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7 July 2019

By: Mike Roy

The daily reports from here on in are going to get shorter and shorter. This makes sense given that wave after wave of riders are completing their journey to receive their blankets. By late tonight twenty two riders will be in at Diemersfontein, and only twenty will still be out on the course. Numbers of riders expected to finish over the next few days (with their estimated finishing time in brackets) are as follows:

·      Monday 8 July (all at Trouthaven)

o  Willem Kamstra (20 days +)

o  James Cruikshank (19 days +)

o  Bryn Roberts (19 days +)

o  Bryn Roberts (19 days +)

o  Radislav Zamandi (19 days +)

·      Tuesday 9 July (all at McGregor except otherwise indicated)

o  Johann Lombard (21 days +)

o  Sandy Maytham-Bailey (21 days +)

o  Hanko de Beer (21 days +)

o  Renier vd Merwe (18 days +)

o  Andrew Ryan (18 days +) 

o  Gary Scoular (18 days +)

o  Grant Cowan (18 days +)

o  Grant Hill (17 days +)

o  Anthony Avidon (16 days +)

o  Leon Kruger (17 days +) (Montagu)

o  Alex Kingwill (20 days +) (Montagu) (blimey Alex you have motored the last week..!)

·      Thursday 11 July (still in Die Hel) – assume four days

o  Kobus Nel (21 days +)

o  Alan Rainnie (21 days +)

o  Francois Roux (21 days +)

o  Mark Smuts (21 days +)

I guess there is a chance that some of the McGregor crowd could gap it all the way to Diemersfontein – in fact I think there are quite a few candidates there that are probably thinking of exactly that. I’m looking at Grant Hill in particular. Hang on, I’ve just had word from my informer in McGregor – can’t say who it is but she tells that there is not the slightest intention from anyone to go any further than Trouthaven tomorrow. I can only imagine that the eleven riders that have arrived or are about to arrive in McGregor will have a very pleasant evening at Pony Cottage. I do recall hearing that the weather is not great and the ride around Brandvlei consequentially difficult, so perhaps not a bad strategy. It 108km after all.

By Thursday late evening the last rider should arrive and everyone will be in time for the Finishers Dinner on Saturday 13 July. Don’t miss this dinner, it’s a gathering of the Freedom Challenge Community, past and present. The winner makes a speech, some deserving soul gets the Stone Saddle Award (bravest rider, something along those lines, kinda like a Victoria Cross). I think I know who is going to get the Stone Saddle this year. Only question is, will he be able to navigate his way to the finisher’s dinner..? Actually there may well be a couple of other contenders. There was an epic ride from the back of the field that is worth mentioning.

Mainly it is a gathering of like-minded souls who hold this race very close at heart. Everyone beams lovingly at each other. There will a smattering of the old red FC race fleece tops, worn with pride by the pioneers of the race. I think the last red fleece top was nearly ten years ago. Perhaps Chris has a picture of someone in a red fleece top to go with this report. I may be treading on dangerous water here but I don’t think any of the subsequent tops are a patch on that familiar old red FC top. Perchance a return some day?

Today was an epic day in Stettynskloof. Seventeen riders went through, quite a number have already finished at Diemersfonetin and the rest are still making their way up du Toit’s pass. I’m not sure about Fanus Venter and Brad vd Westhuizen, their trackers show them not yet over the exit saddle from Stettyns. I’ll see if I can get an update from elsewhere.

What is clear is the outstanding performances by this year’s field. The whole field, not just the podium finishers. Some reflection:

1.    Likely that forty twoof the original field of forty seven will be in in less than twenty twodays. 

2.    Only five withdrawals– I don’t have the stats but this seems a lot less than prior years

3.    Nine of the field in within fifteendays – a record

4.    Six of the field in within thirteendays – also a record

5.    PB s for many of the front runners, including 

a.    Tweet

b.    Tattersall

c.    Horton

There has been some debate on WhatsApp today about how “tough” this year’s FC has been relative to prior years. Opinions are varied, but my reading of the debate was that it was no easier from any other year. What the race avoided in snow it gained in wind.

One rider that surely deserves a specific mention is Arno Crous. After hurting his back he fell way behind his Batch Eight buddies back in KZN and has put in a huge effort to finally catch them on the very last day to also record a sub thirteen day FC. Hugely commendable. Perhaps a future race winner?

Amongst the other finishers today were Brad’s Lads who completed their journey together in twenty days and change. The finest Batch One in the history of FC. I have it on good authority from the race organizer Chris that they have been promoted en masse to Batch Two next year. Well done. This is like a front row forward being moved to the flank, a big promotion. Incidentally there are rumours that exactly this move is being spoken about for Malcolm Marx for the Springboks. Makes you think doesn’t it.

There is something bothering me about the stats I have put out above. I’ve spoken about the field getting there quicker. They have, all of them. But I do wonder if in the haste to get to Diemersfontein some of the original ethos of the Freedom Challenge, may have been partially forgotten? Whilst the outstanding performances of Martin Dreyer and many others deserve all our praise, is there not room in the Freedom Challenge for those riders who are perhaps intrigued by a sub twenty day FC but are equally drawn to fully experiencing the unique opportunity of what lies around them as they ride? 

I think back to the foreword written in October 2012 by the founder of the Freedom Challenge, David Waddilove to Kevin Davie’s excellent book Freedom Rider. I quote from this as follows:

“We can engage with this country superficially or we can endeavor to understand some of its complex, at times painful, but often rich and rewarding history. In his journeys through the country, Kevin engages with the landscape of Elandslaagte and the various Anglo-Boer (or South African) War battle sites: he grapples with the genocide of the Bushmen; he quietly delights in unveiling the existence of the //Xegwi; his cry “I am the ganna” resonates through the account of his travels. In engaging with the country in the manner that he does, he gives truth to his statement to old man Dippenaar at the foot of the Normandien pass, ‘I am a South African’”

I wonder how many riders this year truly engaged with the complex fabric of the land and peoples of the country through which they rode. There is room in the Freedom Challenge for a slightly less hurried or perhaps a more curious passage – I’m not talking about a genteel tour here, the physical and mental challenge will always be part of it, the twenty six day limit is still a tough limit.  I guess I am just a little sad that there is nobody who has taken longer than twenty two days. Here is the test: how many riders went to visit the family graveyard at Moordernaarspoort, to see for themselves what seven or eight generations of a farming family looks like? To hear firsthand the fears of the current farmer as to whether his son will ever be the eighth generation to own that farm? This is but one example, the invitation to a conversation is present throughout the trail. 

Having said what I have said the choice is always a personal one and there is no “wrong” in setting oneself an extreme physical and mental challenge, like breaking ten days or a personal PB. Much of the excitement around this race pivots on these extraordinary achievements.  

All stations before Die Hel are now closed. 

On that note I close today’s report with our congratulations to the riders that have earned their blankets today. Very well done. 

