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 -

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Busy day in Rhodes

An action packed day and the Rhodes Hotel is filling up fast. First arrivals were Andre and Jody, followed shortly by Dino - all the members of the newly formed 'Container Club' They were nearly blown off the mountain going over Lehana and found their way to the container that is used for shelter by the border patrol/stock theft unit. They forced their way in and found some blankets and a place to sleep out of the wind and rain. Andre was wide eyed as he told the story of a freezing cold night up on the ridge in the container as it was rocked by the gale force winds. But they survived the night and were greeted by sunshine in the morning. This got them going and they moved on to Rhodes, arriving before lunch with no plans to move on. They've been thawing out, stuffing their faces with food, doing laundry and sitting in front of a warm fire most of the afternoon.

Dino is slowly building a reputation as a real tough nut among his riding companions - his steed of choice is fully rigid steel bike, complete with homemade steel carrier and speculation is rife as to its total weight - most agree that its easily over 20kg!

Then 'The Gautrain' pulled in at around lunchtime - Gawie, Ezanda, Casper and Charl - they had left Vuvu before 6am and made good time up Lehana's in relatively good conditions. They were also accompanied by Shaun and Phillip, the other half of the original 'Hackers' which previously included Jody and Dino. (The group had split up the day before when Shaun and Phillip had turned back at the base of Lehana's and gone back to Vuvu for the night.) These guys were fairly relaxed and glad to have made it in before the predicted afternoon rains finally arrived.

Roman and Katarina were not so lucky and arrived mid afternoon in the pouring rain!. They went straight to their room to jump into a hot shower and are now enjoying a warm meal. Having left Vuvu well after the others, they had no one to follow and did well to navigate their way over Lehana's without incident.

During the day, Garth arrived - in a vehicle - after having been picked up by David at Tenahead Lodge. His right knee was locked up due to an aggrevated ITB and he had no other way to get down to Rhodes. Initially he thought his race was over but after a check up from fellow rider and doctor, Casper, as well as repeated hot and cold packs on the knee, he is determined to carry on again tomorrow in an effort to get to the finish. Having recieved a lift, he has been given a 3-hour daylight time penalty, which he has served this afternoon in Rhodes - so he can leave whenever he feels up to it tomorrow morning. He clearly wants that blanket!

1 comment:

  1. and here we thought our family doctor (Casper)is only out there to enjoy himself. It's good to see he's at least doing a bit of work (patching up someone's knee). - Anton (Louis Trichardt)