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Reaching for the roof

Portia Mlilo
ON HIS BIKE: Stephens is raring to go again
Motorcyclist to take on the mountains of Lesotho
Two years after a mechanical fault brought him crashing down to earth and prevented him from crossing the finish line, local motorcyclist, Kagiso Stephens is ready to take on the mountains of Lesotho once again.

Regarded as one of the toughest motor races in the biking world, the Motul Roof of Africa includes three relentless days of riding, in which competitors cover 300 km of treacherous mountain terrain.

The event, which revs into life this Thursday (25 November), attracts over 500 of the best endurance riders from across the world.

Backed by three months of intense training, sponsorship from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and a brand new bike, Stephens is determined to right the wrongs of the past and finish the race – anything else will be an bonus in an event where, on average, half the entrants drop out before the end.

Breaking down the race for Voice Sport, Stephens revealed the action starts with a 60km time-trial which determines the starting order.

The distance is doubled the next day, as riders push themselves and their bikes to the limit over 120 gruelling kms.

What’s left of the field then attempt to repeat this on the third and final day (Saturday), with 120km once again the target to cover.

“I have been preparing for the race in South Africa for the past three months and I believe I am ready to compete. This time I am feeling very strong. I feel I have grown physically and mentally. A good bike is vital for this terrain and the BNSC bought me one worth R149, 000. The whole trip, from preparations to the race, has been sponsored by the Commission,” said Stephens, who was quick to thank BNSC for their support through their Zebra Fund.

Giving Voice Sport an insight into what lies in wait for him in Lesotho, Stephens said, “This type of racing is different from the normal local races; this one is all about endurance. We go through the mountains, steep climbs and then down the rocks.”

PREPARED: Stephens has unfinished business in the mountains of Lesotho

Describing the race as draining, both mentally and physically, he explained maintaining focus throughout the three days was crucial to any hopes of success.

“This is one of the top events in the world and my intention is to complete it. For now I am not too interested in the position. Of the 500 participants, only 50 percent, sometimes even less, are able to finish. I choose enduro racing because it is a different race and more extreme. Fitness plays a big role in this competition, it is not all about who is the fastest but who can survive the race. It is fun and they call it the mother of hard endure,” he concluded, licking his lips in anticipation at the huge challenge before him.

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