 

#

Rider

Batch # (Days on the trail)

Current location

#Days +/(-) 26 day schedule

 

1

Fanus Vorster

1 (21)

Finishing today 20 days +

 

2

Nigel Basel

1 (21)

Finished today 20 days +

 

3

Bradford vd Westhizen

1 (21)

Finishing today 20 days +

 

4

Richard Erasmus

1 (21)

Finished today 20 days +

 

5

Derrick Muller

1 (21)

Finished today 20 days +

 

6

Johan Radcliffe

2 (20)

Finishing today 19 days +

 

7

Johann Lombard

2 (20)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

4.5

8

Sandy Maytham-Bailey

2 (20)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

4.5

9

Willem Kamstra

2 (20)

Trouthaven (SS#25)

5

10

Richard George du Toit

2

Finished 18 days +

 

11

Hanko de Beer

2 (20)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

4.5

12

Philip Erasmus

2 (20)

Finishing today 19 days +

 

13

James Cruikshank

3 (19)

Trouthaven (SS#25)

6

14

Bryn Roberts

3 (19)

Trouthaven (SS#25)

6

15

Bryn Roberts

3 (19)

Trouthaven (SS#25)

6

16

Radislav Zamandi

3 (19)

Trouthaven (SS#25)

6

17

Alex Kingwill

3 (19)

Montagu (SS#24)

5

18

Nigel Payne

Finished 15 days +

 

19

Adrian Payne

Finished 15 days +

 

20

Charles Hughes

4 (18)

Finished today 17 days +

 

21

Francis Bradford

4 (18)

Finished today 17 days +

 

22

Kobus Nel

4 (18)

Die Hel (SS#20)

2

23

Alan Rainnie

4 (18)

Die Hel (SS#20)

2

24

Francois Roux

4 (18)

Die Hel (SS#20)

2

25

Mark Smuts

4 (18)

Die Hel (SS#20)

2

26

Renier vd Merwe

5 (17)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

7.5

27

Gavin Robinson

Withdrawn

 

28

Andrew Ryan

5 (17)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

7.5

29

Gary Scoular

5 (17)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

7.5

30

Grant Cowan

5 (17)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

7.5

31

Mark Basel

5 (17)

Finished today 16 days +

 

32

Derrick Bingham

6

Withdrawn

 

33

Leon Kruger

6 (16)

Montagu (SS#24)

8

34

Grant Hill

6 (16)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

8.5

35

Anthony Avidon

7 (15)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

7.5

36

Kyle Dohne

7 (15)

Finished today 14 days +

 

37

Gawie du Plessis

7 (15)

Finishing today 14 days +

 

38

Scott James

7

Withdrawn

 

39

Liehann Loots

8

Withdrawn

 

40

Arno Crous

8 (13)

Finished today 12 days +

 

41

Fjord Jordaan

8 (13)

Finished today 12 days +

 

42

Graham Bird

8 (13)

Finished today 12 days +

 

43

Leon Erasmus

8 (13)

Finishing today 12 days +

 

44

Alex Harris

Withdrawn

 

45

Martin Dreyer

8 (13)

Winner 10 days 14 hours

 

46

Gavin Horton

8 (13)

Finished today 12 days + ?

 

47

Jacques Tattersall

8 (13)

Finished 11 days +

 

6 July 2019

Words: Ingrid Avidon

Where is Wally?

My eight year old son loves the ‘Where is Wally?” books. For those of you out there who are not familiar with these books, count your lucky stars. Looking for a stupid little lad, clad in a red striped scarf and hat, in a sea of other objects, with similar colours, is not fun.  But, last night, what was fun, in a sick kind of way, was watching Dr Richard George du Toit feature in the new adult version of the Wally book: Where is Dick? Oops, I digress. In my excitement to share the release of this new book I have almost forgotten that I am supposed to be reporting on the day’s activities on the Freedom Challenge Trail. So, I will have to report on the  whereabouts of Dick (er Richard) later. 

Back to the trail.  

Graham Bird (Tweet) arrived at Trouthaven at about 14:00 this afternoon, but did not venture off into the tricky Stettynskloof fynbos and thick reeds. I don’t blame him. It was, and probably still is, drizzling. Understandably the warm cottage fire was definitely far more inviting to Graham Bird than a night of thrashing through the thick fynbos, lost in the dark. I am sure that Graham knows that at least 15 hungry, thirsty and smelly riders will be sleeping at Trothaven tonight. Already at Trouthaven, and probably creating a huge noise are Derrick Muller, Johann Radcliffe, Philip Erasmus, Charles Hughes, Francis Bradford, Fanus Vorster, Nigel Basel, Richard Erasmus and Brad van der Westhuizen.  Arriving later will be Mark Basel, Kyle Dohne and Gawie du Plessis. Much, much later Gavin Horton, Fjord Jordaan and Leon Erasmus will arrive. Wow, that’s a lot of riders enjoying the cozy fireplace and romantic ambiance of Trouthaven. The mood will be made more romantic if Brad insists on playing his mixed tape of Barbara Streisand hits. Brad is already in trouble with the Race Office for his route deviation into McGregor today. I am sure that his choice of music will land him in even more trouble with his cycling mates. If Brad starts playing his Kenny G music I am sure that Graham Bird will slip away from Trouthaven at about midnight (or earlier depending on the singing) for his trek through Stettynskloof.  If this does happen, then the dot watchers might still be treated to the X rated Afrikaans version of the book, ‘Waar is die VOËL nou?’  

About 50 km down the trail, the very stylish Pony cottage, in McGregor, is hosting Willem Kamstra and Arno Crous tonight. At the tender age of 55 years old, Willem will feel like a teenager in a hamlet that has an average age of about 78 years old. I am certain Arno will not linger for too long in McGregor and will probably leave at about 11pm en route to Trouthaven. 

Further along the trail and staying in Montagu tonight are Graeme Green, James Cruickshank, Bryn Roberts and the Czek mate, Radislav Zemandi. Compared to McGregor, Montagu is a thriving metropolis with traffic lights. Maybe the guys will treat Radislav to a Saturday night of Karaoke, if their energy levels allow for such excitement. 

Once again, Rouxpos farm will very busy tonight. With only about seven beds on offer, it will be first come, first serve for the 11 riders heading towards Rouxpos today. Arriving first, and scoffing the first waffles, were Sandra M Bailey and Johann Lombard. In their wisdom, and in need of a night’s sleep without snoring, they have moved on to the next support station, Anysberg. Next to arrive at Rouxpos at about 5 pm was Anthony Avidon. Anthony spent last night in Die Hel converting his already modified bicycle from a dual suspension into a hard tail. I know this bicycle well. Anthony (my husband) absolutely loves his bicycle. He has had this bike for about 15 years and has already converted it from a 26 to a 29er, thanks to epoxy and duct tape. At least I know that when I get older I will not be tossed away, but I will be converted into a newer, better version of myself.  Whether I still manage to move my limbs with all the epoxy and duct tape glued and stuck to my body remains to be seen.  Guaranteed of a bed at Rouxpos tonight will be Anthony, Renier van der Merwe, Grant Hill, Grant Cowen, Gary Scoular and Leon Kruger. When Alex Kingwill arrives later tonight he might have to share the double bed with some-one. I hope there will still be some waffles left to eat. As I sign off at almost 9 pm Harko de Beer is still making his way up Die Leer. I hope all goes well for him as this is a tough part of the trail.  .    

Further along the trail, Kobus Nell, Francois Roux and Alan Rainnie are enjoying the luxury of Dennehof Guest House in Prince Albert. They arrived pretty early in the afternoon and have been having a jolly time eating gourmet food and drinking cold beers. Tonight, electric blankets will keep their crisp cotton sheets toasty as they dream of their trek tomorrow up the Swartberg Pass and into De Hel.  

Now, at last, back to Richard. Well, earlier this morning, Richard was rescued by Jacques Tattersall on his way through Stettyskloof. Together they moved very quickly through the fynbos and reeds of Stettynskloof and ended their journey at Diemersfontein at 6pm. Jacques Tattersall’s time of 11 days 12 hours has earned him second place in the Freedom Challenge. Congrats Jacques on a fantastic ride! You continue to inspire us all with your sheer determination and dedication. Richard George du Toit, you have entertained us from start to finish.  Congratulations on your Freedom Challenge blanket and welcome to the clan. Hopefully your wife will enjoy her new jewelry.   

It is raining in Cape Town tonight. That means that it will most probably be raining along the route tomorrow. Good luck to all those brave riders who will have to soldier on in the cold, wet and mud over the next few days. Suddenly my FOMO is all gone. 

 


 

5 July 2019

By: Mike Roy

I write this report in the early hours (3.30am) of Saturday 6 July 2019. A cup of tea, a more than is socially acceptable number of buttermilk rusks and a grey cat that goes by the name of Rosy accompany me. 

The Tracker is open in front of me and a number of riders are already on the move. Jacques Tattersall is past the dam wall and almost at the turn-off for the last stretch to Trouthaven. He will no doubt grab a breakfast and move straight on through Stettynskloof to Diemersfontein, to a well-deserved second place and a sub 12 day time. Eleven days fifteen hours and five minutes is his personal best time from 2017, the seventh best time in the history of FC. He has just over seventeen hours to break that time, should be doable, barring Stettynskloof mishaps. 

