Yesterday was the busiest day yet at Diemersfontein, with riders crossing the line thick and fast (at least in Freedom Challenge terms).
The first arrival was Theo van Dyk, who came in at 3pm. After playing with the racing snakes for the last two weeks, when he, Tim and Fjord hooked up and started some big pushes through the night on very little sleep, Theo was unfortunately forced to stop due to illness just after Montagu. After leaving the trail to receive medical attention, he rejoined the following day at the point he left and continued on to the finish in Diemersfontein. His riding mates Tim and Fjord were waiting to welcome him over the finish line and there were celebrations all around. His finishing time of 15days 9hours is an impressive effort.
The next arrivals were Liehann Loots and Beat Jegerlehner, together with Andrew Hunt. In a somewhat symbolic gesture, they all stopped short of the finish line, picked up their bikes and walked across the line - a fitting end to the long day’s hike up Stettynskloof. Beat and Liehann were one of the most consistent pairs on the trail this year - they rode strongly, always sent daily messages to the race office and never really made any serious navigation errors. They rode together from the start and share a finishing time of 19days 10hours 50min.
Andrew Hunt also finished with them after tagging on in the last few days. He’s had quite a ride - ridden amongst the racing snakes, ridden in groups or on his own and was the only rider to do the Bontehoek portage twice this year. All in all a big adventure that lasted 18days 10hours 50mins.
Sitting at Trouthaven last night were another group of riders getting ready to take on the final hurdle. Johann Rissik, Ian Verwayen, Alan Haupt and Paul Dalton have been together since day one ad will be finishing together. With them is Maarten Witters riding his fat bike - he’ll have his work cut out for him to get that thing up the kloof. At least they all had a shorter day, coming through from Good Hope. The last members of the party were also the last arrivals - Mike and Ingrid Talbot, who came all the way from Montagu.
Montagu hosted quite a few riders last night, the banana boys Andrew Blackburn, Nic Jordan and Mike Potgieter were there as well as the ex racing snakes turned tourists, Marnitz Nienaber and Ivor Jones. John Bowen arrived later with Mike Roy even later still, having been slowed by a sidewall cut.
John Exley and Mike Glover had another good day yesterday, completing the big double from Prince Albert via Gamkaskloof to Rouxpos and arriving just before dark. Next up is Anysberg and then Montagu which will be an easier day for them.
Our sweepers, Mike Devereux and Nic van Zyl both got to Willowmore. Nic is still riding single speed but when he makes it to Prince Albert, he’ll be able to pick up the spares he needs and hopefully get going again after that.
And last but not least are Stu Brew and Gary Preston, who had an epic day in Stettynskloof, only getting out the top at 10pm. They are expected in at Diemersfontein at 02h30, most of the fans and supporters have already gone home but the race office will be waiting for them.