At around 19h00 this evening (20 June), the Freedom Challenge Rider Progress Tables were released. Don't be shocked by the fact that Martin Dreyer has the 3rd best average speed on the tables. This is to do with the fact that communications in the hills of KZN/Transkei can be poor at times, and so the average speeds were recorded based on what support station arrival times were available.
That put Graham Bird and Garth Flanders at the top with the fastest 2 average speeds, because their averages were based on their time up until Ntsikeni (that's why they're marked in red), 197km into the race, and the chosen sleep stop last night. Up until then, their average speed was an impressive 10.55km/hour.
But more impressive is that Martin Dreyer's average speed was measured over a much further 351 kms to Malekhalonyane, and was only slightly slower than Garth and Graham at 10.03km/hour. And this was after a sleep stop at Ntsikeni which brought the average down. Slightly slower was Alex Harris, 9.75km/hour, also over the 1st 351 kms to Malekhalonyane. Martin reached Malekhalonyane at 17h00, and at that stage had an hour lead over Alex who arrived at 18h00.
So far, the 1st 2 days have shown Dreyer to be the fastest rider in the race. But it's still early days, and tonight's navigation into Tinana Mission could be tricky.
The next question is....does one or both of the top riders, that being Martin and Alex (despite the slower avg speed technicality) pass by Tinana and head for Vuvu before sleeptime??? That would be a big first for the Race, and represent a big break.
The Race Across South Africa is down to 38 riders, with 10 riders having now had to retire form the race, and today it included some significant names in Glenn as well as Extreme Triathlete August Carstens.
August has a knee problem, and will return to Durban as we understand, but still plans to ride the Freedom Trail to Cape Town when he has recovered, in order to finish off his Kili2Cape (www.kili2cape.co.za) solo tour.
The Freedom Challenge
The Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa is an "unsupported" non-stage mountain bike race of approximately 2,300 km across South Africa. While recent winners have won in around 11 days, the race cut-off is 26 days. The race starts in Pietermaritzburg in early-to-mid-June, and ends in Paarl near Cape Town. Temperatures are known to drop as low as minus-10 deg. Celsius. While there are periodic "support stations" which will feed and accommodate riders should they require, the race is unsupported in the sense that riders must carry their own clothing and equipment, are responsible for their own maintenance and navigation (without the aid of GPS), and there are no marshalls or safety officials on the course (Race monitoring is done by satellite tracking). Estimates of cumulative ascent are around 37,000 metres, and the highest point on the route is approximately 2,700 metres above sea level. See the following link for an introductory slideshow by Mike Roy - http://mg.co.za/multimedia/2010-02-04-extreme-endurance-the-freedom-challenge