29 Jun 2012

Mud fight in the Stormberg

Wednesday, 27 June 2012 23:04
Rhodes, Eastern Cape
Friday 22 June 2012

As the 2300km 2012 Freedom Race Across South Africa moved through the mountains of the Maluti Drakensberg and across the treeless and windy plains of the Stormberg plateau, the battle for many of the riders became one merely for survival.

Race leader 7 time Dusi winner, Martin Dreyer, arrived at the Rhodes support station at midday on Thursday, 21 June,  and promptly continued up the valley of the Sterkspruit.  He was followed two hours later by 2010 and 2011 winner and current record holder, Alex Harris.   The two were in turn chasing down early pace setters Mike Woolnough and Trevor Ball who left Pietermaritzburg two days before them.

Over the next 36 hours close to 100 millimetres of rain fell over the Stormberg.  Riders climbing Lehana’s Pass, which at 2760m is the highest point of the race, had to contend with snow. Further ahead the charge of Woolnough and Ball got stuck.  After crossing the Loutebron and Bontehoek portages they were forced to stop for the day at Moordenaarspoort, the site of the Anglo Boer war ambush of General Jan Smuts.  On Friday 22 June 2012, after battling with heavy mud and unrelenting rain, the two stopped at midday at the farm Kranzkop, having taken 6 hours to travel 40 kilometres of open road.  It was at Kranzkop that Dreyer and Harris caught them, arriving 2 hours apart in the course of the evening.

Meanwhile elsewhere in the field the arduous terrain and weather conditions were starting to take their toll.  By the time the cold front had passed over the Stormberg  more than 20% of the field of initial starters had withdrawn.

This from Freedom Challenge website.

In the meantime my bike is in "hospital" and I'm on the mend. Busy moving my mind to a better space and will start my preparations for Cape Epic 2013 soon. Any help and input from you all out there would be appreciated.

Watch this space for my Freedom Challenge in pictures. 

21 Jun 2012

News from the Freedom Challenge; Day 10

The end of my Freedom Challenge 2012.  Thanks to all for your support and thanks to Ben and Dave for trying to get my bike going.   In the end, the mud took its toll.

On my way back to Rhodes with Ben de Lange, and should be back in Pretoria on Friday.

20 Jun 2012

News from the Freedom Challenge: Day 9

Another tough day. Only managed a half a day to Moordenaarspoort with the mud.  Bike is giving big problems in the mud - gears and shock -and is now unrideable.  Fellow cyclist, Dave Bell, has cracked his frame, and Ben de Lange will be bringing Dave a spare bike tomorrow.  Ben will also bring down Rodney's bike, and we will see what the best plan is. (Thanks Ben!!!)

I am now one-half days behind now, tomorrow I will be two-half days behind - with possible further penalties.

We will see what tomorrow brings (Rodney)

19 Jun 2012

News from the Freedom Challenge: Day 8

Icy icy cold wind, rain, hail, sleet at blizzard pace. We could only manage 40km in 7 hours. Impossibly muddy.  Some bike problems - gears are a problem but managing.

Dave and Dawn Bell and Chris Morris joined us in Slaapkranz.  Rory and I are now one day behind and will have to catch up later. (Rodney)

18 Jun 2012

Race Across SA :: Champion Page | BackaBuddy

Race Across SA :: Champion Page | BackaBuddy - a very worthy cause to support my Freedom Challenge

News from the Freedom Trail: Day 7

News from Gerda: Rory bitten by a pack of dogs -fine but off to Doctor in Barkly East for repair - then back to Chesney wold for the night.
I got to Chesney Wold at 14:30, and tried to go on to the overnight at Slaapkranz - but the mud was far too thick. Would not be able to make Slaapkranz by night so decided to stay over at Chesney Wold. (Rain and Sleet in Rhodes - going to be interesting for the racing snakes)

Some Feedback from the Freedom Challenge

Cell phone reception has been poor, and Gerda has had a very busy time ("what an adventure").  Here is some feedback on her ride from sms's and Twitter:

Day 2: Allendale to Ntsikeni: Got a bit lost coming into Ntsikeni at night. Met up with Rory and Elton and made it in by around 8:30pm

Day 3: Ntsikeni to Masakala:  With all my night riding to Ntsikeni, batteries running out. And triangular bag's zip is packing up.

Day 4: Masakala to Malekholonyane: At last safe and sound after taking wrong turn off in the wattles and arrived in another valley. They came to pick me up @ 8pm after farmers didn't want to accommodate me. Getting a 2hr penalty. Can only leave at 8:30.

Day 5: Malekholonyane to Vuvu: Took the district road with Rory and Elton from Tinana. A horrible road, very very difficult and hard on the body. Got into Vuvu around 7pm

Day 6: Vuvu to Rhodes:  Took the alternative route to Rhodes with Rory and Elton.  Gear cable splayed at the top, and don't have granny gears so have to walk all the hills. Gloves worn through on the patches, luckily have the other pair.  Elton withdrew just before Naudes Neck.

Day 7 Rhodes to Slaapkranz: - 09:00 Rory bitten by a pack of dogs -fine but off to Doctor in Barkly East for repair - then riding on to Chesney wold for the night

"What an Adventure"

13 Jun 2012

1st day of Freedom Challenge

1st day was not without its drama. One of the riders, John Rex fell on concrete strip and demolished his face (and had 12 stiches). The ride is always tough, don't know why I thought it would be easier ... blond moment. Hella Hella is as steep as ever. Went through 6 packets of tissues ... long dry winter grass not doing me well.

I ran out of water on hella Hella and stopped a good Samaritan in a Corola. He had water 1 month old. I gladly accepted n thank goodness for water purifiers. He also offered me 3 oranges

Tomorrow is another tough day _ planning to leave at 04:30

8 Jun 2012

The physical Freedom Challenge

The Freedom Challenge is far more than planning your race, studying the maps, packing the rucksack and packing the 2l boxes. It is a lot about the physical, the riding of a bicycle, pushing a bicycle and portage a bicycle. Can one ever be totally prepared? 
Part of the hill training involved the "famous" Breeds Neck...up and down....up and down....



then down on the one side

Then the down on the other side

It involved long distance, and the next day and then again and when you tired, a little more....

Through water, sand, corrugations, rocks, lots of single track, dodging cows and finding adorable little cafes and drinking holes....

And just when you think you did enough...you decided to do a little bit more, just in case!

And now it is only a few more days before I start this great adventure. Tackling obstacles, making a plan, heading into the cold ....and night...to come out the other end enriched. Please track my progress on this blog or www.freedomchallenge.org.za.
I'll take enough photos to do another volume of The Freedom Challenge.