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!)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Day 15

The human body is an amazing thing. After crawling into town last night a broke and spent force, I’m actually awake at 5 and eating breakfast ready for a 160km day. When I went to bed, I had the alternate stop of Rondawel 90 kays down the road as my first goal. You have to break the day up into achievable milestones, but I feel confident I’ll make it to Prince Albert before dark.

Today is seen as a bit of a rest day. Pushing through to Die Hel (like Sirk) is a big ordeal and most won't attempt it. It is still 160km (and therefore a fabled 'century' ride for our imperial bikers in the us) but rather flat with no major hills or passes to speak of. If there's any doubt of the insanity of this race, then a 160km rest day should clear that up.

I’m back in with the group 1 peleton now after falling off a few days ago. The dynamic has changed since I left them. Stu the kiwi is still tiptoeing his deadline of making a flight back to the UK, but the other three aren’t so worried about him now. He seems to fall off the paceline but is strong enough on his own and doesn’t lose much time. I stick with the program upfront which is 5km each to do the work. The system works great and the km roll past, except when Allen gets his nose in the wind and drills us all. Who ever thought I’d get guttered in the karoo?

The road surface is great, most of the time, but there are some patches of terrible backbreaking elbow rattling corrugations. Very unwelcome to say the least and they break up the rhythm totally.
We’re on some very out of the way roads and then actually turn into a farm to go on some route David has found for us. Its an old wagon path from days long gone by and we even see an old one on the side. The vegetation is what my std 7 geography teacher would probably describe as ‘renosterveld’.
thumbs up from Andrew B

Some purists would say that its boring riding on flat nondescript roads, but there’s a feeling of pioneering and openness on this road. The best word for it really is ‘freedom’. I can’t put my finger on it, but there definitely is something special about the Karoo to me.its not even hot today, perfectly overcast and cool.
Rondawel farmhouse
Lunch at Rondawel is one of the quirkier stops. Cristiaan is a young bachelor farmer who grew up on the farm next door where his parents still are. I'm still not sure if he actually knew we were coming but he had moerkoffie, beskuit(rusks) and plaasbrood for us. His mom had done a bit of the baking, but Sirk had made a little dent in the supplies before we arrived and we tucked into about 6 sarmies each.There was little left when we were done, and later when the hollywood boys got there they were down to the crust. Matt sneakily did an inspection of the two fridges in the kitchen. the one was off and the other had a solitary ice tray. Would be an interesting stop for the night, pretty guaranteed you'd get an egte karoo braai with skaaptjops from heaven.

we like to stop and chill at intersections

as expected we rattled off the remaining kilometers painlessly. at one point we came about ten kms from my old varisty roommate's farm. Maybe next time I could find a way to justify the ~40km roundtrip to their house and back, but for now we were shifting at a good pace.
coming into Prince Albert with NGK in view
As expected we got into town with light on our side as early as 3.being school holidays I got billeted in an overflow house back in the dorp(so ihave to ride back where i came from – never cool after 160km, but wasn't that bad). I got so frustrated with myself sorting out all the admin at the guesthouse(including getting my laundry done – there goes the darlington mud) only to misplace the keys to the house. I made quite a sight turning my worldly possessions upside down looking for it!i even made a trip to the local PEPstore, retail therapy always does the trick, even if you are only buying toothpaste.
can i buy a blanket?The house was a really cute cottage and I got busy with some proper bike wash and general TLC. When you get the time its a good idea to go over the bike and get some preventative maintenance done. A knock on the door and home mechanic/local singelspeed enthuasiast Johan Rissik comes in to help with whatever needs done (but refuses to touch any gears!). He's just done a ride from Sishen to Saldanha tracing the the well known railway line, and we get chatting. My pedals have shot their bearings and they get an inspection and a regrease. Hold thumbs they'll last to cape town.

my baby with her mudpack still on

cute cottage, eh?

We all go back to the guesthouse for a meal and a general planning chat. The monster Swartberg pass is first up and if we want to double up its going to be a 4am start. That's the easiest way to kill any after dinner lounging around!

Willowmore to Prince Albert- ~1038m of climbing
160km 9 hours door to door

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