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 -

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Daily Report - 25 June

Today the wind really started blowing… for some riders it helped but for most it made the going harder.

For Gearen and Robbie, at times the wind actually blew from behind.  Gaeren went from Hofmeyr to Elandsberg, had a quick breakfast and then went on to Stuttgart, a good day for him. Robbie left Elandsberg quite early and made good time to Stuttgart. He took a bit of time finding his way over the Schurfteberg and missed the new route into Grootdam, going around on the road instead but got there not too long after dark. (When we spoke to him at Elandsberg last night he was in good spirits and really enjoying himself immensely but admitted that he was finding the navigation a bit of a challenge.)

Behind them, Leon and Andries went over the Bontehoek today – The wind was howling up there too and progress beyond Moordenaar’s Poort was slow. They got into Kranskop after dark after a long, hard day in the saddle.  

Chris and Julia battled strong winds on their way from Kranskop to Brosterlea and then continued over the Stormberg to Romansfontein. They were actually blown right off their bikes a few times during the day but being from Cape Town, they’re used to the wind and merely described the conditions as “breezy”

The unstoppable Roy kept marching on and today advanced from Stuttgart to Grootdam. We bumped into him there just after lunch and he looked ready for more – tomorrow it’s a double over the Struishoek, via Gegun to Toekomst and if successful, he’ll snatch back a day in his schedule – go Roy!

Ahead of him at Kleinpoort is Eric. He had a rough day dealing with the infamous tummy bug that’s affected many riders this year – he started out late from Toekomst and opted to stop at the interim stop at Kleinpoort, about 3 hours short of Bucklands. If his troubles continue tomorrow, he’ll most likely stay over at Bucklands to recover fully before pushing on to the Baviaanskloof.

It’s a full house at Bucklands tonight, with ten riders staying over tonight. From batch E we have Dave, Doug, Janine and Philip. Then there are also the three musketeers (formerly Jack’s Army) Coen, Andrew and Colin.  Also in attendance are Guy and the Adams Family, Ted & Shaun. As if that wasn’t enough, the race office put in a late appearance, stopping for some ‘sop en skinner’ with Hannes and Rienie – they’ve had their hands full with the big groups this year but are loving every minute. We were also able to deliver a new set of tyres to Guy, so hopefully his tyre troubles are a thing of the past.

At Cambria this evening , Anton and Martin checked in just after dark. Avril was a bit behind and was last seen tracking down the Osseberg jeep track in the early afternoon. That’s a tricky section but she’s done her fair share of solo riding this year and always made good decisions, so is capable of getting through.

Marnitz continued his charge across the country and left Bucklands early this morning. He got through to Cambria without too much trouble but complained about being a bit tired after the last few day’s efforts – he may opt to rest there but who knows, when the moon begins to rise, he may just slip out into the night and do what he does best  (“I ride at night“)

The racing trio of Scott, Charles and Christo left Hadley this morning without breakfast and went on a kitchen raid when they got to Cambria – sufficiently refuelled, they went on to Golden Crust (Dam se Drif) After a bit of indecision, they eventually decided to stay, planning an early getaway for Willowmore.

The Willows Guest House in Willowmore is bursting at the seams –seventeen riders plus the race office!! Batch A has Andy, Peter, Ansa, Sarel, Bruce, Charles, Pierre and Dave. They are joined by Pete, Dave and latecomers Gavin and Henry from Batch B. Then there’s the threesome from Batch C, John, George and Barry. Also in attendance are the racing Dreyers, Martin and Jeannie, who are grabbing a few hours sleep after today’s long haul through the Baviaanskloof. All the riders have had something to say about the energy sapping strength of the wind today – this section is notorious for it – will it give them a break tomorrow? We’ll have to wait and see...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the stories Glenn! Love all the banter. Looking forward to hearing more of Marnitz' midnight excursions - classic. Love the spirit!