Graham Bird is through McGregor and also on his way to Trouthaven. He should also finish today, in third place and on the podium, but is likely to be doing a fair amount of Stettyns in the dark, never easy. This will also give him a sub twelve day finish which will comfortably beat his current best time of twelve days and thirteen hours which he nailed in 2014.

The story of the day yesterday however was the remarkable comeback of Martin Dreyer who made an incredible recovery from his mishaps on the run-in to Rouxpos to arrive yesterday evening at around eight pm to win the 2019 FC in the second fastest time in the history of FC, 10 days and 14 hours or so. He now holds the three fastest times in FC and is a four time winner. It is worthwhile pausing for a moment to reflect on Martin’s sporting CV:

·      Seven time winner of the Dusi

·      Four time winner of the Freedom Challenge

·      Seven time winner of the Non-Stop Dusi and multiple other canoeing events

·      Winner of the Land Rover G4 challenge in 2006 (I’d forgotten about this one, remember watching it on TV)

I am sure that there will be more to come, Martin doesn’t look like he is anywhere near finished with his journey yet. 

My wife and I watched Martin coming in to Diemersfontein last night, courtesy of a live feed through Facebook. I didn’t know that was possible but whoever organized that (FC office) very well done. Whilst we were watching, messages were flooding through on social media. We saw how much damage his fall yesterday had done to his face. We heard Martin say a few words and watched entranced as well-wishers, friends and family welcomed and congratulated him. It was a very special moment. All I can say is that he is clearly a very well-liked and respected man, an extraordinary athlete and a wonderful human being who has made a massive impact on many people. Long may this continue. Congratulations from the entire Freedom Challenge community.

If I have read the winners table correctly I think I am right in saying that this fourth win by Martin beats the record of Tim James, a three time winner of the FC (2008, 2009 and 2015). I’d better check that, I think I am right.

Elsewhere the race is rapidly dying down. I suspect the number of readers of this daily report (all ten of you) will start falling off as the rest of the field arrives in dribs and drabs over the next six days or so. Will it be that much? The last batch is in Rondavel. Max would be six days but probably more likely that they will all be home in five days. So five more daily reports, god knows what us Freedom Writers will have to say in the last couple of days. We will probably start meandering, talking absolute rubbish about any number of things, some of which may have nothing to do with the FC. Freedom Writers should never do that.

I may even be tempted to relay a story about pig farming that Tim James entertained us with on the main FC WhatsApp group a few days back. That would take up two or three hundred words or so. The average daily report is around two thousand words, so that would help enormously. Alternatively I could share an interesting discussion Ingrid, one of my co Freedom Writers, and I shared about the farmer dynasty of Moordenaarspoort, but I won’t venture down any of the avenues above. One thing I can say is that it has been a real pleasure producing these daily reports, I’ve really enjoyed the banter with the FC Writers group and the help from many people in sharing stories that we could weave into our report. Whilst I would have loved to be on the trail myself, to have played a small part in FC 2019 has been really lekker for us FC Writers. Almost as lekker as being a Buffalo Herder.

I digress, apparently not for the first time according to my wife. “Why do you write so much crap??” she says to me, not infrequently. I have no idea what she is talking about. 

Back down the trail the story is as follows:

Last station open is Rondavel where four riders bring up the rear of the snake. Sounds a bit rude, but it is all good clean fun. It’s the Batch Four boys, Nel, Rainnie, Roux and Smuts. Sounds like a Boer War commando. Probably was back in a day, even at that exact spot. Certainly will be when they climb ‘Die Leer” out of the Gamkaskloof. Actually that wasn’t Smuts, it was Reitz (author of Commando), but they were on their way to link up with General Smuts so it is close enough. 

Brief acknowledgement to all support stations before Rondavel (SS#18.5). Your job is done for 2019, thank you. Only seven stations remain open.

In Prince Albert (SS#19) we have eight riders. Well at least I think we have eight riders. I can’t find Mark Basel on the Tracker but assume he is there somewhere. Everyone in PA is on track for a sub 20 day FC, which is great going. Not everyone in the whole of PA, just the riders. Diemershof is a renowned stop on FC, the reward after a difficult day from Willowmore.

Up the Swartberg Pass and down into the Gamkaskloof (if you have never been there just do it, it is unforgettable. Bike or car, doesn’t matter, just get there) we have four riders. Sandy, Johan and Hanko and Andrew Avidon. I’m a bit confused about Andrew, his marker is in the middle of nowhere and I seem to recall reading something about wheel problems. I hope he is ok. Sandy is the bookies’ favourite to win the woman’s category for FC and is holding out well.

Rouxpos has five riders, I am not going to name them because quite frankly I am tired of naming each bloody rider at each bloody support station as I am sure you are tired of having to read about each rider at each station. So let’s do a deal, you guys scan through the riders’ table attached to this report and read for yourself. This way there is more time for me to find the interesting stuff. We all come out feeling better about ourselves.

Talking about interesting stuff I haven’t mentioned the Payne brothers who have in fact finished the race in an outstanding time of fifteen days and change. So they did go through as predicted a few days back. Very impressive, well done.

Another eye-opener is Richard ‘RG” du Toit’s continued troubles. He is one helluva strong cyclist. In fact he is a world-class duathlete in his age category (thanks for this info to Mandy Stephens who rode with him in RTW (Race to Willowmore, a satellite FC event) – “one tough guy” she said). Richard is stuck somewhere in Stetteyns, he was on his way to Diemersfontein. He seems to have tried to retrace his steps to Trouthaven. Another horrible night for Richard after his well-documented adventures in the Osseberg. A night in Stettyns alone is an interesting experience, I know it well, an old friend.

The biggest shock as we open our eyes this morning is the breakup of Brad’s Lads. In their quest for a blanket Batch One have ridden so far under one blanket. Like clockwork mice they have marched down the trail together. What the hell happened last night we will probably never know but Brad their leader has set off on his own out of Montagu. Perhaps we will learn more during the day but the trail is full of dark secrets.

Another sterling stint has been put in by Arno Crous who is now only one stage behind his buddies from Batch Eight. Hopefully he can catch them before the end. I never did find out why he fell behind in the first place, he is clearly a proper rider.

Everything is still on track for nine riders (at least) to finish within fifteen days. As pointed out in a previous daily report this will be a record for an FC event.

There isn’t really much more to say about yesterday/last night. I’ve just seen a post by Mike Woolnough that Jacques Tattersall has just signed in at Trouthaven after spending the night at Reeds Country Lodge – “the one commercial stay allowed” – there is now a debate on about the non-support station stays. My understanding is that a rider can stay at as many commercial spots as he likes but can only stay at one ‘knock-on-the-door” spot. Anyway, let’s leave that discussion for another day.

Enjoy the weekend.

 

Congrats again to Martin Dreyer.

 

#

Rider

Batch # (Days on the trail)

Current location

#Days +/(-) 26 day schedule

 

1

Fanus Vorster

1 (19)

Montagu (SS#23)

4

2

Nigel Basel

1 (19)

Montagu (SS#23)

4

3

Bradford vd Westhizen

1 (19)

Montagu (SS#23)

4

4

Richard Erasmus

1 (19)

Montagu (SS#23)

4

5

Derrick Muller

1 (19)

Montagu (SS#23)

4

6

Johan Radcliffe

2 (18)

Montagu (SS#23)

5

7

Johann Lombard

2 (18)

Die Hel (SS#20)

2

8

Sandy Maytham-Bailey

2 (18)

Die Hel (SS#20)

2

9

Willem Kamstra

2 (18)

Anysberg (SS#22)

4

10

Richard George du Toit

2 (18)

Stuck somewhere in Stettynskloof, having fun

7/8

11

Hanko de Beer

2 (18)

Die Hel (SS#20)

2

12

Philip Erasmus

2 (18)

Montagu (SS#23)

5

13

James Cruikshank

3 (17)

Rouxpos (SS#21)

4

14

Bryn Roberts

3 (17)

Rouxpos (SS#21)

