Rockyfest 2017: Reclaim your MTB mojo

    Using the ski lift means you can ride the various Afriski trails all day without having to pay ‘gravity tax’. The TREAD Skills crew will hold a ‘Taming of Gravity’ Clinic on the Saturday morning to ensure everyone can use the ski lift and ride the trails safely. Photo: supplied

    It happens very gradually, at a pace that you don’t really notice. One day you wake up not actually looking forward to riding your mountain bike. It could be that too many things have become the same – same bike, same riding partners, same terrain, same gradients, same trail obstacles, same surfaces. It could be that other areas of your life have just crushed your desire to go ride. You’ve become jaded. It’s not necessarily a permanent condition. But it isn’t ideal.
    Fortunately, there’s a remedy: RockyFest.
    This three-day mountain bike experience happens each year in the Maluti Mountains at a mountain resort called Afriski. It’s in Lesotho, which is possibly the most under-rated country in Southern Africa – a true pleasure to visit.
    RockyFest is basically a three-day escape from your grind where nothing is predictable except the fact that you’ll improve your relationship with mountain biking and reclaim your mojo…
    Here are the most frequently asked questions about RockyFest, with answers:
    Isn’t RockyFest a gravity riding festival?
    Nope. While it does cater for the gravity riding guys and girls, the majority of RockyFest attendees are marathon riders or those that enjoy riding trails for fun.
    How long does it take to get there?
    From Johannesburg or Pretoria, five hours of driving and about six hours from Durban via the beautiful town of Clarens. Obviously, Cape Town folks will need to either prepare for a very long drive or arrange to fly into Joburg and Durban and then drive to Afriski.
    What is the accommodation like?
    It’s very comfortable lodge and chalet style accommodation.
    Is it a self-catering event?
    No, all the main meals are included in the package. We recommend taking a coolerbox with fruit and snacks though, especially for the Friday outride as the start is not at Afriski but lower down in the valley. There isn’t a local SPAR nearby…
    Do I need a passport?
    Yes you do. Everyone travelling with you across the border needs a passport. If you’re travelling with children, you need the relevant documentation to confirm they’re actually yours i.e. unabridged birth certificate (and an affidavit if travelling with only one parent).
    What is the weather like?
    It’s basically the end of summer, but at over 3000 metres above sea level (glaciers in the Alps are that high), it gets chilly, so pack warm stuff.
    Is it hard to breathe at that altitude?
    No, but because the air is thin, you do find yourself having to adjust your breathing a bit.
    How fit must I be?
    You need to be moderately fit to enjoy the various riding opportunities. The Escarpment Ride on Saturday morning is recommended for well conditioned riders though. The moderately fit can enjoy the ski lift and slope riding trails instead.
    Is it only gravity lines down the mountain that can be ridden at RockyFest?
    No, on the Friday we do a lowlands ride, which is an incredible experience that includes a great deal of singletrack with a long section along the Khukhune River basin.
    On Saturday, there’s an option of a longer outride to the escarpment with views of the Eastern Freestate and Qwaqwa from the top of the Maluti Drakensberg Mountains.
    On the Saturday and Sunday you get to ride a number of trails around Afriski itself and have the option of taking the T-bar lift to get you to the summit where you can choose your trail back to the resort, with all levels of skill catered for.

    For those that are nervous of descending (and using the t-bar lift), the crew from TREAD Skills will be holding a clinic on Saturday morning to help you build confidence on the slopes. What you learn here will help you on every other descent you tackle! The clinic is part of the RockyFest package and is being aimed at women, but men are welcome too. You can never know too much…
    Friday 3 March
    11:00: Festival begins
    11:00 Lowlands Ride – a 30km and a 15km trail ride that will take your breath away. Meeting point is on the way to Afriski at Momohase Cultural Village (look out for the branding)
    12:00 All trails open and lift running at Afriski
    16:00: Shuttles to Afriski for those doing the Lowlands Rides
    18:30: Welcome dinner at SKY Restaurant
    21:00: Night ride – with Gluwein and star-gazing
    Saturday 4 March
    07:00: Breakfast at the SKY restaurant
    08:30: Escarpment ride for the fit
    08:30: TREAD Taming of Gravity Clinic
    08:30: Ski lift starts running
    08:30: Full kids activities progam begins
    12:30: Lunch at the SKY restaurant
    13:30: Ski lift continues running
    18:30: Dinner at the SKY restaurant
    Sunday 5 March
    07:00: Breakfast at the SKY restaurant
    08:30–12:00: Ski lift runs
    09:00: Goldilocks Trail ride (9km descent with shuttle return)
    13:30: Depart
    The packages range from R1430–R2210 per person and R1430–R2050 per person sharing, which includes two nights accommodation and all meals from Friday night dinner to Sunday morning breakfast as well as access to ski lift and all mountain biking activites.
    For full details and to book, head to