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, 21 June 2012

The racers pass through Rhodes

After a brief stopover for a few hours of sleep at Tinana Mission, both Martin Dreyer and Alex Harris left early this morning. (Martin about 15min earlier than Alex) Conditions underfoot were fairly dry and the going was good. Martin arrived at a locked Vuvu school and then pushed on towards Lehana, reaching the summit after about 3hrs of portaging and he even had some time to Tweet a picture of himself in the snow. Then it was down a wettish Naude's Nek Pass into Rhodes, where he arrived just before 2pm.

He mentioned that he was a bit behind on sleep and was falling asleep on his bike on the way down to Rhodes. But after the 30min rest and some food, he looked better and was in good spirits as he left Rhodes, heading for Chesneywold.

Alex arrived about half an hour after Martin had left and went straight to his room for his first shower since Pietermaritzburg! He looked fairly fresh on arrival and afterwards he smelled fresh too. His stop was a slightly longer one as he has some bike admin to sort out, some laundry to do, some eating to get done and finally, a plethora of boxes to raid for snacks.

He rolled out of Rhodes about an hour later with the skies darkening - also heading for Chesneywold. Reports from other riders and support stations up ahead on the route indicate that the next few stages after Rhodes are wet and muddy, which could possibly slow the progress of these two front runners.

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