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 -

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Race to Rhodes

It's time to test the legs again - after really hoping to be lining up for another Freedom Challenge this year, the reality of 6 months of recovery and a busy work season has led to the decision to rather try the inaugural Race to Rhodes this year. This new version of the Ride to Rhodes is basically a non-stop race over the first six stages of the Freedom Challenge, totaling about 500km. It's a mini-version of Freedom Challenge, same rules, same route, with similar kit and approach - lot's of riding, not much sleeping.

The current record is up for grabs, although technically it stands at just under 56 hours, after Martin's strong ride last year - so that's the mark to beat.

My new rig for this journey is a cheeky little steel framer from the guys at Cotic - the Simple. I haven't spent much time on it, apart from a few setup rides but it's basically the singlespeed version of the well loved Solaris and I know from experience that that's a great bike.

Why singlespeed? With all the hills on the way to Rhodes, a shrewd gear choice could result in a quick climbing bike, which could be competitive over the distance. Let's see how this plays out...

I need to thank some people for supporting this effort: Matthew at Cotic SA for the "Lamborgreeni" frame,  Grant and Jason from International Trade for speccing the bike with some quality parts from their range including Hope, WTB and FSA and Mike from Tranquilitas Adventure Farm for his continuing support with some of the winter clothing items I needed.

Start time is 06:00 on Friday 14th June, and followers can keep track of the progress via the Freedom Challenge website:

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