Decisions, Decisions. What to take and what to leave.

On the evening before the start of Race to Cradock I lifted my backpack to compare it with that of Fiona Coward, a seasoned Freedom Challenge and Multiday mountain biker. Despite having taken pride in significantly reducing my pack weight since Race to Rhodes the previous year, mine was still a bit heavier. Coincidentally Glenn walked in and a very valuable discussion followed around weight and necessities, the lessons of which I’m sharing in this post so I don’t forget them :-).

A few principles.

  • Liquids are heavy.
  • Metal is heavy.
  • Cotton cloth can absorb moisture and becomes heavy.
  • Unnecessary clothing is weight.
  • If you didn’t take that item, can you make another plan.

 

Maybe a car load is too much to fit onto your bicycle.

 

Weight On-Bike vs On-Back. There are two schools of thought even among the top riders on where to carry weight most efficiently. Some prefer a lighter pack (on-bike) while others prefer a lighter bike (on-back). The primary benefit of the lighter pack is reduce weight on the saddle and the resulting benefits of comfort. In addition, Alex Harris believes carrying weight on the back may be inefficient due to the required use of back and shoulder muscles to continuously stabilize the pack. Furthermore, he feels the upper body can be sufficiently conditioned to cope with lifting and portaging the heavier bike during portage and gate sections. Alex and Tim James rode Race to Cradock non-stop without back packs, all weight on-bike. On the flip side is the on-back school of thought, the simple reasoning here is that a road bike weighing 20% less than a mountain bike could be, under similar rider conditions, possibly 20% faster than the mountain bike and therefore a lighter bike will always trump a heavier bike. There are also the benefits of lifting or portaging a lighter bike. One could reason that on-bike makes sense on flatter roads but not for the undulating nature of the Freedom Trail. I have tried a method of splitting weight between my back pack and my Revelate saddle bag, more weight on the back for big climbing and portage days and then moving weight to the saddle bag for flatter days, of which there are not many. In the end it may be personal preference based on various factors but some interesting food for thought.

Spare tubes and tyres. Some ride with no spare tube, just a 60ml serving of sealant to top-up a soft tubeless tyre. If you take a spare tube it MUST be filled with slime or don’t bother, in some places a “dry” tube will flat within 100m. If you decide not to carry a spare tyre, you need to make provision to fix a nasty sidewall by using duct tape, gators, needles and nylon, etc to prevent a spare tube from peeling out the cut tyre. In future my preferred option will be a dry tube and a small 60ml sealant to top-up either the tubeless tyre or to fill the “dry” tube. I also carry a couple of lightweight sidewall repair options.

Pumps and CO2 canisters. My shock pump got dumped on the evening of departure. I was convinced that a shock pump is a luxury, you can make a plan or ride with a deflated fork of rear shock until a plan can be found. CO2 canisters are metal and are heavy, they can however help seal a fresh tubeless setup (as we needed to on Race to Cradock). A good pump is like gold, a non-negotiable. In future I’ll ride with one CO2 and my Blackburn pump.

Clothing. Clothing is heavy and bulky. There are two considerations here, ie hygiene and weather. Hygiene is a personal preference and some may also feel a risk to be managed. I have always opted for two sets of clothing allowing me to ride in a clean set every day, most if not all support stations do offer for a fee a clothes washing option, it may be challenge though to dry clothes during the damp and cold winter months. Once again personal preference how long you want to ride in a single set of riding clothes but my lesson is that it’s very possible to get away with a single set of riding clothes. Evening clothes is also a personal choice but you can be sure every person sharing space with you on the Freedom Trail is in a minimalist and non-fashion mindset, no matter what you wear you won’t feel odd. Glenn Harrison did a very helpful write-up of his clothing strategy on his 2010 ride which I have used as a guideline. (http://onegiantride.blogspot.com/2010/07/travelling-light.html).

Then there is weather based clothes. Once again Glenn’s blog above has some very good pointers, the key being layering and multi-use of clothing. On Race to Cradock I had a small bag with gloves, buff, leg warmers that I never once opened and only would have required in extreme weather. For Race to Rhodes this little bag is packed with a few more items and is used every day. There will be a weight penalty for winter riding but a short cut could cost your life if you get caught in a snow blizzard. In winter rather pay the weight penalty and be safe.

