A team from MAF Lesotho recently participated in the Lesotho Sky Corporate Challenge, a promotional event for the Lesotho Sky Foundation, which donates bikes to those in need. Sixty teams vied for the title of “Fittest Corporation in Lesotho.” Each rider was designated to ride one leg of the relay race. The same bike and helmet was passed from rider to rider until all five riders had completed the course. Justin Honaker recounts the race here…
Thirty bikers cram their way to the starting line, our hearts thumping as loud as the background music, which is nearly deafening. The starting gun is just seconds from sounding when suddenly there is a commotion. Those around me are spouting angry words, none of which I understand, but they appear to be directed at me! I quickly realize it is my bike they are unhappy with—a bike equipped with a shock absorber and 24 speeds. Conversely, all the other teams have chosen to use the single-speed bikes going to charity. Apparently the other contestants are not happy with our team’s choice of bicycle.
I am quickly relieved of my bike and given another just like those of the other twenty-nine competitors in our heat. This seems to appease the other riders and in short order, the announcer signals the start. Like a shot we surge out of the starting line, each of us pedaling as hard as we can. The single-speed gearing quickly proves almost comical as we all spin the pedals at a blistering RPM but do not move nearly as fast as one might expect.
The course takes us around a new mall in Maseru and covers roughly two and a half kilometers. Passing is difficult with all of us being in the same gear and riding on a smooth cement surface. The dirt section near the end, however, opens up opportunities to pass. With a little extra motivation from a few colleagues cheering me on from the sidelines, I find a new burst of energy to spin the single-gear just a little faster. “You’re in third place!” they cheer.
Sliding to a stop at the start/finish line I quickly unlatch my helmet and relinquish the bicycle to the next rider. We’re now in second place. My teammates and I anxiously wait to see which team will round the corner first on this next leg. The minutes pass slowly and we are giddy with anticipation.
Finally the announcer calls out the new first place rider, “Team Mission Aviation Fellowship!” We let out a roar and quickly get ready for the hand-off. Two rides down, three to go. With each rider, our lead increases until our last rider crosses the line … in first place!