2300km, but where to start?

As you can imagine, a 19day epic generates a fair amount of copy.

You can go right to the beginning of the whole ordeal, or the startline/day 1.

I'm looking at moving from a general ride report to a more up to date what's happening site. Yes, Freedom Challenge doesn't just finish in Paarl! When i get round to it, there'll be a PDF of the 19days reports.

Send some feedback (I'm aware that the whole layout is just, well kinda rubbish!)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 10

I woke up to the smell of frieds eggs, things had turned out quite nicely. I'd have liked to have made an early start as I was pretty sure the guys who made Elandsberg would be planning a double day and I had fallen off the pace. There would be more chasing from behind and my position in second place was now quite vulnerable. My sludge filled rear tyre had survived the previous night's bundu bashing but had flatted overnight. A sludge tube is nowhere nearly as puncture proof as a tubeless setup, and it seemed the luck had slowly leaked out.

After a quick chat with the farmer (and his reservations about our permission to be there in the first place), I decided to take the long way round to Elandsberg. I got there just before 10, about 15 hours later than I wanted, and was now about 4 hours behind the group. There was a report (incorrect) that the chasing bunch was already at Hofmeyr, putting me only half a day ahead of them. I decided to take an easy day and hopefully arrive at Rietfontein in the early afternoon and rest up. I could continue the charge from tomorrow.

Brunch wolfed down, it was time to get out of there before the rest arrived. The riding was relatively easy and before long I had knocked off a fair portion of the day's riding. We crossed over the Fish River, which should really be the reclassified as a stream, and then the N10. I stopped in at a farmstall (very hard to give these a skip when they come by) and a 150kg 20 year old sorted me out with some good biltong.

game fences

I had some time to think about the previous night's antics and where I went wrong. It was irritating to find the rest of the map and I still wondered why I hadn't looked for it at all in the first place. I also came to the obvious conclusion that the 'flashing' light was most likely my own superbright headlamp reflecting off a water tower or similar structure. That made me feel really stupid.

puncture fixing in a game area

The next section went through a game farm, and passing some farmers I was warned about the Rhino! I hadn't got far when I got the sagging feeling from my rear tyre. Time to find some shade and give that sludge tyre another bash between sarmies. I've never really used them, and couldn't understand why it would hold its air and only lose to pressure 500m down the road. After much frustration with my terribly inadequate mini pump I got to a farm and pulled in to fix the tyre properly. To my dismay, the race crew had been waiting for me and with all my stopping I had missed an extensive lunch spread. Much joking about my shenanigans the previous night too.
our stop from afar
time to rest
The afternoon dragged on and I just couldn't knock these easy kms off. I got to Rietfontein with not much daylight left and put my feet up as it looked like we'd landed in luxury. It's a game lodge that caters mainly for overseas hunters who pay BIG money for their holidays. The owner couple Roy and Jenny where quite special. Jenny got me sorted, but really reminded me of a Herschel mother the way she went on about the tribulations of the race logistics. Roy is a true old salt hunter and possesses the dirtiest mouth i've heard in a while! They said he could sort me out with a decent pump when he was back from riding. When I first met him, I couldn't believe he was also a biker – it turned out he was riding horses and wouldn't be seen dead on two wheels and no motor!

mounted Rhino

By the time Sirk Loots (start batch 3) rolled in after dark I had chilled enough to be doing some bike tlc next to the fire. It was an awesome dining room/bar/ with every animal possible mounted on the walls. He'd had a 200km day and didn't really have the patience for the incessant ordering. His remark of “as sy nie vinnig stilbly nie, gaan sy ook op die muur hang” made my day. I'd made my way through some bar stock and was getting nicely into the Euro 2008 semifinal with Roy when the next riders arrived. Matt and Andrew( also start batch 3) were doing the race for their chosen charity and looked really swish in their matching kit and helmet cams. They'd done some serious night hours since the start but looked fresh and strong. I liked the look of these riders and was confident we could overhaul the bunch I had just fell back from.

Speelmanskop to Rietfontein via Elandsberg- ~1000m of climbing
~90km, 9 hours door to door

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