Africa's First EWS Qualifier Announces 2019 Event Date & Details - Video

Apr 4, 2018
by kingdomenduro  
Views: 4,290    Faves: 6    Comments: 1


PRESS RELEASE: Kingdom Enduro

Kingdom Enduro is a 3-day stage race through the Kingdom of Lesotho, Africa. It's the first ever Enduro World Series qualifier on African soil, set in an incredible mountainous country with a huge network of paths and trails used for centuries by the Basotho people and their animals. It's also wild, raw and totally unique in terms of the trails, scenery and atmosphere.


The race is based out of an old trading post in Roma dating from the days when Lesotho was a wilder frontier land where merchants cut deals with local farmers and shepherds for goods. Little has changed really, as (apart from a few tar roads) the lush countryside is still completely unspoiled and the independent nation has never been particularly modernized or industrialized. The Kingdom Enduro stages criss-cross the stunning local peaks that rise up to 3,000m+ and start each day with racers taking local bush taxi uplifts to mountain passes to gain a head start on the descending. Race stages number up to six daily and vary from 5 mins long up to around 15mins. The sheer distance travelled and tough climbs make Kingdom Enduro pretty challenging even before some steep, rocky and rough timed stages, and the weather during this year's debut event was untypically wet too with thunder and lightning, so organisers reduced the race duration due to safety concerns.


Geographically, Lesotho's landlocked inside South Africa and consists of little but mountains. Having a low point of 1,600m (that's higher than any other country in the world) presumably helps explain why the Kingdom and its people have never been fully conquered. It's rugged and beautiful in every direction; something even South Africans who've never visited will be blown away by. The terrain in Lesotho makes for some awesome mountain bike trails too with so much space, freedom to roam and elevation. Plus, there's every surface imaginable from slickrock to loam to mud to loose rocks, all dumped on gradients ranging from fast and flowy to suicidally steep.


Most of the Lesotho population have few material possessions, but there is an openness and warmth that's almost shocking coming from a more westernised society. You can't expect five star luxury or to remain isolated from Lesotho's beating heart like on some exotic riding trips, and that's the beauty of Kingdom Enduro; you're right in and among the people and end up experiencing the location in such a way most riders found it impossible not to let it get under the skin.


Outside the capital Maseru, the majority live straight off the mountainous land as subsistence farmers, bushmen and horsemen with few shops or services, other than a local bar or rough and ready 'shebeen' (sometimes with an electric atmosphere of beers, house music and dancing, which is something the racers get to sample at the end of each day's riding).

Pink Elephant Shebeen sound system

In the wild open terrain between settlements huge hike-a-bike climbs and pedal liaisons snake through mud hut villages to access rough, rocky paths where one minute you're completely alone and the next there's people and animals everywhere. The race stages have everything from hand-cut berms and ruts like steep European or Alpine riding to completely open rock slabs or even simple pieces of tape across huge open spaces pointing you in the right direction. It's part of the game staying on course and staying safe in a country where even the paramedics have to be shipped in from over the border.


Crossing thigh-deep rivers, cruising through meadows rammed with wild flowers or smashing along rough mountain paths, at times the Lesotho scenery feels something like the garden of Eden. You might be feeling like you're on this red earth anywhere at any point in time, but the locals always seem to know where you and the race is headed, and point you in the right direction, even if you're not sure yourself.


In some cases, the tracks raced down are the same paths children walk miles each way to school and back on, and it's crazy to think while kids in the west almost exclusively get driven to school, Lesotho boys and girls frequently trek several hours there and back in a day often barefoot.


Kingdom Enduro's trails have everything from steep rocky riverbeds to Utah-style slickrock, steep loamy forest sections to wide open dirt toboggan runs often tackled while gawping across endless vistas. Every corner brings a new view and a new type of terrain - all of it originally scouted, designed and adapted by Rene Damseaux, the man with the vision to stage an enduro event in such an out-there location.

The man with a plan, Rene Damseaux

Rene has been out in Lesotho since last October building trails, finding new ways down steep slickrock rollers and slabs, the vast majority of which has never seen shoe soles on it, never mind a bicycle tire. The result of his hard work is a growing network of crazy trails unlike anywhere else, many of which got threaded into the event, even if only a handful of riders could ride every section on his hardest routes.

The Roma Arena has miles of slickrock trails and wide open rock slabs.

Epic scenery is probably justified when you're talking about Lesotho

Rene's trails are a crucial part of the Kingdom Enduro, but more so than any other world-level enduro, the whole African experience makes the event - being so freestyle in terms of both the trails and the location is what's so unique and different. This is a stunning place with an unpredictable charm where you never know what is going to happen next, and if that sounds like your bag, then simply don't miss this event next year. And if you just want to race truly blind, raw trails and footpaths in magical country where you're guaranteed to feel welcome yet also more like a foreigner than anywhere else you've visited then sign on the dotted line too.


Kingdom Enduro was an incredible experience and might well herald the start of a lot more action and coverage for the growing mountain bike scene in this part of the world. This year's racers are privileged to witness and visit a place that's largely untouched by commercialism, tourism and commerce yet, and in today's world that's a pretty compelling reason to visit if you're looking for a proper adventure on your mountain bike.

