Maclachlan ready for his 19th Roof of Africa

Bloemfontein off-road motorcyclist, Graham Maclachlan, with his daughter, Jody, next to his KTM 300cc motorbike which he will be riding at the Roof of Africa race in Lesotho. It will be Maclachlan's 19th Roof of Africa. PHOTO: GRAHAM MACLACHLAN

The off-road motorcycle hotshot from the City of Roses, Graham Maclachlan, is raring to take on the best that will line up against him at the world-renowned Roof of Africa in Maseru, Lesotho.

Maclachlan will be participating in his 19th Roof of Africa (Roof) in the three-day motorcycle event. Most of the three stages run through the beautiful but daunting high altitude of the Maluti mountains.

Maclachlan attempted his first Roof way back in 1988. The first Roof for motorcycles was staged in 1969 and has ever since taken place in Lesotho.

From his first attempt at the Roof, Maclachlan’s performances improved to such an extent that he finished third in 1997. Alfie Cox, who won the Roof the most times since the inception of the motorcycle division (nine times), won the 1997 race.

Before his departure to Lesotho, Maclachlan told Bloemfontein Courant: “This year I am competing in the silver class. The event has three classes: the gold class, which is for the professionals and top riders, the silver class, which is for competitors who are a little more relaxed with the route being slightly shorter and easier, and a bronze section, which in turn is a bit softer and shorter than the silver class.”

It is interesting to note that the silver class boasts the most entries (163), whilst 84 riders will tackle each other in the gold class.

No less than 24 internationals will show off their skills in the mentioned classes.
Maclachlan’s passion for off-road racing kicked in at the age of 12 and his resumé is something special. Since taking on the sport, he has been crowned Free State champion numerously and has won the overall national title in 1995 and 1997.

He represented South Africa in 1992 at the six-day Enduro event in Australia and this resulted in him being awarded his Springbok colours in 1998. The following year (1999) he competed in the Vegas to Reno off road race in the USA with the late Errol Dalton and they finished in an excellent fifth place overall.

Five years later (2004) he was off to the Vegas to Reno race again, but this time in the 35 years plus age group with partner Johnny Caldeira. And yes, they took honours at this prestige race.

If you think off-road motorcyclists are not very fit, think again. Maclachlan completed the gruelling Comrades ultra-marathon ten times before and has the uncompromising SkyRun twice under the belt.

Courant wanted to know which one of the Roof, Comrades or SkyRun is the toughest.
Without hesitation, Maclachlan said: “The Roof of Africa is in my opinion the toughest, followed by the Comrades and then the SkyRun.” – RUFUS BOTHA