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 -

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

A selection of Glenn's Opposition (Part 1) - Who says you can’t be a great mountain biker in the Great City? (Author: John Loos)

The caliber of rider at the front of the Freedom Challenge field is impressive. One of Glenn’s pre-race favoured opponents is Joburg’s Alex Harris. He is formidable, having won the 2011 race and is also the current record holder in 12 days, 15 hours and 30 minutes. If this isn’t enough to prove his credentials, then summiting Everest and completing the “Seven Summits” (conquering the highest peaks on all 7 continents) in June 2005 must help a little. No shortage of speed on a bike either, having been the former 1000m SA track cycling champ in the 35-39 yr old age group.

But perhaps for us “social endurance cyclists”, most important of all, Alex shows us that living in the great City of Joburg is no excuse for not being able to achieve great things in endurance sport (granted, you may have a slight challenge if you are long distance snow skiier). And to illustrate this, a few weeks ago he was out doing RASA training on Jozi’s own “mountain” that is Northcliff Hill.

The final stats for the day’s work:

"Final stats were: 30 laps of northcliff from home = 5064m ascent, 11hrs 00.24 time and, surprisingly, 161,7 kms."

One lap was from the parking lot on beyers/olivias to the apex of the road at the top of northcliff, and back to the parking"

1 lap was = 4.9kms and roughly 165m ascent. I was averaging about 16mins up and 4 down. So 3 laps per hour"

There you go fellow Joburg citizens. See you out on Northcliff.

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