Race winner Keira Duncan on Pyga Bikes


You can read more about Kingdom Enduro, the full results and the race's origins in Lesotho as well as our other event, Lesotho Sky, over at the Kingdom Enduro website.



MENTIONS: @kingdomenduro



49 Comments

  • + 16
 What an awesome variety of landscapes. Looks perfect for tip top riding fun!
  • + 1
 now thats terrain ! disclaimer: mandatory equipment, out with the water bottle and in with a standard issue handgun, just in case if a cheetah or lion decides to pin it after you !
  • + 4
 @viatch: True story. lion pinning it for a biker.
youtu.be/Ahnfn1LIm7A
  • + 4
 @viatch: Its too high up no big cats there, goats sheep the odd cattle and fewer people, outside the cities there is no electricity or running water, they live much the same as 100yrs ago.
  • + 10
 Saying that terrain is absolutely beautiful is an understatement. Honestly I am stoked to see the terrain and weather there in 2019. Though, am I the only one who has mixed feelings about brandishing $15,000 bikes in front of a country in which 57.8% of its population is technically in extreme poverty (www.worldbank.org/en/country/lesotho/overview)? It would be super amazing though if this triggered more international outreach to the country and if it noticeably boosted the country's economy. All in all, I can't wait for the possibilities opening this new race presents to riders, spectators, and the locals.
  • + 19
 There is no way that communities can lift themselves out of poverty without a viable form of income. I think what is a more salient and applicable concern is whether these races are ethically operated—the way in which race organisers engage these local communities; that they appropriately remunerate them for using their land, the services of their people and their cultural identity. It is important that these races benefit the local communities rather than exploit them. (This is especially true considering Kingdom Enduro is using the faces, bodies and land of local communities to actively market this event on a global stage.)

EDIT: races such as these can provide an amazing opportunity for communities to move beyond aid-dependency. A friend of mine was actively involved in setting up a surf camp in PNG which offered similar opportunities for the local community. It was not an easy path by any means.
  • + 8
 @DDB1: We can lift Africa out of poverty if we told our corporations and their sponsered governments to stop raping Africa. Simple. Africa is the wealthiest continent on this planet.
  • + 4
 They are now the only African country with legal bud. Maybe that will help their economy. I fully agree it's a beautiful place (been there done that) but their poverty is comparable to many African nations. Cycling is generally seen as a somewhat elitist white man's sport, so it's unlikely to have any lasting effect on most locals.
  • + 0
 @Boardlife69: however downvoted you for this is dumb as f*ck... as if this is not the truth!
@DDB1 @J-Fletch How amazing would it be if some of the major brands gave out old stock cheap bikes to these communites, some people in Africa will travel on foot for miles just to go to school or hospital!
  • + 5
 @stefanfresh: @stefanfresh: not true? Africa has loads of the most precious resources and an economy based on that, we in the wetern world have loads of debt and an economy based on being in debt. Tell me who is dumb as f*ck now? The fact that the people remain in the worst kind of poverty despite a few select corporations and governments making trillions annualy. They support the warloards and genocide despite making fancy ad campaigns saying they dont. More profit for them when they dont have to share. Where did your oil/gold/diamonds/copper come from again?
  • + 4
 For what your carbon mountain bike is worth, I could feed my family for 7 years - said the African man
  • + 5
 @stefanfresh: There are plenty of initiatives which are doing this already. i.e. www.re-cycle.org

What I am talking about is something quite different. What I am referring is involve communities as key stakeholders and collaborators in a conventional business sense. This is very different from aid.

If you want to know why people are downvoting your comments. You may wish to consider that they mightn't disagree with you that Africa is broken. Its undeniable that the continent has decimated by rampant corruption, violence and exploitation (through both colonial and post-colonial eras). Instead I would suggest it is because your remarks are unsophisticated defeatist cliches, and as such they add little to the conversation.

This is an event whose participants are privileged, whose income far exceeds most if not all of the local community, most certainly. Does this mean that they cannot do any good by being there? I think this is a more specific question and its answer depends entirely on the specific actions of race organisers and participants.
  • + 7
 I am quite sure there is a lot of "international outreach" going on. Lesotho is water rich and has diamonds too. However, in typical fashion, the politics and will to make changes is lacking it seems.Many people carry on living how they have for centuries. From following this event locally, it appears that the Roma Trading Post is a MTB and holiday destination. It employs locals and there is a Velo solutions Pump Track there, which I imagine is used by everyone. A Red Bull Pump Track event is coming up there too. Business like Roma, Lesotho Sky and Kingdom events as well as the Roof of Africa all bring much needed employment and revenue.

