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 -

Monday, 11 June 2012

Flashback: Glenn Harrison's 2011 Freedom Challenge feat (Source: Freedom Challenge website)

Spectacular single speed achievement 
BOS TELEGRAPH - News of the 2011 Freedom Challenge brought to you by Bos Iced Tea

News release
Wellington, Western Cape
hursday 30 June 2011

One gear, 2300 kilometers and at the end of it all less than a day separated Glenn Harrison, riding a single speed, from the winner of the 2011 Freedom  Challenge Race Across South Africa, Alex Harris.  In the process Harrison too finished inside the 2009 record time and broke his own single speed record.

Harrison left Pietermaritzburg a day after Harris and matched his progress for much of the first half of the race.  Unable to complete the Elandsberg portage near Cradock in darkness he was forced to sleep out until it was light, in the process surrendering time to Harris.  Moving into the second half of the race Harrison continued to match Harris’s pace and when Harris was slowed by the swollen Groot Rivier moving into Cambria, he looked to be within reach.  However, forced by cramp to prematurely end his day’s riding before the approaches to the Cambria, Harrison then had to wait until dawn before taking on the river crossings. With that Harris was away.  For the following four days the time differential between these two unrelenting contestants remained constant.

Harrison arrived at the finish at Diemersfontein, outside Cape Town, in 13 days 10 hours and 37 minutes, inside the previous record time of 13 days 15 hours and 50 minutes but outside Harris’s 2011 winning time of 12 days 15 hours and 30 minutes. He did however, break his own single speed record, set in 2010, by more than two days.

Finishing with Harrison was initial race leader and his Mpumulanga riding companion, Garth Flanders.    Attention now turns to the race for third place, where previous record holder Tim James appears set to repeat his strategy of limited or no sleep over the last quarter of the race as he looks to close the 12 hour gap between himself and current third placed rider, Martin Dreyer. By Thursday evening Dreyer was in Montagu whilst Tim James was headed towards Anysberg.

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