Monday, June 04, 2007

Refresher course: Freedom Trail Race 101

As a refresher for those not sure how the race works here goes:

The race starts in Pietermaritzburg on 18 June 2007 and we have 24 days to complete the route, ending in Paarl near Cape Town, a distance of about 2200km. There are no marshals or route markings - navigation is done using 1:50 000 topographical maps, or 1:150 000 Map Studio maps. Most of the route is done on dirt roads, jeep track, hiking trail and what we like to call "Scratchy bits" (check the footnote)

Every 100km or so there is a Support Station, which is usually some sort of B&B, guest house or game farm. We can send a 2 liter container to each of the support stations with supplies for the next leg of the adventure. Each leg can take from about 5hrs for an easy leg to 20hrs+ for a difficult leg.

Participants can decide for themselves how far to ride each day, whether to sleep, or ride through the night. Sleeping out is common, as sometimes the support station cannot be reached - usually bad navigation, or bad weather results in this.

This year there are about 15 participants (including a lady who will probably kick our butts), but this number will change as we get closer to D-Day. It's a huge under-taking, and you only put your wheel on the startline if you are 100% confident in what you are doing. There are no teams or support vehicles - each participant is his/her own master and slave.

Scratchy bits:
This refers to any part of the trail that may once have been used by humans. David ( the race organiser) once walked within 50km of this point, which therefore makes it well used and perfectly suitable for mountain bike riding. The reward is usually a mgnificent view, fantastic downhill, or a good story once you find where you really are and get back to civilisation.


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