Race Boxes. For Race to Cradock I left behind probably 50% of what I had packed into my race boxes. Also the more you pack the longer it will take to figure out what to use during your support station stop. On Race to Rhodes food variety is a bit limited after Allendale so you may want to add a few sweet and savory snacks to your boxes. On Race to Cradock the farm food is superb and there are always sandwich and snack options to take along. Race boxes for this 600km section require less than for the first 600km. I tend to lose my sweet tooth on multiday events and crave more for proper food. Treat yourself with some vacuum packed items, the thought of vacuum packed crispy bacon was raised, not sure if it’s been tested yet :-). Beer, sodas and Sterri Stumpies have been spotted in race boxes. In the end pack what you will really need and crave for. Lastly but most important … make sure the right maps go into the right boxes, you won’t be the first nor the last person to find the wrong maps in your race box.

 

Make sure the right maps are in the right boxes!

 

Summary. Everyone has the same story, the more they ride on the Freedom Trail the lighter their packs become, the fewer their tools become, the fewer clothes they carry and the fewer items they pack in their race boxes. If you want to accelerate the learning curve, be brave, be bold and be light.

Advertisements

The Significance of the Windpomp

It is tradition with the Freedom Challenge Events that there is no medal and no prize money. There is however a very special finishers gift.

  • For Freedom Challenge RASA (all the way to Cape Town) – A Traditional Blanket. Perhaps the most coveted mountain biking trophy in the world.
  • For Race to Rhodes – A Traditional Shepard’s Whip.
  • For the inaugural Race to Cradock it was unveiled to be a Windpomp (Windmill in English).

Race to Cradock traverses the Stormberg section of the Freedom Trail. It crosses multiple sheep, cattle and game farms with resulting crossing of fences and gates. What really grabs the attention though is the arid conditions and the dependency on water as a precious resource. The windpomp is a key feature of the landscape and symbolizes an oasis for animals as much as it does for Freedom riders. What made this windpomp so special is that each rider’s trophy had a special personalized race plate attached. A nice touch to round off a special experience.

Long live the windpomp!

Place of Storms. Race to Cradock – Day 4.

Stuttgart to Cradock (71km, 1340m ascent).

We woke up at 4h00 for our final 5h00 start. Amanda was already up, busy with breakfast preparations. We ended up tearing ourselves from her shackles of hospitality by 5h30. She sent us on our way with some amazing sandwiches made of cold meat from the previous evening, cheese, gherkins and even more. We spared those for a special moment.

It was quite a relief to know we only had 70 odd kms remaining, kind of felt like we had a day off and we were on cruise mode. Fortunately the big storm the previous evening had absorbed into the ground and riding conditions were great. We cruised up the start of the Schurfteberg, the last big portage of the race and ran into Oom Gawie Combrink, the last farmer up the valley. Coen had taken shelter here a few years back and Oom Gawie still remembered, had that look on his face of “these guys really are crazy heading up into a misty Shurfteberg “. Navigation was relatively simple with a slog up the mountain to the neck. Once at the bottom we stopped to enjoy the gourmet sandwiches, a real treat.

Going up the Schurfteberg in misty conditions. A very remote place.

The Swaershoek Pass is the final sting in the tail and I said to Coen I’m riding it to the top, no mountain is going to get the better of me so near the end. My granny gear made the challenge unfair and before we knew it we were at the neck on top.

Last obstacle of the race, Swaershoek Pass in the background.

Cresting Swaershoek Pass.

 

From the top of the Swaershoek Pass one can see Cradock. It’s so close you can touch it, yet it’s still 20km away. We enjoyed the fast downhill and the sweeping bends along the valley as we rode into town at 11h30 with Glenn and Meryl waiting in the street. They had followed us on the tracker as we approached the finish at De Oude Pastorie.

What an honor to be first riders home and open up the finish, it made us feel like rock stars but in this race it’s not always about the time you take or the position you achieve, it really is much more personal. For some it’s about pushing personal boundaries, for others it’s about the journey and for others it’s a riding holiday. Whatever the reason, we all had an amazing time and a week later I am still battling to get my mind off the trail. For me this is the real measure of an incredible experience, when you just cannot wait to get back on the trail. I am honored and privileged to be able to share my story, it is very special to me and I hope it means something to you too.

A special word about Coen. Coen and I rode together from Chesneywold on day 1, we did not know one another from a bar of soap. We formed a special bond over 4 days through sharing our experiences on and off the bike. We rode a very similar style, sometimes I noticed we even changed gears at the same time, at times I knew Coen was going to stand out the saddle so I held back my own stand a few seconds just so we did’t do the exact same moves at the same time. Going up Kappokkraal the riding speed dropped below 5.0km/h, that’s when I get off the bike and push, Coen almost immediately said “now that’s a plan”, we were in sync. We never had a word, we never had an issue, we allowed one another space when required and we worked together when needed. Neither of us are the complaining or “feel sorry for myself” types and afterwards we reflected how we had both gone through dark patches without making the other person aware of without the other person knowing. My race turned out so much the better for having had Coen as company. Thanks Coen, we made a frigging awesome team!

