Durban's Brett Swanepoel claims the silver medal at The Roof of Africa - Lesotho's House of Pain


Words: Monster Energy

The Roof of Africa is known as the ‘Mother of Hard enduro’ and this is not to be taken lightly. With some of the most intense terrain in Lesotho, this 3 day race takes you over 400 km through some insane valleys, up some torturous mountain passes and over some extremely rocky ridges. Lesotho's valleys run for days as it’s extreme beauty is merely just pleasure for the human eye.

Courtesy of: Monster Energy

The event attracts people from all around the world, 15 countries in total in 2014 and the competitors even travel from as far as Japan to compete. It is easily understandable why it brings in over 35 million Maloti for the countries economy making it Lesotho’s biggest event.

Thursday hosted the time trial which saw newly signed Monster Energy athlete Brett Swanepoel come in 7th for the day. Just over an hour put the youngster into a good solid start for what lay ahead of him. Team mate Grant Frerichs crossed the line to take the 30th position and current South African trial bike champion Bruce Le Riche came in just over 70 minutes later to take the 41st position in the Gold class.

However Fridays Race Day 1 was going to be a long day in the saddle for all. It was a day that covered roughly 180KMS with 1 massive downhill, a huge switch back climb and 6 extremely deep river crossings, all in the scorching sun. Starting in 7th place Brett knew he had work to do and he had to act quick. From the get go he kept his composure and just road his heart out. By DSP 1 he had covered some serious ground but still had more work on his hands.

Grant wasn’t winning in the water as he drowned his bike twice trying to cross rivers. He lost serious time due to this and ended up being time barred. Bruce also wasn’t having much luck as his hip started giving him hassles after his replacement only being just over a year ago. Sadly time also wasn’t on his side and he got time barred before finishing late that night.

Last years finish was included in the 2014 loop however this years route took the riders down Bushmans’ Pass. The pass has been hit by much erosion over the past year which made it difficult for the riders, but gold rider Brett Swanepoel came down in 2nd place moving up 5 places in roughly 6 hours.

Still having to get through another 3 hours on the bike Brett came through the finish in 9 Hours 19 minutes 20 seconds. A tough day at the office for the riders and even current World champion Graham Jarvis said, “it was one of the toughest stages in any enduro” that he has ever ridden.

An extremely long day in the hills meant it was an early night. It rained all night which could have made the mornings start a little interesting.

Early Saturday morning at 6:20 Brett Swanepoel headed into the mountains and we only expected him back at the finish roughly 8:30 hours later. With the slight breeze and the fresh air, the day only began warming up much later which helped the riders, but on a bike riding in that harsh sun dehydration was common, so the riders had to be cautious.

At the second DSP we saw all the teams setup and prep for their riders to arrive. They would have different snacks for the riders to choose from and something to drink. The mechanics would change tyres, fill up the petrol tank and get the riders prepared for the next stage of the race.
Coming into the DSP in third Brett had fallen back a spot, but with the look in his eyes, it was clear to all that he wanted to catch someone he looks up to. It wasn’t a quick pit stop so whatever his Yamaha team had to say to him really motivated him and he left the stop riding like a man possessed.

In the last stage of the race, Brett was able to overtake Jarvis and come home in a smashing time of 8:35:37 taking and securing second place over all. This is a massive success in Brett's young career and this win will only push him to come back next year and again fight for the number one spot.