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!)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 17

I'm feeling very grumpy today, maybe because its just so many consecutive days of early rise and out into the darkness but mainly because I have picked up a stomach bug. Getting on a bike is not on the top 10 list of 'things i want to do right now', but i'm just gonna stick with the boys today and grin and bear it. On the faster roads it really helps to 'stay in the bunch', but I'm not even going to bother with the map. Good thing for us our hosts are up and smiling with a lovely cooked breakfast at the ungodly hour of 4, special people indeed. I'm battling to keep up with the train today, but have outlasted Stu who has done his trick of letting Allen, Andrew and Danie go and soldier on at his own pace. In my own mind I'm pushing for the double up to Montagu, and almost do a double take when Andrew says the plan for them is to triple up to McGregor. Well at least we've got on the road early and the nav is easy, as there's 'only one road'. I request a 'hot clothing removal stop', mainly to get a brief respite, its all too quick and we don't even get a peek at the map. Chasing back to the train, I come across a foraging porcupine crossing the road, he beat me to the bush before I could get the camera out. We're quite impressed with the speed and distance covered when we come to our first junction, unfortunately it is the road to Montagu, and not Anysberg reserve. We've missed the nav and doubled back on ourselves. Going fast is a terrible thing when its in the wrong direction. We've gone so far we're actually off the map and not sure where we actually are. The next car coming past is not that helpful, but the subsequent bakkie driver takes pity and puts our bikes on the back to take us up the road to the closest farmer who will know it all. GUILTY look And that is how we ended up at Oom kanniedienaamherrinner se huis with a fresh pot of coffee and rusks for africa. He's off to the kalahari to go hunting, but his son is easily bribed to take us back to the spot we went wrong. It's not really cheating, as we're getting taken back to where we rode off the course, but the gps track must have been interesting with 100km speeds repoted. We did phone race control and were given the option of riding straight to Montagu if we really wanted to, but would miss out on some worthwhile terrain. I jumped at the opportunity to use a modern bathroom and confirmed for sure that I did indeed have a terrible stomach bug. concrete dam conversion anysberg cottages I slack totally off the pace once in the reserve getting to the Support Station, and by the time I got there the boys were finishing off lunch. We heard the news that the hollywood two had caught up with Sirk in the night and the three were reunited again in their combined push to stettyns, on that day. ouch. I had little option but let the rest go off in their quest for McGregor, I wasn't feeling very strong, but would have to make montagu and recover there. I loaded up with lots of water, knowing my system wouldn't be absorbing much and set off alone on the 77km stretch to Montagu. ignore the signs The riding was probably really nice and inspiring, but it all passes me by as a dredge in my state. Time passes, kilometers tick by and with each pedal stroke I am closer to Montagu. Its the first town on the trip that I can confidentally say I actually know. If I phone someone in Cape Town now, they could even be there by the time I arrive. But I'm not feeling very sociable right now and continue on the open road. I'm not sure how differently I would have ridden had I seen the profile before hand, but at the top of the Ouberg pass I knew that I could make the 30 odd kays to town. One of the most welcome surprises was the next 16 kays passing with hardly a pedal turned, surely one of the longest rollercoasters i've ever ridden and probably the greatest. it's all downhill from here It was a shock to actually ride a car in traffic again, Montagu rush hour is not much to worry about, but it felt very foreign right then. The ladies at the information bureau pointed me in the right direction and I actually saw the other boys on their way out of town. Andrew asked if I wanted to join them, but there was no way I could go another km. I thus had an entire guesthouse to myself, a hot bath and George's biltong ration. The unheard of and totally outlandish luxury of DSTV would get me back to speed with two weeks of Wimbledon too. When the sound of raindrops started to hit the roof I smiled at my decision to stay put. It had been a grind of a day running on empty, and its hard to hide during 150km even if it is on nice hardpack gravel. I got to bed knowing that it would be a long triple up day to rawsonville, but achievable. The route from mcgregor would be replaying in my mind after the scouting trip done there a month earlier, you can never waste time on reconnasaince. Rouxpos to Montagu via Anysberg- ~1890m of climbing 170km 15 hours door to door(detour included)

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