Lesotho has fantastic mountain biking terrain. The country's steep and rugged topography regularly draws adventurous South African riders, from across its border.
Despite the excellent trails, until late last year, Lesotho did not have trained specialists in the art of bicycle repair and maintenance. But 29-year old Nthati Letsie has changed all that.
Nthati Letsie started her career in cycling back in 2014, as part of the Lesotho Sky events team. She handled aspects such as branding, tents and hospitality. It was a healthy first contact, with mountain biking, but did not involve riding.
"Before working for Lesotho Sky, I had no exposure to cycling and didn't even know how to ride a bicycle," quips Letsie.
"In 2018 Lesotho Sky opened a bike shop in conjunction with the Mikes Bikes foundation in California, as a way to give back to the community. The foundation donated containers full of second-hand bikes. We had to service and refurbish these bikes before they could be handed over to local children.”
"From spending time in the bicycle shop, I became interested in the mechanical side of cycling. How bikes work. And I was also shown how to ride," added Letsie.
In 2021 Letsie took her bicycle repair skills to the next level by attending the Torq Zone Academy in Pretoria.
At the Torq Zone academy Letsie completed the entire Cytech technical training programme. The syllabus included Pro Levels 1,2 and 3. This course covers all aspects of bicycle maintenance, including wheel building, electronic groupsets and suspension servicing.
Torq Zone is the only facility in South Africa that offers accredited training for bicycle mechanics, using the international Cytech curriculum.
"The training was really interesting and humbling as I was the only girl attending the course. But even though many of the concepts were not foreign to me, I learnt a lot from the course and also from my fellow classmates," Letsie recalls.