Freedom Challenge riders race cold front

2010-06-16 00:00

DAY four of the 2010 Freedom Challenge mountain biking race, which started on June 12 in front of the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, has seen 35 cyclists vying for first position amid excruciatingly cold weather on their way to the Western Cape.

Freedom Challenge organisers said the race is a life-changing experience for the racers rather than a mere competition in which “pitting themselves against the testing terrain and harsh weather” is integral to the challenge.

The Freedom Challenge race office said in a statement, “With snow on the Drakensberg ahead and a fierce wind pushing a large cold front towards them, the riders already on the trail hope to make it through the approaching mountainous areas before winter slows them down.”

The race organisers said the 2010 Freedom Challenge has already seen a fair share of broken bikes. They said Capetonian Ray Farrenkothen’s back wheel broke a few kilometres from Allendale. “He was fortunate to be assisted by the local Ixopo magistrate, himself a former Freedom Challenger, who gave him a wheel.”

“Johannesburg school principal David Bell snapped his seat post within the first 60 km of his ride. It was replaced by a local farmer.

“In the course of the second day of racing, Francois Reynecke was forced to rest up at Centocow with a broken derailleur, while early race leader Trevor Ball’s freewheel hub broke going from Centocow through to the Ntsikeni Nature Reserve.

“Trevor and his racing partner, Ugene Nel, continued on very slowly out of the Ntsikeni Nature Reserve and arrived at Banchory Farm after midnight. Trevor is continuing to limp on to Masakala, despite his very broken bicycle,” they said.

Freedom Challenge organiser Kelsey Wiens said the organisation is not bound to any obligation in terms of repairing broken bikes ahead of the 2 300 km race. Wiens said that to have their bikes fixed, racers “rely on the charities of community people”.

She said every racer is equipped with a tracker that enables race officials to trace participants, as well as a cellphone, which the competitors use to update officials of race developments via SMS.

Race official David Waddilove said that although racers do not receive direct support from the race office, “all riders are meant to have emergency gear”.

Waddilove said that of the 42 registered racers, seven have since pulled out.

The race ends in the Diemersfontein Wine Estate outside Cape Town.

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