Local biker, Kagiso Stephens will return to Lesotho next week for the Motul Roof of Africa race, seeking a place among the top 20 riders.
It is one of the most extreme races in the land as it tests the strength of the person and the machine in a space of three days. It attracts over 400 riders from across the world of which on average, just more than half can reach the finish line. Stephens had a bitter debut at the Roof of Africa in 2019 as he failed to complete the race due to a mechanical breakdown. The biker, whose first appearance at the race was marred by poor preparations and limited funds told Mmegi Sport he is keen to finish in the top 20 of the bronze class this year. He said the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC), through the Zebra Athlete Fund, has provided financial assistance. With the off-the-track demands met, Stephens said he is ready to do battle against the demanding mountains of Lesotho. “I am on a new bike, which I got through the BNSC Zebra Fund so am hoping for the best, and hopefully the bike will not break. I am looking to start and finish the race. The strategy is to try to save as much energy as I can. This is an extreme event, racing over three days of technical and excruciating biking over mountains.
The endurance you need is massive, to know where to go fast and save energy. So I will be trying to save a lot of energy and look after the bike. I honestly want to make the top 20 overall out of over 250 riders in the bronze class,” he said. The 2020 edition of Roof of Africa was cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and Stephens said this had afforded him enough time to prepare for this year’s edition. He said he got a confidence boost after he completed the IMPI Hard Enduro race held in the Drakensberg, South Africa in June. This was his first ever finish in an enduro race. “In my first race, the aim was just to finish and not to get a particular position or anything. But this time I am going for the top 20 because I believe my training should bear fruit and I have managed to source funds.
I also got all the support that I needed,” he added. “I competed at this event back in 2019. Unfortunately, I could not finish because I had a mechanical breakdown. For this year, I believe I have done so much training. I have been training throughout. I have done a couple of events including the IMPI Enduro in preparation for this event. I believe I am much more than ready.
I aim to finish in the top 50 overall because I will be racing in a class of more than 250 riders. It is difficult to finish the Roof of Africa on its own, so if I can just finish the race,” Stephens said. The biker is one of the few local riders to participate in enduros as many have opted for the off-road and motocross disciplines. The biker left Botswana headed for Lesotho yesterday (Thursday). He will service his bike over the weekend in South Africa before heading to Lesotho next Tuesday.