4

15

Graeme Green

3 (17)

Rouxpos (SS#21)

4

16

Radislav Zamandi

3 (17)

Rouxpos (SS#21)

4

17

Alex Kingwill

3 (17)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

2

18

Nigel Payne

4 (16)

Diemersfontein (SS#26) - finished

10 

19

Adrian Payne

4 (16)

Diemersfontein (SS#26) - finished

10 

20

Charles Hughes

4 (16)

Montagu (SS#23)

7

21

Francis Bradford

4 (16)

Montagu (SS#23)

7

22

Kobus Nel

4 (16)

Rondavel (SS#18.5)

2.5

23

Alan Rainnie

4 (16)

Rondavel (SS#18.5)

2.5

24

Francois Roux

4 (16)

Rondavel (SS#18.5)

2.5

25

Mark Smuts

4 (16)

Rondavel (SS#18.5)

2.5

26

Renier vd Merwe

5 (15)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

4

27

Gavin Robinson

Withdrawn

 

28

Andrew Ryan

5 (15)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

4

29

Gary Scoular

5 (15)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

4

30

Grant Cowan

5 (15)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

4

31

Mark Basel

5 (15)

?? can’t find him, probably with his mates in PA

 

32

Derrick Bingham

6

Withdrawn

 

33

Leon Kruger

6 (14)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

5

34

Grant Hill

6 (14)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

5

35

Anthony Avidon

7 (13)

Die Hel (ss#20)

7

36

Kyle Dohne

7 (13)

Anysberg (SS#22)

9

37

Gawie du Plessis

7 (13)

Anysberg (SS#22)

9

38

Scott James

7

Withdrawn

 

39

Liehann Loots

8

Withdrawn

 

40

Arno Crous

8 (11)

Rouxpos (SS#21)

10

41

Fjord Jordaan

8 (11)

Anysberg (SS#22)

11

42

Graham Bird

8 (11)

McGregor (SS#24)

13

43

Leon Erasmus

8 (11)

Anysberg (SS#22)

11

44

Alex Harris

 

 

45

Martin Dreyer

8 (11)

Diemersfontein (SS#26) 

15

46

Gavin Horton

8 (11)

Anysberg (SS#22)

11

47

Jacques Tattersall

8 (11)

On his way to Trouthaven (SS#25)

14



 

4 July 2019

By: Ingrid Avidon

Martin Dreyer makes grown men (and women) cry 

I must admit that I was a keen watcher of Game of Thrones. When the last season ended, two months ago, I was a bit lost. John Snow had become my source of inspiration, but now he was gone, over a wall somewhere.  I tried watching Survivor, but didn’t feel the love. I then watched the Cricket world Cup, hoping to fill the void in my life. I needed a hero, a new role model. Maybe Faff and his boys would become my new reference point.  But, alas, I was soon disillusioned by the Protea’s lack of balls (er ball control). [I should have cut my losses with the Protea’s many years ago when Alan Donald didn’t run].  Little did I know my new source of inspiration would be with my computer screen watching names move down a squiggly line from PMB to Paarl. 

 There are many heroes in the history of the Freedom Challenge.  In my opinion, anyone who manages to ride from PMB to Paarl is very brave and should be allowed to wear a red cape with their underwear over their pants, day and night, even in public, or even at church. But, this man we know as Martin Dreyer has really, really come to the party with regards to bravery and respect. You see, last night at about 6pm a lot happened for Martin.  

Wow, even Tim James, the most hardened and toughest man I know (sorry Mike W, you are a close second) was reduced to tears, as were many other men and women.   

Just in case you are non-computer savvy and have no idea where to find an audio program, then please read the whattap message below as it summarizes Martin’s voice clip to a certain extent. The message was sent last night from Mike W at about 6:30pm. 

So here’s the low down on Gladiator Martin. Right now he’s not feeling terribly Gladiatoral. He was fine into Gamkaskloof but after a quick bite he left and while on the way to Die Leer he came over nauseous. By the time he got to the district road on the other side he was in terrible shape. When he got to the spot where he is now he flopped into the ditch leaving his bike visible for the Payne’s to see. A passing bakkie stopped and offered assistance but Martin declined the offer of a lift and crawled back into the ditch. A farmer near his sleeping spot saw him in the ditch and went out to see if she could help. Poor old Mart stood up and was so lightheaded he landed head first on the ground. And yes, as we saw in the Damsedrif picture his helmet does come off. When he hit the ground with his head his helmet was found a few metres away. Now nauseous, dropping blood and possibly concussed our mighty Gladiator is recovering in the farm house. Once he gets his colour back and his nausea is under control he will decide what to do next.

Well, today, after a good rest and some broth, Martin has decided to continue his journey to Diemersfontein. What a legend! More on his progress later. 

Now, let me turn my attention to the other guys (and one woman) who will soon be wearing their underwear over their jean pant. 

The table below is a useful tool to use when trying to figure which riders are moving quickly down the trail, and those riders who are getting the full Freedom Challenge experience by sleeping at all the support stations and scoffing all the food on offer. 

#

Rider

Batch # (Days on the trail)

Current location

#Days +/(-) 26 day schedule

 

1

Fanus Vorster

1 (17)

Rouxpos (SS#21)

4

2

Nigel Basel

1 (17)

Rouxpos (SS#21)

4

3

Bradford vd Westhizen

1 (17)

Rouxpos (SS#21)

4

4

Richard Erasmus

1 (17)

Rouxpos (SS#21)

4

5

Derrick Muller

1 (17)

Rouxpos (SS#21)

4

6

Johan Radcliffe

2 (16)

Rouxpos (SS#21)

5

7

Johann Lombard

2 (16)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

3

8

Sandy Maytham-Bailey

2 (16)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

3

9

Willem Kamstra

2 (16)

Die Hel (SS#20)

4

10

Richard du Toit

2 (16)

Montagu (SS#23)

7

11

Hanko de Beer

2 (16)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

3

12

Philip Erasmus

2 (16)

Rouxpos (SS# 21)

5

13

James Cruikshank

3 (15)

Prince Albert (SS# 19)

4

14

Bryn Roberts

3 (15)

Prince Albert (SS# 19)

4

15

Graeme Green

3 (15)

Rouxpos (SS#21 )

6

16

Radislav Zamandi

3 (15)

Prince Albert (SS# 19)

4

17

Alex Kingwill

3 (15)

Willowmore (SS#18)

3

18

Nigel Payne

4 (14)

 McGregor (SS#24)

10

19

Adrian Payne

4 (14)

 McGregor (SS#24)

10

20

Charles Hughes

4 (14)

Rouxpos (SS#21 )

7

21

Francis Bradford

4 (14)

Rouxpos (SS#21 )

7

22

Kobus Nel

4 (14)

Dam se Drif (SS#17)

3

23

Alan Rainnie

4 (14)

Dam se Drif (SS#17)

3

24

Francois Roux

4 (14)

Dam se Drif (SS#17)

3

25

Mark Smuts

4 (14)

Dam se Drif (SS#17)

3

26

Renier vd Merwe

5 (13)

Willowmore (SS#18)

5

27

Gavin Robinson

Withdrawn

 

28

Andrew Ryan

5 (13)

Willowmore (SS#18)

5

29

Gary Scoular

5 (13)

Willowmore (SS#18)

5

30

Grant Cowan

5 (13)

Willowmore (SS#18)

5

31

Mark Basel

5 (13)

Die Hel (SS#20)

7

32

Derrick Bingham

Withdrawn

 

33

Leon Kruger

6 (12)

Willowmore (SS#18)

6

34

Grant Hill

6 (12)

Willowmore (SS#18)

6

35

Anthony Avidon

7 (11))

Rondavel (SS#18.5)

7.5

36

Kyle Dohne

7 (11)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

8

37

Gawie du Plessis

7 (11)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

8

38

Scott James

7

Withdrawn

 

39

Liehann Loots

8

Withdrawn

 

40

Arno Crous

8 (9)

Rondavel (SS#18.5)

9.5

41

Fjord Jordaan

8 (9)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

10

42

Graham Bird

8 (9)

Rouxpos (SS#21 )

12

43

Leon Erasmus

8 (9)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

10

44

Alex Harris

 

Withdrawn

 

45

Martin Dreyer

8 (9)

Montagu (SS#23)

14

46

Gavin Horton

8 (9)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

10

47

Jacques Tattersall

8 (9)

Rouxpos (SS#21 )

12

 

The uber-super hostess at Dam se Drif will be hosting Kobus Nel, Mark Smuts, Alan Rainnie and Francois Roux tonight. Mike Roy, my fellow update writer is super jealous. Just don’t tell his wife!

