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, 1 July 2013

A busy day at Diemersfontein

Today has been a busy day on the finish line: First arrival was the low flying Anton Wood, missing a turn in the forest and heading towards Paarl, before he came to his senses and found his way via a sneaky service entrance into Diemersfontein. He made really good time up Stettynskloof and arrived in the glorious sunshine by early afternoon. He's had a solid ride - no major errors and some consistent riding all reflect in his finishing time of 19days 7hours 50min - another great effort by a rookie.

Anton gets his blanket

Later this afternoon, Gavin Robinson and Henry Angove arrived - looking a little weary after spending an extra hour down in Stettynskloof exploring some alternative paths. But they were soon smiling again and reliving the adventures of the past 3 weeks - the Trolls on the Schurfteberg, making a fire to keep the Swampthing at bay down in the Grootrivier Poort, riding straight past Hell's Kitchen in Gamkaskloof, all the way on to The Ladder before realising that they had missed lunch and were now quite hungry. After proclaiming that "night navigation is a no-no" they spent the next few nights doing exactly that. Despite the misadventures, they always emerged the next morning no worse for wear and just got back on their bikes and carried on riding. Well done guys, your finishing time of 21days 10hours 40min was jam-packed with fun and laughter, for you and all those following.

Soon after Gavin and Henry arrived, the Peleton swept across the finish line - 8 riders, all having ridden together since Prince Albert, some of them from long before that. The group consisted of most of batch A - Pierre Singery, Dave vd Westhuizen, Ansa and Sarel Smit and the father and son pairing of Bruce and Charles Hughes. Their finishing time was 22days 11hours on the dot. It's evident that they had formed a strong bond in the group and always discussed the day's riding plans among the members - strength in numbers in this case. Also arriving with them today were batch B riders Dave Moberley and Pete Button - they started out as the 'Fat Farmers' but judging by their appearance on the finish line, they no longer are. They finished in 21days 11hours and looked like they could have gone on for a few more without too much effort - farmers are a tough breed. 

Charles, Bruce, Dave M, Pete, Dave vdW, Ansa, Sarel and Pierre

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