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 -

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Daily Report - 26 June

The race office had reason to celebrate today - it was Meryl's birthday and to mark the occasion, we stopped in the middle of nowhere whilst travelling through the Karoo and switched off all cell phones and computers and went for a 10min stroll along the road - just to enjoy the mountains and the big sky surroundings. Then it was back to work and we proceeded to Prince Albert where we set up shop in anticipation of the arrival of a large group of riders.

And the race stopped for 10min...

The large group started trickling in by mid afternoon: Martin and Jeannie, Dave vd W, Dave M and Pete. The farmers immediately went off in search of food and beer and a place to put their feet up,  the Dreyers skipped the beer and left an hour later with full tummies, heading to Gamkaskloof for the night.

The Honeymoon Dreyers

Then came Ansa, Sarel, Pierre, Bruce and Charles. They had no plans to go any further, and after some soup, were shown to their comfy rooms at Dennehof.  Next we had Gavin and Henry, who uncharacteristically arrived well before dark and actually saw the support station in broad daylight - they must have liked what they saw because they also stayed put. The later arrivals were Andy and Peter, who had cruised through comfortably from Willowmore and shortly afterwards, the Hout Bay Boys, George, John and Barry, also looking quite relaxed after the 160km 'rest day' from Willowmore.

The long road to Prince Albert

The talk around the dinner table was on whether to double through to Rouxpos tomorrow or take an easy day just to Gamkaskloof - as they shuffled off to bed, it seemed like a roughly fifty fifty split.

Shortly afterwards, Scott, Charles and Christo waltzed in, looking a bit weather beaten and hungry - they'd had a hard morning battling headwinds from Willowmore but then had the chance to play in their big rings when the wind died down after Rondawel. These guys are pushing for home now so will continue to do some big doubles on the way to Diemersfontein.

Back at Willowmore, we have Anton and Martin, who came through from Dam se Drif today. Tomorrow should see them take on the headwinds to Prince Albert - good luck guys. We also have Marnitz there but the carrier pigeons brought word that he was planning a night raid across the Moordenaars Karoo and could well pop up in Prince Albert for breakfast.

There was some late night action in the Baviaanskloof yesterday - the intrepid Avril spent the night out in the Grootrivier Poort after getting shut down by the dark at the sixth river crossing - a cold and lonely place indeed... She kept her wits about her though and survived the night to emerge the next morning, where she was picked up by Batch E on their way through from Bucklands. She spent the rest of the day recovering at Kudu Khaya, the Cambria support station. Tomorrow she can pick her riding partners from the large group that arrived there today: Dave, Doug, Janine, Philip, Coen, Colin, Andrew, Guy and the Adams Family (Ted and Shaun) are all there tonight.

Eric is staying at Hadley tonight, hoping to get an early start down the Grootrivier Poort in the morning - he seems to have recovered from his tummy bug after an easier day today.

Robbie had a good day today, getting through from Grootdam to Toekomst. He passed Roy along the way and Roy is still out there, making his way slowly to Toekomst (if he gets it right, it will be his first double and he will have gained back one of the days he lost on the way to Rhodes) - Go Roy!!

Gearen had an easier day today, getting through to Grootdam from Stuttgart - that sets him up nicely for a double through to Toekomst tomorrow.

Not far behind are Chris and Julia - she managed to drag him away from the pie shop in Hofmeyr today with enough time to get to Elandsberg in the light - where to tomorrow..?

Leon and Andries are our sweepers - they had a long and windy day to Romansfontein today, arriving after dark again. Tomorrow they'll drop down off the high plains and hopefully have a break from the icy cold wind for a bit - and if they're lucky, Chris might have left some pies for them to eat in Hofmeyr!

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