The Willows Guest House in Willowmore will be hosting a large group of riders tonight. Grant Cowen, Grant Hill, Andrew Ryan, Gary Scoular, Renier van der Merwe, Leon Kruger and Alex Kingwill. Arno Crous is also en route to Willowmore but will probably move onto Rondavel Farm about 90 km away from Willowmore. Also staying at Rondavel tonight will be Anthony Avidon (my husband). Anthony has lost his cell phone and two pairs of spectacles. I did ask him if he had maybe lost his testicles as wel,l as he was riding very slowly. He was not amused.       

A large group of riders will be enjoying the luxury of Dennehof in Prince Albert tonight. Graeme Green, Harko de Beer, Johann Lombard, Sandra, James Cruickshank, Bryn Roberts and the Czek mate (Radi Zemandi) are all living the dream in PA tonight. I know they will enjoy Ria’s food and sleeping in 100% Percale cotton sheets.  Leon Erasmus, Fjord Jordaan and Gavin Horton are also en route to PA, but will probably not linger for too long in PA. Only time will tell if they have the discipline to leave a place like Dennehof to chase down Martin, Graham Bird and Jacques Tattersall. They will also be racing to catch up to the Payne brothers who are setting a cracking pace.    

Just over the Swartberg Pass and staying in de Hel tonight are Willem Kamstra and Mark Basel. Lock your doors guys! 

Brad’s Lads (Derrick Muller, Fanus Vorster, Richard Erasmus, Nigel Basel and Brad himself), are one of the groups making the most of their Freedom Challenge experience. And who can blame them. The food at each support station is fabulous and the beers are cold. Tonight they will be at Rouxpos Farm, the home of the waffle. Yes, hot waffles with syrup and ice cream. Joining in the waffle scoffing will be Graeme Green, Johann Radcliffe, Francis Bradford and Phillipus Lodewikus Erasmus (aka Philip Erasmus). Philip resides in Bloubergstrand, Cape Town; that makes him cool and special. I live down the road, so I too am cool and special. But, what makes Philip extra, extra special is that at the age of 70 years old he is the oldest man on the trail. Philip has already earned one blanket. If he completes his journey to the end, as I am sure he will, he will be the oldest man to have earned a Freedom Challenge blanket. Contrary to belief, he is not the brother of Leon Erasmus, but is his uncle, but rides as if he could be Leon’s younger brother.  Cycling prowess obviously runs deep in the DNA of the Erasmii family.  

Graham Bird and Jacques Tattersall are currently in position 2 and 3. They are en route to Rouxpos but will probably not loiter for too long eating waffles with the other guys. They have smelt blood and will be hungry to try and catch up with Martin Dreyer. At the moment Martin is riding well and looks to be getting stronger. What a legend. He is en route to Montagu and will probably head to McGregor tonight or even towards Trouthaven, if his body allows. Already in Montagu is Dr Richard George le Roux. Apparently he has a total hip replacement booked for tomorrow (not for him, but for a patient). I bet R1000 that the patient will have to wait until at least Sunday for the operation. I only hope Richard is not so buggered after Stettynskloof that he mixes up hips with knees and right with left. 

Riding at the front of the field are the Payne brothers. They are now at Pony cottage in McGregor. Only time will tell if they head onto Trouthaven tonight. I have a sneaky suspicion that they will rest a bit until midnight and then ride to Trouthaven, about 7 hours away.  If this does happen then they will be the first riders to begin their final trek through the notorious Stettyynskloof tomorrow. 

Yay, let the fun and games begin. 

 


 

3 July 2019

By: Mike Roy

I start this report at around 5pm today and I am sure I’m feeling as bemused as the rest of us. I don’t think any of us would have anticipated the events that unfolded doing the day. I refer specifically to the withdrawal of Alex Harris at Willowmore and the brakes being applied to a struggling Martin Dreyer who is currently in slow motion on his way to Rouxpos, broken but by no means beaten. 

I guess this is a reminder from this magnificent event that one should never take anything for granted. Ten day records do not just happen as a matter of course. Weather conditions can wreak havoc on mind and body and upset the best laid plans. I suspect that we viewers may have become a little complacent in what we were watching, although on reflection I think we saw inklings of the struggles the riders were having in the wind yesterday. The bells tolled loudly today, that is for sure.

I’m almost tempted to keep this report short out of respect to two of the greatest athletes this event has seen. One can only imagine the personal anguish each of them are going through as I type this. Many of you will have seen the communication indirectly from Martin Dreyer on social media. It is worth repeating:

“I have just had a call from Martin Dreyer. He is suffering massively from exhaustion and nausea. It seems his lingering lung infection has returned with a vengeance, capitalizing on his obviously compromised system. He has but accepted he isn’t going to be breaking any records. Main aim now is to limp through to the finish. His main concern is disappointing his wife and all of us, his die-hard fans. Flip, he is a legend. He has asked me to post this so as to eliminate all the speculation as to his change of pace. We are privileged to have been able to witness this effort, someone who is so unafraid to push the limit of what is possible”

I’ve just checked on Tracker and Martin has teamed up with the Payne brothers and is not that far from Rouxpos. He had been stationary for quite a while. Richard “RG” du Toit is not far behind them. Before I finish this report we will have an idea of who stays and who goes from Rouxpos. My money is that the Payne brothers will move on, I suspect they have a sub 16 day FC in their sights. Let’s check the logic here – if they were to carry on through Rouxpos to Anysberg they would get there around midnight or a bit beyond. Another big day to Trouthaven the next day is possible, last day left for Stettynskloof. As they are currently on their 14thday this would result in 15 days and change if they pull it off.

I’ll get back to the troubles of Martin and Alex later on. Whilst providing us with huge entertainment they are but two riders in the original field of 47, now down to 42 still out there, each of whom deserve our respect and attention.

First a diversion, the table below gives a list of all performances in the history of FC that have been sub 15 days:

 

Martin

Dreyer

RASA 2017

10d 6h40

2

Martin

Dreyer

RASA 2012

10d 16h40

3

Alex

Harris

RASA 2012

10d 23h57

4

Theo

van Dyk

RASA 2016

11d 08h53

5

Bruce

Hughes

RASA 2016

11d 08h54

6

Jacques

Tattersal

RASA 2017

11d 15h05

7

Leon

Erasmus

RASA 2017

11d 15h05

8

Martin

Dreyer

RASA 2013

12d 05h55

9

Jeannie

Dreyer

RASA 2013

12d 05h55

10

Graham

Bird

RASA 2014

12d 13h00

11

Alex

Harris

RASA 2011

12d 15h30

12

Tim

James

RASA 2016

12d 19h00

13

Tim

Deane

RASA 2016

12d 21h00

14

Tim

James

RASA 2015

13d 07h50

15

Andrew

Barnes

RASA 2015

13d 08h20

16

Graham

Bird

RASA 2012

13d 09h05

17

Tim

James

RASA 2017

13d 9h15

18

Glenn

Harrison

RASA 2011

13d 10h40

19

Fjord

Jordaan

RASA 2017

13d 11h17

20

Mike

Woolnough

RASA 2016

13d 13h32

21

Scott

James

RASA 2013

13d 15h20

22

Tim

James

RASA 2009

13d 15h50

23

Liehann

Loots

RASA 2016

13d 09h45

24

Alex

Harris

RASA 2010

14d 08h10

25

Mike

Potgieter

RASA 2017

14d 9h45

26

Marnitz

Nienaber

RASA 2017

14d 10h22

27

Fjord

Jordaan

RASA 2015

14d 11h40

28

Tim

James

RASA 2008

14d 12h15

29

Jacques

Tattersall

RASA 2016

14d 12h38

30

Marnitz

Nienaber

RASA 2014

14d 13h20

31

Christo

van den Heever

RASA 2013

14d 15h20

32

Carl

Crous

XTC 2010

14d 19h55

 

My apologies for all the coloured highlights (riders who are doing FC 2019), I feel like kid let loose with a box of crayons. It’s actually quite liberating, I hear there is a special day I can dress up in all the colours of the rainbow, I’ll be there.

