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World Cup downhill champion takes on enduro challenge

By:
Cycling News
Published:
December 21, 2008, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:47 BST
Edition:
MTB news & racing round-up for December 21, 2008
Greg Minnaar

Greg Minnaar

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After winning the 2008 World Cup Downhill overall, Greg Minnaar needed another challenge to keep his...

After winning the 2008 World Cup Downhill overall, Greg Minnaar needed another challenge to keep his adrenalin flowing, so he opted to enter the arduous Roof of Africa Rally, Africa's toughest off road motorcycle race.

Classified as a "hard enduro" and mentioned in the same breath as the Ertzberg Rodeo in Austria, Romaniacs in Romania, Last Man Standing in the US, and Hell's Gate in the UK, the Roof of Africa has been hosted by the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, a land-locked independent Kingdom positioned in the central east of South Africa, for the last 41 years.

Originally started as a car rally, it did not take long for motorcycles to be included in the annual dash across the Maluti Mountains, which occurs over 3,500 meters elevation in some places. The 500km race offers fantastic vistas, unpredictable weather patterns, rocks, goat tracks and extreme mountain passes. The race is now a motorcycle-only rally, run over three days, with riders spending up to 13 hours in the saddle a day.

Minnaar raced motocross with some success prior to his mountain biking career, but he had never previously done an off road motorcycle endurance challenge. After day one, he said, "That was far more extreme than I expected and I'm feeling exhausted after a mere 98km!"

Two of the days had riders going over previously unridden passes like The Keyhole, Donkey Pass, Pressure Cooker, Lucky's and Horseshit Pass.

New Zealander Chris Birch won the overall in 15 hours and 500km. Of the 287 riders that started, only 89 finished, and Minnaar was among them in 19th place after 21 hours and 34 minutes.

"I am absolutely exhausted but ecstatic at being able to finish," said Minnaar. "This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. I never thought that a motorbike could even go up some of the things that the organisers made us ride, let alone race up there."

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