point Alfredo Gomez Cantero (AG) was leading his rival & 2015 winner Graham Jarvis (1) & also had a 10 minute advantage from the previous 2 days racing but a quicker refuel and a sprint to the finish saw Graham Jarvis retain his title by a mere 9 seconds after 16 1/4 hours of riding!

Graham Jarvis -leaves the Makhaleng Causeway fuelling stop and heads to the finish of the 2016 Roof of Africa Race at Bushman's Pass, Lesotho.

Graham Jarvis -leaves the Makhaleng Causeway fuelling stop and heads to the finish of the 2016 Roof of Africa Race at Bushman’s Pass, Lesotho.

The race is one of Lesotho’s major annual events and brings a welcome boost to the local economy.  The event is well organised and there is a lot of liaison with the local communities that the race passes through.  The race also features riders from Lesotho and Joseph Motenane finished 23 out of 151 Bronze riders who started but the riders but the event clearly inspires the younger generation, including this young boy at the Makhaleng Causeway refuelling point.  Given his shirt, I wondered whether he was dreaming of riding a bike over Spider Man pass in years to come!

A young Basotho boy studies a bike during a refuelling stop at Makhaleng Causeway.

A young Basotho boy studies a bike during a refuelling stop at Makhaleng Causeway.

My special thanks go to Behan & Stefan Boshoff for giving me a reason to go.  Behan was riding in his 2nd Roof of Africa race and finished in 10th place in the silver category, an amazing achievement.  We managed to photograph him at the final fuel stop at Makhaleng Causeway before he headed off to the finish at Bushman’s Pass .

Creating a splash Refuelling on the roof  Heading out  Heading for the finish

A selection of some of the other photos that I took on Day 3 at Makhaleng Causeway & the finish at Bushman’s Pass can be found below.  I am already looking forward to returning for all 3 days next year, God willing.

Barry Mann – December 2016

Please note – All photos in this post are © Copyright Barry Mann Photography 2016 and may only be reproduced in any form with permission from Barry Mann.  If you wish to purchase or reproduce any of images please contact me directly at barry@barrymannphotography.com.

Motul 2016 Roof of Africa Race Race for the lead Graham Jarvis - Motul 2016 Roof of Africa Gold Winner

Graham Jarvis -leaves the Makhaleng Causeway fuelling stop and heads to the finish of the 2016 Roof of Africa Race at Bushman's Pass, Lesotho.

Graham Jarvis -leaves the Makhaleng Causeway fuelling stop and heads to the finish of the 2016 Roof of Africa Race at Bushman’s Pass, Lesotho.

Rider Andreas Lettenbichler riding in the Motul 2016 Roof of Afr  Winner of the Silver category in the Motul 2016 Roof of Africa R Silver Category winner, Calvin Hume (101), closely followed by B 2016 Roof of Africa Bronze category winner, Heinrich Zellhuber ( 2nd Placed rider in the Motul 2016 Roof of Africa race Silver Ca  Brett Packham, 2016 Roof of Africa RaceMakhaleng Causeway Gold & Silver refuelling pointCausing a splashCausing a splash   Makhaleng Causeway, 2016 Roof of Africa refuelling pointSage McGregor (111) Refuelling & water stop, Motul 2016 Roof ofCausing a Splash 2  Refuelling & water stop, Motul 2016 Roof of Africa Race  Looking ahead  Paul Van Der Nest (316) - Motul Roof of Africa RacePaul Van Der Nest (316) - Motul Roof of Africa Race Coming down the mountain - 2016 Roof of Africa Race Heading to the finish Causing a Splash - 4 Silver Category rider Josh Bailey (212) - Motul 2016 Roof of Afr BMP-35-20161203-_36C6109 BMP-36-20161203-_36C6130  Hayden Louw (46) - Motul 2016 Roof of Africa Race  Wheelie river crossing! Motul 2016 Roof of Africa Race, Lesotho Motul 2016 Roof of Africa Race, Lesotho Winner of the Silver category in the Motul 2016 Roof of Africa R Motul 2016 Roof of Africa Race Motul 2016 Roof of Africa Race Travis Teasdale - Motul 2016 Roof of Africa Race Joseph Motenane, the highest finishing Basotho rider focussed on The final climb to the finish of the Motul 2016 Roof of Africa RThe final climb to the finish of the Motul 2016 Roof of Africa R The final climb to the finish of the Motul 2016 Roof of Africa R The final climb to the finish of the Motul 2016 Roof of Africa R  BMP-51-20161203-_36C6332 BMP-50-20161203-_36C6303 BMP-49-20161203-_36C6286 Yorick Zeeman (230) climbing up to the finish of the 2016 Motul The finish line of the Motul 2016 Roof of Africa Race A hug from your daughter - What it means to finish the Roof! Family Celebration - Alex Vowles (102) completes his 25th Roof o

 

 

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