The times highlighted in blue in the right column represent the fastest times of the individuals concerned, so maybe worth considering possible additions to the sub-15 brigade and/or the riders nailing their best times. By my reckoning all seven remaining riders in Batch Eight are in with a great chance of sub 15 days. Kyle Dohne and Gawie du Plessis are also in with a good chance. The previous record for sub 15 days is seven riders in 2017, so a very good chance that this number will be exceeded this year with nine riders in contention. So confirmation that 2019 has seen one of the strongest if not the strongest field ever assembled for FC. It’s about a lot more than just the 10 day record. If Harris and James had stayed until the end the stats would have been even more compelling. Just a reminder to myself – we aren’t at the end so let’s not get too excited yet. Quality race though, proper field.

There is plenty of opportunity amongst the names above to wax lyrical on some of legends of the FC. Tim James, multiple winner. Jeannie Dreyer, Martin’s wife who holds the joint 9thbest time with her husband Martin. Glen Harrison’s single speed record. I hadn’t realized just how good 2016’s winner Theo van Dyk’s time was. Marnitz Nienaber and Mike Potgieter fly the flag for us big guys, very impressive, stuff those small okes.

 

Personal best times amongst our sub-15 day riders? I’ll leave that conjecture for a few days but my money is on Tweet, Graham Bird, at the very least.

Right, the updated Rider Progress table, daily report style, is a follows:

 

#

Rider

Batch # (Days on the trail)

Current location

#Days +/(-) 26 day schedule

 

1

Fanus Vorster

1 (17)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

2

2

Nigel Basel

1 (17)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

2

3

Bradford vd Westhizen

1 (17)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

2

4

Richard Erasmus

1 (17)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

2

5

Derrick Muller

1 (17)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

2

6

Johan Radcliffe

2 (16)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

3

7

Johann Lombard

2 (16)

Willowmore (SS#18)

2

8

Sandy Maytham-Bailey

2 (16)

Willowmore (SS#18)

2

9

Willem Kamstra

2 (16)

Rondavel (SS#18.5)

2.5

10

Richard George du Toit

2 (16)

Rouxpos (SS#21) – beyond?

5

11

Hanko de Beer

2 (16)

Willowmore (SS#18) ?

2

12

Philip Erasmus

2 (16)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

3

13

James Cruikshank

3 (15)

Willowmore (SS#18)

3

14

Bryn Roberts

3 (15)

Willowmore (SS#18)

3

15

Graeme Green

3 (15)

Willowmore (SS#18)

3

16

Radislav Zamandi

3 (15)

Willowmore (SS#18)

3

17

Alex Kingwill

3 (15)

Cambria (SS#16)

1

18

Nigel Payne

4 (14)

Rouxpos (SS#21) – beyond?

7

19

Adrian Payne

4 (14)

Rouxpos (SS#21) – beyond?

7

20

Charles Hughes

4 (14)

On his way to Rouxpos (SS#18.5)

4.5

21

Francis Bradford

4 (14)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

5

22

Kobus Nel

4 (14)

Cambria (SS#16)

2

23

Alan Rainnie

4 (14)

Cambria (SS#16)

2

24

Francois Roux

4 (14)

Cambria (SS#16)

2

25

Mark Smuts

4 (14)

Cambria (SS#16)

2

26

Renier vd Merwe

5 (13)

Cambria (SS#16)

3

27

Gavin Robinson

Withdrawn

 

28

Andrew Ryan

5 (13)

Cambria (SS#16)

3

29

Gary Scoular

5 (13)

Cambria (SS#16)

3

30

Grant Cowan

5 (13)

Damsedrif (SS#17)

4

31

Mark Basel

5 (13)

Willowmore (SS#18)

5

32

Derrick Bingham

Withdrawn

 

33

Leon Kruger

6 (12)

Cambria (SS#16)

4

34

Grant Hill

6 (12)

Cambria (SS#16)

4

35

Anthony Avidon

7 (11)

Damsedrif (SS#17)

6

36

Kyle Dohne

7 (11)

Willowmore (SS#18)

7

37

Gawie du Plessis

7 (11)

Willowmore (SS#18)

7

38

Scott James

7

Withdrawn

 

39

Liehann Loots

8

Withdrawn

 

40

Arno Crous

8 (9)

Cambria

7

41

Fjord Jordaan

8 (9)

Damsedrif (SS#17)

8

42

Graham Bird

8 (9)

On his way to Prince Albert (SS#19)

10

43

Leon Erasmus

8 (9)

Damsedrif (SS#17)

8

44

Alex Harris

Withdrawn

 

45

Martin Dreyer

8 (9)

Rouxpos (SS#21)…?

12

46

Gavin Horton

8 (9)

Damsedrif (SS#17)

8

47

Jacques Tattersall

8 (9)

On his way to Prince Albert (SS#19)

10

 

Immediately obvious to all but the most casual reader is the continued perfect symmetry of Batch One. Brad’s Lads can be covered by a blanket when they ride, they ride together, they sleep together.  In FC style mind. At first it was quite difficult finding them on the Tracker, it seemed like only one person was on the trail. But if you zoomed in, like right to the very ultimate zoom level, eventually four other names would pop out behind the top name that you noticed first. They are THAT close. Batch One legends of the Trail. Batch One-ers are a bit like prop forwards in rugby, we stick together, and drink beers together. It’s a brotherhood.

Brad’s Lads are at Prince Albert tonight. PA is full and is going to get fuller, especially if the fast closing Tattersal and Bird push on through to PA. That would make for a very full house. Lots of talk as to whether P23 might be able to catch a wounded Martin Dreyer…? By tomorrow morning we will have a better idea.

Willowmore is also full – ten riders, including four riders from Batch Three, the Czech Mates group. If Alex Kingwill can reel his buddies in from Cambria they too will have a complete Batch, could finish as they started. Not impossible, Alex is getting stronger and stronger. Maybe a double tomorrow Alex? Turn that one into a two (days ahead)?

Hang on I’ve skipped a lone rider at Rondavel. Great people at Rondavel, most magnificent Angora goat herd. I least I think they were Angora goats, it was dark. Willem Kamstra lurks there, he has lost his buddies, a bit like Arno Crous way back. Willem is another Hermanus guy (like RG). According to Strava he has trained pretty hard for FC, around 3000km this year, with a biggest ride of 254km. Since on Strava he has done around 20 000km in around 500 rides, an average of 40km a ride. That’s pretty good in my book, none of this Braamfontein Spruit 15km nonsense. It is well worth having a look at his Strava account, some great photographs, clearly riding heaven in and around Hermanus. Shit I haven’t had my coffee yet and I’m already going off at a proper tangent.

Damsedrif has potentially five riders tonight. I don’t know how anyone leaves Damsedrif. It’s not just the Death by Chocolate. It’s because every male rider, and possibly a few female riders, falls a little bit in love with Herstelle, the wife of Rune, who I am sure will not mind at all a salute from all of us to Herstelle. He is a lucky man. It’s a common phenomenon that in wartime, wounded soldiers fall in love with their nurses. They hang on to life with this vision before them. This is how wounded FC riders get to Willowmore, you will notice they all have a slightly whimsical and daft smile as they leave Damsedrif, it lasts for eighty kms. 

Cambria also hosts ten riders. Everyone seemed to get through Mordor (aka Boksburg) just fine today, no Richard du Toit adventures. I guess there must be a fairly well trodden trail by now, although bloody tough I am sure. That means that twenty five full and half Support Stations are now closed for 2019. Again, thank you all.

