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

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Glenn in need of a few hours rest at Centocow, while Dusi King Dreyer steams towards Ntsikeni.


Things starting to spread out a bit more as at just before 19h00, according to Tracker. Leader of the racing snakes, Martin Dreyer, appears to be just short of Ntsikeni northern entrance already. This is impressive, and I would guess is starting to stack up for an arrival at Ntsikeni at perhaps 21h00 or so. I am now convinced he's starting to think of life on the other side of May Lodge (Ntsikeni) support station tonight already. Masakala (night 3 for the mortals) support station perhaps tomorrow morning??? He's looking impressive whatever the case. Alx Harris appeared a little back from Martin, still winding his way up the long climb towards Ntsikeni.

But the drama is back down the hill at Centocow, where Glenn and riding partner Andre Visser are resting for a few hours at Centocow. As mentioned in his pre-race interview, he didn't discount the possibility of a less aggressive race strategy in the early stages, and called not so long ago saying he was "flat", lacking energy, and in need of rest. He found Hella Hella climb out of Umkomaas Valley particularly tough today.

So we'll be watching the tracker tonight to see at what stage Glenn and Andre get moving again. Sometimes a rider just has to stop and rest, but to stay in the race it can't be for too long.

In that sort of condition to stop at Centocow is probably wise, as there are massive climbs straight after this on the road up to Ntsikeni. And the stop at Centocow may have some positive spin-offs in the sense that it starts to break the riders up, as some begin to run to different schedules regarding resting and riding. That can just cool the intensity down a little, and riders can begin to focus on their own schdule as opposed to possibly riding themselves into the ground.

So, while Glen rests, the next  event watch is happening up the hill at Ntsikeni to see what Martin does when he gets there, and if he goes on tonight past Ntsikeni, will Alex follow him? This race has started off at a blistering pace today.


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