Only 29 days to go before I embark on a journey of a lifetime, cycling on a mountain bike from Pietermaritzburg to Paarl. I have to cover 2300km in 26 days. The name of the game? The Freedom Challenge.
Preparations have started many months ago by getting a smallish backpack. One has to pack into this bag all the clothes you will/might need on your journey, plus bike spares you might need, plus chargers for phone, tracker and bicycle light, plus medicines you might need, plus food stuff you might need during every day's ride, plus.... The idea is to keep this bag as light as possible and yet to still have more than just basics. Mine is weighing in at 7kg (two 750ml water bottles in the side pockets)
As preparations I have done a bicycle maintenance course earlier this year, to familiarise myself with my horse going into battle with me. I was surprised to find there are more than just two wheels and a saddle on my bike. I have done numerous training rides adding kilometres to my legs , getting my bum on the saddle and getting used to my backpack. Most recently, the best thing I could have done was to ride the Joberg2c event.
I went one step further and after my 9-day event had my bike stripped to a skeleton.....
and had it rebuilt with all new spares, new BB, new hanger, new chain, new shifters (hooray), bleeding the brakes, replaced the shocks, setting the gears......phew! It took a whole long day but after a test ride it was perfect!
Viola! My bike!
Another part of preparations for the event was to understand the narrative, or route description. When is left not right and South not North. Then find the spot on the map which the narrative was describing. Uhm....... wrong map, wrong page......Luckily for me I found the Maestro map maker! Rodney made new maps, understanding distances, fiddling with coordinates, tracing routes on general survey maps and redraw on existing maps. Deciding if a river is relevant to the route. Cross the right river,....but where? Mapping farm steads, contour lines, dams, railway lines and power lines, just so that I would be able to find my way. Not only did he make perfect maps, he also cut the maps into manageable A4 pieces so that they would fit onto my map board which is fastened onto my bike. Even more, he also copied, cut and pasted the correct piece of narrative to the correct part of the map. It is also day marked and page numbered. A masterpiece!
I am now busy packing 26, 2l boxes, one for each support station. A support station is normally a piece of heaven you will find on the way about 80-100km apart. There, they will provide you with a meal, a hot shower and a warm bed. Because this is actually a race, support stations will be reached at different times day and night, this is because some riders won't sleep over at certain stations but will try to press on to the next station. Before the start of the race all your support 2l boxes will be delivered at the different stations. The million dollar question is, what do I put in them.
In the box: small container with bum cream (hehehe most important)
shampoo/shower gel, toothpaste and small toothbrush, warm airplane socks for the evenings. Spares like spare chain, Stan's for tubeless tyres, CO2 bommers for easy inflating of tyres. Things to eat while cycling, nuts, energy bars, oats, cookies. Rehydrate for after every day's ride. A packet of tissues. A cloth to wipe the bike chain and wash off mud. Batteries for lights and chargers. Plastic shopping bags to cover shoes in wet weather. Surgical gloves to wear underneath gloves in rain and snow. Newspaper to quick dry inner part of cycling shoes. And the maps for the next day's ride.
If I have forgotten anything, please tell me now before all the boxes get send off to Cape Town!
I'm still doing distance over weekends, some power training on the BOSU ball and enough spinning classes to last me a lifetime.