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, 23 June 2012

Race Across South Africa - Rider Progress Graphs (Times available at evening of 23rd June)

It has been a very eventful 24 or so hours on the Freedom Challenge, and not all of the drama happened up front with the race leaders. Last night, the Container Clan of Jody, Dino and Andre probably took the honours in the drama stakes, spending an extremely cold and windy night up high on Lehana's Pass, in the Drakensberg, in the  container. This morning, after trying to extract themselves from the container for about an hour, due to a jammed door, they ambled down to Rhodes where they have been resting for the rest of the day. It was by all reports a scary experience, and thank goodness for the container because the outcome could have been far worse otherwise.

Then, moving up the field to somewhere in the middle, we had the saga of Richmond "Shoes" McIntyre, who somehow rode off with Peter Stephens' riding shoes, and had to be apprehended up ahead after a Twitter distress call from Peter, and the shoes returned to their rightful owner. For the rest of the day, the Twitterwaves were clogged with much humourous discussion ensued for much of the day regarding shoe thief Richmond, the suitable penalties for the man, and who his next victim would be.

Further in front of Richmond, at Brosterlea, poor Alex Harris was having serious troubles with his saddle, having broken the bold earlier in the morning. He managed to get out of Brosterlea "shoes and all" before Richmond pounced, but the saddle delays cost him, as race leader Martin Dreyer continued to ride at "faster than record" pace and pile on the pressure. Martin was top of the average speed table this evening, measured up to Hofmeyr support station, at 7.78km/hour, with Alex on 6.99km/hour up until Romansfontein. With Martin having arrived at Romansfontein at 13h30, his lead as at Romansfontein was    6 hrs 20 minutes, and he has since arrived at Hofmeyr at 20h50 this evening.

Will Alex Harris require a new saddle to be brought in? This will incur him a 3 hour daylight time penalty if he does go for this option.

At the moment Dreyer has the initiative. But technical issues and navigation can be a large part of the race, and neither rider is yet at the half way mark distance-wise, so its a long way to go.

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