Coen and Carl in Cradock. 3days 6hours.

 

Dropping into the Karoo. Race to Cradock – Day 3.

Romansfontein to Stuttgart (172km, 1965m ascent).

No problem with falling asleep at Romansfontein. I heard a dog bark for a while the previous evening and then I faded away fast until the 4h00 alarm. We had caught up with Batch A, led by Dave Bell, a top navigator, and planned to join them over Aasvoelberg Portage as their pace was very similar to ours and to benefit from having 5 RASA finishers in the group to assist with navigation. I rode with several of the Batch A riders at Race to Rhodes in 2014, a super group, strong riders and great attitude. If Dave says he leaves at 5h00, he leaves at 5h00 so everyone was ready by 4h58.

We took the short cut through the farm to get to the district road, no glitches, perfect exit. Coen and I dropped down to the farm Gunsteling to start the portage a few minutes ahead of Batch A, they soon caught us as we stood wondering to go through a gate or not. My detail notes were not as exact as I had hoped and a Google Earth print on flat paper, whilst very helpful, is just different to the 3D real world landscape, this was to become an issue soon. Aasvoelberg was covered in mist so the mountain itself and critical landmarks were not visible. I was not comfortable when the group, as one, headed off to the left to scale a small ridge onto a plateau, my notes were very clear we should head right. Having 5 RASA finishers who had been through this section and a fear of being left alone had me follow the group. It was a mistake. We had cut left too early and dropped to a fence line which, whilst looking familiar, was not the correct one. After looking around, riding ahead, back tracking and consulting maps techniques were executed the group quickly realized the mistake and we pushed up a steep switch back to rejoin the correct trail higher up. I am not oblivious to the logic of staying with what you believe is correct rather than follow a group but its very cold and lonely up in Aasvoelberg and the comfort of being with a group, even if not on the perfect route, had merit in a strange way. By reckoning we lost about 30 minutes with this detour, in the bigger scheme of things it was not significant and the group dynamic and spirit had remained intact.

Dropping down Aasvoelberg to Magdala farm is quite a ride, steep, fast, fun, the kind of descent where you smell your brakes. Coen and I took a welcome breather at the bottom, shedding wind shells, refueling and changing maps and narrative for ride into Hofmeyer. The drop down the back of Aasvoelberg to the basin of the Karoo is a defining moment of the Freedom Trail as a whole. I had heard David Waddilove and Glenn Harrison talk about this moment where one transitions from one geological and climatic region to the next. It was breathtaking to say the least, a fast downhill accompanied by panoramic views over the Karoo landscape. A very special moment.

Dropping off the Aasvoelberg into the Karoo.

 A tail wind blew us into Hofmeyer over smooth district roads at 10h00 with more than enough time to reach Karoosbos pie shop before the 13h00 closing time. Karoobos has become an oasis for many a Freedom rider, perhaps as it is the first proper town since having left Rhodes, 400 kms earlier. The pure meat pies (lamb, venison, chicken) are like manna from heaven. We spoiled ourselves like kids and grabbed seconds for padkos. Batch A arrived at pace just as we left, also having enjoyed the tail wind into Hofmeyer. It’s a pretty little town and one almost feels sad riding out, knowing the next town stop is Cradock, 200km further on.

Riding into Hofmeyer in time to catch the Karoobos pie shop open.

Leaving Hofmeyer 30 mins later the heat had appeared from nowhere. My Polar showing 36C as we headed towards the Elandberg Portage, we sipped water to stay hydrated but the heat was pretty overwhelming, not sure if it was humidity, but is was significant. With enough daylight, the portage was going to be fine navigation wise and we hit all the key landmarks without any problems. Whilst crossing from the fence to the wind pomp, Coen crossed a jeep track and promptly got on his bike and rode off left up towards the Elandsberg in stead of remaining straight towards the nek as per the notes and maps. I again followed loyally as Coen was adamant this was correct, in the end this worked rather well as we were able to ride about 500m onto a plateau and then followed a fast jeep track around to join the intended trail at the ruins. It wasn’t exactly as per the map but I don’t think it took much longer, if at all. The Elandsberg has claimed many a victim at night and it was to do so again this year when Mike Woolnough and Casper Venter struggled to find the trials in a dark and rainy night. Mike knows this section like no other and had recce’d the route less than 2 weeks prior. It just showed me again how the trail has to be respected and attempted with great care and planning by novices and even experienced riders. The contrast between day and night cannot be more significant when it comes to navigation.

