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

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Nutty Professor

Mike Woolnough, a.k.a The Nutty Professor, arrived at Diemersfontein last night just after 10pm. His incredible journey took 15d 16h 10min, a very quick overall time and a new personal best for him.

He shot out of the start blocks in Pietermaritzburg, with Trevor Ball in his wake and only really stopped when he got to Rhodes (The two of them had only 4 hours of sleep on the way to Rhodes!) Along the way they flew past other riders from the earlier batches, and with Mike's incredible route knowledge, got through all the scratchy bits cleanly, except for Lehana's, where the mud and pitch blackness of the night slowed them momentarily.




With the first goal ticked off, Mike and Trevor then slacked off and spent the next 3 days fighting their way through the mud in the Stormberg region. Along the way Mike picked up an injury to his right leg which further hampered his progress but he soldiered on as far as Grootdam before stopping for most of the day to recover. (Trevor went on ahead, riding with Theo van Dyk)

A few 'standard' days followed, which got him to Dam se Drif and then he went crazy again... A long push to Prince Albert, a double up to Rouxpos and a non-stop push from there through to the finish. He got to know the sleep monsters really well along that final stretch and tried to hide from them by napping in various bushes and gutters along the road. But despite all this, he was always chirpy and always smiling - if there was a prize for the rider who had the most fun this year, the Nutty Prof. would win it hands down!


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