Which brings me back to the other hot topic of the day, the withdrawal from the race by Alex Harris before Willowmore. This event sparked a while heap of commentary and opinions, which were divided. Debate ended somewhat with the following words from Mike Woolnough (see sub 15 day times above):

“My word on riders withdrawing from RASA for reasons other than sickness or personal reasons not related to the race. First up I want to discard the word quitting – it’s an ugly word and completely inappropriate in a race like this.

While pedaling along there are moments every day when you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” This race is hard and this race is long. In some ways the race becomes a microcosm of your very existence. There’s a lot of time for introspection.

Scott T Allison Ph.D. in a paper titled What is Your Purpose in Life? Summarises it with this pearl, “Put simply, your purpose in life is to live the life of a hero”. Without getting too philosophical and arguing that definition we have to admit that there is part of us that wants to be a hero, to others and to ourselves. When that belief in ourselves is dented our purpose is under review. In dark moments it takes grip and festers. Most times we are able to quell those thoughts and press on. 

Exhaustion leaves us vulnerable and stills the voice that urges us on. When we let doubt prevail its voice is amplified. I’ve been there. It’s not a great space to marinade in. When you finally succumb and pull on the brakes your mind is in a strange place as you realise that you are making a decision that will stay with you for a lot longer than any discomfort you are feeling.

Once your head isn’t in the game it’s often the only option that makes sense. Having made peace with that decision it’s time to load your bike up and head home. Make no mistake, it’s a tough call and having been there myself I get it and will be the last one to pass judgement on anyone else for doing the same”

Those obviate the need for any further discussion I think. We have all been there. Everyone on FC is trying to live the life of a hero, it’s not easy.

It is now nearly 10pm so time for a couple of rituals:

·      Check the riders table to see if anything has changed whilst writing this (all good)

·      Check the main WhatsApp group to see if anything has happened (ok here we have news, Martin Dreyer seems to be perking after a nasty spell on the road to Rouxpos. He is now sipping a farmer’s broth and no doubt is looking forward to a famous Rouxpos waffle. That would enough to revive anyone)

Good night all.

Another day! 2 July 2019

By: Ingrid Avidon

Another day! And, another dollar earned for the Freedom Challenge Scholarship Fund. The dot watchers (DT) are becoming restless and bets are flying. Waiting for dots to update is agony. To pass the time, the DW’s have taken to betting who will arrive where? and when? And, in what stage of sleep deprivation? Soon to be included in the bets will be who has lost the most weight and grown the most facial hair [Leon Erasmus excluded as he started growing his beard last December as he often moonlights as Father Christmas]. All this talk about facial hair reminds me of Mike Woolnough’s generous donation of chest hair to the once-off edition of the new Barbie doll. Yes, the makers of Barbie have released a 70 year old looking doll with wrinkles and saggy boobs, now proudly sporting strands of grey hair graciously donated by Mike Woolnough. Where else do you think Mike W got all this money he is now forking out in bets to the Freedom Challenge Scholarship Fund?  When bets are not being laid down, some desperate DW’s have taken to identifying shapes in the satellite imagery of the Grootrivier crossings. A man with his dog? A wolf? Yes! After a few Gins and much squinting I too can see all of these images. Hooray.  But, it would take a whole bottle of gin to see the image of Dath Vader, as suggested by Carl Scholtz. Keep drinking Carl, keep drinking. Maybe you will see the shape of the lotto numbers. 

 Any one spot the wolf?

What about the man and his dog?

 

But, back to the FC route. I will start my report from about 20:30 last night as some of the riders are afflicted with restless legs and don’t really over-night at support stations. So, while we were all snoozing away in our warm beds, dreaming of our strategy for next year’s RASA, and how well we would navigate all the tricky bits at night, some riders were living the dream (or nightmare). Leon Erasmus, Gavin Hortton and Fjord Jordaan left Gegun at 20:35 and arrived at Toekomst at 01:00. They left Toekomst at 06:15 and are now en route for Bucklands/Hadley/Cambria? Only time will tell.  The Payne brothers arrived at Willowmore at 22:00. At 23:37 they were on their way towards Rondavel, arriving at 10:45.They are now in Prince Albert, probably for the night. They are making excellent progress along the trail and are setting themselves up for  a sub 15 day ride if all goes well and Nigel doesn’t exhaust himself from talking too much. Or,if Adriaan doesn’t kill him for talking too much. At 01:00 this morning the Martin Dreyer-chasing group of JAG (Jacques, Alex and Graham) began their descent down the Osseberg track towards the Grootrivier crossings (Mordor) in an attempt to make the 6am gate at Cambria.  Alas, the old adage, you snooze, you lose, might be true for these snakes. The comfort of warm beds at Toekomst might have delayed their departure, resulting in their arrival time at Cambria at about 9am, too late for the 6am gate. But, after a few hours of rest in Cambria, waiting for the 1pm Cambria gate, they were soon on their way through The Baviaans, via Dam se Drif, onto Willowmore in hot pursuit of MD. I am sure they will not linger in Willowmore for very long.   

What about Martin Dreyer (MD)? Well, this machine of a man arrived at Dam se Drif yesterday, removed his helmet (that’s unusual), chatted, ate and then slept before departing for Willowmore. MD is now at Prince Albert for dinner (lucky fish) and I am sure he will move off into Die Hel before his food even starts to digest.

 

The rest of the riders are all progressing very well along the trail and there is no one who is flirting dangerously with the 26 day cut off. Except maybe Alex Kingwill, Johann Lombard, Sandy and Hanko de Beer. But, they will be able to do some double up stages closer to Cape Town. The Table below tells the story of many days of cushioning each rider has in the bank (the far right column).  

 

#

Rider

Batch # (Days on the trail)

Current location

#Days +/(-) 26 day schedule

 

1

Fanus Vorster

1 (16)

Willowmore (SS#18)

2

2

Nigel Basel

1 (16)

Willowmore (SS#18)

2

3

Bradford vd Westhizen

1 (16)

Willowmore (SS#18)

2

4

Richard Erasmus

1 (16)

Willowmore (SS#18)

2

5

Derrick Muller

1 (16)

Willowmore (SS#18)

2

6

Johan Radcliffe

2 (15)

Willowmore (SS#18)

3

7

Johann Lombard

2 (15)

Cambria (SS#16)

1

8

Sandy Maytham-Bailey

2 (15)

Cambria (SS#16)

1

9

Willem Kamstra

2 (15)

Willowmore (SS#18)

3

10

Richard du Toit

2 (15)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

4

11

Hanko de Beer

2 (15)

Cambria (SS#16)

1

12

Philip Erasmus

2 (15)

Willowmore (SS#18)

2

13

James Cruikshank

3 (14)

Cambria (SS#16)

2

14

Bryn Roberts

3 (14)

Cambria (SS#16)

2

15

Graeme Green

3 (14)

Damsedrif (SS#17)

3

16

Radislav Zamandi

3 (14)

Cambria (SS#16)

2

17

Alex Kingwill

3 (14)

Bucklands (SS#15)

1

18

Nigel Payne

4 (13)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

6

19

Adrian Payne

4 (13)

Prince Albert (SS#19)

6

20

Charles Hughes

4 (13)

Willowmore (SS#19)

6

21

Francis Bradford

64 (13)

Willowmore (SS#19)

4

22

Kobus Nel

4 (13)

Bucklands (SS#15)

2

23

Alan Rainnie

4 (13)

Bucklands (SS#15)

2

24

Francois Roux

4 (13)

Bucklands (SS#15)

2

25

Mark Smuts

4 (13)

Bucklands (SS#15)

2

26

Renier vd Merwe

5 (12)

Hadley (ss#15.5)

3.5

27

Gavin Robinson

5

Withdrawn

 

28

Andrew Ryan

5 (12)

Hadley (ss#15.5)

3.5

29

Gary Scoular

5 (12)

Hadley (ss#15.5)

3.5

30

Grant Cowan

5 (12)

Cambria (SS#16)

4

31

Mark Basel

5 (12)

Cambria (SS#16)

