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 -

Monday, 30 July 2012

Tim James is riding the Colorado Trail Race

Former RASA record holder and Freedom Challenge legend, Tim James, is currently taking part in the Colorado Trail Race in the USA. The CTR is a self supported bike race along the Colorado Trail, winding through the Colorado Rocky Mountains from Denver to Durango.  It covers a total distance of 750km, approximately 480km of which are singletrack, at elevations ranging from 1600 to 4000m . 

The Colorado Trail is a marked route for hiking and biking but the CTR route also takes riders along specific bike detours which are not marked. Deviation from the intended route results in disqualification. For this reason, riders make use of  a GPS with loaded tracks of the whole route and the detours. The race format is also non-stop, so riders decide when to stop and sleep or when to carry on riding. There is no entry fee, no support, no registration, and no prize money. It is a self-timed ITT (Individual Time Trial): all that is provided is a route description, a suggested start time, and a list of results.

Tim spent a bit of time in Colorado during July to recce the route and get used to the altitude. He had to decide what equipment to carry with him for overnighting in the mountains at those altitudes and make provision for carrying a bit of extra food and water.  His bike of choice is his Scott Scale hardtail with front suspension.

Route knowledge is critical to being competitive in the CTR, so it will be interesting to see what Tim can do with the little bit of knowledge he's picked up on his recce ride. The altitude will be another major factor to contend with and riding all that technical singletrack on a fully loaded bike will be a challenge in itself - it should be an interesting journey.

Follow his progress through the event website and trackers here:

For a look at some of the scenery and the type of terrain he'll be covering, here's a short video clip from one of last year's CTR riders:

This race also has a devoted band of cyber-followers, who all congregate here to discuss the action:,4423.0.html

All the best Tim, have fun out there and keep an eye out for those Grizzly bears!

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