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 - http://mg.co.za/multimedia/2010-02-04-extreme-endurance-the-freedom-challenge

Friday, 6 July 2012

Andre and Jody - proud blanket wearers


Another finisher’s day at Diemersfontein today and the first riders home were Andre and Jody.

Andre finished in 17d 7h 47min – his time puts him 6th overall and makes him the first rookie this year. Starting with the racing snakes in batch J, he was ready to race. Unfortunately his navigator (Glenn) pulled out early and from then on, he paired up with various riders in an attempt to continue racing. Not that he couldn’t navigate - as an experienced adventure racer, he showed his skill when he hooked up with Jody and boldly went over the Struishoek portage at night. That was the first of many big pushes and they quickly started reeling in the other riders up ahead on the trail. Jody eventually let him go and Andre continued in the same vain, with a huge effort from Prince Albert to Anysberg. The following day an icy headwind wore him down on the way to Montagu and he considered stopping there to rest and sleep. He pushed on though and spent the night in McGregor. There he rested properly and decided to back off so that he could enjoy the last bit. The big pushes paid off though, for a first time rider, his time of under 18 days is quick – great effort Andre.

Jody finished in 19d 7h 47min (he started in batch H, two days before Andre) and in so doing, managed to dip under 20 days, which was his goal for the ride. Originally part of a group who became known as  the ‘Hackers,’ he had a few interesting days finding his feet with fellow riders Sean, Dino and Phillip. They went on an excursion off the Black Fountain ridgeline which cost them about six hours and they ended up sleeping in Tinana. The next day ended in the blue container atop Lehana’s Pass, when Jody, Andre and Dino spent a cold night out in stormy conditions. And so it went, one adventure after the next. Eventually Andre convinced Jody to try the ‘racing snake’ thing and the two of them started ticking off a few big double stages and really got some momentum going. They were slowed by a small hiccup in the Grootrivierpoort, got a bit sidetracked by Hestelle’s amazing food at Dam se Drif and eventually ran out of steam on the way to Prince Albert, where Jody decided to hop off the racing snake bus and rather try to enjoy himself a bit. But Jody finished strong, after catching up with Andre again at Trouthaven - the two of them made short work of Stettynskloof and finished their ride in glorious sunshine at Diemersfontein. 

They both had a great ride, dug deep when they needed to but also took some time to appreciate the route, the people and the journey itself - they worked hard for their blankets and can wear them with pride.



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