 

Elandsberg portage and its renowned thorn bushes.

 

We arrived at Elandsberg farm at 13h15, about 2 hours ahead of our riding schedule and were again treated to a super meal, this time proper boerewors and proper mash potatoes. The boerboel Jasper deserves a mention, everyone knows him, to the dismay of many he drewls like a boerboel and chews loudly on bones like a boerboel, yet he is as friendly as a boerboel. I read Jasper books when I was a boy, he reminded me of that adventurous boerseun in the books. We left Elandsberg in the heat and strangely struggled all the way down to the Fish River, I still can’t understand that heat, maybe it was just the accumulation of exhaustion over days that made us battle. Eventually in the Spekboomberg section we succumbed to some shade and a green lawn, finished our remaining Hofmeyer chicken pies, did social media updates and hid from the heat. The ride into Stuttgart farm was uneventful other than some very dark clouds and a very electric storm performing its spectacle for us. It got rather intimidating and the rain started just as we parked our bikes at 18h00. Amanda’s hospitality took over and kept us in its grips until we left the next morning.

I must note that I felt really good on this third day and considered pushing through the night to Cradock over the Schurfteberg. The thought of going sub-3 days was very attractive but perhaps for the wrong reasons. The bad storm and Coen’s sound advice put paid to this idea. It would have been a mistake and I would have missed out on a special support station stay. I would have lost more than what I would have gained.

I cannot say enough about the amazing support station farmers who open up their homes to our dirty bodies and bikes, they put their best forward and treat us like royalty. This has been a common theme from Pietermaritzburg through to Cradock, all 1200km of the trail, these people are amazing. Highlight was having dinner with Francois, Amanda and their twin daughters who were visiting from varsity, what a lovely family and what a privilege to have been able to share 12 hours with them.

Another perfect day.

Traversing the Stormberg. Race to Cradock – Day 2.

Moordenaarspoort to Romansfontein (175km, 2488m ascent).

The first thing one does when you wake up at 4h00 after a hard previous day is check the vitals, ie legs and bum. Both mine were still there and whilst the legs were a bit stiff, they appeared functional. Our hosts had prepared breakfast for us the previous evening so we could prepare for the day in the comfort of the guest house in the front of their  garden. We were off into the dark night at 5h00 sharp.

I really enjoy night riding, both in the mornings and in the evenings. There’s a peacefulness about that during the day get’s disturbed by light and sound, in the dark our world shrinks to the immediate space around us, in daytime the world opens up and our sights, sounds and surrounds fill our world with information and distraction. My favorite time of the dark mornings is when the approaching light starts to form distinguishable silhouettes on the horizon, like its announcing its arrival with subtlety before the trumpets of the sun overwhelm us with light. So it was on this morning and just as the sun started coloring the skies, Coen’s rear wheel showed signs of a slow leak. Being experienced as he is, we stopped to top up the tyre as a precaution, this turned out to be our only “mechanical” of the race. We were off 10 minutes later under a beautiful sky.

Early morning skies out of Moordenaarspoort.

The legs were still searching for rhythm when we rode into Kranzkop at 7h30, a surprisingly short and fast section from Moordenaars (38km). Looking over our right shoulder it was obvious where the farm got its name from with a spectacular krans (cliff) soaring out in the form of a bird head (kop), ie Kranzop. Another farm that had its name from its surrounds, so simple yet sophisticated at the same time. It was becoming a pattern that I really wanted to move through the support stations efficiently, yet only managed to get out again in 30-40 minutes. Clearly I had neglected my transition preparation, it’s just that it feels so nice and welcome inside the support stations.

After Kranzkop waited two farm sections I had marked as “tricky” on my maps and notes, we got through these without any problems but I think at night it will be a different story, it really helps in daytime to able to see the surrounds and big picture of the environment. The ride into Brosterlea turned out to be a difficult one, mentally more so than physically. For the first time since the start in Rhodes, we reached a section of 33km of district road section with no navigational challenges, it dawned on me that for the first time in more than 200km my brain had the opportunity to wander and start feeling sorry for itself, allowing lurking aches and irritations to become more prominent. Lesson. If you want to feel good, keep your mind occupied. It was on this approach into Brosterlea at Gouevlei that Coen showed me what efficiency looks like in practice, eating his mid-morning snack while resting in his back. Note the beautiful view … behind him :-).