Perhaps before sprouting from afar, do some research before diving in deep on the "foreign aid" and exploitation angles.
  • + 5
 These people looks much much happier than our civilization... we should start asking ourselves why we are so poor spiritually and emotionally blocked... Then we may start helpings ourselves... and in consequence all Africa continent and this Gaia.
  • + 4
 @Boardlife69: mate read my comment again, I was agreeing with you... Its very hard to do anything with people like you! Willing to fight even with those who agree with you. ; )
  • + 1
 @DDB1: Why would they do it if not for aid...? Call it what you want
  • + 1
 @stefanfresh: Yeah, good point. That would be an awesome move for bike companies. If I am not mistaken, I think Trek embarked on a project similar to what you described. Don't quote me on that, for I might be mistaken.
  • + 2
 @headshot: Oh wow, I did not know that. I did research, but form a more holistic approach instead of diving into bike history in the country. As a friend once told me, numbers don't lie but there is also a story behind them. Disregard the facts or the story behind them and misconstrued opinions arise. So I understand just because 57.8% of the country may be technically in extreme poverty does not mean the people are depraved. I have been to Africa before and know there are completely first world cities there, and the people are among the nicest people I have ever met. Honestly, before this post I did not even know Lesotho existed, which is sad and pretty embarrassing. But thanks for commenting.
  • + 2
 @headshot: Don't forget Afriski, full restaurant, great accommodation and a T-bar ski lift just a 1 minute roll from your bed! We host guys out there twice a year and attend other's events at least another two trips a year for riding.
  • + 1
 @stefanfresh: oops, yes I completly miss read your post. Sorry.
  • + 1
 One word : Tourism
  • + 3
 @PauRexs: Getting deep there. You are totally right though.
  • + 2
 @PauRexs: Western society defines poverty on the basis of money... Some people ask " what is money? "
  • + 1
 @Spark24: Good one.Smile I ll tell you what is money: a magic slaving system for the masses... losing our real abundance.
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: No worries man! haha We agree, that's the good thing.
@PaulRexs Yeah man, the only good thing about money is that you can´t eat it! Maybe we will go back to barter economies once 1% of the population has accumulated 99.999999% of the wealth/money, then hopefully we will be rich again!
  • + 4
 @Boardlife69: You guys sound like SJW of the highest order. "everyone is the victim of a big corporate" . How about getting a bit of perspective. The political elites in Africa/tribalism/poor governance/corruption are actually the main cause of the economic woes the continent suffers from. Heard of Zimbabwe? Heard how it used to be the bread basket of Africa and how its unemployment rate is now one of the highest? Big corporate's fault? Not really. Your first world lifestyle would not be possible if it wasn't for Monsanto and much of the other hated "big business" which employ thousands of you. The very system that supports your over privileged lifestyle is somehow the reason Africa is still poor? Fake news I'm afraid.
  • + 2
 @headshot: I do agree with your remark on SJW but think laying all problems of corruption and poor governance all at the feet of political/tribal elites is drawing a long bow also. That's a position which requires both a short memory and rose-tinted lenses when in comes to the actions of multinationals and foreign govts also. Neither are in any way benevolent, to say they are required cherry-picking the facts. The problems are a result of numerous factors but in essence we can say this is in essence colonialism and capitalism; regardless of the specific actors.

"The world is f*cked" generalised SJW comments on bike forums are annoying most certainly, but trying to dismiss them outright as Fake News (a term derived by an arsehole for arseholes) is also equally ridiculous.
  • + 2
 @DDB1: I agree with you on the multifaceted causes of the problem. Time passes but African leaders seem incapable of learning or changing the way things have been done in the past. Corruption,nepotism and populism and big business are a dangerous mix. Our ruling party and ex president have to be kept in line by the Courts. And we have the most progressive constitution in the world...
  • + 2
 Looks like a really great location for an Enduro race. Enduro races seem like much better advertisements for riding locations than any other format. Be nice if some bike companies sent over a container of bikes to give to the local kids to coincide with this.
  • + 3
 The video is a great teaser. The pic of the rider disappearing over the ridge is freaky. Sign me up, I'm coming.
  • + 3
 Perfectly summed up - great article! Great race!
  • + 2
 This looks amazing, i think next year this will definitely be on the todo list..... hey CAVEMAN will you look after me. xx
  • + 3
 EWS 2018 has barely started and im already hyped for 2019
  • + 4
 Sick pics Mick
  • + 1
 ahhhh I made it in one of the pictures stoked, was an amazing event well organised, best riding I have ever done thank you.
  • + 2
 Coolest EWS race hands down
  • + 2
 looks amazing i think next year this is no the todo list .........
  • + 2
 Landscape ,mountains and trails looks fantastic!! This event will be RAD!!
  • + 1
 LOL! The organizer/media jolly tour grows.
  • + 6
 Because travelling around on the DHWC circuit isn't also a 'jolly', or perhaps because the EWS staff don't put in a shift? I'd suggest that all the media/organisers who attend both EWS and DHWC put in quite the shift...
(Oh, and that's ignoring the fact that this is an independent event that is a qualifier for the actual EWS...)

Just because it is somewhere different you criticise? Why can't we have events in different locations?
  • + 1
 Whoop whoop! Looks awesome! Rad video. I’m in for next year for sure!
  • + 1
 Simple equation:- Rene+Trails+Bike=The time of your life.
  • + 2
 fantastic locations!
  • + 1
 Nice!
  • + 1
 This is a Rad event !!!
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