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 -

Friday, 22 June 2012

Race Across SA - Tomorrow's route profile for the leaders. The Karoo gets nearer.

The Karoo is perhaps a little more than a day away for Martin Dreyer and Alex Harris. The significance of this is that the Karoo is at lower altitude, and perhaps a few degrees less cold than the eastern Cape High Country.

The weather forecast along the route is for a little more rain tomorrow at Brosterlea, but 1.2mm probably represents a lot less than what has fallen by the sound of it.

Ad further along at Gunsteling, just past Romansfontein support station, no rain is forecast.

So it seems that the weather forecasts are tending towards the rain diminishing in the next few days, and sun to return by Tuesday.

But that's not to say that the mud will dry up quickly in tempereatues expected to be in single digits for the next day or 2.

The route profile and distance:

How far can the riders go tomorrow? In dry conditions one would probably expect Martin and Alex Harris to embark on a lengthy stage from Kranzkop to Hofmeyr.

In the current mud, could it only be as far as Romansfontein?

The first stage of tomorrow's trip is from Kranzkop to Brosterlea, all of 58.2kms, and fairly simple after a short easily navigable portage through a farm shortly after leaving Kranskop. Thereafter, it is pretty much district roads to Brosterlea farm support station. This would in dry conditions be good fast riding. Perhaps not so tomorrow. This section may well be undertaken in the dark hours of the morning, and if there is no rain overnight the mud may be frozen, making riding a little easier.

From Brosterlea, the next stage is to Romansfontein, a 78.5km stage, and then over the Aasvoelberg portage and on to Hofmeyr, another possible 92.5km for a lengthy day. There are a one or two portages, one being a minor one down from the Battle of Stormberg site, and the other being a more significant one over Aasvoelberg just after Romansfontein if Hofmeyr becomes a target.

The total distance to Hofmeyr tomorrow is a lengthy one therefore, but the route is not too demanding in terms of climbing, with a cumulative ascent of +2648m over the entire stretch from Kranzkop to Hofmeyr, a lengthy stretch of over 200kms, and slightly more cumulative descent to the tune of -2,857m.

Whatever the riders' decisions tomorrow, Weather and conditions will have a big influence.

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