Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Freedom's just another word...

Yes it is. Another word for hitting the mountain biking trails in the middle of nowhere.  The crew from last year's Freedom Challenge (or Race Across South Africa) are heading out to re-explore some of the routes we traversed last year.

The upside? Better weather, more sociable and a back up vehicle. The downside - much less miles in the legs and butt.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this terrain as we missed out some of the most beautiful and spectacular riding due to bad weather and horrible choices.

And, whats more, we'll get to see some of the kind hosts who look after the riders on their epic ride.

Romansfontein (just outside Molteno) was hospitable beyond words. Stephanie and her daughters treated us like royalty. All our clothes were washed and dried while we sat around in borrowed kit eating and eating. She dug out cough mixture for me which was a life saver over the next week allowing me to sleep better. In fact, Romansfontein was the first time since I started the race, that I had a full nights sleep.

Molteno is also the home of Dr Rudi de Wet. He was the race doctor and was studying endurance cycling. What a perfect group to study. He saw it all. I had big knee issues in the first week and he coaxed me through.

From Molteno, we head to Hofmeyer. Last year we left in blizzard conditions and and ploughed our way through mud and high winds and sleet. Arriving in Hofmeyer, the group was re-united in the pie shop. I had two hot chocolates and two pies.

I remember one member of our group, Mark, heading to the local co-op to buy himself the thick plastic waterproofs worn by the farmworkers and gloves of similar rgidity. He was that desperate.

It will be a coffee visit with Margaret of Elandsberg stopover fame. She was expecting four of us at 16:30 last year. Well, seven arrived at 20.30. Unfazed, she brought out piles of food and sorted us all with beds. I miss being able to eat all I can see.

We left for the farm, Stuttgart after that and I was assailed with much nostalgia as we crossed over the Fish River. In my previous non-riding life, I had done 10 canoe races down this river earning a coveted Coelecanth award.

But this year, we may bypass the river and head straight towards Cradock - the scene of many wild parties in my canoeing days.  Somehow, mountainbiking has never reached those levels of debauchery. Maybe some bottles of wine might help.

You can read the details of this awesome race on  It was the greatest 3 weeks ever and I am so excited about going back.

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