East London ‘Roof’ contingent takes family tinge

An East London father and son duo and two brothers are part of the East London team of 10 riders in this year’s Roof of Africa in Lesotho.

The Roof – known as the “mother” of hard off-road motorcycle enduros – started yesterday with the traditional Around the Houses race through the streets of Maseru before more than 400 participants departed on the time trial that determines the starting order for today’s action.

Those who survive day one and two will line up tomorrow for the final day’s ride.

BONDING: Clayton Heyns and his son Cole before the start of the Roof of Africa Picture: ANDREW STONE
BONDING: Clayton Heyns and his son Cole efore the start of the Roof of Africa. Picture: ANDREW STONE

Five years after his brother made his debut in the race, Grade 11 Selborne College pupil Tristan McGregor is taking part in his first Roof.

Older brother Sage first raced in 2011, just a few days shy of his 16th birthday.

Entrants are divided into different classes depending on ability.

Tristan, 17, is competing in the bronze class and Sage, now 20, in silver.

They are racing alongside Clayton Heyns, 43, and his son Cole, 16, a Grade 10 pupil at Selborne College.

This year’s event marks the seventh time that Heyns has tackled the tough race, which is run through the rugged Lesotho mountains, while it is Cole’s first. The father and son pair are in bronze.

“I’m very privileged to be riding with Cole,” said Heyns, “I’m not getting any younger so I’m not sure how much time I have left to ride the Roof, so to get to do it with Cole is fantastic.”

Cole was equally excited to be taking part with his dad. “I’m a bit nervous, but more excited. I’m not sure what to expect but my dad has a lot of experience so we’ll be riding together and I’m sure it will help me a lot.”

Although Sage and Tristan are riding in different classes, the brothers from Gonubie said it was great to compete together.

“It’s an amazing experience,” said Sage. “Tristan has seconded for me in the past so it’s great to having him riding this year. Hopefully we can both do well.”

Sage competed in the bronze class in 2011 but was unable to return the following two years due to exams.

Last year he competed in gold and finished in a highly credible 36th position.

A riding accident earlier this year put paid to his hopes of again competing in the top class as he broke both his wrists and only returned to riding a month ago.

Other East London riders taking part this year include Mark Fox and Matthew van Niekerk (gold); Russell Heger (silver); and Shane Sutherland, Wayne Bouchier and Charl Weyer (bronze).

Mthatha resident Alex De Witt travelled with the group and is also racing in bronze.

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