Efficient lunch while lying down during a break near Brosterlea.

Just after leaving Gouevlei a Toyota Land Cruiser came past us, I can count on my one hand the total number of vehicles we saw during our race. The vehicle stopped a few hundred meters ahead of us and the occupants walked into the road, kind of like the traffic police do in the city, they were intent on engaging us. The friendly couple Dave and Kay knew about the Freedom Challenge in June and our number plates gave away the association. Kay had done a road race recently for which she had trained on the roads around Brosterlea and they expressed heir concern about the -18C temperatures and snow conditions which RASA riders have to contend with in June, little knowing that those are the exact elements that attract Freedom Challengers, else we’d be riding the Cape Epic :-).

Coen with Dave and Kay near Brosterlea.

Brosterlea eventually appeared at 12h10 and we were surprised to meet up with Jonathan who had fallen ill the next day. He seemed a little worse for the wear but he is a really strong guy and I was pretty sure he’d recover and rejoin the race again, which he did. As per the usual I was seduced by a lamb curry and our planned 15 mins became 40 minutes. Where does the time go during these support station stops? On existing Brosterlea we rode past a big puffadder in the middle of the road, fortunately moving at a pace even slower than us. Our only encounter with a live snake. The Brosterlea dog accompanied us for a while and provided some entertainment in the form of amazing fence jumping and veld running until about 5km out we became concerned that it may not find its way back, or to be more accurate, Coen the Vet became concerned and exhibited some of his animal caring touches like shouting “huis toe” and throwing stones at the dog. A quick call to the race office seemed to intimidate the dog and it remain in place, it could have been the fact that its tongue was dragging on the ground. You may notice I am telling this story to mask the fact that our riding ability was insufficient to drop the dog.

Shortly after Brosterlea the weather started looking really nasty, dark clouds, thunder and lightning and going past Emdale farm we had to seek shelter from the lightning. We found the perfect spot and Coen again showed his superior resting skills by using the straw for a powernap, I timed him from eyes shut to knee drop in less than 30 seconds flat.

Hiding from a thunderstorm in a cattle shed near Stormberg Portage.

The Stormberg Portage en route to Vegkoppies turned out to be more tricky that I had expected, I really struggled to bring the map and the environment together but fortunately Coen’s route knowledge guided us through optimally and before long we reached the stiles on top and dropped down to the old fort below. The weather had now settled into a soft drizzle but fortunately surface conditions were still hard and not muddy. It was a bit eerie riding past the site of the Battle of Vegkoppies and one cannot help but wonder about the sense and justification of war and conflict, especially seeing the monument against the foot of the koppie where British soldiers lost their lives.

Old fort at Vegkoppies.

Up ahead I knew was a tricky section around some irrigation farms at Seekoegat that required daylight, they were supposed to have been marked up with white rocks and bokkies to assist navigation and prevent riders getting lost. The landscape had also changed during the day, the big mountains of the first day had been replaced by significant and prominent koppies, very beautiful and very handy for navigation. We were still making good time as we raced down to Seekoegat past another Rooiberg and had enough light to get through this section, I think on my own I may have taken a detour or two. We reached the district road as light faded but with only a few kilometers remaining to Romansfontein. Our quick break was made even quicker when a swarm of mosquitoes engulfed us, I suspect it must have been the Brosterlea lamb curry taste in my sweat that attracted them.

A short while later we rode into Romansfontein at 19h00 after having left Moordenaarspoort 14 hours earlier. Stephanie has the support station routine perfected and we were spoiled with food, drink and a wash of clothes. We had caught up with Batch A and planned to ride with them through the tricky Aasvoelberg Portage the next morning.

Another big day, another perfect day, very grateful.

 

Three Big Portages. Race to Cradock – Day 1.

Rhodes to Moordenaarspoort (170km, 3526m ascent).

After a restless night during which I had replayed the first turnoff on the route over and over in my mind, the 4h00 alarm eventually announced that Race to Cradock had arrived. Those gifted with the talent to analyze dreams will have little problem spotting the symptoms of nerves about navigation. Breakfast @ Rubicon was good but the task ahead of us showed on everyone’s faces. As per usual, the very informal, almost coincidental starters orders sounded and we were off. Perhaps not unsurprisingly the group experienced a “delayed first turn” at the very first left turn, the world simply looks different in the dark.

