No, it's got nothing to do with doping, which seems to be the in thing in cycling at the moment but rather, it's the name of a fledgling bike brand which also happens to be my current ride.
After the deal with Niner ended a while ago, I was officially a runner in that I had no bike. This wasn't immediately a problem though, since I've been out of action recovering from a viral infection for the last 5 months. It has also kept me from doing any running but to be honest, my thoughts have been about rest and recovery, rather than riding or running. But slowly, as my strength has returned and thoughts of getting active have resurfaced, the problem of not having a bike has became a bit more real...
Enter Contraband with their 'Rogue' - a prototype steel 29er for me to test out and give some feedback on before the production version is finalised for next year. No big days out yet (doctor's orders) but a few short, technical trail rides and so far two things are apparent: 1) it's good to be back on the bike and 2) steel bikes are really cool.
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