4

32

Derrick Bingham

6

Withdrawn

 

33

Leon Kruger

6 (11)

Bucklands (SS#15)

4

34

Grant Hill

6 (11)

Hadley (ss#15.5)

4.5

35

Anthony Avidon

7 (10)

Hadley (ss#15.5)

5.5

36

Kyle Dohne

7 (10)

Cambria (SS#16)

6

37

Gawie du Plessis

7 (10)

Cambria (SS#16)

6

38

Scott James

7

Withdrawn

 

39

Liehann Loots

8

Withdrawn

 

40

Arno Crous

8 (8)

Bucklands (SS#15)

7

41

Fjord Jordaan

8 (8)

Hadley (ss#15.5)

7.5

42

Graham Bird

8 (8)

On his way to Willowmore (SS#18)

10

43

Leon Erasmus

8 (8)

Hadley (ss#15.5)

7.5

44

Alex Harris

8 (8)

On his way to Willowmore (SS#18)

9

45

Martin Dreyer

8 (8)

On his way to Prince Albert (SS#19)

11

46

Gavin Horton

8 (8)

Hadley (ss#15.5)

7.5

47

Jacques Tattersall

8 (8)

On his way to Willowmore (SS#18)

9

 

Rainnie, Mark Smuts, Kobus Nell and Francois Roux left the ghost at Gegun farm this morning and are now en route to Kleinpoort, and maybe even Bucklands. Today has been a really good effort and solid ride from this group of guys.  Arno Crous left Gegun at 3:50 this morning and at 7pm is at Kleinpoort. I am sure he will move on towards Bucklands, or even Hadley tonight, and will feel relieved that he has now caught up with some riders and doesn’t need to keep laughing at his own jokes for very much longer.    

Brad’s Lads (Derrick Muller, Brad van der Westhuizen, Nigel Basel, Richard Erasmus and Fanus Vorster) all left Dam se Drif this morning and rode through to Willowmore, arriving at about 4pm. Fanus did an interesting little diversion off route today near Studtis. Mike Woolnough thought that he might have been carried away by the mythical Baviaanskloof Turkey Buzzard. I think he was lured off route by a rare sighting of the elusive double breasted matrass thrasher.

This morning, the support station at Hadley farm sent Johann Lombard, Sandra and Harko de Boer off into the Mordor en route to Cambria. They navigated well and arrived well before dark.  It looks like Willem Kamstra, the once third member of Team Vibe (with Johann and Sandra) has ditched his friends as he started his day at Cambria and rode through to Willowmore today,  along with his brand new friends Philip Erasmus, Johan Radcliffe, Graeme Green, Charles Hughes and Francis Bradford. Yes, the Freedom Challenge has been known to test friendships and marriages. It looks as if Graeme Green has opted to stay at Dam se Drif and enjoy Hestelle’s lunch, dinner and breakfast menus. And who can blame him.  

Departing from Bucklands this morning and making their way through Mordor this afternoon were Bryn Roberts, James Cruickshank, Radi Zemandi, Mark Basel, Grant Cowen, Gawie du Plessis and Kyle Dohne. They navigated Mordor really well, and arrived safely in Cambria, with no reports of vicious attacks from the Cacti. The wandering Czek (Radi) has reportedly admitted, without any form of torture, that the Freedom Challenge is the hardest (and best) race he has ever attempted, even harder than The Divide Race. But then trying to cycle while duct taped to Bryn Roberts is no easy feat. 

The tented camp site of Toekomst was pretty full last night. Today, Alex Kingwill, Andrew Ryan, Gary Scoular, Renier van der Merwe, Leon Kruger, Grant Hill and Anthony Avidon left this place of luxury en route to Hadley. Grant Hill has admitted that the last two nights have been the best of his life so far. Although he still misses his wife terribly and loves her a lot, staying at Tollies Safari Lodge and now Toekomst have been huge highlights in his life. Grant has also admitted that all the feasting on game meat and drinking of beer has caused tremendous flatulence in the group. I guess the Westerly head wind is no longer the only wind of concern. It looks like they were all butt turbo boosted to Bucklands and then to Hadley as they will soon be arriving at their destination. It looks like Leon Kruger has opted to stay at Bucklands, but he might just sneak off to Hadley in an hour or so once the smell of beer infused venison farts have diffused into the chilly night air.             

Dr Richard George du Toit, a 56 year old orthopedic surgeon from Hermanus, deserves a special mention in this report. Richard departed from Willowmore this morning, and is now heading into Prince Albert. I am not sure if he will stay or sleep in PA, as Richard is as unpredictable as a woman with PMS. But, what I can say is that Richard has recovered from his scenic day and night trip around the lower loop of the Grootrivier.   In fact, if the whattsap message received by Mike Woolnough, from Richard, is anything to go by, I would say Richard was quite un-phased by all the drama of his Mordor excursion. If needed, I will definitely have Richard do my knee or hip replacement, or even face lift. How he deals with his wife is another story……I suggest jewelry, lots of jewelry, or maybe a nice warm Basotho blanket. If that doesn’t work then try wrap the jewelry in the blanket. [The whatapp message is below] 

Hi Mike. Sorry didn't look at messages. Plan was portage in day light. Everything went well until I lost sense of direction after waking up the second time because at 3h it was vrek cold and had to start walking. First crossing whent we'll. 2d one stoepid mistake. Quite a beautiful vally lots of deer but not many people lately was there. So I missed the miday bus I'm booked to see patients on Vrydag. Probably will make Hermanus high-school mtb team building weekend (I started the mtb team) Ai man dit is lekker om jou fiets te ry enige tyd van die dag of nag en niemand kla.. Moet nou net by die huis kom die vrou raak al moeilik ek het gesê sal net so 2w weg wees

As I end off my report MD, Richard and the Payne brothers are in Prince Albert (PA). I love PA, but my heart is really sad today. You see, I really could not imagine riding the last section before PA without seeing Johann Rissik’s Land Rover on the road, his smiling face offering coffee/tea/hot chocolate.  RIP Johann. You are sorely missed by so many. As said by Dave Waddilove: “The road into PA will always be yours”. This extract written by Johann during his Freedom Challenge ride into Willowmore, and then into PA, his home town,  a few years ago, reminds me so much of Johann’s sense of humour.  Thank you Shane for sharing. 

"Today is a long day.....let me explain. Long, long ago, even before Snow White started screwing around with the seven dwarves, this whole area was under water as part of the primordial sea. The ancient port city of Villa Moura became known as Willowmore and later as Wilde Moere. On the other side of the sea was another port, named after a certain male-only piercing- Prince Albert. Understandably it's a long stretch of the imagination to get from one to the other, but it is sometimes referred to as a long paddle across the primordial sea. The shit one thinks up on long rides across the Karoo” ~Johann Rissik 

Sadly, this won’t be happening this year. [Martin Dreyer with Johann Rissik, RASA, 2017]. 

 

So, all that remains to be said is whether Martin Dreyer can indeed arrive in Diemersfontein in 10 days.  Here is a prediction given by Mike Roy. 

“MD has 68 hours left to break 10 days. Rough guess as to riding time for between the remaining support stations:

Rondawel: 3 hours
PA: 6 hours
Hel: 5 hours
Rouxpos: 7 hours
Anysberg: 6 hours
Montagu: 5 hours 
Mcgregor: 3.5 hours 
Trout: 8 hours
Diemersfontein: 12 hours 

Gives 55.5 hours, the rest, 12.5 hours, for eating and a bit of sleep. Seems doable, off the back of some solid rest. Maybe my guesses are a bit out”.

But, as they say in the classics:  It ain’t over until the fat lady sings. And, at the moment I am still too busy eating cheese curls to even think of singing my favourite Abba song. So maybe it ain’t over yet.  But, one thing I do know for sure, is that whatever does happen, there will be a winner, and there will be a loser.

The winner takes it all
The loser's standing small
Beside the victory
That's his destiny

The gods may throw a dice
Their minds as cold as ice
And someone way down here
Loses again this year
The winner takes it all
The loser has to fall
It's simple and it's plain
Why should we complain?

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