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 -

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Into the final Section of the Freedom Trail - the Breede River Section - Anysberg to Diemersfontein

Tracker is erratic today, due to the remoteness of the areas being passed through by race leader Martin Dreyer and 2nd placed Alex Harris. Dreyer is expected at Montagu later today, en route from Anysberg. According to the support station hosts, he reached Anysberg at 14h40, with "chain problems" whatever that may mean. Is there still a final twist in the tale? Harris was lunching at Rouxpos (one support station behind) at 15h10. With Dreyer having left Rouxpos at 09h30, that would imply that he had a lead of about 5 hours 40 minutes over Harris as at Rouxpos.

From Anysberg, Dreyer is into the final section of the Freedom Trail, known as the Breed River section. From Montagu onward, one really rides on a "high". Montagu seems like a city compared to anything else seen on the route, and then as one rides through the winelands you really do get the feeling that the end is just around the corner. So if ever on the race Martin had any problem with his motivation levels (although it doesn't appear so), it definitely won't be here.

The total distance of the Breede River section from Anysberg to Diemersfontein is estimated at 295.5km. There is still quite a bit of climbing. The bulk of it, though, is on the final stage from Trouthaven to Diemersfontein, which includes the notorious Stettynskloof portage. 

Thereafter it will be a very pleasant ride down to du Toitskloof Pass, up to the top of the pass and down the forestry track to the finish at Diemersfontein. At his current race pace, and barring any major technical or physical blowout, Martin could be expected to arrive at Diemersfontein some time tomorrow night, or in the early hours of Saturday morning.

If 2nd placed Alex Harris is to have a say in this race, he'll have to make a big move quickly. I guess one wouldn't expect either rider to be sleeping too much from here onwards. 

Freedom Trail Breede River Section - Anysberg to Diemersfontein:

Total distance: 295.5km
Cumulative ascent: +3,941m
Cumulative Descent: -4,513m

Distances between support stations

Anysberg to Montagu:  77km
Montagu to Kasra: 82km
Kasra to Trouthaven: 72.5km
Traouthaven to Diemersfontein: 64km

Expected Times between support station 

Anysberg to Montagu:  4-5 hours            
Montagu to Kasra: 5-6 hours
Kasra to Trouthaven: 6-7 hours
Traouthaven to Diemersfontein:  8-9 hours

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