Rain, ridiculous roads lead to Lesotho encounter

The adventurous riders of the Grandads Army are well on their way.
WHEELS UP! The adventurous riders of the Grandads Army are well on their way.

Now its my turn to collapse. I fall, helmet dripping, into the bikers prayer pose — slumped over the bars — and I give up.

Constantia Padstal outside Hlohlolwane (formerly Clocolan) was a two-and-a-half-hour ride in rain peeing from a gloomy, lowering, grey-blanket sky.

Thats not all!

The R26 tourist road from Clarens via Rustlers Valley is pretty much shot.

I watch those giant trucks and worry for our MBSA-sponsored Sprinter with its precious trailer load of featherlite bikes for high-age men.

But it is being expertly manoeuvred by Ash Gwexa.

We make it to the Constantia Padstal.

I look the leader of the 1,590km Eyabantwana heritage ride, Prof Colin Lazarus, in the eye and tell a blatant lie.

While he and the eight Grandads Army cyclists must head out again into the tempest, I say I need to file this copy (story) so will have to remain here.

So there they go, soon to unrack and pedal the requisite 100km to Bloemfontein.

They will be shivering.

I proceed to order a “farmers breakfast” and set up camp at a table looking out on iceberg roses in full flush.

Enter Isaac Monokoane, 44, in takkies, shorts and tee, and a spiffing sports jacket.

He is a Lesotho businessman in the trucking and other businesses.

We have brekkie together in this empty dining room.

It turns out he knows a lot about the prime ministership of Revolution for Progress party leader and businessman Sam Matekane.

Isaac comes over as warm, open-minded and interested.

Main roads in Lesotho are being repaired within a month in terms of the “progressive maintenance” policy.

Lesothos 39MW solar plant is selling power to Eskom via Lesothos electricity utility.

A 50MW solar plant is under way, and soon, with another 100MW coming online, the mountain country will be “self-sufficient”.

Similarly, Matekane wants street lights repaired and municipal billing gouging reined in.

A major road tunnelled through Lesotho to avoid going around the north is its big dream project.

Will it be Germany or China who gets the job? China always presents the best price and only at two percent interest.

But China insists on using its own people for every aspect of the job “which we don't like”.

But a super highway with long, well-lit glass walls and gardens planted between glass and the tunnel wall will bring Lesotho money from tolling.

He says he believes Matekanes Lesotho will prosper and China will never own the countrys resources.

We say farewell. He leaves and comes back with a slip.

My breakfast was paid for! Disclaimer: It was a good breakfast, but I got my info before he made this kind gesture.

Wait! The cloud is lifting! I need to fill up and find the road warriors, shoulders bent to the wind.

I can feel the bit is between their teeth — the 1,000km mark lies within their grasp.

Soon it will be only 500km left, five sleeps until they finally reach home at Old Selbornians on Sunday.

See you there!

Rider Rodney Offord writes: “Contributions are coming in to the Eyabantwana For the Children Trust, an independent nonprofit trust established to support the work of the Eastern Cape Paediatric Surgical Services based at the East London Hospitals.”



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