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 9, 2008

Day 2

So we had an option on Day2 from the start, either head through a shortcut on the farm fields or take a longer route back out past the Mackenzie Club on dirt road. The fact that the farmer himself Ian Waddilove chose the route B the day before meant it was probably not a shortcut in timing at least. We followed a great road through to the village of Donnybrook and helped ourselves to the best the Spar bakery had to offer.

glorious mud

Pretty soon we were back in forest, and it started. Not the rain, that was looking like lifting for now, but it was the beginning of hours of a different grief in the next week – the dreaded mud. Short of sounding like a wet dishcloth I think I had it worse than most. My fork has minimal tyre clearance and V-brakes by nature are also built close to the tyre. So pretty soon mud had collected in grapefruit size clumps, and it was well bound by grass pieces. I had little option but to walk, as a brand new drivetrain would deteriorate pretty badly with more sand than chain on it. No point in rushing as the bike has to be looked after to get you to Paarl. We found a fast flowing stream at the bottom of the hill later and got stuck into some industrial strength cleaning. Probably took us about 45 minutes but time well spent.

traffic jam

Unfortunately we caught up to the group easier than expected. They had taken a track just a fraction too early and gone on a wild goose chase par excellence. Silly us followed their tracks. So we got to Centacow mission and the lunch stop quite embarrassed and a little behind schedule. This was one of the 24 missions set up by the silent order of Trappist monks in the early 20th century, pity we couldn't see inside as the priests were also on lunch. There was a researcher there, who said they were trying to market it to the adventure tourism sector but it sounded like the freedom challenge is still their main target crowd for now.


Lunch was quickly swallowed and shock to the system followed with another hill from the moerse family. I gapped it and pulled down the other side with a healthy cushion. That faded as I did circles round the village trying to find the route down the cliff and over the river. Eventually they all caught up again and we got some local knowledge from some zulu speakers. More scratching around in the next forest and we finally got to the next nek with light fading rapidly.

the "little" road up to Ntsikeni lodge

It seemed that with just 20km to go I might even make it before dark so I pulled away again. I underestimated the final stretch considerably. It was gargantuan, and involved scaling another mountain. I even picked the wrong road through the village somehow and had to portage up to the right one..that hurts the lungs especially! In the thick mist it got spooky up top. The narrative wasn't making sense either and it looked like we the kilometers on my odometer were lying. I was quite relieved when four of the guys caught up with me at the fence. We soldiered on together and even got Cosmo the local to show us the path. It was with massive relief that the lodge came into view in the darkness. Another big day under the belt, I chose to get a quick nap in whilst the rest filtered in.

Day 2 – Allendale – Ntsikeni 98dkm - 2985m altitude gain
6am - ~7pm, 13hours total
sting in the tail

No comments: