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

Dreyer steams towards Hofmeyr, having a 6-6.5 hour lead over Harris as at Romansfontein (Author: John Loos)

As mentioned earlier, Alex Harris has had issues with his saddle, having “bust a bolt” as he tweeted early this morning. He made it to Brosterlea at  around …., but probably had to stand and pedal for much of the way. Needless to say the gap became quite significant between himself and frontrunner Martin Dreyer who is steaming towards Hofmeyr (about 10km outside Hofmeyr at time of writing) and possibly the tricky Elandsberg portage before the night is out. Dreyer arrived at Romansfontein at around 13h15-13h30, had lunch and moved quickly to the Aasvoelberg portage.

Alex Harris has reportedly just rolled in at around 19h45. As I understand he made a “makeshift” plan with his saddle at Brosterlea and soldiered on manfully. There was some speculation over the Twitterwaves of him incurring a time penalty should he receive any “drive-in assistance”, i.e. should any organized spare parts/help be driven in for him. Race Office clarified that such drive-in assistance would incur a 3 hour time penalty which would start AFTER receiving the drive-in assistance.

But to date, no such assistance has been taken, so no penalty. Nevertheless. Alex’s woes have contributed to a significant gap of in the region of 6-6.5 hours opening up between the 2 riders as at Romansfontein. Assuming that he is continuing shortly, Harris goes straight into the Aasvoelberg portage in the dark.  

Some guesses?? Alex would want to push on at least to Hofmeyr tonight. And Martin? Probably to stay one support station ahead by attempting Elandsberg portage tonight to get to Elandsberg support station. 

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