Humanitarian Bike Touring in Lesotho

Feb 22, 2023

Jesse Herbert

Hey, Jesse here. March 7th, I’ll be heading to Lesotho for three weeks to celebrate “Dr. Peg Herbert’s” retirement as Director and Founder of Help Lesotho. She’s my mom and I’m a little bit of a momma’s boy, so I’m obviously not going to miss the celebrations and the opportunity to explore the mountains of Lesotho….by bike.

It turns out, one of my favourite activities is to explore foreign countries by bike, also known as “Bike Touring” or “Bike Packing”. So I’ve decided to extend my stay after the festivities and cycle through the mountains. 

There’s a lot to consider in a voyage such as this in such unforgiving, steep and hot high altitude terrain. Where do you get water? Is it safe to drink? Is it difficult to cycle at such high altitudes? How do I get in shape quickly? The list goes on.

Through February and March, I’ll be sharing the journey of preparing for this trip on my instagram channel Oopsmark where I normally share my cycling focused designs and creations. While in Lesotho, I’ll be doing my best to share my exploration of the people, the country and the behind the scenes of Help Lesotho.

I’m heading to Lesotho in Africa for some exciting celebrations, my mom’s retirement (Dr. Peg Herbert) and of course some bike packing in the mountains there. It’s sauna season here in montreal so I’m going to have to get in shape quickly. I love the rush of butterflies once you commit to something. It’s like starting down a hill in a toboggan. All you can do it try and keep up.


Planning for a Bike Packing Trip

Having bike toured in 15 countries, I’ve learned that each environment is different from the next and never what you thought it was going to be. One does their best to research the environment and prepare the right gear while leaving the kitchen sink at home. Gotta stay light  to be climbing up those mountains.
I have no idea what bike touring in Lesotho will be like. So many questions!
green arrow
How hot will it be?
Do i need a sleeping bag up in the mountains or will it be hot at night?
Can i tent along the way?
Will it be same to drink the water?
Can training under heat lamps help my body prepare for the heat and sun?
What sort of food will be available in the villages?
Should i bring pots and pans or plan to eat picnic style?
How will my legs preform at the high altitudes?
Do the Basotho people also speak English, or will I need to learn some Sesotho phrases to communicate?
The list goes on!
items to pack on a bike trip

Cross the Finish Line Campaign

It seemed to only make sense to include a participatory element in this trip planning. As such, we’ve launched a campaign to help kids in their last year of high school “Cross the finish Line”. Many are at risk of not being able to graduate if they cannot pay the grad fee (equal to $200 CAD). Our initial goal was to support 10 kids in graduation, although just over a week in to the campaign we’ve already raised the funds for the first 10! It’s been so exciting to see the donations roll in and all of your encouraging messages of support. Your donations will truly make a lasting impact in the lives of students!

I don’t have a particular route planned or amount of kilometers I’m hoping to bike – this will depend on the weather (Lesotho has experienced a lot of rain lately making mountainous regions prone to mud slides) and Help Lesotho’s agenda for Peg’s retirement celebrations. I will, however, try to get out as often as I can on my bike and look forward to updating you with photos, videos and stories of my time travelling the Mountain Kingdom on two wheels!

20 Years of Help Lesotho

I visited Help Lesotho soon after it started, but it’s been a while since then. I’m looking forward to learning more about what the team has accomplished and what’s planned for the future.

Help Lesotho has become the largest Canadian NGO operating in Lesotho and has impacted the lives of over 265,000 people (65% of which are women and girls) in Lesotho and raised $25 million, all without government funding. The organization is a female-led, with 40 local staff in Lesotho. Services are offered at two Help Lesotho community centres and in villages across six of Lesotho’s ten districts. Over 53,000 people have graduated from Help Lesotho’s intensive, educational programs focused on HIV prevention, women’s rights, leadership, mental health and professional training. 

1 Comment

  1. Ed Papazian

    Hi Jesse;
    Glad to see you’re still leading the way in so may areas.
    Ed & Elaine