My plan was to try and ride +- 170km each day, testing myself yet allowing opportunity to experience support station hospitality, something I had found very special during Race to Rhodes in 2014. I had anticipated that this strategy may well result in riding all 600km by myself so I just rode at a comfortable pace that I knew I could sustain throughout the day. As we climbed out of Rhodes I could see two lights not far behind me, turned out to be Coen and Craig, I just stuck to my plan. On the descent down the Bokspruit road a rider came flying past me at the speed of the wind, it was Coen and as it turned out this was going to become a pattern over the next few days.

Shadow riding as the sun rises over the Bokspruit.

Coen and I didn’t speak much on the never ending undulating climbs up to Bottlenek other than exchanging pleasantries. He had some really cool beats pumping from his handlebar mounted MP3 player, which he claimed was programmed by his children. I went ahead dropping into Chesneywold and looking forward to the support station hospitality, didn’t see much of Minki as she was busy loading cattle. Coen and I departed at the same time and he asked me what my plans were, his plan was to just ride and enjoy the trail for what it offered. Stating my Moordenaarspoort objective, Coen was on board and my wife’s biggest concern, me riding alone, was out the way. As it turned out we formed a great combination with Coen’s route knowledge from 3x RASA proving invaluable.

The farm names on route to Slaapkrantz give some insight into weather conditions in this region, ie Winterhoek, Kappokkraal, etc. It wasn’t long before we arrived at the Kappokkraal portage, I had planned the portages in extreme detail and made supplementary aerial maps and notes using Google Earth and advice from Glenn and others. The benefit was that I knew what to expect and that the portage looked familiar up to a certain level of detail. It is a very time consuming exercise but proved very worthwhile. We nailed Kappokkraal without any issues, not the most difficult portage but it helps the confidence. A bicycle painted on a shed showing a very special touch by the farmer, helps confirm the correct route and also serves to make riders feel welcome.

Kappokkraal Portage. The bicycle on the shed making us feel welcome and confirming the right route.

 

We rolled into Slaapkrantz at 12h50, having made good time, still feeling strong and with enough day time left to clear both Slaapkrantz and Loutebron Portages as well as the tricky descent to the Bonthoek farm. The Slaapkrantz portage whilst not to bad, has a very nasty steep section to get into the plateau and reach the contour path. I really battled up here through the narrow path with hard branched bushes lining the steep alley, it felt like wrestling a gorilla and being knocked down every 25m. As I have learnt many times before, the mountain has a summit where it ends and if you keep going long enough, you will reach that summit, it doesn’t move, but I do. We had some difficulty finding the path running down from the top of Slaapkrantz but after consulting the map and compass, we were on our way enjoying the thrilling downhill over bump after bump.

Top of Slaapkrantz Portage. Wrestling the gorilla until it eventually gives up.

Loutebron Portage has a tricky middle section past Witvlei but all the navigation preparation helped to traverse this section perfectly. It is rather energy sapping to get through some very steep push a bike sections but nothing a good rest under the single tree along the way couldn’t fix. I had anticipated that I may have to do Loutebron at night so had planned milestones every 300m to assist navigation, it would still have proven a challenge. We reached the top of Loutebron at 18h00 in full sunshine with more than enough light to do the very tricky and dangerous descent to Bonthoek farm. It was a very special moment for me, I was ahead of my best case schedule, I had reached the top of Loutebron in sunshine, I was still feeling good, I had found a riding buddy and I knew I was going to reach Moordenaarspoort that night.

We took a good break at the farmstead, filling up with water and having a late afternoon snack before we headed into the fading light. Riding into Rossouw is not flat and riding out of Rossouw is not flat, this innocent section between Bonthoek farm and Moordenaarspoort provided a sting in the tail to a testing day. We reached Moordenaarspoort at 21h00 to be welcomed by a sumptuous meal, an ice cold Coke and a hot shower.

A 16 hour day with some breathtaking views, some thrilling riding, stunning landscapes and beautiful people. I had achieved a few personal milestones along the way, was still feeling good and felt like a champion. It was a perfect day.

 

Route Summary

The table below is for supporters wishing to follow progress.

  • There are 6 legs, par for the course is one day per leg.
  • Intermediate stops provide water and food and shelter if so required.
  • Key Milestones show the significant portages with tricky navigation and hike a bike challenges.
  • Use this table to understand where riders are tracking when you read updates and news from www.freedomchallege.org.za.

Route Table