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The final countdown to the iconic Motul Roof of Africa has officially begun. The event notoriously known as the ‘Mother of Hard Enduro’ will kick off in Lesotho on Wednesday, 5 December.

Adding to the ever-building excitement is the news that Kenny Gilbert, a well-known South African rider, did a recce of the 2018 route recently.
While Gilbert specializes in Cross Country style events, he is no stranger to the world of hard enduro and has conquered the Gold Class of the Roof of Africa an impressive 13 times before.

He arrived home to report good news from the Kingdom of Lesotho, especially for Gold Class riders who found the 2017 route slightly too ‘easy’.

“This is how the Roof used to be, and should be! Everything is rideable, but you’re going to sweat from start to finish!” said Gilbert.
The majority of this year’s route will consist of virgin trails in and around Ramabanta – an area of Lesotho that Gilbert described as ‘every enduro rider’s paradise’.

“It was exciting to head into the unknown – there was single track I’ve never experienced before, and a lot of wild, overgrown terrain to navigate through. The new climbs are tricky because there isn’t always a clear line to follow, so I just stuck to what my GPS was telling me and kept moving. I wasn’t surprised by anything – the Roof of Africa is all about navigating, and I always knew it was going to be tough…” said Gilbert.

The rugged routes that the Roof of Africa is renowned for. Photo:

The remainder of the route is made up of trails that haven’t been used in the last eight years. Gilbert explains enjoying riding these routes in particular:

“I had so much fun coming across trails that I haven’t ridden in years – it brought back so many good memories from the times I competed at the Roof!”

Gilbert made sure to emphasize the importance of sufficient hydration, and described encountering an extremely dry terrain. He encouraged riders to take more water than usual and to fill up where possible. He also predicted a seven hour day for top riders on both Friday and Saturday, and a ten hour day for mid-pack riders.

Addressing Bronze and Silver riders in particular, he said, “The route will challenge everybody, and that’s the point of the Roof of Africa. Nothing is impossible, but everything will be testing. My advice is this – don’t take your helmet off and keep the wheels moving…”

With only days to the start of Africa’s oldest enduro event, Gilbert left riders with this:

“Ramabanta is a magical place! There were times out there where I’d look up and remember why I ever became a rider in the first place.”

© 2021 The Roof of Africa 2020