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, 16 June 2012

Pre-Race Interview with Glenn - with Background Comment - Question 3

Question 3 of the pre-race interview with Glenn is with regard to where the race tough spots are.

Background: I read of estimates of the cumulative amount of climbing in the Tour de France being estimated at around 25,000 metres. The Race Across South Africa has an estimated 37,000metres of cumulative climbing (seems like they do it without drugs too), and a whole lot of portaging (walking and carrying the bike).

JL: “What are physically the hardest parts of the race?”

Glenn: “Physically I think the 1st 2 or 3 days, all the way from Pietermaritzburg to Rhodes (this stage includes the Lehana’s Pass portage to the top of Naude’s Neck just before Rhodes), there’s a lot of climbing. There’s trickier navigation (on this stretch) too, a lot of navigation, so you’re just going slower, you’re thinking a lot, working hard, a lot of walking, all the way to Rhodes and the day beyond Rhodes, ....there’s a lot of portaging. So that’s I think where you can pick up injuries if you’re going hard in the 1st 3 days. And then later on you’ve basically adapted, and you’re body’s kind of comfortable with what you are doing to it and….the only other thing that’s really hard is Stettynskloof (the last day just before Diemersfontein, Paarl), but that’s right at the end so no matter what you’re going to get through that. And ….the other portages…there’s not really one that stands out. Lehana’s Pass is obviously the big steep one (on the Rhodes section). So physically I think most of the walking, walking and carrying, happens early in the race…..and if you survive that then you’re okay for the rest of the race.

Comment: I (JL) personally found that, while the section to Rhodes was physically the most demanding, as Glenn says, the most mentally demanding part for us more social riders was the few days, perhaps up to a week after Rhodes. It got very lonely at this stage, with the Ride to Rhodes riders having left the trail, the novelty had worn off, we'd expected significantly easier physical days but they hadn't materialised yet, and Cape Town was still about 1,500km away which was mind blowing. 

No comments:

Post a Comment